Written By Jacqui King- Hearth Homes Volunteer
Last Sunday I had the pleasure of going rafting with some of the ladies from Hearth homes, all of us (volunteers, mentors, the girls, and their kiddos), were excited to be going. There were smiles galore as we loaded up on Peak 7’s bus. Peak 7 is a nonprofit that takes underprivileged and at risk youth into the outdoors to experience adventure. They learn how to navigate through difficulties that arise and soak in all God’s beauty and glory outdoors.
We arrived at our destination twenty short minutes later to find two gentleman surrounded by one giant raft, three canoes and a whole lot of nature. You could feel and hear the excitement in everyone there. The excitement brought lots of chatter, and some giggling as we tried on wet suits (or shoes?) and were crammed into life vests that apparently needed to be as tight as a 1920’s corset; although they did loosen up throughout the span of the trip. There were two guides, Becky and Kyle, that helped us find our size in wet suits and life vests then informed us of the procedures of the trip and any complications that might arise along the way. Before we took off Becky told us to think of any difficulties we might have navigating the waters and then think about how we handle struggles in our day to day lives, she said we would talk about it more at lunch.
It was time to get in the water! We picked up our vessels and headed out with the help of our trusty guides. There were endless splash fights with oars and arms with lots of sun. We were able to relax in-between rapids and bond with one another. Also, we were able to swim and some of the kiddos did flips off the front of the raft. A couple of the girls got out and just floated in their life vests along the side of the boat. At lunch we stopped and discussed the hardships that we had faced as well as how we face hardships in our day to day lives. A couple of the woman opened up about their struggles, we all talked about how we had overcome through hard times. Community was mentioned and emphasised as a tool to use in hard times and struggle.
Community is the first thing I noticed when I first visited Hearth Homes; all the women and children living there are like a big welcoming family. They are all so kind and supportive to one another and to those around them. I feel so blessed to be part of their story. I think it's awesome that they got to experience this trip together, because they're all so close it was like a mini family vacation for them I’m sure. It was such a perfect day with the water not being too cold and the view was gorgeous. During the trip I thought I will come here again because it was so great and a bunch of the girls said the same and talked about bringing their kiddos to play on the shore. It was just so peaceful.
It was a refreshing break for several hours these single mothers were able to enjoy. They didn't have to think about baby formula, or diapers, custody cases or work, they could just sit in the sun, relax, enjoy and simply be. Rest is such a beautiful thing and they got to experience it together and that, to me, is just so awesome. The kids loved it, and afterwards there was no negative comments just smiles. Everyone was glad to have come.