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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

3 Amanda203

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Hi. I'm Amanda. I have 2 girls but my baby girl lives in Heaven. Amber was diagnosed with Acute Myloed Leukemia 2 weeks before 2nd birthday. My Lil Cancer Warrior fought for 9 months. Amber is forever 2 years 8 months. I joined this group last year. I have attended several retreats. I have met and and became close friends with other Angel Parents and Grandparents. I feel like they are my extended family who understands my grief. The retreats has helped me so much. I have found some peace there. If you havent buried a child, then you really don't understand and can't grasp the long term hurt and grief that we are experiencing on a daily basis. Children is suppose to bury their parents not the other way around. I wake up daily feeling robbed of so much life with my baby girl. There is no "getting over it" or "moving on". Really. We live without our child daily. All we have left is pictures and memories to comfort us. Grieving is a life long process. Grief doesn't go away or take days off. Grieving has become a part of me that will last a lifetime. I wouldn't want this to happen to my worst enemy. Wings of Hope is an amazing group where I can grieve without criticism and talk with others about everything. This non profit group has so many wonderful things to help others with the death of a child /grandchildren. I am so blessed to have found Wings of Hope. I'm including a couple photos of my baby girl, Amber.

Previous Stories
2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am also a grieving mother. My youngest daughter is forever 2 years 8 months. She had Acute Myloed Leukemia. She fought it for 9 months. I felt so helpless and alone. My husband also my girls father wasn't there for me at all. My family and so called friends wasn't there for me.. They all used the same excuse. They couldn't handle it. The last couple of weeks, I watched my baby deteriate. She was dying. I rocked her as she left me to go to Heaven. I have been a member of this awesome group for 11 months now. Wings of Hope Living Forward has helped me so much with my grief. A part of me past away when she did. I will never be that person again. I have changed that much. Through this group, I met strangers. Those strangers quickly became friends. After the retreat began to end, I had some great friends. My new friends understands me. We are here for each other. My life has changed forever!
I speak about what I know of. I speak for myself and not what other's say. I speak my opinions, personal feelings, and experiences. I do not get involved with hearsay/rumors. It causes alot of drama. Some people thrives on it. I have been through enough. No drama, hearsay or rumors. This way I don't get fooled, and drawn into it.
I know and asked an accountant and business finance. Same person. Yes Wings of Hope is a nonprofit organization. An nonprofit organization must account for every dollar that comes in and goes out. Susan G. Kolmen foundation is also nonprofit for breast cancer awareness. Both sell merchandise. I don't have a problem with Wings of Hope Living Forward store. No one is required to purchase anything. The cost of retreat includes cost of the huge rented homes, covers all food, unless you want something else. There is always plenty of food. Materials needed for the retreat, candles,t-shirt , gifts, prizes, and all activities. I have been to 3 retreats so far. And I will be going again. All of us volunteer to help with daily running of household. We all do whatever needs done. There are no outside volunteers. I haven't experienced any problems. And I haven't been disrespected either. If volunteers left, that is their right. We all must do what is best for us.
It isn't anyone's business who makes what. Just like you. But nonprofit, the state and federal does keep up with the different rules and regulations. Personally, I have wrote up an employee for discussing his. Just saying. In my opinion that should get paid. They dedicate all their time for this group and organizing retreats. Who are you,need to know, judging people about what kind of people they are and their morales. I do not judge people, I'm not suppose to.No one knows their personal situation. The memorial page if you read it in its entirety it says small donation. A certain amount is not asked for. And no I haven't done it yet. But I plan on it. The parents do most of the memorial. It is the parents who gather their favorite pictures, favorite poems, and then send it in. The parent obviously wants a copy if it. If someone is disgusted with a group, I don't understand why you are still in it? Especially since you are going on hearsay, which of course does not hold up in court. That is exactly why I don't believe hearsay/rumors. Causes more drama.
I did notice you did not mention any of your personal feelings or experiences. Also personally attending retreats was not mentioned. Surely a person would not talk about other people drama especially without having her own personal experiences to back anything up. This is why I talk about things I know about or have facts to back it based on my personal feelings and experiences. I am glad I found this group. Wings of Hope Living Forward has helped me so much.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went to an all mom retreat in Feb. 2015 to Fort Lauderdale Fl. & this past October my husband & I attended a couples retreat in Va.. The above mentioned are so far my only two. I liked them both. They had similarities & differences. My husband enjoyed it also. There is joy, there are tears & new friendships to be made. So many people from so many different places, so many different back grounds; but yet, one thing in common. Grief is what unites us & our children are the ones keeping us together. Shirley & Renee (& Frank) work so hard to put these together & we applaud them for their efforts. Great retreats, we highly recommend them & can't wait to do it again. Miss our friends, till next time......To all of our children: Rest in peace, sleep in love, greatly missed

