Friday, December 25, 2015

As we celebrate this Holy Season we can truly say 
that the best gifts are the ones you give to others.

It is with grateful hearts that we thank 
all of our SOWW volunteers, sponsors & supporters 
for giving so much of your time, talents and finances. 
Your support made it possible to open the doors to
The Bull Run Warrior Retreat;
"A Home Away From Home" 
For our Willing Warriors + Their Families.

Today a Willing Warrior Family is enjoying Christmas together in this 
beautiful retreat home and bucolic setting because of you!

God bless you, your home, and your loved ones.

From All of Us at Serve Our Willing Warriors.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Bull Run Warrior Retreat Hosts Its First Thanksgiving for Willing Warriors + Their Families!

The quintessential American holiday!

The very name evokes instantaneous & universal images of 
food, football, friends & family. 
It is a day that we all do everything we can to be "Home" to savor those blessings.

 This Thanksgiving, the Bull Run Warrior Retreat hosted it's first Thanksgiving Dinner for a large number of our Willing Warriors + Their Families.

The retreat house became "Home" for the day for these amazing American families who have served our nation so well. 

Folks filled up every area of the 11,000 square foot house.

Children played games together -- inside and out!

Of course, the kids were not the only ones playing outside. 
The backyard was filled with flying footballs + Willing Warriors!

The kitchen was also a flurry of activity as the intoxicating smells associated with Thanksgiving Day wafted into the rest of the house.

Our Thanksgiving Event coordinator, Sheila Tomlinson, 
was very "hands on" throughout the day.
(Wow! She coordinates and cooks!  What a gal!)

Numerous SOWW volunteers spent the day cooking and prepping to bring the feast together in the Bull Run Warrior Retreat's state-of-the-art kitchen.

Finally Chef Larry proclaimed that "dinner was ready"!

Our collection of cooks prepared the buffet as SOWW President, Shirley Dominick, snapped a few photos of our guests of honor  before welcoming them to their
"Home Away From Home" for Thanksgiving.

But before the feasting began, 
there was some genuine 'thanksgiving'.

Veterans from different generations shared the things they were thankful for, reminding us all of the many blessings we have to be grateful for in this country and our way of life.

After the guests had finished sharing their heartfelt thanks, 
SOWW Vice President, John Dominick, said grace before the meal.

Then everyone made their way to the kitchen buffet to partake of the feast!

Joining us at the tables were Veterans from both WWII and Viet Nam.
How blessed we were to have the fellowship of 
inter-generational Willing Warriors + Families!

This is what a real Thanksgiving looks like!

Once the eating abated (for a time) there was, of course, 
more football.

On this special "Thanksgiving 2015", we are incredibly thankful for our SOWW partners and volunteers who have made The Bull Run Warrior Retreat a reality and a tangible means of
"Saying Thanks"
To Our Willing Warriors + Their Families!

For their ceaseless service to our country, 
we give thanks!

To all our wonderful SOWWers  out there . . .
May your Thanksgiving weekend be filled with 
Family & Friends . . . 
. . . Feasting & Fun . . .
. . . And the Warmth & Love of "Home".

Happy Thanksgiving From All of Us at Serve Our Willing Warriors!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

This Veteran's Day: Let's Appreciate Our Family Treasures

In my home I have a glass curio cabinet filled with little treasures.
They are not expensive pieces, but they are priceless to me.

One of my favorite items is an old tattered, knotted string that holds
my grandfather's dog tags from World War I. 

I pick these dog tags up from time to time and think about what they have been through.
I think about what my grandfather went through . . . 
How it affected him . . . 
. . . How it affected his family . . .
. . . And how that generation of Veterans affected the entire world!

My grandfather posing in his military uniform (above) and photographed with fellow soldiers (below).  
Circa 1917.

I, too, have my own pair of dog tags. 
Not because I have served in the military, but because my father was in the Air Force.  
I only ever knew my father as an Air Force man.
It wasn't until I was a teenager that I found out that my father had served in the Army during World War II.

Over the years I have sorted through old boxes of family photos and have found more and more pictures of my father during his Army days.

I am always struck by how young he was when he was shipped off to Europe.

