Making Lifelong Friends at Camp Hozhoni

 

Brian currently lives in Fitchburg and works as a Comptroller for a not-for-profit organization in Madison.  This coming February he will be a 28-year cancer survivor.

Michele lives in Madison with her husband, John, their children, Priya and Josef, and their beloved dog, Juniper.  She has been a special education teacher in Madison public schools for 26 years. She also serves on the Dane County Board of Supervisors, representing the Northside of Madison. 

The journey to their friendship began when Brian was diagnosed with cancer in 1991 and found himself at Camp Hozhoni.

“My parents learned of Camp Hozhoni shortly after I was diagnosed in 1991 and ‘dr agged’ me there that year,” said Brian. “I came in thinking this would be a weekend therapy session, which I wanted no part of.  I quickly realized, however, that I was surrounded by an amazing, supportive group of volunteers and other kids my age who were going through a similar experience as me in battling cancer.”

Michele Ritt Family

Michele, a counselor when Brian arrived, took a different path to her involvement with camp.

“During my first year at Edgewood College, I had a class requiring a 40-hour practicum,” she said. “A representative from Camp Hozhoni invited us to sign up as counselors.  I was delighted with the idea of camp as well as fulfilling my entire practicum in one weekend. I signed up immediately. This was 1988.”

Destiny brought Brian and Michele together again when Brian later decided (with his mother for a few years) to become volunteers at camp.

“I knew I wanted to work with the teen group since I felt I related to that group the most,” Brian said. “Michele happened to be one of the remaining teen group volunteers and when we were approached to lead the group, we naturally bonded as we shared the same vision for what we wanted to accomplish with this group each year –  being silly and trying to make each Camp Hozhoni a memorable weekend for the campers and volunteers.”

“I have completely lost count of how many years I have been doing this,” Brian said. “As a group co-leader along with Michele, we plan activities for our group during our breakout sessions at Camp Hozhoni.  The best thing about volunteering at Camp Hozhoni is seeing so many of the campers grow over the years and being inspired by their progress as they overcome having to deal with cancer.”

Michele said, “Every year camp is special.  The families and counselors that come to camp are meant to be there.  Even though camp lasts one weekend, less than 48 hours, each year we become instant family.”

“We are so close and work so well together,” she added, “that many campers as well as counselors at Hozhoni assume we are married. I love Brian dearly.  He is soul family.”

Michele & Brian with Teens

There have been some changes over the years. “I no longer plan the details of camp throughout the year,” Michele said. “Currently, Brian and I assist the Angel camp director with anything that she requests.  During camp weekend, we help train the volunteers and assist the director with administrative tasks. The bulk of our focus is planning and implementing the teen activities each year.”

When asked about her most memorable moments from camp, Michele said, “All of the moments are memorable.  Brian and I have so much fun planning our activities.  Camp itself is so profound, it is difficult to capture it in words.  It is almost impossible to think about kids being sick. And the stress that the families endure is overwhelming.  Hozhoni is an outlet for all of that. Parents can be with other parents who understand. They get information and support.  They get to laugh together and maybe even take a walk. Families can enjoy a hayride. No one has to cook or clean. The kids can be kids.  It’s all about family time in a place where everyone understands.”

“Outside of camp weekend, my most memorable moment with Angel was when I met Lolly for the first time,” she added. “That first year with Angel on My Shoulder, I felt so grateful.  Several Angel representatives came to camp that Saturday morning to see Hozhoni in action.  They were dressed up and so professional. I was introduced to Lolly. Instead of extending my hand, a giant hug burst out of me and onto Lolly.  I don’t think she was expecting that, but hugged me right back. That was my first favorite moment with Angel on My Shoulder.”

 

A Tradition of Volunteering with the Graziano Family

by Mark McNease

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Rob Graziano moved to Muskego with his late-wife Renee

in 1994. Two years after daughter Nikki was born in 1995, Renee was diagnosed with cancer twelve weeks into the pregnancy of their son Alexander.  Renee tried everything available but lost her battle October 2001 at the age of 37

Rob said, “Her strength, her faith, and her willingness to share her story through many local speeches and through a nationally-released PBS documentary called ‘Renee’s Story’, has allowed me to find strength and help others through our pain.”