3

Client Served

Rating: 4

My son passed away in January of 2012. He was my heart and I have been lost ever since. I have gone to counseling and attended TCF meetings but what has helped me the most is attending The Wings of Hope retreats. Just meeting the other parents and knowing that what we are feeling is normal - we are not crazy really helps. While the retreats were not as spiritual as I would have liked, the relationships that were developed from attending these retreats was and is so healing. The organizers of the retreats are grieving parents also so they know what we are going through and they ask for feedback so they can try to improve with each retreat. The retreats are not a one size fits all but I can truly say that I have met some amazing people that I know will be lifelong friends, actually more like family and am so very grateful that I was able to attend these retreats.

3 Teresa83

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wings of Hope Living Forward is an awesome organization. I have been to 2 retreats. The first one I went to, I didn't know anyone. I felt very welcome and comforted the minute I walked in the door. I made new friends who had something in common with me. I am so grateful I was able to go to those retreats. I learned something at each one, that has helped with my grief. It is well worth the money. My family and friends comment on how helpful these retreats have been for me. Renee and Shirley work very hard on the retreats and do a great job. Thank Renee and Shirley for all you do!

4

Client Served

Rating: 4

Don't let 1 bad review discredit the Wings of Hope Forward Inc.. It is an attempt to cast false allegations this wonderful organization. Of course, if you are a trouble-maker & can't follow the rules, read no further, because these will not be tolerated. This is for grieving, hurting people that have suffered the loss or losses of a loved one. I lost my son to suicide in 2008. What an unimaginable & overwhelming hurt & pain & emptiness, that it left me with!!! If I had not found this grief groups & these retreats I just don't know what I would done. I have gone to 5 retreats. I am so thankful for the comfort & understanding that I received. I have flown & traveled by car in a group. The retreats are planned in advance, giving plenty of time to decide your mode of transportation. We stay in safe, beautiful fully furnished house with a spectacular or scenic view, which provides for your comfort & relaxation for healing. We have meetings, talks, & sharing. We make new friends that we can cry or laugh, knowing they will understand our emotions. Our 3 meals are tasty & good. We have lots of snacks anytime you desire. We have balloon & bottle release to our angels. My favorite event is the beautiful candle-lighting honoring our angels. Sponsor a Mom! Donate! Donations are tax deductible. Hats off to Renee & Shirley for planning these retreats at reasonable cost! They are heartbroken Moms, that gives comfort & strength to those that are grieving. I come away looking forward to the next retreat.

4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I lost my son José Adrian Campos, to the awful horrible disease CANCER. José was diagnosed at age 17, ando 4 days to his 20th birthday my sweet boy gained his angel wings. Leaving this painful hole in my heart. Wings of Hope has help me move forward, even though the pain will remain with me forever, I know I can always have the loving, caring and understanding of other angel mom's from this site.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been to several retreats and gotten so much from each one. The people that run the organization are wonderful and very real- they genuinely care for each and every person.
(It saddens me to see the bad review on here, but you can't please everyone all the time!)
The retreats are life-savers for many, including myself, and I would highly recommend that anyone donate to this cause or attend a retreat if you are yourself a grieving parent.

3 Sandra Q.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went to my first retreat this last spring in Virginia Beach. It was so nice to be able to talk out loud about my son Keith. Friends and family get too uncomfortable to talk to me about him. At the retreat i was even able to cry in front of people. And they understood. I met some very awesome people on this retreat. I can still talk to them on the web page. I was really alone before i met these wonderful people. I asked people to please talk to me about my son. Only his friends would. Here, i don't have to ask, i can just talk and it's okay. It makes a huge difference to talk to people who really understand and get it.

3 Iva Jean T.

Client Served

Rating: 5

When my granddaughter, Kenzee, was killed, my whole world changed forever: watching and being with my precious daughter as she struggled through the nightmare of this tragedy and the huge hole that was torn in my heart made life almost impossible. Then I read about a retreat to Virginia Beach. I knew no one and just packed up my car and drove 10 hours to join a group of ladies and some husbands that I had never met. I remember how scared I was and thinking I must be crazy; I was: I was crazy with grief and a broken heart.

