Events

2019 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference

May 5, 2019 – May 7, 2019, All Day

Location
Portland Regency Hotel & Spa – 20 Milk Street, Portland, ME
Get driving directions


Everything You Need to Know About the Conference
Download the 2019 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference Guide

Registration for the Conference is Closed

2019 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference

The 2019 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference is open to spouses, life partners, parents, adult children and siblings of fallen firefighters honored at the National Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The conference will include opportunities to reflect on your experiences, blend them with your present and gain wisdom and strength for your future. Come join us for wisdom on a healthy balance between holding onto memories, living in the present, and having the ability to plan for a meaningful and happy future. You won’t want to miss the insightful workshops, the presenters, and the activities planned. You won’t want to miss the keynote by New York Times bestselling author, Kate Braestrup, closing remarks by United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills (Retired), insightful workshops, and the activities planned.

There is space for 100 attendees, on a first-come, first-served basis or until April 1, 2019.

For more information about the 2019 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference, please contact Beverly Donlon at (301) 447-1603.


Schedule

* Exercise sessions are optional and are designed to be accessible to all levels of fitness.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Pre-Conference Peer Support Training

This one-day training is for those who want to do outreach to other Fire Hero Families through the NFFF’s Peer Support Network. Pre-registration is required for this training. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jenny Woodall at jwoodall@firehero.org.

3:00 – 6:00 pm

Registration/Therapy Dogs

Please check in to pick up your nametag, conference materials, and welcome bag. This is a good time to visit with other conference attendees, as well as the therapy dogs, after a day of travel.

6:00 – 7:00 pm

Welcome Dinner

Join us for a welcome dinner and a chance to meet and renew connections with other fire hero families.

7:00 – 8:00 pm

Welcome/Keynote Address with Kate Braestrup

Kate Braestrup is a minister, law enforcement chaplain, New York Times bestselling author, and widow of a Maine law enforcement officer.

Monday, May 6, 2019

7:30 – 8:30 am

Introduction to Yoga Flow *

Lisa King

We will slowly flow through some yoga movements with awareness of body, mind, and breath. By connecting your breath to movement, you will invite a feeling of ease in your body and mind. No previous yoga experience is necessary. Choices will be offered to include any level of physical ability by building on the strengths you already possess! Participants will leave with a few simple tools they can easily use at home.

7:00 – 9:00 am

Breakfast

9:00 – 10:30 am

How to Support Children Experiencing Grief and Strong Emotions

Stephanie Heitkemper

Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and supportive friends, ever wish you had a magic wand to help a child who is struggling? Gain insight and confidence by attending this workshop as we explore brain development, regulation states, and activities that foster positive attachment. Learn and explore techniques to first regulate your nervous system, so you can best support a child who is grieving or struggling with other strong emotions. Walk away with simple activities that may just feel like a magic wand! This session will focus on children ages 3-10.

 

Integration: Blending Past, Present, and Future (Part 1)

Michele Neff Hernandez / Dr. Carrie West

Creating a healthy balance between holding onto our memories, living in the present moment, and having the ability to plan for a meaningful and happy future is a challenge for everyone who has experienced the death of a person they love. The ongoing connection with our person exists in each of these time orientations. Viewing grief and healing through each of these three lenses is a powerful experience that will help you find balance through integration. Join us for access to research-based tools that are designed to help you build resilience as we honor the people we love by finding ways to truly live. This is a two-part workshop that will run from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.

 

An Attitude of Gratitude

Vickie Taylor

This session will explore how to cultivate gratitude and counteract negativity by noticing and reflecting on what is good. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a skill that can be learned and when practiced daily, helps to improve sleep, lower depression and raise productivity.

10:30 – 10:45 am

Break

10:45 am – 12:15 pm

How to Support Children Experiencing Grief and Strong Emotions

Stephanie Heitkemper

Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and supportive friends, ever wish you had a magic wand to help a child who is struggling? Gain insight and confidence by attending this workshop as we explore brain development, regulation states, and activities that foster positive attachment. Learn and explore techniques to first regulate your nervous system, so you can best support a child who is grieving or struggling with other strong emotions. Walk away with simple activities that may just feel like a magic wand! This session will focus on children ages 11-18.

