January, The New Year



What Will 2018 Bring For You?

At House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat we are looking forward to meeting new friends and the return of old friends!

Each year we all have the opportunity to take a new direction, try new things, meet new people and learn new things. Some folks make “resolutions”.

At House in the Woods, located in Lee, Maine, our resolution has always been to help our veterans, active military and combat warriors to heal, enjoy nature, fish, hunt and simply relax while spending time with their fellow brothers and sisters who have served…and those still active duty.

House in the Woods

What shall we do in these long, cold winter months?? 

Let’s Go Ice Fishing!!!

January 20th, 2018

The 8th Annual Ice Fishing Derby 

Come join us at Great Pond Outdoor Adventure Center

Located at: 9 Dow Pines Road, 

Great Pond, Maine 04408

GPS Coordinates 44.9533, -68.2822

Prizes for the longest fish will be:
Brown Trout: Jiffy Propane Ice Auger
Small mouth bass: Wolf Muzzleloader
Pickerel: Loring pack basket and 5 Heritage Traps. 


Thank you to Bangor Motor Sports for donating this excellent helmet as a raffle prize a $225 value. Raffle tickets are $5 each.

Great Pond Outdoor Adventure Center shares: The lake has been making ice!!!! See you all January 20th for the derby!! 

It looks like it is going to be a beautiful day for the derby!! The rec hall will open at 5 a.m. to purchase derby/raffle and 50/50 tickets.  Any question please call Judy Manzo at 207~584~2000.

Dress Warm and Bring the Family!!

Great fun, great friends, great cause….great food!

A Big Thank You to Great Pond Outdoor Adventure Center For Hosting This Annual Cold, But Fun Filled Day!!


January 22~25, 2018

Women Veterans Snowshoe & Cross Country          Ski Event

We are having a women’s veterans snowshoe and cross country ski retreat at House in the Woods January 22~25th. Arrive at the lodge on Monday the 22nd in the afternoon and depart Thursday the 25th after a hearty breakfast!!

Can you imagine how much fun this is going to be??? Joining a group of your female comrades for a great day in the wood of Maine where the snow is deep and insulates from any noise.

But, this far in the wood in Lee, Maine where you find House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat, there is rarely any distracting noises. You will relish in the peace and quiet of  Nature. Enjoy the whispering of the wind blowing through the pines and wildlife leaving tracks in the snow.

If you are interested please message or call Executive Director, Paul House at: 207~570~4806. 

We are located in Lee, Maine at 217 Skunk Hill Road, About an Hour North of Bangor

REMINDER: Accommodations and meals free to all veterans and  family, active military and  family.

There are no MREs served here!! Our beautiful commercial kitchen serves up filling, warm, delicious meals three times a day. Plenty of coffee, tea and hot chocolate to warm you after time in the snow. 

Meet Gold Star Outfitters

We are honored to have Gold Star Outfitters be a part of this adventure week of fun in the snow for our women veterans.

Gold Star Outfitters, Inc. provides pro bono outdoor recreational opportunities to our nation’s Gold Star Families, veterans, first responders and all families suffering adversity.


Catherine Gordon of Gold Star Outfitters, Inc. stopped in to visit Paul House at the lodge.





Gold Stare Outfitters

Another fabulous nonprofit that supports our veterans.

Paul House, Executive Director of House in the Woods, Turbo the dog, and Jack Mosher, CEO and Founder of Gold Star Outfitters.

Paul shares: Really enjoyed having Catherine and Jack come to the lodge and talking about how we can better serve our veterans. Really appreciate them taking the time to help us at HITW.

Jack shares:We never feel more at home than in the presence of our military service members and their families, Paul. We are honored simply to participate.

Catherine Gordon was doing a hike with a group of people, including a Gold Star family member, for the Summit Project. Jack Mosher was also part of the group.

Jack was transitioning out of the military and Catherine was transitioning out of teaching. During the hike they talked about what they could do to help this veteran community and they came up with Gold Star Outfitters which was founded on May 31, 2015.

Catherine was a math teacher and put gold stars on her papers. Jack had  worked with Gold Star families in the military so the name worked for both of them.