When I got there, I was so afraid to walk in the door, but I soon realized that I had nothing to fear. I was welcomed and brought in with friendly smiles and hugs and helps of carrying my luggage up a flight of stairs. I met the most amazing supportive people who understood what I was going through.

Throughout the week as we opened up and felt safe doing so it was amazing the bonds we were forming. We all were there with a common bond and we knew that it was a safe place to express our feelings. We were together with others who were at various walks along this path that had been forced upon us.

Here we could talk about our favorite memories and share things that helped us or hindered us. We could pose questions and chat. We remembered our children and did various things to celebrate their lives. We could cry or just hold onto someone tight and knew that someone truly cared and understood.

We cooked together, walked the beach together, had barbecues together, swam together and even were lucky enough to go for a ride on a tall ship and enjoy the sun and water.

More importantly, we found people who understood us and validated us and we all had a chance to speak as we needed. There was no pressure, no judgment--just love, compassion and concern.

I met some of the most amazing people whom I continue to keep in contact and will continue.

Since that retreat, I went to a few other retreats: Arkansas and Fort Lauderdale and back to 'Virginia Beach and each time I gained more strength and met more beautiful grieving parents and grandparents.

I am not even sure how the organizers are able to give us so much at these retreats: from the food, little special mementos, the memorial candles, videos, special outings (such as tall ships, or motor boat sightseeing or shopping or beach time), balloon release or butterfly release, or special guest speakers or message in the bottle releasing in the ocean or dj and sing along and ALL at a fabulous retreat house!!!

The outpouring of compassion is amazing and for once you will be with people who "get it" ---who understand.

For those who can't go to a retreat, there are state chapters whose leaders are trying desperately to get little get togethers in your state to make everyone feel like they have a place to belong.

I give everyone involved in putting this together a lot of credit and thanks and love. They, too, have lost a child and they are opening up their hearts to everyone to make a difference with the grieving parent and grandparents. What an awesome organization.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been with this wonderful organization from the beginning. I lost my daughter Feb.15th 2013. My world was turned upside down..I was online one night and received a message from a women I never had spoken to..She reached out to help me. She is part of this wonderful group. My husband and I went to the first retreat they had,I have to say that I found hope,love and understanding..We made forever friends attending this retreat..I have been to several retreats now, and they have helped me in my healing..I will continue to support this wonderful group..They have helped so many that had no where to turn to..Thank you for all you do...I am forever grateful! Barbara

Previous Stories
6

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am a mother to an angel..My daughter passed away February 15th 2013. Losing a child is the most horrible thing a parent can go through. I want to tell you about the wonderful retreats my husband and I have been too. The first time I went I did not know what to expect. We did not know anyone. When we came through that door, everyone greeted us with so much love. I felt so welcomed. The meetings they have everyday helped me so much. I knew I was not alone in this journey,that they were going through the same thing I was. We made life long friends and so much healing going to these retreats. We laugh,we cry,we comfort each other,but most importantly we can talk about our children without being judged. My husband and I will be going again. Please support this wonderful organization. It has helped so many grieving parents including my husband and I. Thank you!

3

Advisor

Rating: 1

It does not give you much choice on your role to chose, but I am a grieving parent, and I have to ask, as a non-profit do you and the women running this give yourself and your husbands a salary? How many Parents that could not afford to go to a retreat have you paid the way for? Does it pay your gas to the retreats? I have heard some really nasty stories like you all having your husbands attacking a female volunteer that wasn't willing to do things your way anymore! I noticed that your merchandise has changed based on the fact that you lost some of your volunteers that could make some of the things you were selling...Still way over priced t-shirts for grieving parents, unless you are out to make a quick buck...You would think that someone that has been there would understand the hard times you go through after losing a child but you do have your husband and seem to have very few morals! And then you have the Paid service of making a memorial..that is never seen on the site, the parent does all of the work, sends you the pictures, the poem and anything she wants said...and wow you send it back so she can display it on her FB page...and you post 1 picture! What does that service cost? If you were doing this because you cared you would have a picture of every one of our children on your site not just the ones that paid! That is why you only have 2 pages, most people are as disgusted by it as I am! Most people just won't say! I am in your group BTW I do have a few friends but thinking of leaving because I don't agree with it at all! I think if you are NON_PROFIT you need to give us some numbers tell us where the money is going and tell us what yours and your helpers salary is! To me that is the worst thing about calling yourself Non-profit, is you can claim it as salary and tad-ah it is still non-profit! After the horrible stories I have heard about you there is no way I would believe you are running this morally....But I bet you are not going to answer not one question I brought up! because all of these people giving you 5 stars are either your personal friends or you have them fooled still! Nothing goes uncovered ever!

