In May 2017, when we had a big Legacy Retreat in Orlando, I got to know one of the families, the House family, pretty closely. We had four days with the House family, and they flew by like they always do. We do these retreats trusting that the impact is not only for four days but goes far beyond that, and with this family, I got to see that lasting impact in a powerful way. Matt House died less than two months after the Legacy Retreat, and there were memorial services in Texas where he lived and Minnesota where he grew up, and I was able to go to the Minnesota one. And what a funeral experience it was!
As a new or experienced volunteer, the days leading up to a Legacy Retreat can be quite nerve-wracking. There is a lot of information to read through prior to the retreat and then abundantly more poured at you during the volunteer meeting (the night before families arrive). Beyond all that information, I knew this devotion would also be good to deliver.
I was inspired to do this devotion from a sermon my pastor, Brandon Bruce (Church Experience), gave back in February of this year. I actually wrote “IoH Devotion” on my sermon notes and held on to these, you know, in case I ever actually got the courage to give a devotion. I kept it all this time waiting for the right time to share, and God made it abundantly clear to me that now is the time.
On my sermon notes, I wrote several things, but there are three I want to share with you. If you remember nothing else from this devotion, please remember this:
In our final installment of this series, Co-Founder and CEO Deric Milligan talks with Communications Manager Angie Howell about his memories, and what has changed in the past ten years.
IoH: What are some of the memories that stand out to you the most from the August 2008 Legacy RetreatⓇ to Lake George?
Deric: I remember each of the families and the instant connection we all felt because we were going through similar situations. The bond was simply incredible, and unlike anything I had ever experienced. One of the participants, Mark Contreras, had ALS. I remember his incredible strength and peace. Even though he struggled to speak, everyone was patient in allowing him to finish his thoughts. I remember riding the Comet, a wooden roller coaster, time after time with Mark Heinzelman as if there wasn't a care in the world, even as he battled cancer. I remember Shannon Dodd gleefully riding rides with sons Jakob and Tae just over a month before she died.
Communications Manager Angie Howell continues our conversations with members of the IoH family who were on our very first Legacy RetreatⓇ to Lake George in August 2008. Meg Hill served as the children’s counselor that weekend, and leading up to the retreat, began to write the curriculum that we still draw from today! Below, Meg shares her memories from ten years ago, and her thoughts about what is still the same.
IoH: Tell us what you remember about the August 2018 retreat at Lake George.
Meg: I was nervous being in charge of all the kids--Kristen and Deric had trusted me to do all the children’s groups and activities, and at one point, said to me, “you’re the kid person, tell us what to do!”
The Heinzelmans--Sue, Mark, Jessica, and Robbie--were one of seven families on our first Legacy RetreatⓇ to Lake George in New York during the summer of 2008. Our Communications Manager, Angie Howell, recently caught up with mom Sue to hear how the family is doing now. Mark passed away in October 2009, but Sue wants other families to know that “There is hope for the future.”
|The Heinzelman Family in Lake George, New York|
These days, Stephen Poquette is the director of fall retreats and internships at Camp Timberline in Estes Park, Colorado. Back in November 2016, his most important job was that of caregiver to his mom, Teresa Bloss. Stephen and his brothers Josh and Andrew Bloss attended Inheritance of Hope’s Legacy RetreatⓇ to New York City shortly before Thanksgiving that year, with their mom, for what turned out to be their last family vacation together.
|Stephen (left) with his mom and brothers at their NYC Legacy RetreatⓇ|
In 2015, we interviewed Tayler Chandler as she wrapped up “Walk it Out for IoH,” a 5K designed for all fitness levels that the then-high school senior planned and organized. Tayler raised $5,100, enough to send a family like hers on a Legacy RetreatⓇ!
|Tayler’s “Walk it Out” paid it forward to another family like her own|
The term “estate planning” is daunting. You are forced to think about life’s favorite certainties – death and taxes. Estate planning, however, is one of those things that once you put a plan in place, you will feel such a huge sense of relief. This is YOUR plan in which you make key decisions about your family, money, and health. When doing an estate plan, here are 5 key items you may consider:
Conversation with Tom Dodd, participant on our first Legacy RetreatⓇ
August of 2018 marks the ten-year anniversary of our very first Legacy RetreatⓇ! In the summer of 2008, seven families enjoyed fun and fellowship together on the shores of Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
Communications Manager Angie Howell recently caught up with Tom Dodd, one of those family members. Since that first retreat, Tom has become a volunteer himself. He has served on three retreats, most recently in May 2018. On the May 2017 retreat, Tom met Heather Crawford, also a former family member turned volunteer. They are now married, raising their blended family of four boys, and Heather serves on the IoH staff as our Administrative Assistant.
A year ago today, in some muggy Tennessee heat, our family was gathering in Knoxville to get ready for the wedding of my brother and his lovely bride. This was a very celebratory time, both for the occasion and for the chance to see so many friends and family. It was the day before the rehearsal, and we heard that Ryan Hurst Carter, a good friend of our family, was in a car accident… and died. Boom. Just like that. He was a 27-year-old bundle of energy who never met a stranger because he was so convinced that God loves all those strangers.
Of course at the wedding we celebrated and had a great time, but it was a stinging reminder that death is always lurking, that in this life even the high moments of new beginnings full of hopes for a bright future cannot be separated from realities that crush hopes.