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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Wings of Hope Living Forward Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Target demographics: parents and grandparents after child loss.

Direct beneficiaries per year: so many grieving parents with our grief and healing retreats.

Geographic areas served: many locations mainly east coast

Programs: Our goal for 2014-2015 is to continue to assist parents who have lost a child to attend our retreats. We can’t do this alone and need sponsors to help us reach our goals. Will you help us meet our goal? Here is how your gift will impact our retreats: All donations go toward the retreat rental home, Candle lighting ceremony (each parent receives a candle with their child’s photo), a tribute video in memory of our children Gone to Soon, balloon releases, area excursions, workshop materials, handouts, food and much more.

Community Stories

52 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter was murdered in a home invasion 18 years ago, she and her husband were both shot, she twice in the head, and him 3 x. The father survived, four young men just 19 years old broke in and held the children hostage, 3 little boys, ages six, four and two. I have had many counseling sessions with professionals to cope with the loss and devastation, but not anything compares to having another grieving parent to talk about the loss, you just don't get it, until it happens to you.

1 donnajohn

Client Served

Rating: 5

I lost my son Adam and found Wings of Hope shortly after. I have been on many retreats sponsored by the wonderful organization and they have helped me tremendously. I highly recommend them to anyone that has lost a child or grandchild.

Previous Stories
2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have attended quite a few Wing Of Hope retreats. They have been a tremendous help on my grief journey. Our administrators, Shirley and Renee have both lost sons but they put their grief aside to help us. They are kind, caring, and giving. I am blessed to be a part of their group. I would urge every grieving parent or grandparent to become a part of this wonderful organization.

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Margie11

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hi my name is Margie I loss my son over 3 yrs and I found WOHLF I believe like over 2 yrs. My first retreat i was scared to go but Renée and Shirley spoke and convince me to go. When I went into felt so much love at the retreat. I'll be going on my fifth retreat in May.

robertakeene

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Roberta, I lost my oldest son in May 2017. I was depressed, lonely, really didn't care if I lived or not. While online one day looking for help before I totally lost my mind, I found an online group of people like me!! Grieving and searching for Hope! I found a group called Wings of Hope Living Forward. Through this group, Retreats for just grieving moms and others for couples began. I have attended many of the Retreats and each one was a part of my living forward process. Tragically in March 2015 I lost another son, both boys were in mid 30's. Through the Retreats I had made many lifelong sister friends. I had support that I didn't have before, people to share my feelings with and not be judged. Friends I could laugh with for the first time in a very long time, I could talk about my boys and people cared instead of cringe. I can cry one minute and laugh the next and the moms at the Retreats understand... because they are living the same nightmare! Shirley and Renee do an outstanding job with these Retreats. It is obvious the Retreats are a labor of love, these ladies hearts and souls are put into everything that is done. For me and many others it's a hospital for our grieving hearts.

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Client Served

Rating: 5

I lost my oldest son 5/31/2010. Unless you have lost a child you can't fathom our pain. I joined an online grief group and quickly found so many others that shared my pain!
I was privileged to attend the first retreat and meet so many friends I had only chatted with online. The retreats are wonderful, I'm able to share my grief and have so much support. In March 2015 the unthinkable happened, I lost a second child. I had more support from Wings of Hope Living Forward than I did from family and local friends. This organization has helped me to move forward. Yes I love and miss my boys, and will until I see them again. I have learned to release my grief as needed and still live. I have been blessed to attend 5 retreats, one was sponsored by a donor just after my second son died. So many of us have been helped by this wonderful group.

1 Nancy291

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This my daughter Tracie. We lost her February 17, 2013. The pain from our loss is devastating. I knew there were groups for grieving parents. I searched and found WOHLF. Since i joined this wonderful group, i have attended many retreats. I will be attending my 9th one in May of this year. It is so healing to be with other moms that know the deep pain from child loss. When i walked into my first retreat, not knowing but a couple of moms that i had met in person, i felt more comfortable than i ever had in a group situation. We laugh, we cry and we share our pain. The bottle release, butterfly release, candle lighting are all very emotional. But also very healing. The group meetings, mom talks, and just being with others who understand has been a blessing. I'm grateful to have found WOHLF!

Rhonda49

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Rhonda Sykes, I have been in the WOHLF Family for 3 yrs. I lost my 16yr. Old son Dylan in 2012. This group is amazing! I can honestly say they saved my life, gave me hope and helped me to find a wayto live life without my child. The friendships I have made thru this group will last forever! Thank you WOHLF for all that you do.