Comments ( 1 )

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shirdan 11/04/2015

I would be more than happy to address all of your questions and concerns. I am the President of Wings of Hope Living Forward Inc. and we run our organization with integrity. Wings of Hope Living Forward was not set up for our board members to receive a salary, however we do have one paid member who is compensated $200 monthly as our State Chapter Administrator. Due to our privacy agreement with members, we will never disclose the names of members who have received a sponsorship. I can say that WOHLF has sponsored 35+ parents and we have held seven retreats so far in 2014 and 2015 to date. Every non profit has expenses. Travel is an expense just like our website cost, office supplies, brochures, printouts, printer ink, printing, business cards, gifts, excursions, etc. I had to laugh when I read about someone being attacked. That has NEVER happened at any of our retreats and will NOT ever happen. I am sure the made up nasty stories were told by someone who has acted improperly and have been asked to leave or has been banned by Wings of Hope due to behavior or drama. We keep all retreats drama free. Thanks for the reminder about the Memorial pages. We need to change that wording because we are no longer continuing that service. As far as numbers, that is all public and as soon as the IRS makes it available, it will be available for anyone to view. It is obvious to me that you are someone who knows nothing about non profits and is out to try and start rumors about our organization that are just not true. I would ask that you start one and see how those quick bucks come rolling in...because they don't. There is a lot of hard work that goes into our retreats and we are dedicated to it's growth and longevity. We have been blessed to have met so many wonderful parents who have lost children. Wings of Hope will continue to support parents and grandparents who have lost a child. I think I have answered all your questions and concerns. God Bless you and I am sorry about the loss of your daughter.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I lost my only child on January 1st 2013 unexpectally. It is the worst thing to ever face in life. I had no clue how to go on or where to turn for help in trying to go on after such a loss. I found Wing of Hope Living Forward and went to a retreat. It was hard for me to share my loss with anyone. I was not able to share much but have recieved more then I thought I would or could long after the retreat was over. I am now ready to attend another retreat where I know I will be able to share and hopefully help others as well. The best thing I could have done for myself and family. Please go to a retreat for the sharing and healing. Well worth it.

6 Renee63

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Wings Of Hope Living Forward retreats have helped me in so many way. I lived a lonely life before making all of the wonderful friends I have made at the retreats. It feels good to connect with others who understand child loss. Broken hearts never completely heal and we find ourselves wearing a mask for the public. At the retreats you can take the mask off and be yourself even it is only for a short week a few times a year.The friends you make become lifelong friends...people you would have never met under different circumstances. And I might add wonderful people! I am so happy to be apart of Wings Of Hope Living Forward. I hope all grieving patents have an opportunity to experience a retreat someday!

5 Aunt K.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I attended my very first retreat in November of 2013. I had only met a few ladies online but formed an immediate bond with them after finally searching out a group three years after losing my only child, our daughter Autumn, in 2009 from an aortal arch aneurysm aka Takiyatsu Arteritis.
Everyone walked in not knowing what to expect but immediately felt at ease meeting and being able to hug in person others they had only had an online connection with for years in our groups.
To be able to spend a week in a beautiful place with others who can understand the heartache of losing a child having gone through it themselves is priceless.
The retreats consist of meet and greets, meetings with helpful information on dealing with your grief, balloon releases, a candle lighting ceremony, everyone getting a chance to talk about their child, one on one talks with someone who has lost a child recently and a person who has been on this journey for a while, crafts and free time and so much more.
If you can only go one time you will be glad, it will have an amazing impact on you and how you can better deal with your grief.
The friends you make last a lifetime. The bonding and sharing your story and knowing you are not alone is so comforting. You will walk away from this wanting to attend another and keeping in touch with new friends and a smile, guilt free laughing and a feeling that where there was no hope, a whole new door and way of dealing with your loss will open up and you can begin to heal.
Losing a child is the most devastating loss a parent can ever face. Don;t face it alone. There are others going through the same and to be able to share with them and keep your child's memory alive through these retreats is the most amazing thing to happen to a parent who has not even been out of their house or gotten dressed or have been able to function since their own loss.
Please support us in any way you can. Tell a friend or family member who has suffered a loss and has no where to turn. Once you attend you will look forward to returning because the support and love you get is wonderful and like no other out there. This is an awesome idea and it works... No one but a grieving parent can help a grieving parent. It works. No doubt about it.
So please go to our non profit site www.wingsofhopelivingforward.org and support us any way you can through donations, purchases of grief items, or just getting the word out to everyone that Wings of Hope Living Forward is here to help. Thank you...