According to Rob, his involvement in Angel On My Shoulder came from this strength. “I had given speeches on behalf of caregivers,” he said, “and that is how I was invited by Lolly to give the address at the annual golf outing in 2002 and then again (with Nikki and Alex!) in 2005.”

Traci Graziano and her family are originally from Stevens Point.  Traci lost her late-husband Fred to a boating drowning accident in 2005.  “Traci and I met in 2005 at a camp for grieving families (Camp HOPE),” said Rob, “where we both also still volunteer to this day.”

Traci and her son Tyler moved to Muskego in 2007, and Traci and Rob were married in January 2009 in Mexico with their children as attendants.  Traci’s daughter Kristin now lives in Hudson, Wisconsin, with her children Madi and Kolin, and Tyler now lives in West Allis.

Asked about the family’s involvement with Angel On My Shoulder, Rob said, “I learned about Camp Angel through a friend at church.  Nikki and Alex attended Camp Angel in 2002 and I spoke at the AOMS annual golf outing in 2002. I quickly realized what a tremendous opportunity this was for the kids and me to grow and learn through our grief, and help others. Nikki and Alex also attended Winter Camp Angel in 2003, and I attended the Angel Retreat in 2003, and we have been a part of the ‘Angel family’ ever since.”

Among his other activities with Angel On My Shoulder, Rob takes photos for the organization. “Taking photos for Angel is a treat for me,” he said. “I have always loved photography as a hobby, so my kids’ lives are ‘well-documented’ through photos.  After losing Renee when the kids were at such a young age, I feel very blessed to have many photos and videos of her for the kids.”

Rob started shooting photos for Angel On My Shoulder during the boat rides at Camp Angel. “The kids usually have such big smiles on the boat,” he said. “I especially enjoy the candid photography I do for AOMS because it is so rewarding to capture the genuine, joyful emotions the kids experience at camp, whether riding on a boat, getting their faces painted, or playing games, especially knowing that their everyday life is impacted by cancer and they don’t get to experience that joy every day.”

Traci and Rob serve as adult volunteers for Camp Angel and Winter Camp Angel.  They have also served as bus chaperones for Winter Camp Angel. “We have brought our boat to Camp Angel for approximately five years now and we provide boat rides and tubing rides for kids, said Rob. “I have also been taking photos for Camp Angel and Winter Camp Angel for about three years now.  I also served as the Angel guest speaker at the 2002 and 2005 annual golf banquet, and Traci served as the guest soloist at the 2007 annual golf banquet.”

Children Nikki and Alex have served as counselors for six-plus years now at both Camp Angel and Winter Camp Angel, and they recently served as the lead counselors for the 2018 Camp Angel.

Rob said his fondest memories of Angel On My Shoulder are when his children got to experience Camp Angel for the first time.  “When I dropped them off on Friday, I had a little ‘separation anxiety’, but they got involved in the fun right away. When I picked them up on Sunday, I heard about all the fun things they did, and I knew this was the ‘right place’ for them, plus Lolly’s hugs make you feel part of the family right away!”

Rob highlighted some of the best things for him about volunteering, saying, “I am so delighted to know that our work as volunteers yields such a fun ‘escape’ for children that have no choice in the reality that one of their family members has cancer.  It is so rewarding to see the smiles on the kid’s faces throughout the weekend, and to know that your work help make this happen.”

He said the most rewarding thing for him now is to see his adult children ‘paying forward’ the love and compassion they were shown when they came to camp as children.  He said they understand the pain associated with cancer in their family and at the same time, they understand how vital an escape like Camp Angel is to their growth. “They really want to provide that same fun opportunity for the ‘next generation’ of campers,” he said. “I have such pride as I observe Nikki and Alex grow into the compassionate adults they are, largely due to their volunteer work for AOMS.”

When asked what he would to say to anyone else considering volunteering, Rob replied, “The healing and learning that comes from sharing your life experiences and your talents far outweighs the time and effort that you put in.  We often say that we get more out of camp than the campers do! Seeing a child experience pure joy from a boat ride, or a snowmobile ride, or from conquering a climbing wall is so very heartwarming, and to know that you had some part in that joy is especially rewarding!”

 

Healing Angels: My Story

Cancer Survivor was not a title I ever thought I’d possess by the age of 41. 

I however, approached it head-on, plowing through surgeries, treatments and doctors’ appointments.  Cancer was not going to beat me.