Dawn175

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is a wonderful group where we support each other on this horrible journey after losing a child. There are retreats that are affordable for us to go and help each other heal and support each other. A place where we can open our hearts and everyone understands what we are going through. Attached is a picture of my son who I lost on October 2.2006. I am thankful to have all these beautiful moms to help me get through this.

Catherine98

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have gone on retreat with this organization and these wonderful ladies. Made life changing friendships. Losing my daughter has not been easy but being able to speak openly with other women about our children has helped me to move forward along my grief journey.

2 Susie27

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I just like to say finding this group has been the biggest help with dealing with the loss of my only son. I thought I was going to go crazy because I had no one to share what I was feeling with I tried to reach out to get therapy but I was put on a waiting list and months went by with no contact from them so that made me feel more alone. But here I found out what I was feeling was normal, that there is a process to this journey. This group has made me so much stronger and for that I will always be grateful.

3 Jacquie G.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Every interaction with the people in this group is positive. The parent newly grieving the loss of a child, or for those of us for whom it's further in the past all find comfort and are able to share their grief in constructive and healing ways.

1 judyfitts

Client Served

Rating: 5

I don't know where I'd be today if had not got involved wirh this group even now as I'm coming up on my 2nd year they are all here for me I don't have money for a retreat but they are with on my journey with text phone calls cards this group is a god send thank you Shirley and Renee

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4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Love the wing of hope retreats with out them and the workers I don't know where I would today thanks

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1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went to my first retreat in Jan/feb 2017. It was their Pensacola all mom's retreat. I was nervous at first but right away they all became family. I lost my son to suicide over 10 yrs ago. I have been handling my grief alone. It was amazing how much love and support you find at the retreats. It was great to share in discussions and learn from other mom's that know the pain of losing a child. I would suggest going to one of the retreats to any one that is grieving the loss of a child.

2 Stephanie217

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hello my name is Stephanie I lost my 18 year old daughter may,01 2014 as a passenger in a truck accident. I found these retreats in Facebook one night that I was looking to talk with other people that have lost a child or children. I had to find something to keep pushing me and giving me a reason to keep faith!! And I did I found wings of hope living forward they are my new family. I get to cry,laugh,share, and smile again when I am with my wings of hope family. I have been to 5 retreats and going to my 6th in may 2017.. without them I wouldn't be able to move forward and I am starting to!! I thank god I found this group and will recommend them to everyone. They are wonderful and loving and we all support each other all the time not just at retreats. I have made friends I will keep for life that totally understand me.. thank you Shirley and Renee for the wonderful things you do for all of us.

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5

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter Cierra passed on May,01 2014 as a passenger when a semi hit her side her last day of high school.. I went on a search for groups because I felt alone because I lost my mama the year before of cancer I came across wings of hope moving forward and went to my first retreat in smokey mountains it was the best decision I ever made!! This group is amazing and has helped so much with my grieving process and I have made a new family with all of them I love them dearly. They work so hard and give there heart with everything they do with these retreats!! We get so many gifts and have so many memories at these retreats without them I would probably be locked up in a hospital my daughter is my world and when she entered heaven I was lost!!! I want to thank wings of hope moving forward for the hope I have now to move forward for my 2 sons and not to give up!! Without all of you I will still be so lost!! Thank you for all the support and love you have shared with all of us.. Can't wait to see you in March at Holden beach retreat!!!

2 Robin119

Client Served

Rating: 5

I attended a retreat in May 2014 in Virginia Beach with these wonderful moms, I went there not knowing anyone and when I walked through the door I felt like I had known these ladies my whole life. I laughed so much- I forgot how that felt since the death of my son Greg in 2013, the bonds that were made , the love you feel and the understanding is so amazing! If you are struggling to find your new normal, these ladies sure can and will help, you can be you with no judgment, you can cry, laugh, scream, it is accepted, and being accepted means a lot!!!!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

This group has shown me that I'm not alone, and they have become wonderful friends across the country. My youngest daughter, Bobbilyn's sunrise is 8/01/79. Her sunset is 7/11/06, three weeks shy of her 27th birthday, and 4 months after my dad's sunset. Bobbilyn was healthy and suddenly became sick. 2 1/2 weeks later she was gone from a heart virus called Myocarditis. It's been 10 years but hurts like it was minutes ago.
Our administrators work so hard for us, and themselves. I love them so much. They are going through their own grief along with us. Thank you to Shirley and Renee. ❤️

3 mamabang

Client Served

Rating: 5

I love wings of hope grieving parents and grandparents surviving together I don't know where I would be without these wonderful people the retreats have helped me so much in my grief journey ..

