Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Loving tribute

Parents honor deceased son’s wish 

Julie Brown - Staff Writer

Trevor Blumberg
Terry and Jan Blumberg are honoring the final wishes of their son, Trevor, who was killed in action Sept. 14, 2003.
Growing up in Canton Township meant a great deal to the U.S. Army sergeant who was killed in Fallujah, Iraq, his parents said and they are honoring his wish to establish a retreat center in northern Michigan with the help of volunteers and veterans organizations.
The couple stays in touch with members of their son's Army unit through email and Facebook, although Jan Blumberg noted that some veterans remain distant as memories are too painful.
Veterans also face post-traumatic stress disorder, she added, and visiting the retreat named Blum's Landing helps them. Trevor's unit members have visited the retreat near Lake Huron beaches. The veteran and his or her most immediate family stay at the home which serves as a free bed and breakfast retreat.
Blumberg, a retired Garden-City teacher and principal, noted, “It did certainly take some time to acclimate.  I was strictly a city girl born and bred; but with time, this place has become home and a wonderful sanctuary.
“Friends in Canton were supporters of our plans.  The members of St. Michaels Lutheran Church, The American Legions, VVAs, VFWs in the area gave us much backing and encouragement by donating time and money to make this place come to fruition,” she said.
The website notes that it is a 501(c)3 nonprofit “for the military personnel and their families to relax, to recoup, and to re-energize from the stress of their current rehab and duties.” 
Trevor's parents now live near Rogers City from where they operate the retreat. They first also honored their son's request to care for his dog, Scrappy, who is now deceased.
Jan Blumberg noted, “We are open all year; but seem to get few takers.  When we first planned this, our thoughts were of the average 22-year-old vet (Trevor's age).  But, reality hit and we realized these 'kids' are now families of teenagers, young adults and active lives.  We also have had families with 'His, mine, ours kids' making for a different kind of social need.  Because of sports, etc. they just cannot get away.  And, we do not operate at holidays; so we can be with our little family.    
“Guests are first come, first serve with schedules begun as early as late January.   We primarily focus after Memorial weekend.  We did go into the fall this year; and we do have a few winter 'takers'. Any guest may stay with his/her most immediate family up to five days free at our home.  Some choose long weekends, too,” she said.
She and Terry struggle with some last-minute changes due to deployments, hospitalizations or other issues. Generally, there have been up to 14 families each year, some more, some less.
“Families who have come here have stated that they felt calmed and comfortable in this environment.  How do we know? Terry and I wondered if we needed to do a survey; but we don't.  We base it on how long they remain on the front porch and talk and talk and smile prior to their having to leave. 
“The veteran's who have come here have found folks who understand the wounds emotionally that each of them suffer.   We encourage just enjoying the blessings.  Some of these vets have strong family units who love and care for them.  Some of the families are sadly very disrupted. We try to create a home where they become family.... after a 'formal' run through we show them where the drinks are, the cups and glasses and snacks.”
The veterans on retreat then help themselves, she explained.
“We insist on a family-style welcome dinner to send a loving message of thanks.  We also provide treats throughout their stay as a way to kind of spoil them.”
Santa and Mrs. Claus have visited Blum's Landing, and Trevor's parents find a veteran sharing his story the best publicity they can receive.  Blum's Landing can handle some disabilities and the pontoon boat and landing are handicap compliant.   
They received funding and are awaiting the builder to complete a handicap compliant cabin although no service animals nor other animals are invited.
“After Scrappy died three years ago, we decided it was best,” said Trevor's mom, noting that also keeps the rooms clear of allergic reactions.
“We have had several of our vets who understand and still choose to come; and there are some that cannot separate.  We understand and keep the invitation always open to the future.”