My father asleep on his cot (above) and sitting on the left corner of the truck (below).
I look at these photos and examine those young faces
who answered the call of their nation.
They were the Willing Warriors of their time;
Willing to undergo and overcome the horrors of war so that 
we and our allies could keep our precious freedoms.

These are the faces of soldiers who never thought of themselves as heroes.
And yet, they are the true history-makers.

I hold my grandfather's dog tags in my hand and feel such gratitude for our Veterans.
From every generation.
And Now!

They are Our Fathers and Sons, 
Our Mothers and Daughters, 
Our Sisters and Brothers.
They are our Our Treasures!

Be sure to take time to appreciate them today.
For we need to appreciate them every day.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Bull Run Warrior Retreat Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony ~ July 4th, 2015!

It was a Banner Day!

It Was A Day to Celebrate Our American Freedoms,
 And a Day to Honor our Willing Warriors + Their Families 
Whose Daily Sacrifices Make Those Freedoms Possible. 

We Honored Our Willing Warriors by Opening the Doors to
The Bull Run Warrior Retreat! 

We captured the day in photos and we are thrilled to share the scenes from our awesome Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony!

 The fields of The Bull Run Warrior Retreat 
began filling up with cars and crowds early in the day.

 A gathering of our younger SOWW volunteers.

Some of our special guests arrive and are greeted by
Pastor Barry White (Park Valley Church)
and Shirley Dominick (SOWW President)

Author and Editor of 
served as our Master of Ceremonies.

First he introduced Janet Lunsford, 
Director of Music at Gainesville United Methodist Church
to lead the National Anthem.

Next, Pastor Barry White, of Park Valley Church
offered the opening prayer.

Pastor White is credited with issuing the challenge to his congregation to "go out into the community and serve others" that led John and Shirley Dominick to form a small group of volunteers that became Serve Our Willing Warriors.

The crowd enjoying a performance by by the 

Other special guests included WWII Veterans.

 Our Boy Scout volunteers (above) 
and our own Girl-Wonder, Nancy Spencer (below) 
watch from the wings.
Nancy headed up The SOWW Ribbon-Cutting Committee
that made the day possible. 

(Well done Nancy!  Well done!)

SOWW President Shirley Dominick 
shared the vision and the journey of 
Serve Our Willing Warriors.

A misty-eyed moment for everyone: 

John and Shirley Dominick,
the two forces of nature that brought a community together to make the 
Bull Run Warrior Retreat a reality,
as they shared an emotional embrace.

Pamela Winn-Lovelace, the Warrior Transition Brigade Outreach Coordinator at Fort Belvoir, during a speech addressing the sobering statistics regarding our 
wounded, ill and injured warriors. 
Pamela works with these incredible men and women everyday.
She has been a longtime friend and advocate for
Serve Our Willing Warriors.

Shirley and John take a moment to thank Dave Baird
who acted as the general contractor during the renovation of 
The Bull Run Warrior Retreat.  
Kudos to Dave for an incredible job!

The Long-Awaited Moment Finally Arrived!

Pictured left to right:

A Long-Awaited Triumph 
Built on the Commitment and Gratitude of a Community as a Gift to our  
Willing Warriors + Their Families!

After the ribbon was cut, the doors were opened to the completed 

Supporters from the community line up to tour the 
"Home Away From Home" for our Willing Warrior Families.

 John gives a tour of the gourmet kitchen.

The downstairs includes a super-comfortable recreation room, a beautiful exercise space and private rooms for physical therapy.

Later in the afternoon, it began to rain as people continued to file into the retreat house.
But the rain didn't dampen the spirit of our volunteers or guests!

As far as special days and memories go, 
this day will be treasured by many for years to come.

Our deepest appreciation goes to:
Nancy Spencer and The SOWW Ribbon-Cutting Committee 
for pulling this event together.

To our Guest Speakers for their inspiring words.

To ALL of the SOWW Volunteers
whose long-term commitment and elbow-grease has made this vision a reality!

And most of all;

To Our Willing Warriors + Their Families

You have inspired us to come together as a community and build a dream together.

We hope it will be a haven and a blessing to many of you for many years to come.

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.