One thing that makes Lighthouse Family Retreat so special is that families serve together, and kids especially play a key role on the volunteer team. They not only get to serve in the traditional sense—carrying plates, cleaning spaces—but their most important role is hanging out with all the other kids and creating a fun, welcoming environment for the kids of the Retreat Families. We thought it would be fun to interview some of these rock stars and share their insight and experience with you!
HOW OLD ARE YOU? 18
HOW MANY RETREATS HAVE YOU ATTENDED?
WHO USUALLY COMES TO SERVE AT LIGHTHOUSE WITH YOU?
I began serving at Lighthouse with my brother, Gavin Jones, my mom Kelly Jones, and my dad Brad Jones. Throughout the years we have been serving we have had many friends come along with us.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE EVENT AT LIGHTHOUSE, AND WHY?
My favorite event at Lighthouse is the UnBirthday Party. I love what the UnBirthday Party stands for. So many children who are battling cancer, along with their siblings, do not get to celebrate their birthday because they are in the hospital. The UnBirthday Party gives every child a chance to feel celebrated and loved. It also gives the parents a chance to go on a date, which is so important because they don’t usually have time to focus on their relationship. It always brings me so much joy to look around and see everyone dancing, laughing, and eating ice cream!
TELL ME ABOUT A FRIEND YOU MADE AT LIGHTHOUSE. WHO WERE THEY? HOW DID YOU CONNECT? WHAT DID YOU LIKE TO DO TOGETHER? ARE YOU STILL IN TOUCH?
One of the many friends that I have made at Lighthouse is my best friend, Grant Hammett. I met Grant on a retreat four summers ago when we were standing in line to play Nine Square at Midnight Munch, an event for teenagers. I felt the urge to talk to him all night, so I went over and told him we were going to become friends. We got to know each other, and I asked him if he would tell me about his journey with cancer. He told me all about his treatments and how he had died twice on the table. He also talked about how the worst part of his cancer was seeing his mom cry, which I thought was so selfless. He taught me so many valuable lessons that night. The main thing I took away from our conversation was that life is all about finding joy and enjoying every day. Fast forward to today: he is cancer-free and serving as a Family Partner at Lighthouse. He is driving down this weekend to come celebrate my graduation and spend time with my family. I am so thankful for Lighthouse because without it I wouldn’t know him!
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM ANY LIGHTHOUSE TRIP YOU'VE TAKEN.
I have so many memories from Lighthouse so to pick just one favorite is very hard. One of my favorite memories was when I was face painting at the UnBirthday Party. The child on treatment in the family I was serving decided she wanted to paint all over me, so I let her. She drew a cross and spelled out Jesus down my leg. She then proceeded to tell me that Jesus loves me endlessly and He also loves her. She hadn’t talked that much on the trip and that was one of the first things I heard her say. That moment was so special to me along with many other moments.
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU DO WELL AT LIGHTHOUSE? WHAT GIFTS/TALENTS/QUALITIES DO YOU PERSONALLY BRING TO THE TEAM?
I think I am good at making the siblings of the children on treatment feel seen and loved. Much of the time the siblings are neglected by others or given less attention because their sibling is the one who is sick. I always make it my goal to make sure the siblings know that I see them and care about them.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR LIFE IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE YOU'VE SERVED AT LIGHTHOUSE?
Lighthouse has changed my life in so many ways. The first way is all the relationships I have made from serving. I have made lifelong friends and met many mentors through Lighthouse. The second way is that it has taught me the importance of serving those around you. I catch myself at social events asking people if I can get them anything or throw their plates away. Lastly, because of Lighthouse I want to become a nurse or physician assistant and specialize in pediatric oncology. Had I never served at Lighthouse, I have no idea what my future would look like.
WHY WOULD YOU TELL OTHER KIDS THEY SHOULD COME SERVE AT LIGHTHOUSE?
I would tell other kids to serve at Lighthouse because of all the amazing relationships you make and the character it builds. It is important to learn the importance of service at a young age. It also is so much fun to be able to spend a week at the beach with a ton of amazing people!
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT LIGHTHOUSE THAT YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?
I would just tell everyone to try it! Lighthouse is full of amazing people who will make you feel very loved.