Colonel Jack Mosher is a retired Army Officer with nearly 30 years of military service to our country.  His service includes command and operations staff assignments at the platoon, company, battery, battalion, brigade, Joint Force Headquarters and Combined Joint Task Force levels.


Colonel Mosher is a Registered Maine Guide and the Founder and CEO of Gold Star Outfitters, Inc. He also serves as a Program Leader for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, while volunteering for several Veteran Service Organizations. 

After retiring from the military, Colonel Mosher started coaching youth running teams, while remaining connected with the Military Families and Veterans communities.  He lives in China, Maine with sons Harrison, Nathanial and Trevor.


Catherine is also a Registered Maine Guide for hunting, fishing and recreation. She is an avid skier, fly~fisher, hunter and hiker.


She is the co~founder of Gold Star Outfitters and an advocate for veterans, volunteering with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, The Travis Mills Foundation, and The Summit Project.  

Catherine became a guide after a 30 year teaching career with the Bangor School Department as a mathematics instructor for grades 9~12.  When not guiding, she enjoys riding her motorcycle and time at the range.


House in the Woods is honored and very grateful that Gold Star Outfitters is working in concert with us for the women veterans snowshoe and cross country skiing event. Two very dedicated people who work endless hours for their cause.

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction….                                        John F. Kennedy


Every turn in the road we meet more and more unique, generous individuals and organizations who are of the same mind as we: support, heal and honor our veterans and active military as well as their families.

 House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat’s Mission

To create a therapeutic, recreational, and educational retreat for our nation’s U.S. armed forces and their families, using outdoor wilderness activities in Maine and natural habitats to help participants share common challenges related to their service and sacrifice in protecting our nation’s freedom and democratic ideals.

Have a blessed, healthy and wondrous New Year. Please continue to pray for and support all our veterans, combat wounded, active military and their families. Take a moment to shake their hand and thank them for their service which affords each of us, our freedom and liberties within these great        United States.

~Happy New Year From All The Family of Paul and Dee House~


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   
My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   
He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost
Call us at 207~738~4421 or email us  deanna.house@houseinthewoods.org
We will send you as many brochures as you need for family and friends. Start planning your spring, summer and fall events now. You will never regret spending a a few great days at our lodge, deep in the wood of Lee, Maine.

 REMINDER: Accommodations and meals free to all veterans and  family, active military and  family.

Merry Christmas 2017

House in the Woods wishes you the Merriest of Christmases this year!

As the blessed season of our Savior’s birth approaches, and you are wishing all a Merry Christmas, please do not forget that there are so many of our United States service members who  have been deployed. These men and women are away from friends and family for the holidays.




As you are wrapping those gifts and sending those cards, and making plans of whom to visit during the Holidays, say an extra prayer for all who are in harm’s way. 


While you are searching the Internet for that perfect gift, take some time to search up the many military services available to send a deployed service member a card or a care package. Include an encouraging handwritten note to tell them that you are thinking of them and their loved ones. The holiday season can be a rough time for those away, especially a first deployment.

For many civilians, this may simply be a passing thought. You run into a friend who tells you that a classmate you both graduated with is in Iraq. You briefly speak of it then go on your way....soldiers away from home…. Three hours later you forget about it. We ask this year that you perhaps make sure to give our active duty another thought!



Mail From Home


Not everyone will be home for Christmas this year. Send some cheer and gratitude to our men and women who are deployed.



Not just at Christmas, but all year long!!


There’s no greater break from the day than to receive a letter or card from home. Something that can be carried in their pocket to be read often, touching apiece of home. 

                                                                                                                                                       Photo Courtesy of Soldiers Angels


World War II Poster


                                                                   Photo Courtesy of Soldiers Angels

Wondering Where to Begin?

Perhaps you don’t know anyone currently serving in the military but still want to reach out to send a card or letter.

There is a nonprofit organization called Soldier’s Angels. In 2003, Patti Patton-Bader founded Soldiers’ Angels when her oldest son, Staff Sergeant Brandon Varn, was deployed in Iraq. Her son made comments that he was one of the few soldiers receiving care packages so Patti gathered some friends and neighbors and they began sending packages to his whole platoon.

