I am a charming vacation home located in a scenic oceanside village of Stinson Beach in Northern California. Those who stay here get to experience the joys of white sandy beaches, stunning hiking trails, rustic art galleries, day trips to San Francisco, and more.
Typically, I recognize one couple that resides here in these walls, but every so often, a few weeks each year, this couple retreats, and new faces arrive through my doors. These faces project delight, excitement, and relief, and they all have something in common: these unfamiliar friends are Karen Wellington Foundation recipients.
I quietly observe as the owners begin to prepare for the arrival of the KWF recipients weeks before their arrival date. They are meticulous and thorough in their preparation, taking their time to make sure that each corner of each wall is spick and span. They clean, they organize, and they depart; as they do so, they discuss their own excitement for the guests who are about to arrive. The care that these owners take is admirable, and the friends who get to make these walls their home for a week are eternally grateful.
It has been a blessing to watch the pages of stories unfold as various families and couples vacation here. Some walk about each room giddily, their joy bubbling over with each step. Others walk in and sit down with a sigh of relief, infinitely appreciative for a chance to relax as they take a break from their hectic daily lives. I recall one couple in particular that was difficult to read; they walked in and their emotions were hidden behind their eyes and their silence. They were cold and tense at first, but over the week, I began to see their warmth return. They went from a few short conversations each day to profound discussions that lasted hours as they sat on the balcony listening to the crashing waves.
I was unable to recognize their love for each other as they entered through the doors that first morning, but their closeness strengthened each day without the stressors of their lives back home, and their love was able to be pieced back together in a wondrous way on this single vacation. It is such a privilege to be the place that KWF recipients and their loved ones can enjoy, embrace, and even rekindle their love of each other and their love of life.