A charitable organization that helps teenagers who have lost a parent while serving in the military or in law-enforcement is striving to become fully operational by the summer of 2021.
"Healing the Wounds" (HTW) has developed a year-round mentoring program designed to educate, inspire, and fulfill the lives of children suffering from the devastating effects of losing their mother or father.
Most importantly, the experience they have will prepare them to become successful and responsible adults.
President and Founder of HTW, Jeff M. Epstein told CBN News that he launched a pilot program in Aug. 2019 and what occurred during that time was life-changing for the teens.
"The Army referred a group of kids and it was hosted in the northeast," he said. "They had fun but they bonded. The significance was that they arrived as strangers and left as loving siblings."
The participants took part in outdoor activities, were introduced to boat safety, and other life-saving skills. Epstein said the program gave the kids a sense of hope and some much-needed support.
"These kids really need our help. They really deserve our support because they've sacrificed so much," Epstein explained.
Sadly, the Army alone has more than 20,000 children under its wings.
Highlights from that pilot week were captured in a short film and recently released to the public.
The program begins with a wilderness experience in Alaska alongside seasoned professionals that work with the children to build character, self-confidence, and leadership skills.
Epstein told CBN News that retired Green Beret, Capt. Mykel Hawke is among those who are assisting the teens.
"He came on board and has spent much of his life helping children," Epstein said. "He is putting together a survival-type curriculum for the kids. He has a big heart and really cares about children."
And the year-round support continues after the teenagers leave the outdoor experience through a 24-7 call-in center where someone is always available to listen to them. Educational initiatives and internship opportunities are also available to get them ready for future employment.
Epstein emphasized that this program "can change young lives with comfort that there's a network of people rooting for their success. We provided these kids with a platform to have these unique opportunities - to encourage each other along. How they bonded with each was key to their own healing."
HTW relies on donor-funded support and is seeking members to help finance the program.
The organization is hosting a fundraising contest through a silent auction that will allow the program to be available on a permanent basis.
The bidding period for the auction runs through the month of March, with the highest bidder winning a brand-new, welded aluminum Pacific Hardtop Skiff (model 2325), along with a premium boating package.
HTW is offering an opportunity for everyone to do their part and make a huge difference in the lives of these children who have endured so much.
"At a time when our nation is so divided, one organization is healing through unity," Epstein added.
To find out more about HTW, click here.
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