Since then more than 824 thousand care packages have been sent to combat deployed service members over the last 14 years. Also, 1.6 million cards and letters have been sent to combat deployed. Check their website to see if you can become involved.

Soldiers’ Angels

May no soldier go unloved,
May no soldier walk alone,
May no soldier be forgotten,
Until they all come home.



1942 Sears Catalog. Families have been supporting our heroes at Christmas for generations. Keep the tradition alive!!

This year, with lots of help from some tremendous volunteers,  House in the Woods sent out 1,450 Christmas cards!!!



The United States has 1.3 million troops stationed around the world!

Business Insider Military & Defense

Chances are one of these men and/or women is a loved one, acquaintance or coworker. Take some time to read this article. Hopefully you will understand why we ask that you pray for all our troops this Christmas and every day.



All of our active military, we wish you a Merry Christmas, wherever you may be. 


House in the Woods Has The Best Group of Volunteers. We Would Like You to Meet….


Volunteer and Army Veterans

Aaron & Walter Greene~Morse, Owners of Patriot Ridge Homestead

Walter and Aaron Green~Morse United States Army veterans.

Aaron Greene~Morse shares: We are very thankful to be part of the House In The Woods extended family. That is how we’ve been made to feel with Dee and Paul, Farleen, Carol and all the volunteers.





Walter and I are connected to House In The Woods through Joel House. We were stationed in Bangor, Maine as recruiters 2001-2005. Walter met Joel as he was preparing to graduate high school, Walter was his recruiter. Like-minded men with an interest in the outdoors and a love of country. Walter was deployed to Iraq 2006-2008, the same time as Joel was there but not with or near each other. Walter is a Purple Heart recipient as he was injured in Iraq in 2008.

Walter and I reconnected with Paul and Dee in the summer of 2008 when we purposely drove to Lee to offer our condolences. After we purchased our farm and Walter moved to start working on the house and the farm, he also wanted to study and apply for his guides license. With the help of Paul, and the veterans program he helps facilitates, Walter was able to obtain his Maine State fishing and recreational guide’s licenses.

With our small homestead we are currently raising a handful of Highland and Dexter cattle, Cotswold and various sheep. Oh, and a son and daughter!! We also have the standard flock of chickens, two Guineas and one Muscovy duck.

(Please take some time to view Patriot Ridge Homestead on Face Book.)

Our future plans are to build a riverside cabin in which we can provide temporary housing to a veteran in need.

Patriot Ridge Homestead is a 6.5 acre homestead  in Jefferson, Maine. Our children Joseph and Paige help out with feeding the animals and by simply bringing great joy to our lives.







Joseph Greene~Morse, age 3 years.



                                                                  Paige Greene~Morse 8 years old.

Both of our children were born while I was on active duty, and they love living on the farm.

When I was contacted by Debi Gould to be part of an all women’s bird hunt at House in the Woods, I was ecstatic!! (photo below).

(Read HITW Veteran’s Day Newsletter for details and pictures of the first annual Women Veterans Bird Hunt)

Aaron Green~Morse is third from left, front row, blue plaid shirt and long gun.

Aaron continues: I am glad I have made friends with the other female veterans who stayed at the lodge for the Women Veterans’ Bird Hunt: Anne Devin, Carrie Mancini and Kristina Sabasteanski all who I hold in high regard.

 My children were excited to spend time at the HITW lodge. After I had gone on the bird hunt they were very curious and excited to spend the night at the lodge with me.

When I retired from the Army I held the rank of Sergeant First Class (E7). I spent 20 years as a Signals Intelligence Analyst, MOS 35N (formally 98C). I retired from Ft. Meade, Maryland June of 2015. 

The Growing Home series was an awesome opportunity to meet and connect with other veterans. ……..Aaron Greene~Morse, U.S. Army Veteran.

The following is a link to the trailer of the show that was broadcast throughout Maine. Growing Home Episode 1 Second Service  House in the Woods was featured in Episode 5.

November Happenings

Veteran and Community Thanksgiving Dinner at The Lodge at House in The Woods

House in the Woods held its’ first annual Thanksgiving Dinner at our beautiful lodge in the wood of Lee, Maine. We served ninety Thanksgiving dinners.

