The landscapes of Pine and Strawberry take your breath away, but it is the people who are awe-inspiring — people like Roger and Carol Fornoff, who work with the Senior Citizens Affairs Foundation in the Meals-On-Wheels program and volunteer at the Pine Thrift Store. Like many residents, the Fornoffs are generous with their time and talents with the community, but they have an outreach that extends far beyond the surrounding mountains.
At first glance, their spacious cabin off of Hardscrabble Road is like many others in the area: a wonderfully cozy and intimate place with beautiful mountain and forest views, deer and other wildlife wandering through, a place in which you immediately feel at home. But inside the home that bears the sign “Christy House in the Pines” is a genuine joy and celebration of God and life forged through acute pain and suffering.
The Christy House was started by Roger and Carol as a tribute to their daughter, Christy Ann Fornoff, who at 13 was viciously raped and murdered in the Valley 27 years ago. Her goodness lives on at the mountain retreat named in her memory, where individuals and groups find solace and understanding, including the “Parents of Murdered Children” and others whose lives have been torn apart by heinous crimes and senseless acts of violence.
The Christy House is one of several retreats in the area providing a peaceful respite for visitors. Another Pine retreat, “Breath of Life” was started by Candy Marie Bridges, author of “Meet Me In The Mountains,” as she too sought for a way to facilitate healing and hope through tragedy.
I was privileged to visit Roger and Carol at their Pine home on July 22. They were hosting a vibrant group of ladies from Mesa, the “Senior Ladies,” a Bible study group, that was making its fifth consecutive inspirational getaway to the Christy House.
We chatted and relaxed on the patio over a delicious brunch that included fresh fruit and Roger’s signature “Fantastic Eggs.” The Fornoffs prepare meals for retreat guests with Roger doing the cooking — cracking eggs as well as jokes — while Carol prepares amazing desserts for guests to enjoy as they feast on the delicious buffet.
With eight comfortable bedrooms decorated by Carol, the Christy House serves not only those who have suffered the devastation of violent crime, but recovering alcoholics, church and Bible study groups, youth workers and anyone seeking spiritual renewal.
Guests can stroll through the wooded backyard nestled in the quiet Pine neighborhood or relax on the stone steps of the Butterfly Garden built by Roger, in an atmosphere of peace and beauty.
The butterfly theme that flows outside and inside the Christy House is more than a beautiful decorating theme for those who love nature. It represents Christy’s presence and affirms her enduring beauty and spirit.
From a personal experience that Carol calls “New Life” she candidly shared how not long after Christy’s death a yellow butterfly took shelter from raging waters beneath her jacket for two hours on a river boat ride. Later a yellow butterfly flew alongside the window as the Fornoffs traveled by train. The butterfly was a messenger of hope bringing comfort and re-affirming the resurrection and new life. It reassured a grieving mother that her daughter was OK.
An unimaginable evil took Christy’s life on that day long ago in Tempe, but her light still shines in the world through the courageous family who turned their blackest night into a beacon to help others find their way right here in Pine.
Safeway helps local group
Strawberry’s Elite, soon to be called the Mountain Village Foundation, assists struggling families at the P/S School by donating Walmart gift cards to numerous children so they will not have to go without winter clothing, coats and shoes. The group hosts benefits such as an annual steak fry and other events to be able to help as many children as possible.
With stellar determination, they motivate us all to give more. Elite secretary Shara Weiss contacted many businesses on behalf of the group, requesting grants to help our citizens. The group struck gold in 2012, securing a grant from Safeway to help the community. The customer-oriented grocery chain generously contributed $2,500 to the non-profit group to help P/S children and seniors with food and utility bills and other short-term needs. This will go a long way in helping our residents through these difficult economic times.
Thanks to the powerhouse team of Safeway, Strawberry’s Elite and our residents, we are all winners!
Mountain Daze & Quilt Auction
Come up to Pine Aug. 11 and 12 to enjoy the crafts, antique car and tractor show, food booths and kids activities found every August at the Mountain Daze Festival.
On Aug. 11 the Friends of the Strawberry Patchers present the fourth annual Quilt Auction, including “buy it now” and “make me an offer” quilts.
Both events will take place at the Pine Community Center. See this column on Aug. 10 for further details or visit www.pinestrawberrybusinesscommunity.com.
To enter a quilt in the show visit www.strawberrypatchers.com.
AWANA Club kicks off Aug. 13 at First Baptist Church in Pine. Come enjoy food, carnival games, and learn more about AWANA. For more information, call (928) 476-3552.
Please send your events to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (602) 790-0248.