Building Connections

The Herren Project Ambassadors and staff descended on the Craigville Retreat Center from June 24-25, for the 5th annual Herren Project ambassador retreat.  A small group of us arrived Friday night and shared a meaningful dinner together.  It allowed us to share and catch up with one another.  The sense of connection and camaraderie was clearly evident as the rest of the ambassadors and staff arrived on Saturday morning.  

The retreat opened with Sean MacMillen, Herren Project Community Engagement Coordinator, thanking the ambassadors for everything they do and presenting them with custom-made and personalized Herren Project cutting boards.  Bonnie Sawyer, the Executive Director, expressed her gratitude for the work the ambassadors do.  Bonnie then provided the Herren Project State of the Union assisted by each staff section. 

The connection and sharing continued as we ate lunch together. As usual at Herren Project events, the conversations happened naturally and organically.  After lunch, our newest ambassador and Herren Project alum, Josh Morel shared his experience, strength, and hope.  His story had a profound impact on everyone in the room.  Any time someone shares their story a few words come to mind like courage, vulnerability, unconditional love, support, trust, and unity. 

Ambassador Retreat Peace Love Workshop at Ambassador Retreat

 After a quick break, Tricia Mansfield, our Director of Prevention & Strategic Partnerships led the ambassadors and staff in a Peace Love Workshop.  We all broke our creative side which allowed us to get to know one another on a deeper level through sharing our art and poetry.  After the Peace Love workshop, a game of Jenga broke out in the courtyard while other ambassadors and staff joined forces to see how they could help each other.  After dinner, we took our traditional walk to Four Seas for ice cream. 

Ambassador Retreat Ambassador Retreat Jenga game

 The retreat has been one of the most meaningful weekends of the year for me since I have been an ambassador. That has not changed since I have moved to staff.  I always leave reenergized and with more resolve to help individuals and their families struggling with the insidious disease of addiction. Herren Project is stronger and better with our amazing ambassadors out there working hard to move the needle against addiction in their communities. 

 “Meeting with the ambassadors to update them with our work each year always rejuvenates me and motivates us to keep going full force. The connection is so strong, and their stories are why we do what we do (and why they do what they do). We appreciate them so much. Our community is everything.” – Laurie Spaner 

 “I enjoyed connecting with the ambassadors and staff.  I feel we are all family even though we haven’t known each other that long. I love that the retreat gives us an opportunity to connect in person and be able to grow that bond.  Love you all!” – Deana Ditri 

“Every year the ambassador retreat reminds me of how special each of our ambassadors are. It is always so amazing to build these connections and hear about everything they do to spread Herren Projects’ mission. This day is filled with connection and love and I am so grateful for our ambassadors”- Bonnie Sawyer  

 “I look forward to our ambassador retreat every year. It’s great getting to connect with our amazing ambassadors and to get to hear about all that they do to advance our mission. There is so much compassion and passion in the room, it’s a wonderful day of connection with wonderful people (both ambassadors and staff).” – Kristin Young 

 “The Ambassador Retreat is something that I look forward to- I was so grateful to be able to go this year.  My favorite part is, of course, the connection with my Herren Project family.  But the retreat is always so powerful.  It’s beautiful to see the power of recovery in action and the difference that Herren Project is making in people’s lives.  I also love seeing how my fellow ambassadors live their truth and share their stories and lives with others. It’s truly a beautiful event.” – Allison Terlacher 

“As I reflected this week on our Ambassador retreat, I thought about how much these annual get-togethers have come to mean to me. There is something profoundly uplifting about spending time with folks who share such a vital and important purpose, and doing so always re-energizes me. The scourge of addiction is a reality in all of our lives, and carrying that knowledge can be exhausting. However, spending time with my fellow Ambassadors, hearing and learning from Herren Project staff, and learning the painful, and ultimately triumphant story of Josh’s battle lifted my spirits and reminded me how grateful and honored I am to be part of this family.”– Tom Rickard 

 “There’s simply nothing more powerful than “showing up” when it comes to building healthy relationships and community, and that’s exactly what we did at this year’s Ambassador/Staff Retreat. The sharing, hugs, laughter, and even the tears were authentic, fun and healing. We literally felt supported, inspired, and empowered by the experience, and that’s Herren Project’s mission in a nutshell. As someone who helped start HP’s Ambassador program in 2016, it’s an honor and joy to see it grow and thrive. I’m grateful to be included.” – Pam Rickard 

“As always, just being with Herren Project friends and teammates fills my soul. There’s a sense of fullness I receive when we connect and share each of our experiences. The beautiful thing is this, It makes no difference whether you are in recovery, love someone in recovery or have lost someone in recovery; each of our “whys” connects us in one way or another.  While we have made tremendous strides in spreading awareness, the fact remains there is still work to be done. I am honored and grateful to be able to provide hope for individuals and families.”   – Patti Bergbuchler 

“The ambassador retreat this year was insightful; the connections and sharing bring more meaning to the importance of our mission.” – Christine Hopkins  

“The sincerity, kindness and openness of everyone makes it feel like I can truly be open and myself. This group has helped me in my sobriety more than I can express in a few short sentences. By now being an “official” ambassador, I feel I can help the next person who is struggling now. Guide them in the right direction. The retreat was a fun way to get to know and hang out with everyone more than on Facebook or for the few short moments before a race. Thanks again for asking me to be an ambassador.” – Josh Morel 

“My favorite part of the retreat is always seeing & meeting all of my fellow ambassadors, but I also really appreciate the staff shedding light on the unbelievable work being done by such a small group of people behind the scenes.  The numbers really drive the point home of how much we’re helping, and how much we’re growing!  Eternally grateful for this team & community.”  – Joey Melanson