The guest list was comprised of veterans and guests, active military and guests as well as members of the community.

We want to thank all the fabulous volunteers and those who donated to the success of this wonderful day of thanks.

Deanna House welcoming some guests to Thanksgiving Dinner.

One of the things that’s very important for us is that we integrate veterans into the community, so we always try to make the community a part of it.

Thanksgiving was such a blessing this year. It not only included my own family, but also our veterans and the community. Thanksgiving is a great time to remember that we have so much to be grateful for in this crazy world. We owe that to God and the American soldier……Deanna House, Director of Administrative Services

LEE, Maine (WABI) – Folks gathered at House in the Woods in Lee spent their Thanksgiving cooking up a meal for Maine veterans and other members of the community.

Courtesy of WABI-TV, Maine listen to the guests and hosts while local television host Zach Warren visited House in the Woods to speak with guestsWABI-TV, Maine

Kim Moriglioni states:  I attended the event in short notice, what a great facility and meal. A very warm welcome, great idea for the veterans and I’m going to get the word out about the place along with some donations. Thanks!


Thank you to Paul LaBreque of the Safari Club Maine for raising $1958.00 for HITW this holiday season.



To help support our local Veterans this year, The Family Dog Restaurant in Orono, Maine donated 10% of all purchases from 11 a.m.~4 p.m. to House in the Woods.




Gourmet hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and hot dogs. Fresh local ingredients, creatively paired with local Maine craft beer. If ever you visit you will have a superb, delicious meal!!

Many thanks to The Family Dog restaurant.

 House in The Woods Mission:

   To create a therapeutic, recreational, and educational retreat for our nation’s U.S. armed forces and their families, using outdoor wilderness activities in Maine and natural habitats

To help participants share common challenges related to their service and sacrifice in protecting our nation’s freedom and democratic ideals.

Together We Heal at House in the Woods

House in the Woods

We offer canoeing, kayaking, hiking, hunting, fishing, nature tours, campfires, swimming, wildlife identification and spotting, and other natural Eastern Maine resource “treasures” God has given our beautiful state to enjoy.

As participants face the outdoor challenges presented by Mother Nature herself, they will have the opportunity to share laughter, memories, sorrow, service, and pride, among many other common bonds.

 A few words spoken by veterans and those currently serving:
 The deepest pain I ever felt was denying my own feelings to make everyone else comfortable.
My mind is a cruel thing. I forget the things I try hard to remember, and I remember…..all too well….. the things I try hard to forget.
It’s a constant battle, the war between remembering and forgetting.
There are wounds that never show on the body, that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.
It’s hard to admit you’re not as strong as everyone believes you are.
I hate getting flashbacks from things I don’t want to remember.
We don’t return the same person that we left as.

December 12, 2017 Summit on Veteran Suicide Prevention , Portland, Maine


On December 12, 2017 the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, VA Maine, and Maine Vet Centers hosted a first-in-the-nation Summit on Veteran Suicide Prevention.

Thomas Bowman, the Deputy Secretary for the US Department of Veterans Affairs delivered the keynote address,  discussions followed regarding community resources for suicide prevention and eliminating barriers to care.

House in the Woods attendees: Deanna House, Diane Freelove,Marie Sutherland, Farleen Smith and Luke House.

House in the Woods is a nonprofit organization offering outdoor programs to bring together small groups of active military, veterans, and their family members to relax, share, bond, and deal with the stress, loss, grief, and other emotions which can haunt the grieving soul. 

Nearly 10% of Maine’s population are veterans.
Maine is outpacing the nation in veteran suicide, so our need to come together to address this issue is critical!

Often it isn’t the initiating trauma that creates seemingly insurmountable pain, but the lack of support after.

Combat PTSD is defined as a specific type of post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by men and women who have been in combat. Combat PTSD can happen to anyone in combat, from those that have experienced live fire to those who are support workers in a war zone area. 

Severe depression, suicidal thoughts, flashback episodes to a traumatic event, nightmares, migraines, anger, anxiety, and rages are all common symptoms.

 The hardest for family members to deal with is the fact the soldier appears not to  care about anything anymore.