Integration: Blending Past, Present, and Future (Part 2)

Michele Neff Hernandez / Dr. Carrie West

Creating a healthy balance between holding onto our memories, living in the present moment, and having the ability to plan for a meaningful and happy future is a challenge for everyone who has experienced the death of a person they love. The ongoing connection with our person exists in each of these time orientations. Viewing grief and healing through each of these three lenses is a powerful experience that will help you find balance through integration. Join us for access to research-based tools that are designed to help you build resilience as we honor the people we love by finding ways to truly live. This is a two-part workshop that will run from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.

 

An Attitude of Gratitude

Vickie Taylor

This session will explore how to cultivate gratitude and counteract negativity by noticing and reflecting on what is good. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a skill that can be learned and when practiced daily, helps to improve sleep, lower depression and raise productivity.

12:15 pm

Lunch

1:30 – 3:30 pm

Afternoon Session: Connecting with Others

These breakout sessions, arranged by relationship to the fallen firefighter, will give participants a chance to get to know one another and to share experiences, memories, and concerns. These are peer-led groups where fire hero family members can learn from and support one another.

4:00 – 5:00 pm

Afternoon Walk to the Fire Museum *

Join fellow family members and a local fire service guide for a walk to nearby Portland Fire Museum. Get out for some fresh air, exercise, and conversation! Meet in the lobby.

Dinner is on your own this evening.
Please refer to the list of restaurants in the conference guide.

7:00 – 9:00 pm

Cardmaking

Gail Fowler

Want to relax, visit with friends, have fun and be creative? Join us as we make greeting cards. Come stamp, cut and color cards to take home. Supplies will be provided. No cost and no experience needed.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

7:30 – 8:30 am

Restorative & Gentle Yoga *

Chris Byrne

This is a gentle yoga class combining elements of mindfulness meditation, gentle movements, restorative postures, and breath work. This class is designed to be accessible for all bodies, backgrounds, abilities, and experience levels. By moving slowly and with mindful intention, students are invited to explore the space that exists between breath and movement with kindness and compassion, offering yourself space to take what you need and to honor yourself just as you are: a miracle of love and light.

6:30 – 9:00 am

Breakfast

9:00 – 11:30 am

Building Resilience Through Relationships and Support

Michele Neff Hernandez / Dr. Carrie West

There are many common misconceptions about the length of time a grieving person will need the support of their community. When the relationships in our lives cause strain or hardship, our ability to manage the ups and downs of missing our person are compromised. Even if you are surrounded by supportive people, they may not be offering the type of support that would be most valuable to you. Join us to explore your personal universe. Together, we will use research-based tools to identify major sources of community support, discover ways to maintain healthy boundaries in challenging relationships, and recognize gaps in our support system so that we can surround ourselves with the relationships we need for healing.

Providing Effective Outreach and Support to Others

Dr. Angela Moreland

Given the difficulty that family members have in dealing with the loss of a loved one, it can be difficult to provide outreach and support in a way that seems helpful. This workshop will cover skills and techniques that are most effective when providing support to individuals following the experience of traumatic events or grief surrounding loss of a loved one. Participants will leave this session with specific strategies and techniques that can be used in the real world when working with others.

Home Maintenance and Safety

Chief Will Tierney

Join Chief Will Tierney, a volunteer fire chief on an island that is only accessible by boat and a self-employed contractor who does home repair and construction. Chief Tierney will teach you a variety of routine home maintenance, safety, and warning signs of issues, as well as preventative measures you can take to keep your home safe and in good repair.

Men’s Outing

Participants will travel to Maine Fabricators, Inc. located in Gorham, eight miles from the conference hotel. Maine Fabricators is a family-owned welding and machine shop started by the Kirkpatrick family in 1980. Following a tour of the facility, participants will be assembling a two-dimensional firefighter Maltese Cross to take back home as a souvenir of the conference and your time in Maine.

11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Lunch

1:00 – 4:00 pm

Men’s Service Project

Back by popular demand, this year’s men’s service project will benefit the Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough, Maine. Join other men who are attending the conference to help with some outdoor spring maintenance, as well as an opportunity to visit with residents. Continue this proud tradition of giving back to the local community that hosts our annual conference.

Sea Glass Art Project

Maria Robertson

Create a stunning Seascape Window using your beach treasures or ours! Seascape Creations instructor Maria Robertson will help you design your one-of-a-kind 8×10″ Seascape Window using an array of materials, including sea glass, starfish, sand dollars, and other beach finds. Feel free to bring your own sea glass and shells for a personalized piece! Take home a unique souvenir of your time in Maine.

