Building Houses of Hope

Little Pink Houses of Hope (LPHOH) is an organization I hold so near and dear to my heart. An organization that has made me a better person. An organization that has truly influenced and changed my life. LPHOH provides a free week at the beach for families impacted by breast cancer. Their mission statement is simple: “to promote breast cancer recovery by offering opportunities for survivors to reconnect and celebrate life.”

Four years ago when my mom was looking up free vacations for cancer patients and their families and found LPHOH, I never thought my family would be so lucky to take a free vacation to our favorite spot –the beach. Then one day in eighth grade my dad forwarded me an email with the subject line “fwd: little pink acceptance.” My family was getting to spend a week in Avon, NC on the Outer Banks for a week free of charge and our “task” was to just relax.

While on our retreat, my family got to stay in a beautiful beach house across the street from the ocean, eat free meals, learn to paddleboard, play mini golf, ride go carts, fish, make jewelry, go on a boat ride, explore a lighthouse, get family portraits taken, and of course go to the beach. We spent our downtime together exploring the surrounding area of Avon and the nearby Outer Banks. We met so many wonderful families and people during that short week. Families and people we are still close friends with. My family is now close friends with our volunstar –an even more positive spin referencing Little Pink volunteers– Charlie, the rest of the volunstars, and the founder Jeanine. Following our retreat, my entire family knew that we wanted to continually stay involved with Little Pink. I was forever grateful for such a fantastic experience, and I didn’t know how I could repay my eternal gratitude for a lifetime of memories.

Since our own retreat, my family has held a LPHOH benefit lemonade stand, my parents have been keynote speakers at the annual LPHOH Gala, and they have volunteered for retreats. My mom was a volunstar in Lake Tahoe, and my dad was a volunstar for Lake Tahoe, Oak Island, and a retreat director for Key West.

Fast forward three years, and I finally figured out how I could give back with one simple email subject line I recieved: “we would be honored for you to be a 2016 Retreat VolunSTAR!” This past June, I was given the opportunity to give back and serve for LPHOH in Key West, Florida. All I had to do was raise $300 and get to Key West. It was hard being away from my own family at this time as my mom was in hospice home care, but I knew this was something I really wanted and needed to do.

As a volunstar, I was given a family to take care of and help make their week in Key West  as memorable and special as my family was given just four years prior. The moment I stepped into Key West, I was taken away by all its character and beauty and knew it wouldn’t be hard to give my family a great getaway.

Before the families arrived, I had to help set everything for the week; we went grocery shopping to meet the specific needs of our families, got the donated houses set up, and did a few team building activities. One last important thing we were told before the families arrived was to “be in the moment.” With my family, I got to go on a sunset cruise, lead a dance conga line, have a beach day, and share a meal with them every day. And once again, I made a forever family with both my fellow volunstars and the families we served.

It is one thing to receive something as special as what LPHOH gives, but when you’re on the other side and giving back it’s completely different, especially when you’re a volunstar who’s been on the that receiving side. As a volunstar, I learned just how rewarding volunteering is. You devote yourself to the family for a week, and you become such a selfless version of yourself. I learned how much I love giving back to others, and I now know that I want to continue volunteering in anyway that I can. I’ve never seen so much love given from complete strangers who eventually become your family.  It’s so hard to put into words what it’s like to volunteer for LPHOH, but I can guarantee it’s something you won’t regret.  

LPHOH is an amazing organization, and I highly recommend volunteering for them because it will open not only your eyes, but also your heart. You will touch so many lives and help give truly deserving families a well-needed relaxing vacation. Even if you can’t volunteer for a retreat, a simple donation can go a long way. You can learn more about this amazing organization at their website