The more educated we are about PTSD the more we can help those who are combat warriors and walk through our doors at the lodge.  They come for the camaraderie, for rest and for healing.  Many of our volunteers are veterans who understand first~hand the battle scars our men and women carry in their soul.

Look What’s Coming in January The 8th Annual Ice Fishing Derby January 20th, 2018



Last year THREE HUNDRED  hearty ice fishing enthusiasts  from near and far started to hit the ice from 6:00 a.m. thru 3:30 p.m for the 7th Annual Ice Fishing Derby to benefit House in the Woods!

In 2017,  the generosity of the attendees of the Ice Fishing Derby at Great Pond Outdoor Adventure Center, brought over $10,000 donations to House in the Woods!! The word is out: this year that this amount will be bested by the 2018 attendees!

Prizes for the longest fish will be:
Brown Trout: Jiffy Propane Ice Auger
Small mouth bass: Wolf Muzzleloader
Pickerel: Loring pack basket and 5 Heritage Traps. 

Bring the kids! Bring the wife! Bring the in-laws! All will have a tremendous time!! Just be sure to dress warm!!!

The entry fee for the derby is $5.00 which also enters attendees for a chance to win our fantastic prizes. And, there will be a 50/50 raffle.

Breakfast sandwiches, with bacon or ham, will sell like hotcakes!! Lunch time we will have homemade beef stew, chili, hot dogs, chili dogs, yeast rolls, lots of sweets …keeping warm and fueling up for more ice fishing in the afternoon!!

For more information please call Great Pond Outdoor Adventure  Center at 207/584-2000.



Blue Star Neighbors

Blue Star Neighbors

Our military, which deploys around the world to protect our nation, is an all-volunteer force. Together, our military service members and their families willingly make significant sacrifices to keep us all safe.

Our military’s families are extremely proud to serve all Americans, and work hard to stay strong while facing the added burdens of military life. What keeps them strong is support from all of us – their Blue Star Neighbors.

House in the Woods loves to share with our readers some of the many organizations dedicated to assisting our military. If you have been considering that it’s time to lend a hand but are not sure where or how, follow the link to their website above.

Being a Blue Star Neighbor is as easy as making a friend. Introduce yourself to the military family on your street. Ask how you can lend a hand – from having them over for a meal or assisting with errands to just being there whenever they need some kind of support. They’ll be grateful – and you’ll feel pretty great too. Plus you and your family will make new friendships that will last a lifetime!

Get more details at Blue Star Neighbors.


A Christmas Poem

Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.

I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I’d heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan.
I soon understood, this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.

He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps.”

With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.

I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.

Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.

I didn’t want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
said “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.”
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.

Author: Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt, 1986



 This (House in the Woods) is an amazing organization. When trying to guess what someone would like for a birthday gift, Christmas gift or any other gift, instead think about a donation in their name to House In The Woods. How about a donation in your child or grandchild’s name as a stocking stuffer. 
There are so many good reasons to donate to this organization all of them being veterans and their families🎄🎄🎄 Submitted by Shirley Thibedeau~Loffredo




Happy New Year From House in the Woods

We would like to wish you a prosperous, happy and healthy 2018. Thank you all for your continued support of House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat. With your combined kindness, service, respect and dedication to our combat wounded and those currently serving in the United States Armed Forces, we have brought some peace, rest and relaxation as well as nurturing newfound friendships.

House in the Woods


House in the Woods

217 Skunk Hill Rd, Lee, ME 04455 

Tel: 207-738-4421  |  Fax: 207-738-4420


Veterans Day, Honor

November 11, 2017 is     Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a U.S. legal holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I, then known as “the Great War.”

Commemorated in many countries as Armistice Day the following year, November 11th became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became legally known as Veterans Day.

It Takes a Veteran to Understand Another Veteran

As one soldier speaks of his loss of his brothers-in-arms, others join in to share memories.

This is a typical conversation heard among veterans who have been guests at House in the Woods, a therapeutic, recreational, and educational retreat for our nation’s U.S. armed forces and their families.

These are our men! Our boys! Our sons! Our husbands! Our brothers! Our women! Our daughters! Our wives! Our sisters! These are our veterans who traveled to foreign lands to defend the life and liberties of many.