And although my cancer journey was a fairly positive one, I found that in a blink of an eye, I started to feel lost and quite honestly, somewhat depressed.  It was taking a toll on my day to day life and the interactions that I had with family and friends.

Active treatments are complete, now what?!?  No one is checking in on me.  What should I be doing?  How should I be feeling?  What if I don’t want this “new normal”?  Although I had a good support system, I somehow felt so alone.

After I finished chemo I found that people would constantly say the phrase, “So you’re done now, right?”.  Little did they know I had so many thoughts and feelings running through my head.  Stuff that kept me up at night.  Medical personnel were no longer monitoring my everyday actions.  It really became a struggle to go back to living my old life after this thing called cancer just disrupted everything I’d known and trusted.

And then a friend shared Angel on My Shoulder with me.  Little did I know this small action would give me my life back.  I was a little skeptical at first, not knowing how a short weekend with a bunch of strangers could possibly be helpful.  But after reading up on it a little more, I said, “What have I got to lose?”  I can do this… Go, share, listen and most importantly relax.  I owed it to myself, to my children and to my husband.   I needed to get back on track – and take control of my life again.

Not knowing what to expect, I found myself a little anxious about going.  But the anxiety quickly faded, as I was cheerfully greeted by Nancy and her awesome team of angel volunteers.  As other attendees started to arrive, it quickly became evident that The-Big-C really knows no boundaries.  The room was filled with survivors from all kinds of backgrounds, ages and types and stages of cancer – each of them telling of their own personal journey.  We shared meals, stories, resources, laughter and tears.  I realized that each of our paths was absolutely unique, but when stepping back, we all really experienced the same thoughts and feelings during treatment and recovery.

I gained so much that weekend.  I spent it with a bunch of strangers that I now think of as friends.  It gave me confidence.  It helped me to know that I’m not going crazy.  And that a “new reality” is something that can be embraced and entered into at my own pace.  Throw in some laughter, smiles, survivor-focused yoga, pampering, gifts and relaxation – It made an impact on my life that will not be forgotten.  Most importantly it helped me to close the door on cancer.

And even though I still have periodic appointments, I’ve given myself permission to move on.

If you or a loved one is hoping to figure out what to do during the next phase of cancer, consider checking out Healing Angels, a program by Angel on My Shoulder.

– Tracy Hengst.  Breast Cancer Survivor.  Diagnosed Oct 2014.

Camp Teen Angel 2018

By Kathy Mathie

A small but energetic group of 13 campers graced our 2018 Camp Teen Angel July 13-16, 2018. Camp Manito-wish YMCAin Boulder Junction, WI was our home for the long weekend and the staff and facilities were fabulous. Thanks to our wonderful counselors, Kyle Schmidt, Joel Depons, Magen Zettelmeier, Chloe Springer, Alyssa Brugger and Laura Beilke who led our group.

A nature hike and campfire opened our camp on Friday with s’mores and stories, for sure.

We rode horses on Saturday, many for the first time. Thanks to Holiday Acres for graciously offering us go-cart rides as well. We aced the track. Saturday afternoon included games and canoeing and knockerballs were a hit Saturday evening.

Sunday began on the high ropes course and we had a blast flying through the trees and a pirate adventure on Sunday afternoon included “walking the plank”. Thanks to Captains Steve and Stev-o at the Pirates Hideaway in Eagle River. Sunday evening, we had a dance with DocGary as our DJ and “And we danced (oh) – And we laughed (oh) – And had a really, really, really good time” (Macklemore).

We are already looking forward to next year’s camp, FridayMondayJuly 12-15, 2019.

Charlie Kotke and Peggy Nimz: A Dynamic Duo for Angel On My Shoulder

Charlie Kotke and Peggy Nimz: A Dynamic Duo for Angel On My Shoulder

Mark McNease

Peggy Nimz and Charlie Kotke have become familiar faces at Angel On My Shoulder. Born and raised in St. Germain, Peggy (maiden name Breese) has been married to her husband Scott for 29 years and the couple has one son, Ryan. Peggy works at Ascension Ministry Medical Group in Woodruff as a Certified Medical Assistant, while Scott is a general contractor with his own business of 30-plus years.

“I love being able to go into St. Germain and know most of the locals,” Peggy said, adding that St. Germain is growing and there are many new faces, too.  “I used to own my own business (P.S.S. Inc. Professional Secretarial Service in St. Germain) and started doing small jobs for Angel On My Shoulder.”

