Happy New Year!
We hope that you had a wonderful holiday season and enjoyed time doing the things that make you happy and bring you peace. As we look forward to a new year, we want to share a quick review of the 2019 Fire Hero Family programs.
The Parents and Siblings Retreat in February brought about and strengthened connections in Austin, TX. Workshops focused on unique issues that come with grieving the death of an adult child or sibling, how the death impacts family relationships and traditions. Participants explored how grief and loss affect parenting surviving children and how bereaved siblings handle relationships and parenting later in their own lives.
“This is a wonderful, comforting event that is filled with understanding and love. Everyone can speak honestly. Everyone is supportive. Everyone has suggestions that often are meaningful and encouraging and very helpful.”
“It’s a must in your process of healing.”
“I am so blessed to have attended this retreat. I no longer feel so alone, and I feel it has helped me immensely and that I have made some lasting connections with other attendees that I hope to stay in contact with and see again.”
When asked to choose one word to describe the Wellness Conference in Portland, Maine in May, attendees responded: healing, rejuvenating, therapeutic, beneficial, refreshing and comforting. Participants reflected on experiences, learned to balance past experiences with the present, and learned new tools to gain wisdom and strength for the future. Two New York Times best-selling authors, Kate Braestrup and United States Army Sergeant (Retired) Travis Mills delivered keynote addresses and received high praise; “Travis Mills was a highlight of the conference, one of the most impressive speakers I have ever met in my life and Kate was a great presenter that captured her audience.“ Attendees also stated:
“The Wellness Conference was truly spectacular from beginning to end, and I am honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to be a part of it. Thank you for giving of your time, your talents, and your resources to ensure that our lives could be impacted for the better. I was moved and inspired by the speakers, instructors, content, and community.”
“Thank you for bringing joy into my life the past few days at the NFFF Wellness Conference. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet “family” who also have similar journeys, experiences, and trials. My expectations for the conference went far beyond what I would ever hope to wish for. I met a wonderful group of individuals who immediately accepted me without reservation.”
In June, a record number of campers traveled to Indiana. When asked to use one word to describe their experience at camp, campers answered fun, amazing, helpful, and accepting. When asked what they would tell others about attending camp:
“This is an accepting place where everybody knows how you feel and why. Overall, I loved the experience.”
“This camp would help them with a lot of feelings. You are allowed to cry and talk about your loss. You play fun games and learn how to deal with feelings.”
Changing the Young Adults program to combine challenging outdoor experiences with facilitated conversations proved to be a hit with 18-25-year olds. Tapping into the healing powers of nature, the Retreat was held in Moab, Utah in August, where attendees stepped out of their comfort zones, shared stories, and tried new experiences.
“Thank you all so much for everything you did to make such an amazing young adults retreat…you really did think of everything (hydration, etc.) to make sure everyone was prepared and comfortable to enjoy the experience! From all of the outdoor activities to Red Cliffs Lodge itself, we felt like we got the complete royal treatment all week while we were there!”
“Just wanted to thank you for giving us an awesome experience in Moab, Utah. It was fun being in such a beautiful area of the country. We really enjoyed getting to go whitewater rafting and hiking. It also allowed us to make new friends with other young adults who lost loved ones. We learned a lot about ourselves and others. We will cherish this experience forever. Can’t wait to see you again next year.”
“I truly would not be where I am today without the connections I’ve made through the organization. I am so thankful for this opportunity and blessed that this is available.”
New this year, we held a Winter Family Retreat at Liberty Mountain Resort in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, in early December. This provided families with an opportunity to be with others that truly understand. With the focus on self-care, and service to others during the holidays, attendees helped prepare for and attended the annual Fire Hero Family Tree Lighting. A few comments from attendees:
“Your diligent effort to provide resources of comfort and support have made a huge impact. I had a wonderful time being together at the Winter Retreat. It really helped me to refocus on the joy this season can bring. Please know that your work is changing lives for the better, and I feel so blessed to be on the receiving end of it.”
“Even though it has been 18 years since I lost my dad, the holidays are very difficult for me. This year for some reason I was struggling; however, after arriving at the retreat and renewing old friendships and meeting many more wonderful people, I felt a calmness come over me. I am already looking forward to future trips/functions with the Foundation.”
Thank you for making our favorite moments from 2019 possible and for being a part of this incredible community. Be sure to check out our website, www.firehero.org, for all to come in 2020.
Beverly, Jenny, Eric, and Ashley
Fire Hero Family Programs Staff