Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sharing our Win through Vacations for Veterans

Many readers of IdeaMom know this year has been an enchanted one for our family. One year ago this week, we learned that we had just won the WindMark Beach Idea House from The home is located 90 miles away from my hometown in Northwest Florida. We are a military family who has moved around the country and the world for the past 15 years. Our plans have always been to return to the Florida beaches I call home, but didn't quite know how that would become a reality. MyHomeIdeas, their parent company, Time Inc., and St. Joe Company, the developer of WindMark Beach made that possible. In a few years, when my husband retires from the Air Force, we will have a charming beach house to call home.

Until then, we are spending vacations in the home, which we have named Summer Dream, and renting it out when we are not there. With the publicity the home received from MyHomeIdeas, we have had no problem filling the home with vacationers over the past year. Family reunions, wedding celebrations, and many other special memories have been created in the home. Sharing the home and hearing the stories of those who have visited has been a true gift to us. How wonderful to know others are enjoying our wonderful dream come true, as well!

Last year during the holiday season, we donated a week stay at Summer Dream to a deserving family at the Air Force base where we are currently stationed. This gave me the idea to research other ways we could share the blessing of our life-changing win. That is when I found Vacations for Veterans.

Vacations for Veterans is a nonprofit which organizes stays in donated vacation homes to wounded war veterans. This allows our nation's heroes an opportunity to readjust, rebuild their lives, and reconnect with families in luxurious accomodations they might not otherwise be able to afford. I listed our home with their program last Spring. We have just found out that a USMC Sgt who was awarded a Purple Heart in Iraq will be vacationing at Summer Dream, this Christmas.

This is a full-circle blessing for us. You see, we visited the home for the first time during the week of Christmas last year. I remember feeling as if I was floating on a cloud during the entire visit. What a joy! What a dream come true! And now, to share our blessing with a soldier who was injured while defending our country. Wow, what a joy! What a dream come true!

It is a wonderful feeling to see our family's blessing flow to bless another deserving family this Christmas. I know first-hand the sacrifices of our nation's military families. I am grateful for the opportunity to share our gift. My hope for the family this Christmas is for them to feel as if they are floating through a dream come true just as we were last year.

You may visit the Vacations for Veterans website to find how you may help as well. Though they are always grateful for the donation of vacation homes, they have many other needs as well, including travel expenses for veterans to the homes. We are in the process of contacting local businesses near our vacation home to have meals, gift certificates and tour packages donated to the family during their stay. A team of giving hearts can truly make a deserving person's dream come true.

Blessings to all of you,