During this time Peggy wore many caps. She was on the Town Board, the Board for the Chamber of Commerce, the Snowmobile Club, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Plum Lake Ambulance Service. “But nothing has or will ever compare to Angel On My Shoulder.”

Charlie Kotke hails from Park Falls, Wisconsin, where he was a volunteer fireman and worked as an EMT with the Park Falls Ambulance Service.

“Since graduating from nursing I have worked with Ministry Health Care, which is now Ascension,” Charlie said. “I’m currently the Regional Manager of Transport Services for Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transport.”  Charlie manages ground and air ambulance operations for the region that services five hospitals within Ascension as well as other facilities in the area.

Asked how he first got involved with Angel On My Shoulder, Charlie said, “Peggy is actually how I got involved. Peggy and I work together and I became friends with her family – her husband and son. Peggy had worked with Angel On My Shoulder and asked me to help with the golf outing several years back.”

Peggy’s involvement began in 2003 when she was on the Town Board for St. Germain.

“My husband and I were asked to represent the Town Board at the dinner,” Peggy said. “I had mentioned to Lolly at the end of the dinner that we would love to volunteer.  And so it began.”

Over the next few years Peggy, her husband and their son helped during the Golf Spectacular and it kept growing with more friends and family stepping in. “During this time I was working for Oneida County Ambulance and Northwoods Transfer which evolved into what is today, Spirit Medical Transport,” said Peggy. “I worked with Charlie Kotke and we became the coordinators for the event.”

Until recently Charlie and Peggy were involved in the fund raising portion of Angel On My Shoulder. “For the past few years, since we started with Camp Hozhoni, we were able to see where all the fund raising money went to,” Peggy said. “By sending a child to camp or sending their whole family and giving them a chance to get away from everything. By seeing how the fundraising helps everyone, it makes us more eager to raise money for such a great cause.”

For Camp Hozhoni, Charlie and Peggy provide medical services for the campers and their families. “Over the past few years we have gained many friends through this event and look forward to it every year,” Peggy said.

Their focus the last two years has been on the golf event.  “In the past we did both the course and dinner and needed a vacation afterwards!” Peggy said. Currently they organize every detail on the course, “From our friends and family that volunteer and make the day a huge success, to the businesses that donate food, beverages, equipment, etc.”

Added Charlie, “For the first few years I was involved as a volunteer for the golf event – working the beverage cart and picking up trash mostly. Then over the last several years Peggy and I have been the coordinators for the event, which is the largest fundraiser for Angel On My Shoulder.”

In addition to the golf event, Charlie and Peggy have been involved with Winter Camp Hozhoni. “I had been involved in another camp in the area volunteering as camp nurse for a week long autism camp,” Charlie said. “So when Winter Camp Hozhoni was started in 2016, Lolly had asked if Peggy and I would be willing to help with the camp. For the last three years we have provided the first aid and registration support for the camp, along with helping in any other way we can to make the families that attend that camp have an extraordinary weekend that is focused on fun and not illness.”

Asked about their fondest memories as volunteers, Peggy said, “Meeting the Packers is awesome! At camp we meet so many kids that are affected with cancer and their enthusiasm is contagious. I pray to God every night that these kids bounce back and live full and happy lives. Nobody deserves it as much as them.”

As for the golf event, Peggy added, “We had a horrible storm come through at the end of one tournament and the volunteers all worked together to get the golfers and the food vendors get off the course and into safety. It was amazing how everyone worked together.  I’m so proud of this group and can’t be more grateful for Charlie!”

Charlie added, “The greatest thing I get from volunteering is the friendship and the feeling of accomplishment. Working in the health care field, I have learned that everyone is having a worse day than you are. I look at these kids and their families, seeing how strong they are, then I know that I can make a difference to somebody. Whether it’s a smile, touch, or just listening. I try to ask myself at the end of each day, ‘Did I make a difference today?’”

Charlie added two of his favorite quotes:

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”
~Elizabeth Andrew

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
~Winston Churchill

A Recipe for Compassion with Joe and Kathy Lass

A Recipe for Compassion with Joe and Kathy Lass

Mark McNease

Owners of the Wolf Pack Cafe in St. Germain, Joe and Kathy Lass first met at the Vilas County Fair in August, 1988. According to Kathy, “It was love at first sight.” After dating for a year and realizing they needed more than seasonal work in the Northwoods, they decided to move to the Racine County area to start a new life with year-round jobs.