There is the good: “He always had my back”….there is the bad: “Man, we never knew what hit us!”…….the brother sitting next to him offers a huge hug and tears are shared. This is a healing process that often takes place in the middle of the wood in Lee, Maine at House in the Woods where Together We Heal.

A Tribute From a Vietnam Veteran

 Copy of an article written by Ron Sites in 2005, Vietnam Veteran from Mapleton, Maine. This is an excellent piece by a local Mainer, a proud American who served his country and who saw the other side of the world as a young soldier in Vietnam.

 Ron Sites from Mapleton, Maine.

Ron shares:  I went on a fishing trip with House in the Woods to New York a few years ago. Caught some nice fish and had a great time.
 We honor and love our Vietnam Veterans who had a less than honorable “Welcome Home” when they returned from the war that took over 5,000 American soldiers lives.


 It is many of these veterans who are now helping our combat wounded and those suffering with PTSD, in Maine and natural habitats to help participants share common challenges related to their service and sacrifice in protecting our nation’s freedom and democratic ideals.

 Richard Harriman, Vietnam Vet and Dean Smith, Vietnam Veteran.
 These senior veterans who are volunteers at House in the Woods never want our young troops to be treated in the manner in which they were in the 60’s.

Our volunteers interact with the veterans and their families attending the events . A great number of volunteers for House in the Woods are veterans themselves.

It takes a veteran to truly understand another veteran!

Since the inception of House in the Woods so many people have come forward as volunteers. Those who have that understanding of the military life, of our veterans and what they sacrificed, of our families who have found themselves with the title of Gold Star Families. 

We are so blessed to have such a great, dependable and committed group of volunteers who all understand and believe in our mission.

The House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat’s Mission is to create a therapeutic, recreational, and educational retreat for our nation’s U.S. armed forces and their families, using outdoor wilderness activities in Maine and natural habitats to help participants share common challenges related to their service and sacrifice in protecting our nation’s freedom and democratic ideals.


Maine WWII Women Army Corps Thanksgiving at the US Army Airfield, Presque Isle, Maine Photo 1943.


Bob Cobb  served in Italy during WWII.





Pearl Harbor survivor Houston James of Dallas is overcome with emotion as he embraces former Marine SSgt Mark Graunke, Jr. of Flower Mound, Texas during the Dallas Veterans Day Commemoration at Dallas City Hall. SSgt Graunke, Jr., who was a member of a Marine ordnance-disposal team, lost a hand, leg, and eye while defusing a bomb in Iraq in July of 2003.

Some Gave All, All Gave Some

  My name is Brenda Everson~Shaw, an American citizen, from an American Military Family who proudly supports and prays nightly for all our troops. We pledge our allegiance to our Flag, stand for her when she passes by and our veterans and armed forces salute her whenever she is in sight. 

This handsome, young soldier with the most gorgeous smile, is another reason I support all military, their families and loved ones, as well as all veterans who stood up, took the oath and served our country. 

This young man is my great-nephew, Pfc. Matthew Bean of the United States Army. My sister’s grandson. Matthew fought for my freedom, your freedom and the freedom of all United States citizens.








 May 19, 2007 KIA:

Army Pfc. Matthew Bean of Pembroke, Massachusetts was shot by a sniper in Iraq. He was 22 years old.

A member of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, Matthew was shot May 19 during a door-to-door search for three captured U.S. soldiers in the Sunni Triangle. The missing soldiers, taken in a May 12th ambush, were members of Matthew’s unit. 

In his senior yearbook Matthew wrote: 

 Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary……

I was presented with the news November 3, 2017 from one of my grandsons, who is also Army, that he is being deployed to a classified destination.

The beat goes on for my family…the young step up to provide for our freedom and our liberties. You tell yourself you get accustom to this, being part of a military family. But if we parents, grandparents, wives & children, siblings and friends admit it….we NEVER get used to those first few words…I’m being deployed! 

In Honor Of These Great Men


SSGT, Joel A. House





SSGT. Blair Emery




SSGT. Michael Severance





All of these young men mentioned above stepped up and volunteered to join the Armed Forces. They are very dear to our hearts, those of us at House in the Woods.

