The Circle Maker Connection
On a family vacation, Jamie Koesema, the R Founder and Executive Director, picked up the book called Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. What she read on those pages changed the course of her life. By praying through her dreams as suggested in the book, Jamie realized over the course of several months and many discussions with her family, that God was calling her to start a retreat center to bless families who have children with special needs. She then set out to research more about how to move forward with this dream and start putting the pieces together.
Our first item for business was to meet the families we wanted to serve. We embarked upon a plan called Blessing Day that would introduce us to approximately 27 families around the country. Donors provided food, gift cards, toys, candy, small gifts, handmade weighted snakes and cards of encouragement for the families. Volunteers personally delivered the Blessing Bags to the families and got to know them better. Volunteers also packed boxes to ship across the country to 7 different states. These bags were so special and meant so much to families who received them.
God blessed us with an office in beautiful Thanksgiving Tower in downtown Dallas. He provided the funding needed for the rent in amazing ways. We also made so many wonderful contacts throughout the year we were at the Tower. Because this was such a big deal that God did to help us acquire this office, we had a Grand Opening Celebration at the Tower! It was such a special day. We were also asked to organize and run a couple really cool events for the workers on the 32nd, 33rd, 34th floors at the Tower. Our first one was a Hot Cocoa & Christmas Cookie Party. R Volunteers provided the cookies and helped us serve the WeWork Community at the Tower. It was so fun! Our second event was a S’more Party where our co-workers came to roast marshmallows and make s’mores with us. Both of these were fun fundraising and awareness events that we are so thankful to have been able to do.
The Start of Something New
Jamie met many people over the year to discuss her dream. She was encouraged and inspired by everyone she met. People prayed over her and pushed her forward with information and resources. One of the people who she met along the way worked at Joni and Friends, an international organization that serves people with disabilities. Jamie was invited to volunteer at one of their Family Retreats. Little did she know that this retreat would steer her head long into her calling. She came home from that retreat determined more than ever to make R Retreat Center a reality. First step: November 15, R became incorporated as a non-profit in the state of Texas.
R planned our very own Mini Retreat in December after Christmas. We called it the Winter Wonderland Retreat and ran it at our church, Cornerstone Rockwall in Rockwall Texas. We had 2 families sign up that year and 50 volunteers come to serve them. How great is that? It was a beautiful day filled with joy and lots of laughter!
Fall Family Retreat
FINALLY, after 5 years of hard work, meetings, fundraising and much trial and error, R was finally able to organize and run our very first overnight weekend retreat. In September, 10 families and 65 volunteers met us at Camp Copass in Denton, TX for a 2-night retreat that was filled with pure goodness and love. This was also our first retreat with a Corporate Sponsor: Turner Construction. They were amazing by not only providing major funding but they also sent volunteers to help us with our Welcome Party! We met so many milestones at this event and will always hold this one really dear to our hearts. It was a weekend filled with such joy, beauty and peace. We absolutely can’t wait to do it again.
Once becoming incorporated, we proceeded to file the paperwork with the IRS for our 501c3. In July, we became official and we were ready to rock and roll.
Our FIRST actual camp retreat called Summer's Comin' Mini Retreat! It was AMAZING! In May, we rented Sabine Creek Ranch for a day and served 10 families. With the help of over 60 volunteers, we had a crazy fun day of super cool camp activities for the kids and respite and support group times for the parents. It was an absolutely beautiful experience. You would have had to see it to believe it. Everyone came away from that retreat with incredible memories!
Back to Business
Having moved from Texas to Kentucky in the middle of the pandemic, Jamie and her family needed to take some much needed time off from the R ministry but finally decided it was time to move forward and get back to business. We are excited about the possibilities that are coming up and can’t wait to share them with you once we get something solid on the calendar in 2022!