“Joe and I both moved into management positions quickly and decided to get married May 26th ,1990. We came back to Eagle River to celebrate our wedding day with all our friends and family,” said Kathy.

Joe managed a poured concrete foundations crew and Kathy managed a bar and grill, but their hearts were still in the Northwoods. “We came up to visit family the summer of 1998 and a friend told us the St. Germain Cafe had just gone up for sale,” reports Kathy. “I said to Joe, ‘Let’s go look at it!’” The place was in desperate need of some tender loving care, but Kathy believed that with a little elbow grease, paint and effort it would be fine.

“It had a great location in downtown St. Germain,” Kathy said. “We put an offer in that day and closed on it in December.” On January 12th, one day shy of their one year anniversary, they received a phone call telling them they’d been awarded “Restaurant of the Month” by Discover Wisconsin. That was for February, 2000, and Kathy said it changed their lives. “It gave us the confidence we needed to keep bettering ourselves and Joe became an amazing self-taught cook. We are now looking at our 20th anniversary on January 13, 2019 and have loved all the people and the friends we have met and the employees that helped us get here.”

Kathy and Joe first became familiar with Angel On My Shoulder 21 years ago when Joe’s cousin Linda was diagnosed with terminal cancer and wanted to come home from California to Wisconsin to see family before she died. “We needed help financially to get her whole family here for a heartbreaking goodbye,” said Kathy. “Joe’s family and the Roses were neighbors in the 1980’s in Eagle River, and Joe’s mom knew about the foundation Lolly Rose had started after Dick Rose died. Joe’s mom (Jan Lass) called Lolly and asked if she could help, and without hesitation she assisted in facilitating bringing Linda and the family back to Wisconsin. Joe and I felt if we could ever give back to Angel On My Shoulder, we would. Lolly is truly an Angel on Earth!”

The Lasses got involved with the Packers and Angel On My Shoulder when Lolly asked them if they could cook for the golfers in a silent auction they were doing. That became Breakfast at the Wolf Pack with the Packers in 2007. “We have been doing it every year since,” said Kathy. “Meeting all the Packers has also been a highlight. It is so cool that they offer their time giving back. Especially William Henderson and Gilbert Brown. They are our true heroes! Watching little kids eyes light up when they come in the cafe is amazing.”

Joe and Kathy had to give up cooking for all the golfers on the course but hope to someday be able to do it again.  “I am certain will we always be there for Angel On My Shoulder as long as Lolly will have us!”

When asked about their fondest moments volunteering, Kathy said “The smiles that Lolly brings to everyone she meets. She is a such an inspiration for everyone to get involved. What one woman with this amazing heart can do is amazing in itself.”

Kathy said Lolly has brought a whole town together to help those in need. “Lolly brought 5-year-old Cameron, who had cancer, to the cafe and we played with cars on the counter, and then we went into the kitchen and we let him hit the bell for the waitresses to come pick up their food. Little Cameron and his brother were so happy to be able to hit that bell. It was nice to see him smile.  Knowing Lolly and what she has taught us in the art of caring is my fondest memory.”

Camp Angel : July 2018

Camp Angel (ages 7-12) was held July 6–8, 2018. An enthusiastic group of forty-one incredible campers joined us for our summer Camp Angel experience.

This awesome group of young campers was warmly greeted by Campsite Co-Directors, Dick & Amy Lemke. A Tree House, Ark, Fort and Tower were the unique weekend lodging of our camper groups: Bunnies, Foxes, Bears and Wolves.

A one of a kind pirate trip adventure on the Strauss Family’s incredible Pirate Ship in Eagle River with Captains Steve and Steve-O Strauss at the helm started off our Saturday activity events. Our deepest thanks goes out to the Strauss’s for providing this always exciting expedition. Highlights of the many fun-filled activity offerings to follow included water craft rides, (always a favorite), swimming, boat rides and a variety of crafts. We all gathered at the end of the day for our traditional dance night with Angel’s own DJ, Dan Scafaro.

We proudly salute our outstanding team of counselors: Alex Graziano, Nikki Graziano, Mason Hageny, Hadley Krus, Tyrel Miller, Alayna Perry, Kenzie Pipes, Corey Ruplinger, Cali Sanborn, Sophie Spiess, Isak Walker and Walker Wendt.

