Editor's note: Florida Conference Connection posted a story in 2012 about Florida United Methodist support for My Warrior's Place, a retreat center started by Kelly Kowall for grieving veterans and their families. The Observer News this month posted a story about progress at the retreat in southeast Hillsborough County.
|Disaster relief volunteers from several Florida United Methodist churches help restore buildings at My Warrior's Place after Tropical Storm Debby. 2012 file photo.|
RUSKIN -- Kelly Kowall, who founded and runs My Warrior’s Place in Ruskin, recently hosted Darcie Sims of Seattle, a certified grief management specialist. Kowall met her while training to help veterans and their families before opening My Warrior’s Place.
Kowall has been building the Ruskin retreat at 101 22nd St. N.W., off W. Shell Point Road, since a year after her son, Specialist Corey Kowall, 20, and a medic were killed Sept. 20, 2009, while en route to aid a location in Afghanistan where Improvised Explosive Devices had been detected.
Kowall began with a boating program; veterans could just come and paddle a canoe or kayak alone or with others; or just sit around and open up to people who had been through similar war experiences.
Kowall got the idea for the retreat while grieving alone on a boat trip to Beer Can Island where she stopped, and, while asking for a sign, what proved later to be a Vietnam-era bullet washed up right at her feet.
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* Penny Fletcher is a writer for The Observer News. This story initially was posted in The Observer News and is partially reprinted with permission.