Monday, September 24, 2012

Keeping the Faith: A Wisconsin retreat provides respite and resources for grieving families


Losing a child, or watching one struggle with illness, is without a doubt the hardest experience parents can go through. Thanks to Faith’s Lodge, a retreat nestled among 80 wooded acres in northwestern Wisconsin, they don’t have to do it alone.
Since 2007, more than 800 families have made use of Faith’s Lodge’s space and resources to reflect, renew and build hope after the loss, or during the serious illness, of a child. The non-profit organization, which has offices in the Twin Cities, provides a private but communal place for grieving families to heal together. This social dynamic is integral to Faith’s Lodge’s services—families who meet at the lodge often stay in touch long after leaving.
“It’s like belonging to a club that no one wants to join, but [families] are so glad it is here for them,” says Evelyn Nyberg, manager of lodge operations. Nyberg adds that parents who stay at Faith’s Lodge “find lifelong support from someone who understands exactly what they are going through.”
Mark and Susan Lacek opened the retreat in 2007 to honor their daughter Faith, who died in utero seven years earlier. In addition to providing a peaceful—and gorgeous—space for families to get away from day-to-day life, Faith’s Lodge offers programming, like professionally led discussion groups, outdoor activities and therapeutic arts and crafts, that can help ease the bereavement process.
Guests must have either lost a child, or have a child with a life-limiting illness, aged 19 or younger. Pending a referral by a healthcare provider, clergy member or support organization such as Ronald McDonald House, families may stay up to five nights in the retreat’s modern suites—with gardens, a lake, craft room, state-of-the-art kitchen and other amenities at the ready—for $25 per night per family, activities included.
Those interested in contributing to the Faith’s Lodge mission can do so by volunteering for groundskeeping, office or childcare tasks onsite, or by helping with the annual “Hope Rocks” fundraiser concert (this year’s event featured Jeremy Messersmith and raised nearly $300,000). Faith’s Lodge is also in need of movie, food and scrapbooking supply donations.
+ To volunteer at Faith's Lodge, contact Evelyn Nyberg at enyberg@faithslodge.org or 715.866.8200. For current opportunities, visit faithslodge.org.