A huge round of applause to our Angel volunteer family: Dick & Amy Lemke, Rob & Traci Graziano, Wendy Lawfer, Laura Roof, Jon & Michelle Perry, Tommy Geraty, Mike Herr, Dave Hughes, Sue Lemke, Dan & Kathleen Oberneder (Caroline, Emily & Lily) Jennifer Schoeneck-Peterson (Jeffrey & Marlie), Mark Peterson, Mary & Otto Schoeneck, Amy Skubal, Dustin & Kendal Wadinski and Dove & Shade. A grateful shout out goes to Nancy and Tom Schuller for their above and beyond help. A special acknowledgment to Camp Luther in Three Lakes and its fantastic staff for helping to make this a very memorable weekend.

ANGEL ON MY SHOULDER GOLF SPECTACULAR

The Twenty Second Annual B. Bruce Krier Angel On My Shoulder held in June 2018, was a resounding success with 100 plus and then some golfers coming out swinging on the renowned St. Germain Golf Course, the largest and fastest 18-Hole course in the beautiful north woods of Wisconsin. Another phenomenal year of raising thousands of dollars to make a positive and profound difference to those in the cancer affected community.

We gratefully recognize “Spectacular” presenting sponsors, Sharon Murillo & Serve-You RX and the Brian & Khristy Dominick Family for their remarkable generosity in helping to make this event everything it was meant to be and more.

A heartfelt and huge THANKS to ALL the “Spectacular” sponsors along with Jeff and Joy Sievert, owners/operators of the beautiful Whitetail Inn in St. Germain, Wisconsin, outstanding hosts of our awards banquet.

Three Packer greats-Gilbert Brown, William Henderson & Earl Dotson honored us with their presence and participation both on the course and at the celebration and awards dinner..

Long time friends and supporters of AOMS, Joe and Kathy Lass, owners of the award winning Wolf Pack Café in St. Germain, Wisconsin graciously hosted the annual “Breakfast with the Packers” prior to the golfers taking to the course.

We were truly blessed to have area business establishments prepare, provide and serve outstanding food offerings for the day of golfing for our participants. We gratefully acknowledge Eagle River Roasters, Eagle Waters Resort-Eagle River, Riverstone Restaurant-Eagle River, Slo’s Pub-Arbor Vitae and Spangs Italian Restaurant-St. Germain.

It was an honor to name Mark & Lisa Rose, Mark O’Connell and all the Discover Mediaworks and Wisconsin Counties Association team members as our 2018 Golf Honorees in tribute to their generous and unending support of those living with or affected by cancer.

Michelle Thompson was proudly named recipient of the Pandora Bracelet. The passing forward of this cherished bracelet is a golf spectacular tradition created and implemented by our eternal Angel, Bruce Krier.

The one and only, Vincent Bunny, was again the highlight of the live auction. This inspirational bunny is a “give back” tradition that our forever Angel, Bruce Krier, started at the very first golf spectacular. Each year “Vincent” is purchased by the highest bidder and donated back for next year’s auction to raise even more monies to champion our cancer support programs. Highest bidder record holders of this coveted bunny, John & Kathy Dirkse, were again this year’s winners.

A special shout out to Peggy Nimz and Charlie Kotke, the “Spectacular Golf Course Co-Coordinators” along with our sponsors; golfers; and volunteers and all those involved in making the B. Bruce Krier Angel Golf Spectacular the unparalleled event it has become.

PLEASE JOIN US FOR THE “TWENTY-THIRD B. BRUCE KRIER ANGEL GOLF SPECTACULAR” ON JUNE 7, 2019.

POWERFUL POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS – By Anita Domnitz, RN, MS, ND

One of the activities we do in our Angel Care Retreats is to make a positive affirmation board and choose a group name. We do this after lunch after many participants have had time to share their stories.  This is a good time to let our food digest and focus on the caregiver.  During our morning session we’ve heard and shared many of the challenges that face us while caregiving someone with cancer.  The goal of this exercise is to empower the caregivers to find balance, strength, and rhythm in their often chaotic and stressful lives.