Each of them have our gratitude and love. We miss them all every day and pray for their families. It is men such as these who should inspire you to walk up to a veteran and shake his/her hand to thank them for their service to our country.

It is because of men such as these that we, at House in the Woods, are very excited each time we meet a new veteran who is coming to our lodge for some great R&R of hunting, fishing, or just being by the campfire. 


Some return annually and some are first-time visitors. Each receives a warm hug and and understanding heart from all who spend time with them at our lodge.

We have a large, extended family now of men and women who have served our country or are currently out there defending our country! In all honesty…one could not ask for much more…….

Check our website for future events.      House in the Woods

We’d love to have you visit, get to know us and enjoy the clean fresh air of Maine. Great food and beautiful sleeping quarters! Remember, all accommodations and meals are free for veterans, active military and their families.


We all need to be grateful for all who serve, those who paid the ultimate price and those who have returned as combat wounded, both physically and emotionally.

Keep in mind the new veterans are all from the honorable group of men and women who VOLUNTEERED  for the Armed Forces. They were not drafted as were my friends when Vietnam was in full force. Our young, responsible, and love-my-country young Americans have come back wounded with loss of limbs and most suffering from PTSD.


Whether participants are sitting under the countless stars on a cloudless summer night or reflecting on their own reflections in the glass-like stillness of a Maine pond during a 4:00 a.m. summer sunrise, there is a therapy in realizing one’s enduring place in eternity. As participants face the outdoor challenges presented by Mother Nature herself, they will derive a sense of accomplishment, find, through exercise, a release of stress, and have the opportunity to talk and share with one another the laughter, memories, sorrow, service, and pride, among many other common bonds.

                      Deanna House, Director of Administrative  Services,     
House in the Woods, Lee, Maine 

Kristina Sabasteanski

Another Veteran helping her fellow veterans heal at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine.

Pineland Farms

Kristina served 10 years in the VTARNG and Army. She left as a SGT. Kristina was stationed in Jericho, VT when she was with the VTARNG. She then became part of the unit Title 10 Army Tour representing the Army in the 1998 and 2002 Olympics in the Biathlon event. Her head quarters was the Pentagon and then Colorado Springs, also training all over the country at different times.


Biathlon competition.

Biathlon is one of the most challenging of all the Winter Olympics sports. It requires athletes to have both stamina and precision as they compete in a cross country skiing race that is interrupted by frequent stops to shoot at a series of targets.


Kristina runs a non-profit program for Veterans called VAST (Veterans Adaptive Sports & Training) at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, ME. 



House in the Woods loves to share the many other organizations out there who honor and respect our veterans by showing them that they too can be active in all of the outdoor activities that their non-combat wounded brothers enjoy.

Through such activities the healing process kicks in and the stress is lessened by the accomplishment of physical activity they once thought they would never participate in again. At VAST they have adaptive equipment for veterans with a disability so everyone can participate in whatever they are doing. The best part of their program, which is run by veterans, is that the veterans experience that same sense of camaraderie of being in the military.

Veterans learn they are not alone with their experiences and challenges, and learn new resources to help them overcome their injuries sustained from the military.


We first met Kristina (far left) when she joined the Women Veterans Bird Hunt this year at House in the Woods. Kristina shares: This was my first time bird hunting. The guides at House in the Woods were wonderful and explained everything I needed to know about bird hunting.

All of us females were Veterans so we all knew how to shoot M16s, etc. However, some of us weren’t familiar with shooting shotguns. Once we learned the logistics, we were good to go. I shot 2 partridges and even learned how to clean them myself. I cooked them for dinner for my family when I got home and they were delicious! 

The best part of the camp (HITW) was hanging out with fellow female Veterans. It’s somewhat rare that I am with a group of females with the same interests. Usually I’m the only female when I’m at the shooting range or out hunting. It was great to share similar experiences about being in the military because not all of my female friends understand what it’s like to be a Veteran.  We also shared what its like being so busy juggling work and taking care of our children.  We also felt very welcomed and supported by Paul and Dee House and all the volunteers at House in the Woods who were sincere in their willingness to support Veterans. 