6

Client Served

Rating: 5

My husband and I had the opportunity to attend a retreat. It had only been a year since we lost our son. We were not sure what to expect - staying for the weekend with strangers but all had experienced the loss of a child! From the moment we arrived at the retreat we were greeted with love and warmth. After meeting many of the parents we felt like we knew them for a long time. The retreat was a forward step in our healing. Anyone who is considering a retreat like this I would highly recommend it. We hope to be able to attend another one in the future.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I lost two sons four months apart in 2013. I'd never gone through such tremendous pain before. I just wanted to disappear. I don't remember how I came upon Wings of Hope but I was so thankful I did. I could talk to anyone on line or on the phone or at the retreats and they understood what I was feeling, thinking and going through. The retreats have been a Godsend to me. There, I experienced, love, understanding and comfort. I received information that was a big part of my healing process. It was very organized while at the same time, allowing for personal time. The workshops and crafts are interesting and fun. The videos of our children along with the balloon release and candlelight service give us the opportunity to share our beautiful children with others and honor them in these special ways. The food is very good and fun times are had. Before I went to a retreat, I thought I'd never laugh again or have fun but I was wrong. This is such a wonderful group that I thank God for everyday.

2 Maryanne H.

Client Served

Rating: 3

I have been with Wings of Hope Living Forward since my son Tyler passed away 06/01/2011. I have been through so many bad days and this site has saved me several times. The woman are wonderful and supportive. I had he pleasure of meeting Shirley Tripp Johnson the founder at her home for a balloon release. It was a wonderful experience and also touching. I have been fortunate to meet other wonderful woman. Ruthann runs the New Jersey chapter also. She to I meet and has been so supportive. I wouldn't leave this site for anything.

5 Ruthann G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am chapter leader of Wings of Hope New Jersey I have been in Pennsylvania for a balloon release for our wonderful children it was the most amazing time I have had since the passing of my son the women that were there which was also lost their child where sweet understanding an extremely nice women my experience to be with other women that understand my situation was amazing

6 Gail48

Client Served

Rating: 5

I never thought I'd look for help thru Wings of Hope Living Forward, Inc but when I found my son dead in his bed at the age of 27 I needed help. He was perfectly healthy Chicago Ironworker. I wondered if I could ever feel normal again. I don’t believe you ever “get over” your loss, rather we learn to "live with it" in time. But, we do live in a society here in America where everyone wants us to get over it, and get back to what others deem as our normal life.I tried weekly counceling, Compassionate Friends, Grief Share & many sources but for me Wings of Hope has offered me personally the most assistance.
I know from my own personal experiences of loss that I felt like I was in a deep hole looking out and life was busy and chaotic all around me and I felt frozen in time. I acknowledge others accept death differently but I myself was stuck.
Having Wings of Hope Retreats as a grief support is an important part of my own grief journey and healing process..We begin our retreats by introducing ourselves & our children, being allowed to openly speak of them, Lighting candles in their memory, Writing letters to put in a bottle & release into the ocean, doing a balloon release & supporting each other by openly talking to each other.
At the retreat we acknowledge that grief affects us spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially. The attendees were encouraged to remember that death ends a life not a relationship! Couples are welcome to many. We honor our childs memory keeping photos in sight to remind us of our relationships. It's a healing week for everyone in attendance.

7 Lynne Ellen S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son was murdered 02/26/12 by somebody he was helping. He left behind 4 daughters and a son that was yet to be born. My son was my life my only child we talked everyday . When he died part of me died also . Everyone thought I was so brave so strong but I just wanted to be with my son. I did not want to live. I met an amazing group of moms that were just like me they were broken. I was invited to the 1st retreat that is where my healing started. At the retreat I got to meet face to face other moms I knew I was no longer alone on this journey. I have formed lifetime friendships with other moms. Now I am helping other parent that are on this journey . This group has saved my live and I am trying to give back. Thank you Shirley and Renee you gave me purpose.