Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chalfonte Kid

Hope became a Chalfonte Kid last weekend. She's in good company.

Founded by a childhood friend of Mo's father, Chalfonte House in Elk Rapids is more than a big, Victorian home in one of Michigan's most-picturesque lake communities. It's been a retreat for kids and families in need of TLC for more than 20 years. And it's got a big place in Mo's heart.

She began spending weekends at the house as a teen amid a rough patch. Her parents thought she could use some guidance from their pal, Father Jim Meyer (who trained for the priesthood with Mo's father and is forever known as Jimeyer.) She connected with an amazing network of friends, some of whom have endured loss, hardship or illness, some haven't, but all of whom have friendly ears and knowing souls. It's the sort of place you aren't compelled to explain or share anything, but usually do anyway and feel better for it.

Mo has been part of a Women's Weekend for more than a decade that meets once a year at Chalfonte to drink wine, talk, laugh and cry. She's also a camp counselor there for a weeklong retreat for teenage girls. Adult Chalfonte weekends are full of wine, laughing, great food, rituals, sharing and euchre and backgammon matches that last well in the morning and so vicious they've been known to inspire grown men to call 70-year-old priests "jackasses." (OK. Maybe it was only one grown man and one priest. Guilty as charged.)

Initially formed for those with cystic-fibrosis and other life-threatening illnesses, Chalfonte has seen its share of triumph and loss. Some of those who've spent weekends dipping toes in Lake Michigan have died too young. Others went to support others and left touched by the support they received.

None depart before signing a leaf on a mural of a tree in what's called the trophy room. I added my name in 2002, a year before Mo and I married. Hope signed her name, with a little bit of help from Mom, last weekend. It was a special moment in a weekend that's always special.


Heidi @ GGIP said...

What an wonderful place. I've just looked around their website. I am impressed with charities and organizations that make an effort to help with the hard stuff.

I keep meaning to blog about the small organizations that have touched our lives.

~Rachel said...

Sounds like a very special place. I love the picture of Mom and daughter putting Hope's name on the wall.

Anonymous said...

The world needs more Jimeyers and his like. Good thoughts from Maine to him, his friends the Feighans, the Chalfonte gang, and to you.

Love, Grandma K.

Misty said...

that is great!! i will have to chek out the website! it sounds like it has been a gift in so many ways for your family! and now a gift to share with Hope!

Rachelle said...

Sounds like an awesome place. It's amazing how many people there are in this world who give so much of themselves. Sweet, sweet picture!