Friday, April 3, 2009

Paying it Forward -- How to Do Good with our Vacation Home

Winning the WindMark Idea House still feels surreal to us. Certainly, it was a tremendous blessing for us to receive such a beautiful home in the breathtaking coastal community of WindMark Beach -- but for that home to be located just 1 1/2 hours from my Northwest Florida hometown is an absolute dream come true! (Which is why we named the home --Summer Dream.)
And now, with the tremendous rental success it has experienced (each week of Spring Break has been booked SOLID and most of June & July are already rented, as well!). The joy of sharing such a blessing with so many other families is just overwhelming. To honor our blessings during the Christmas season last year, we donated a week stay in the home to our Air Force squadron booster club. During May, a military family will be vacationing there free of charge. I know the family who received the gift, and am thrilled they will be spending a much-deserved week at the beach. But . . . you know, given the level of abundance we've enjoyed this year, I truly felt we could give more.
So, we decided to offer discounted stays at Summer Dream to ALL active-duty military and veterans. This is an easy gift for us to give, of course. As an Air Force spouse and mother to three children who miss their Daddy when he's away -- I know first-hand the sacrifice of all military families.
My heart still felt that we could do more . . . so I did a little research.
I found a few organizations that utitilize vacation homes as a way to give back. Vacation Homes for Charity auctions stays in luxury homes, then appropriates the proceeds (which equates to hundreds of 1000s of dollars each year) to a variety of charities. In Cananda, cottage owners may donate a stay in their rentals through Cottage Dreams to cancer survivors and their families -- offering them a chance to recuperate and rejuvenate after treatment.Vacations For Veterans is a nonprofit organization created to provide recently wounded veterans of the United States Armed Forces with a week of free lodgings donated by a vacation homeowner. Wounded veterans face many challenges when they return home. They are reconnecting with family members and rebuilding their lives. Their honorable service and family sacrifices certainly merit relaxing time away -- but a vacation in a dreamy destination with professionally designed accomodations is a luxury few veterans would be able to afford.
Through Vacations for Veterans, our family will be able to give a wounded military veteran and his or her family the Summer Dream vacation they deserve.
In this year when dreams keep coming true for us for us, the greatest way to express our gratitude, I believe, is to keep paying those blessings forward. I hope my children learn it is truly in giving that our hearts receive.
Today, may you also feel abundantly blessed.

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