Since, as I’ve said often before, we become our thoughts, it is vital that we monitor what we say to ourselves.  Positive affirmations are statements that are strong, loving, optimistic, and without doubt or question.  They most often start with the very powerful, “I am.”  Other affirmations can begin with phrases like: I trust, I believe, I can, I have, I dance, I support, I see, I feel, I let, I love, and many other verbs. There can be no “I will,” or “I am going to…”  The affirmations must be stated in the present and with absolute certainty!  That is where the strength and needed shift becomes life changing and crucial!  Also, they may not be totally true at that moment.  They may be a desire, wish or goal. That is perfectly fine.  Remember, we become our thoughts!

What is something you say to yourself when you first wake up?  Hopefully, it is something kind, happy, or complementary.  Can you think of some statements that are critical, self-loathing, or mean?  Many of us are so used to listening to our inner critic that we forget to nurture our inner parts.

The most effective way for me to teach you about positive affirmations is to share with you the Angel Care Retreat affirmation boards.  They span the years 2001-2017.  There are 33 boards from 34 groups.  Unfortunately, one board was left behind many moons ago.  My hope is that someone who needed to read it got the message J

Speak to yourself in kind, loving, positive ways; the way you would speak to your child, spouse, Mom, Dad, friend, or other loved one and reach for the stars! Enjoy these magnificent boards in living colors!

 

 

Herman Family Generously Gives to Enrich Lives

Family time together and creating long lasting memories are the two constants when you talk to Dennis and Amy Herman, two wonderful caring members of the Angel family.

Residents of Eagle River, WI, they are the parents of four sons, Brandon, Andrew, Erich (Jessie), Nathan and one daughter, Danielle (Joel).  They have three grandchildren, Calvin, Jase and Tanner. Dennis owns and operates STF Construction in Eagle River and Amy works for the Ascension.

Volunteering and fundraising is one of their passions, and it has become a family affair through multiple golf sponsorships (always recruiting new participants) front line bidding at the silent and live auctions, donations, and the list goes on.

On how they first got involved with Angel on My Shoulder, Dennis explained:  “Approximately fifteen years ago, we were looking for a local foundation to make donations to from Cruising For A Cause”   In 2007 Dennis and his brother, Dave, created and organized a cancer focused fundraiser, raising over $60,000 through the years. Proceeds were presented with the help of Amy, along with other family members and AOMS was a recipient at the event.  Dennis explained that some of the greatest benefits  of becoming involved with Angel On My Shoulder are the involvement that they have with the kids, and how AOMS is so generous to people that are in need.

The Hermans’ understand the value of symbolic and meaningful details. Once again, the importance they give to family time together, while creating long lasting and meaningful memories showed a strong driving force guiding their projects, involvement and partnership with AOMS.  As good Wisconsinites, Wisconsin is in their hearts and they knew it was in the hearts of many that have benefited from their generosity.   For the past years they have donated six of their Green Bay Packer tickets for the pre-season home game to an AOMS child and/or family with cancer. They also provide each family member with a Packer’s jersey of their favorite player.   Dennis explained:   “Amy and I enjoy sharing this with these families, so that they can enjoy some time together and to make memories. We have been donating the tickets for a few years now and try to provide the family with jerseys for the game, AOMS has been so good at providing Gas cards and motel rooms for the families to make this a memorable experience, we love getting the cards, pictures from the families after they have attended the games. We are always looking for more things to do to make this a memorable experience for the entire family.”

Each year, the Herman’s also generously and graciously provide the funding for holiday dinners which greatly benefits two AOMS cancer families on very difficult cancer journeys. Dennis’s mom, Roberta, has also become part of this effort.

This year Dennis and Amy embarked on yet another incredible venture for our winter Camp Hozhoni families. They donated, prepared and served an amazing Friday night dinner (cookout around a bonfire) for these cancer families. And they plan on doing just that again next year.   Who came up with the idea of the “bondfire” dinners for families? we asked. “Amy and I thought it might be a good idea as a different way to spend time together”.

Dennis and Amy are both cancer warriors and survivors. We asked, what words of encouragement they would like to send to those battling cancer presently. “Amy and I have both been down this road and all that we can say is to keep positive, positive attitude is the major part of this battle, don’t ever give up and to keep fighting, more and more people are winning this battle every year and one day there will be a cure.”

We, at Angel On My Shoulder, would like to thank the Herman family for the years of dedication to our shared mission and for being wonderful caring members of the Angel family.