It all started with the love for our two daughter s- Kate and Avery. From there, evolved into Kate and Avery's Retreat Experience. WhiteTail Ridge Farm has become the permanent home of KAREfarm.
Our hope is that this is a place of remembering, respite, and renewal. Our girls lived their lives fully and were service driven with a love of nature and animals. A memorial never seemed right - Kate and Avery‘s Retreat Experience evolved from actively helping other bereaved families. Love and support that we found through community was the only way to move forward.
We can't think of any other way to demonstrate our deep thankfulness to others that took their time, treasures, talents, and patience to build into our lives (We assure you, it's not always the most direct or pretty journey, but it's real and it's what we needed).
We can only hope to serve others by meeting them where we are needed, just like we were blessed to do with our daughters. At the end of the day, we are just two moms that miss their little girls to the end of the earth. We're reinvesting in life the best way we know how.
Stephanie and Christa
Reinvestment after life altering loss and grief in so many situations are each unique and valued: parents losing children, children of all age losing parents, recognizing a world they knew before a diagnosed illness or death that has changed every part of their existence, a spouse losing the person they were not ready to spend their life without, parents learning that their child has cancer.
At times, we wake up to a world that has radically changed from the day before, and changed every part of our existence.
At KAREfarm, we believe like so many, that grief is the cost of love. Unfortunately, grief can be isolating and finding community during these difficult times seems impossible. Stephanie and Christa lived this until their chance meeting that turned into a support network first for each other, and then through increased capacity, others as well. But it all started with a small community where they learned that sometimes, it's OK to not be OK.
Grief is something that no amount of life or knowledge could prepare you for. Death and illness does not discriminate no matter your race, gender, socioeconomic status. However you identified before, life has been altered- reality changes. There isn't a guide. It doesn’t give you a manual of how to navigate, and neither do we. But we do offer space and believe that the power of community, connections, and compassion can help start that journey.
Leading a talk in the featured Inspirational Speaker series, “Grappling with Grief” at the Begin to Blossom Healing Center, Stephanie and Christa have brought an authentic and moving testimony of their individual and collective journeys.
Stephanie is the mother of three beautiful daughters; Samantha, Katie, and Madeline. Katie- 22 at the time and twin to Madeline- passed away in a hiking accident on March 19, 2016. Over five years into her grief journey Stephanie is realizing that while each person's path is unique, some common threads exist at the core. She has been in various IT consulting roles including training, project management, sales and business development for over 25 years. Stephanie is also a wife, mother and more recently a grandmother. She is straddling two worlds – both the professional one she has known for many years and the new world of grief journeying, where she is cofounding Graveyard Gab; a service for grieving mothers which will take the form of a podcast and other mediums aimed at helping those who mourn. She has been a driving force in connecting other bereaved mothers, specifically, to create a community of the strong women that can build into and support each other fiercely. Stephanie works to combine strength, grace, empathy (and, yes, sometime irreverence) needed to support others on the journey.
Christa is just four years into her grief journey, when life was broken into “before” and “after” on September 17, 2016, when her oldest daughter, Avery, was killed by an intoxicated motorist. Her first year of grieving was marked with advocacy for legal accountability out of state where her daughter attended college, and was instrumental with Avery's family in overturning an agreed punishment from a guilty plea. Her victim impact statement aided to set legal precedent for maximum sentencing. She uses the same fighting spirit as she raises her three surviving younger children that range in age from 12-17 with a mindfulness that sibling loss impacts each of them differently. Christa owns and operates a property investment firm in addition being a teacher leader at a Kentucky middle school. She has a Bachelors in History, Masters in Teaching, and completed a second Masters in Educational Leadership from the University of Kentucky. She has made it a priority to process her own unimaginable journey into child loss and articulate ways (not always quite so eloquently) for her own family and friends to meet her in this “new normal”, as she has learned to reinvest in life. As co-founder of the Graveyard Gab podcast, she will share coping skills and tools that she has gained through hosting retreats for those bereaved or broken through life circumstances.
Mike, or “Uncle Mike” or even “Uncle Jimmy (Beam)” is the care-taker of WhiteTail Ridge farm – host of KAREFarm. Mike is hometown Cincinnati raised, spending his years at Moeller high school, then graduating from University of Dayton. He then went on to get a Master’s degree in Program Management. Mike spent 16 years in the Dept of Defense world (and does he have the stories!), and then has been in IT for over 30 more years successfully managing projects and programs around the globe. His passion is managing WhiteTail Ridge farm.
Mike is married to Stephanie, step-father to her three girls, Sam Madeline and Katie, and father of two sons, Joe and Nick. Mike lost his step-daughter Katie in 2016, and then lost his combat veteran son Nick this past year (read about Nick in our ABOUT section of the website).
Mike understands the painful journey of loss and grief. During his DoD operations, he lost close friends. As a husband to Stephanie, he supported her through her loss as a mother for Katie, and his loss as a step-father. As a father to Nick, he is experiencing the tragic loss of a son and best friend. The saying goes “we should never have to bury our children...” With Mike and Stephanie it extends to two children now they have buried, and they will gladly share their journeys with you. Mike loves to sit around the fire telling stories and enjoying a refreshing beverage or two or three, most times four. Mike will be the first one to tell you a joke to lighten your load or to kneel down to pray or cry with you on your journey.
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