The camp counselor/elementary school teacher in me thought about having everyone do a trust fall as our intro this morning, but then on the off chance that that activity was not successful… Betsy might not be thrilled if I break our volunteers before Kids' Day Out! So instead I am just going to talk to y’all about trust and open up with a verse from one of my favorite parts of scripture.
Our family is growing. Inheritance of Hope now has a roster of 300+ amazing volunteers! On our Orlando Legacy Retreat in April, we were thrilled to welcome the following into our ranks:
Ethan Baur, Clara Beovich, Caroline Braun, Mara Caples, Ally Dee, Anna Latimer, Emileah Most, Micah Most, Sara Theisen, Ethan Trejo, and Cheryl Yeaton.
Get to know them a little better here!
Long after all other retreat-goers are tucked in for the night, Mikki Skinner and Rachel Streelman tuck into a bag of gummy bears, a little wine, and reruns of Friends. The professional photographers have cumulatively snapped their way through 13 Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatsⓇ, and still eagerly open their computers each night to see what they’ve captured. On a typical day, the team might shoot up to 800 images, then back in their hotel room, with the help of late-night provisions and a little background noise from the TV, cull those into a well-edited 300 or so photos.
|Rachel (left), and Mikki always have camera-ready smiles themselves!|
On any Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ, Anna Conti’s hands are full. With little hands. Our chief “hand-holder” and “sticker-sticker” is rarely without a charge of adoring little ones basking in the sunshine of her undivided attention. Anna knows that debates about princesses and villains are just as important as conversations about pets, career opportunities in the superhero field, and whether to choose the kids’ mac and cheese meal or pizza. Adept at navigating Dr. Seuss Landing or Magic Kingdom, Anna is proud to call herself a “Disney girl.” She can distract from a sugar-induced meltdown, welcome the most shy preschooler into a group, and ease any parent’s separation anxiety, because she recognizes and loves each child wholeheartedly.
|This Disney girl knows how to rock a pair of mouse ears!|
Being at Legacy Retreats is a blessing. This is the visible and tangible culmination of many months of less visible work: fundraising, event planning, family coordinating, all sorts of communications, technology, office work and supplies, big-picture visioning and strategy.
All of that work takes a lot of people, and many of them cannot be at every retreat. In fact most of them aren’t on site at any given Legacy Retreat. Our staff and coordinators alone now are more than 30 people, and there are more than 300 people among our board, volunteers, and group facilitators. Plus there are thousands of donors.
To get to be at a Legacy Retreat, then, is to be at the highlight, the fun payoff of so much other vital but less visible work. The flip side is that being away from a retreat is hard! I can speak from very personal experience; I was not at the California retreat at the end of last summer, and that frankly was not easy for me. I knew I was missing a great team, I knew I was missing IoH history, I knew I was missing the face-to-face impact of months of work. Others who also missed that retreat described it like experiencing withdrawal, and that is how it felt. It’s hard to miss this!
“Scents of Hope,” Marti Ogren’s candle business, is aptly named. The preschool teacher, who also spent 35 years in a first grade classroom, has found her second calling, and her purpose is bigger than filling your home with pleasant fragrances. Lest you get the wrong idea, Marti is passionate about the process of developing, testing, and making her soy-based candles. She embraces every step, from brainstorming new products to pouring the warm clear liquid and watching it cool to a creamy solid. But, she is even more passionate about inspiring hope.
I am so excited that Kendra Scott has partnered with Inheritance of Hope to sponsor Legacy Retreats. She sponsors Legacy Retreats to honor her friend Holley's legacy, and the reason that I am involved with Inheritance of Hope is because I am carrying on my friend Kristen's legacy. I can definitely relate to Kendra's heart in this mission, and it is such a pleasure to team up with her to honor our friends together.
Jenna Maier, 14, wants to “ show that no matter your age, you can make a difference.” The Willow Creek Middle School eighth grader from Rochester, Minnesota, has done just that. In November, Jenna cooked up a fundraising campaign for Inheritance of Hope. By February, she had raised $500 selling homemade cookies.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else for my birthday,” said Katelyn Hodge of turning 18 while serving on the most recent Kendra Scott-sponsored Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando. The feeling was mutual--and we hope to celebrate 19 with her as well!
|Events Director, Betsy Ogren, surprises Katelyn on her 18th birthday|
I’ve been thinking about Martha from the Bible a lot lately. Martha often gets a bad rap due to her busyness in wanting to serve the Lord, while her sister Mary was content with just being at Jesus’ feet. It’s often preached to us that we should be “a Mary in a Martha world,” but there’s a piece of Martha’s story that we often forget about.