Previous Stories
3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been to 3 retreats so far and I look forward to going to more it has helped me so much I lost my 21 year old son in may 2010 to be honest I don't know where I would be without wings of hope this origination has dine so much for me I have been sponsored and was able to go for free the ladies who run this go above and beyond to help grieving parents learn the tools on how to cope with child loss and do all kinds of activities we have had candle lightnings get togethers done messages in a bottle and threw them in the ocean in Virginia Beach I could go on and on thank you wings of hope for everything I wish I could give a million stars .. always your friend Deb mama bang Schwartz

3 Constance P.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I can't put into words how truly important this organization is to support bereaved parents. Thank God & all those whom are left here on this earth to help gain insight on our broken paths as grieving parents we feel we walk alone. Thank you!

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Wings of Hope has proven over and over to be a wonderful organization for bereaved parents. This organization truly allows you to be free in your grief without judgment. You are able to connect with people time and time again and develop amazing friendships with people who understand the tragedy of loosing a child. This group has the most loving, compassionate, empathetic men and women you could ever meet. Each and every person I met has been a true inspiration and has left a deep impression on my heart.

3 Theresa67

Client Served

Rating: 5

When my son Cpl Brandon S Bowles came home safely from war, not once, but TWICE, I thought he would make it through anything! Sadly, while driving home for spring break from college, he overcorrected a curvy country road, went of the other side and perished!
A year and a half later, I found out that an online group I was recently a member of, got together for retreats a few times a year. At that point, all I could think about was joining my son, I just wanted to stay in bed till I died!
My husband and I took our income tax that year and paid for a retreat. They were out of sponsorship funding at that time.
At the retreat, I learned that most of my thoughts and feelings were shared by other parents there. We not only grieved together, but we laughed too! We are in a setting that requires us to be with each other, talking, therapy groups led by one of the founders Shirley who is a licensed grief counselor. As well as discussions led by our spiritual guru (lol) Renee. We do many group activities, an excursion or two, usually in a beautiful mansion on the beach!
I feel like I woke up and was thawing, I was learning to live again, to find purpose out off my terrible sadness!
Now, almost 3 years later, I'm doing fundraising here in Kentucky, to help send parents to these amazing retreats with Wings of Hope Living Forward. Their purpose to me is about saving lives! They saved mine!

Previous Stories
4

Client Served

Rating: 5

After the death of my only son, I was so lost in grief and the pain had become unbearable! Counseling helped very little, as I later understood that unless you've lost a child...then how can you truly empathize and understand the pain and daily struggles just to get out of bed!
By chance I found this group online that offered support through sharing our pain, experiences, strength and hope! The group was so loving and supportive, and so many parents were on there reaching out to each other...because it was okay to bare your soul on there, without judgement, ridicule or being abandoned...as many of us were experiencing with even our closest family and friends!
Wings oh Hope Living Forward took our great longing to be heard and understood, and created events where parents could all come together and meet!
My first retreat was amazing! I made lifelong friends of all walks of life, but we shared the same pain of grief and daily struggles to learn how to live without our precious child!
We all stay in a huge mansion style place, where many of us even share sleeping quarters... We bond, share meals, laugh and cry together, we hug, love and support each other! There is a licensed Grief Counselor present the entire week long retreat, and she is one of the founders and is amazing!
I am so grateful for this group of parents, together, we save lives, and learn how to live again, while keeping our Childs spirit alive!
Most respectfully,
Theresa Bowles-Schweizer

2 Melanie54

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wings of Hope has softened my grief journey so very much. Luckily, I found this group shortly after losing my youngest son in 2009. I attended the first retreat Wings of Hope offered. I was met by other parents who had also experienced the pain of losing a child. We laughed, we cried, we talked about our Angels without hesitation. I have life longs friends from that first retreat. When one of us falter there is always another Angel mom or dad to help us find our way & carry on. Together we have honored our children by standing strong for each other & any newly bereaved parent who comes our way!

Melanie Marshall - forever Jess & JJ's mom !!