Moving it Through: Healing through Yoga and Self-Care

Skye Adams and Kate Whittemore

Sea Change Yoga teachers Skye and Kate are honored to offer an afternoon of connection and support through gentle movement, relaxation, discussion, and tools for self-care. We will gather together in community to discuss how trauma specifically affects the body and ways to create resilience and body awareness through yin yoga, a slow and moderate style of yoga that targets the deeper layers of tissue in the body and offers space for processing and healing. Participants will also be encouraged to share their stories and offer support to each other through active listening, journaling, and partner yoga. Skye and Kate will also offer some skills and ways to create a simple daily routine for self-care and nourishment. We will end with relaxing restorative yoga. We look forward to being part of your journey! This workshop is appropriate for all levels of yoga, even brand-new beginners!

5:30 – 7:30 pm

Dinner/Closing Remarks by Retired United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills

Retired United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills is a retired United States Army staff sergeant, recalibrated warrior, author, and veterans advocate.

Extend Your Stay (Optional)

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

We hope that many of you will extend your stay to participate in the Wednesday excursions so you can see a bit more of the beautiful Portland area. This optional day is supported through the generous help of Maine fire service and family support and is not officially sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. You are responsible for arranging and paying for your lodging and meals for the post-conference stay. Airport transportation will be available on Thursday, May 9 with shuttles running every two-hours from 6:30 – 10:30 am.

2019 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference - Wildlife Park

Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, Maine

Are you interested in Maine wildlife? This is a guaranteed opportunity to see a moose, along with deer, bears, wild cats, porcupines, coyotes, owls, bald eagles, turtles, trophy trout, and more – over 30 species of native wildlife! The park-like setting, wildlife exhibits, nature store, trails, snack bar, and flower gardens make this an inviting stop for families, students, seniors, and groups interested in Maine wildlife.

2019 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference - Shopping

Freeport/LL Bean (Shopping)

Want to do some souvenir shopping before you head home? Experience world-class shopping in Freeport, a unique coastal Maine village where you can find hundreds of delightful shops just a short distance from world famous L.L.Bean.

2019 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference - Fort Williams Park

Ft. Williams/Portland Head Light

Cape Elizabeth is the home of Portland Head Light, situated along the spectacular shores of Fort Williams Park. The award-winning Museum at Portland Head Light is contained within the former Keepers’ Quarters. Fort Williams Park offers picnic facilities, hiking opportunities, sports and recreation areas, historic fort structures, and unlimited ocean views.

2019 Fire Hero Family Wellness Conference - Casco Bay Cruise

Casco Bay Cruise Aboard the Casablanca

Join us aboard the Casablanca, an 85-foot double decker charter boat, for a tour of scenic Casco Bay. Boarding begins at 12:30 pm for a 3-hour narrated cruise from 1-4 pm. With many islands, forts, and lighthouses, Casco Bay and Portland Harbor are rich in history and beautiful to explore and witness by boat. You can order lunch ahead of time to bring on the boat, and beverages will be available on board for purchase.

Featured Speakers

Kate Braestrup

Kate Braestrup

Kate Braestrup is a community minister, law enforcement chaplain, New York Times bestselling author, and widow of Maine law enforcement officer. These days, Kate divides her time between her service as chaplain to the Maine Warden Service and writing. In addition, she is a popular public speaker around the country and abroad, entertaining and educating interested audiences with her characteristic honesty, good humor and poignancy.

Read More About Kate

Travis Mills

Travis Mills

Retired United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne is a recalibrated warrior, motivational speaker, actor, author and an advocate for veterans and amputees. Travis’s New York Times bestselling memoir, Tough as They Come, is currently available on sale in bookstores everywhere. Despite losing portions of both arms and legs from an IED while on active duty in Afghanistan, Travis continues to overcome life’s challenges, breaking physical barriers and defying odds.

Read More About Travis

Conference Facilitators

Skye Adams
Skye Adams, E-RYT, YACEP
Chris Byrne

Chris Byrne

Stephanie Heitkemper

Stephanie Heitkemper, MA MFT-C

Michele Neff Hernandez

Michele Neff Hernandez

Lisa King

Lisa King

Dr. Angela Moreland

Angela Moreland, Ph.D.

Chief Will Tierney

Chief Will Tierney

Vickie Taylor

Vickie Taylor

Dr. Carrie West

Dr. Carrie West

Kate Whittemore

Kate Whittemore