Events

2017 Wellness Conference for Survivors

May 7, 2017 – May 9, 2017, All Day

Location
Embassy Suites by Hilton Charleston Historic District – 333 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC
Get driving directions



2017 Wellness Conference for Survivors

The 2017 Wellness Conference for Survivors is open to spouses, life partners, parents, adult children and siblings of fallen firefighters honored at the National Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland, this conference focuses on self-care and positive steps toward healing after loss.

The conference will begin with a welcome reception on Sunday, May 7. On Monday, May 8, we will begin with a keynote address and breakout sessions in the morning, followed by workshops that focus on self-care and grief in the afternoon. On Tuesday, we will offer two more in-depth half-day workshops, where participants can both recognize how far they have come and look forward to the future.

There is space for 100 attendees, on a first-come, first-served basis.
The deadline to register is April 15, 2017.

Meals will be provided during the conference and the Foundation will reimburse you for up to three (3) nights lodging after full-participation in the conference.

For more information please contact Bev Donlon at bdonlon@firehero.org.


Reserve Your Room

Individual guests must make their own hotel reservation by calling 1-800-362-2779 or the Embassy Suites hotel directly at 843-723-6900 by April 5, 2017.
Please identify that you are with the NFFF Survivors Conference group.

The hotel rate is $219.00 based on Single/Double occupancy, $10.00 for each additional person (Triple/Quad). The room rate includes a cooked to order breakfast buffet each morning.

Cancellation of individual reservations shall be made 72 hours prior to arrival to avoid a cancellation penalty of first night’s room and tax.

Check in is at 4:00 pm; check out is 12:00 noon.

Parking

Hotel parking is available, currently $25 for valet services and $17 for self-parking.


Conference Agenda

Sunday, May 7, 2017
Travel Day

6:00 – 7:00 pm – Check-in

7:00 – 9:00 pm – Welcome Reception Dinner


Monday, May 8, 2017

Morning Exercise with the Charleston Fire Department
Exercise is optional but encouraged! Sessions are accessible to all, no matter your current level of fitness.

8:00 – 9:00 am – Breakfast

9:00 – 10:15 am – Keynote

Grieving with Gratitude

Kelly Buckley’s message of hope is compelling and much needed in today’s turbulent world. She prides herself on being “real” in her presentations, believing we need to recapture the art of connecting person to person. With humor and humility, she inspires her audience and challenges them to face life with an open heart. This will be a conversation about the connection between gratitude and resilience and how we all have the power to rise above life’s difficulties.

Born and raised in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Kelly Buckley grew up in a culture that personifies resilience, forging a happy life in one of nature’s most rugged and untouched locations. Over the course of her life, she has looked back to the roots of her resilient spirit as she dealt with the hurts of life, the biggest being the sudden death of her 23-year-old son, Stephen, on July 4, 2009. Kelly has published two books, Gratitude in Grief and Just One Little Thing. Through her writing and reflection of what remains in troubling times, Kelly was able to not only shift her own perception of loss, but also provide comfort and purpose for others as they navigate loss and trauma.

10:15 am – 12:00 pm – Breakout Sessions

These smaller breakout sessions will give participants a chance to get to know one another and to share memories, concerns, and thoughts about the future.

12:00 – 1:00 pm – Lunch

1:00 – 2:30 pm AND 2:45 – 4:15 pm – Afternoon Sessions
Sessions repeat. Groups will switch so everyone attends both sessions.

Taking Steps Forward on the Path to Healing: The Power Within

Grief is both universal and unique to each person. This workshop will focus on the path forward after the loss of a loved one. We will discuss how each of us can take control again—care for ourselves, gain greater stability, and create a happy and productive life. The path will look a little different for each person, but together we can get there!

