Fire Hero Families Gather in Rochester

2022 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference

This Wellness Conference
was a sigh of relief.

I am grateful that I was introduced
to the NFFF, because it is helping me
to live my life healthy without
forgetting my firefighter.

Thank you for allowing me to ‘unpack’ my braveness, my anxiety,
but also my courage.
As time passes after a loss, Fire Hero Families face changes and challenges on an ongoing basis. The additional stress and isolation of the pandemic made daily life even more uncertain.

That’s why we were thrilled to gather in person in beautiful Rochester, New York for the 2022 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference in May. We could hardly wait to welcome our Fire Hero Family members with open arms! The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Family Programs team was joined by a terrific group of presenters and a dedicated group of local fire service members—all amidst the lovely backdrop of peaceful upstate New York.

» See More Conference Photos on Flickr

Dynamic Presentations and Interactive Workshops

Wellness Conference - Rochester, New York
2021 Top 10 CNN Hero Michele Neff Hernandez kicked off the conference with a keynote address called “Different After You,” based on her recently published book of the same title. Each conference attendee received a signed copy of the book.

Michele was an excellent presenter.
She motivated me and helped me
to feel hopeful, as she understood
the journey I’m on.

Men’s Outing
Service Project at Capen Hose Co. #4 Fire Museum

Mount Hope Victorian Cemetery
Guided tour included visits to the graves of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass.

Rochester Flair!
Picnic Dinner at Spencerport Fire Department

Nature Walk
Tinker Nature Park

Rochester Lilac Festival
Highland Park

We had a good open dialogue. It definitely felt like a comfortable space to share experiences.

The speakers were excellent, but the
contact and information from other survivors was priceless.
Dynamic workshops focused on how nature, healthy sleep, movement, creativity, and connecting with others can help us process our experiences and build resilience. Workshop titles included:

  • The Art of Grief: Using Art and SoulCollage® to Find Meaning
  • Get Outside: Building Resilience Through Nature
  • Mourning, Noon and Night: Milestones in Loss
  • A Deafening Silence: Family Relationships After Loss
  • PLUS: A service project for men, therapy dog meet-and-greet … and outings to local sites
There was good dialogue in all sessions. Facilitators and presenters made us feel at ease, making it easy to share and be vulnerable.

I took something away
from every workshop I attended.

The speakers were competent and relevant,
but their compassion was amazing.

The presenters were very positive, and you could tell they were passionate about their subject matter.

Getting Out and About with Others Who “Get It”

One of the greatest gifts when our Fire Hero Families gather is the opportunity to make connections with each other. Throughout the conference, participants had the chance to get to know each other a bit better while enjoying activities ranging from exercise to small breakout discussion groups to activities in and around Rochester. There was also plenty of downtime for participants to continue conversations and strengthen bonds.

It’s still hard to talk about my husband, but talking with others
who are experiencing the same thing makes it easier.
Fire Hero Families

Thank you with all our hearts

A warm thank you to the many Rochester-area fire departments for welcoming us with warmth and hospitality! Special thanks to the Spencerport Fire Department for hosting our group for a traditional Rochester-style dinner.

A huge shoutout to all of the local fire departments
who participated in providing their services and time.

Wellness Conference - Rochester, New York

The area fire departments’ support was outstanding.
The welcoming arms of all organizers, departments, and volunteers
made me feel so loved and honored. Thank you.
Explore our virtual support options

It is well worth the time and it is an excellent way to meet other survivors.

Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA),This event was open to spouses, life partners, parents, adult children, and siblings of fallen firefighters honored or approved to be honored at the National Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference is supported by a grant from the Department of Justice.