EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Lighthouse Family Retreats is a non-profit group that assists families living through childhood cancer.
The 21-year-old organization holds weekly retreats with a maximum of 12 families, giving caregivers a break. Volunteers with the organization pay for these trips, watch kids, feed families and allow them to decompress with people going through the same thing.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic last year, Lighthouse was unable to hold retreats. Now the nonprofit is back to serving families that are holding on to hope.
“I came here, and all of the sudden met 11 other couples and they were not the same diagnoses, not the same kids but they were going through the exact same story,” said Christy Richards, retreat operations manager.
Richards was introduced to Lighthouse as a retreat family in 2009, nearly 12 years ago. She said since then, her son is cancer-free but now considers herself a lifetime volunteer.
You do not need to have a child with cancer to volunteer. The nonprofit is always looking for help to make families stays the best they can.
A volunteer that is proving that is Matt Neely and his family. The Neelys got involved with Lighthouse after a friend’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer.
“A cancer diagnosis affects the whole family, the internal family and then the community around it,” Neely said.
He said watching his friends spending birthdays in hospitals and the mental toll it took on all of them made his family want to help serve others.
“What this does is affords an opportunity for these kids to kind of have a normal life, so when you see that in somebody you know, it’s so inspiring you want to do it for someone you don’t know,” Neely said.
For information on how to get involved with Lighthouse, click here.