Amanda Custer has a degree in Clinical Counseling and 28 years of experience in the mental health field. She has worked for the South Carolina Department of Mental Health in Charleston for 27 years. For the past ten years she has worked with the fire service and other first responders, as well as their family members. She provided services to family members who lost loved ones in the Sofa Super Store fire on June 18, 2007, which claimed the lives of nine City of Charleston firefighters. Amanda is licensed as a master‘s level social worker and is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

Life in the Fishbowl: Judgement, Boundaries and Priorities

Grieving people have something in common with goldfish…there are always folks staring into the fishbowl! No matter how far along the road of grief recovery you may have traveled, there is no doubt you’ve experienced the potholes created by other people’s opinions. In the early stages of grief, we tend to expand our boundaries and allow more people into our lives in order to survive the crushing loss of our loved one. Yet, as we heal, the need to restructure our boundaries and find our own unique healing path becomes clear. Join Michele for a practical and honest conversation about boundaries, priorities, judgement, and finding our way to peace and calm in the face of criticism and negativity.

Michele Neff Hernandez, a popular presenter at past Survivors Conferences, is the founder and executive director of Soaring Spirits International, an international support network for people around the world. Since the death of her husband, Michele has dedicated herself to providing resources, support, and community to widowed people around the world.

4:00 – 6:00 pm – Afternoon Walk
Exercise is optional but encouraged! Sessions are accessible to all, no matter your current level of fitness.

Get out for some fresh air, exercise, and sightseeing in the lovely Charleston historic district.

6:00 – 8:00 pm – Dinner

If you would like, please bring a photo of your loved one to include in a special display.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Morning Exercise with the Charleston Fire Department
Exercise is optional but encouraged! Sessions are accessible to all, no matter your current level of fitness.

9:00 am – 12:00 pm AND 1:00 – 4:00 pm – Tuesday Sessions
Sessions repeat. Groups will switch so everyone attends both sessions.

What We Know Now

Grief recovery is an evolving experience. Just when you think you have figured it out, a new and unexpected life twist may reawaken painful feelings of loss and cause you to question what you know about the winding road of grief. Collectively, we’ve lived, we’ve learned, we’ve grown. and we’ve changed since the moment our loved ones took their last breath. What has grieving the death of your loved one taught you? How have the lessons learned since your first day as a grieving person impacted the way you live your life and the way you view the world? Join Michele Neff Hernandez for an opportunity to benefit from the experiences of your peers, share your own hard-won wisdom, and a chance to apply what you hear to a current life challenge.

Michele Neff Hernandez, a popular presenter at past Survivors Conferences, is the founder and executive director of Soaring Spirits International, an international support network for people around the world. Since the death of her husband, Michele has dedicated herself to providing resources, support, and community to widowed people around the world.

The Power of Now

We are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS. After loss, our mind has a tendency to never stop thinking, analyzing, fearing, and stressing over the new life before us. We are so busy DOING what we feel we must to survive, that we forget what it is just BEING in the moment, being our most authentic self, being content and happy. This workshop allows you to see the power of focus and being in the present. Utilizing experiential empowerment exercises, meditation, and self-inquiry, it’s a holistic time to reconnect the strength and resilience you have within.

At age 21, Taryn Davis received devastating news. Her husband, CPL Michael Davis, had been killed in Baghdad, Iraq. While her family provided all the support they could, she still felt lost and alone. Taryn created the American Widow Project to provide vital empowerment and peer-based resources to our nation’s military widows and widowers, having now served over 2,000 people at over 100 retreats. Her work with the AWP has been featured on The TODAY Show, NPR, People, and PBS. Taryn has been awarded Top 10 CNN Hero, one of NEWSWEEK’s 150 Women Who Shake the World, L’Oreal’s National Woman of Worth, and DVF People’s Voice Award. She’s shared her story on the stage for Forbes, GE, Morgan Stanley, TEDx, and more.

12:00 – 1:00 pm – Lunch

4:00 – 6:00 pm – Afternoon Walk
Exercise is optional but encouraged! Sessions are accessible to all, no matter your current level of fitness.

Get out for some fresh air, exercise, and sightseeing in the lovely Charleston historic district.

6:00 – 8:00 pm – Dinner/Closing Ceremony


Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Departure Day


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