New England folks believe it’s never too early to get the kids on the ice! Be it ice fishing, skating, snowmobiling on the thick ice or just exploring nature, we are a hearty bunch who don’t let a little cold and snow stop us!!



Pack the warm clothes, wear the warm, warm boots, and bring a thermos of coffee and some hot chocolate for the kids! If you have never been ice fishing you definitely are in for a treat! A time your kids will always remember….and you might even snag a fish or two!!





In Your Honor

Unselfishly, you left your fathers and your mothers.  You left behind your sisters and your brothers.

Leaving your beloved children and wives. You put on hold, your dreams-your lives.

On foreign soil, you found yourself planted. 
To fight for those whose freedom you granted.

Without your sacrifice, their cause would be lost.
 But you carried onward, no matter the cost.


Those who survived were forever scarred.  Emotionally, physically, permanently marred.

With a hand upon my heart, I feel the pride and respect; my reverence is revealed in the tears that now stream down my upturned face.

 As our flag waves above you, in her glory and grace, freedom was the gift that you unselfishly gave.
Every day, I give my utmost admiration, to those who had fought to defend our nation.

Author Unknown



House in the Woods

217 Skunk Hill Rd, Lee, ME 04455 

Tel: 207-738-VETS (8387)


October: Moose Hunt & Women Veterans Hunt

Editors warning: this is a rather lengthy newsletter, as most have been as of late. But we always seem to have so much to share as there has been a lot going on at House in the Woods Military and Family Retreat that we knew you would understand. I hope you enjoy it and share this with friends and family.








Put your feet up, grab a cup of coffee and read on…..


207-738-VETS (8387)



Fall is a favorite time of year for many of us. 

We are so blessed to live in New England to experience all four seasons. Mother Nature is at her best in the Fall as she has rid the area of humidity and high temps. 

She opens each new day with cool-nearly-cold mornings with dew sparkling on the grass, but graciously leaves the warm sunny mid~days and the evenings cool enough for a jacket. 

The summer residents, in many of our locations, have fled and there is barely anyone at the ocean beaches or at the lakes and ponds. This is the perfect time to stroll the shores, to fully take in the beauty of the red, orange and yellow of painted trees. Mother Nature at her best!

Down the street from my house it’s cranberry harvest time! One of the most healthy fruits you can eat! My home state of Massachusetts has more than 14,000 acres of working cranberry bogs. The colors of the berries are so brilliant on those cool fall mornings as they float atop the bog ready for the harvest…….Brenda Everson~Shaw


Everyone enjoys the harvest!!


At House in the Woods, Fall Brings Moose Hunting


Left to right: Paul House with Turbo the dog, Deane Smith, Don Hazelton, Tom Orfe, and Dan Aiken with Buddy the dog.  Center, Sgt. Zachary Stinson, combat wounded Marine.

Our Awesome Maine Guides Who Honor Our Veterans With Each Hunting Experience


Left to right: Sgt. Zachary Stinson, Marine Corp veteran who harvested his moose on the first day of the first week of moose hunting. With Zach is Dan Aiken an avid supporter and great friend of HITW.  

Also included in this picture are guides: Deane Smith, Paul House, Don Hazelton and Tom Orfe, who is another Maine Guide but graciously missing from the photo as he took this picture. 

Dan Aiken’s camp is on Pleasant Lake in the Maine North Woods This is a large, privately owned land where House in the Woods treks for the Moose Hunt.


The Moose Hunt is a bit different than other organized hunts, such as the Black Bear Hunt. For the Moose Hunt, one must win a tag by lottery. The winner then can name a sub-permittee to hunt also. Deane Smith won the moose tag for the first week of moose hunting this year and named Sgt. Zachary Stinson as his sub-permittee. Zach came to HITW from Combat Marine Outdoors. 

We first met Sgt. Stinson at the Black Bear Hunt of 2016, again with Combat Marine Outdoors. Lasting friendships were established.


Unanticipated Results of a Moose Hunt

Marine Corps veteran Sgt. Zachary Stinson and 4th grader Kaelyn Cloukey, daughter of Justin and Jessica Cloukey of Lincoln, Maine became immediate friends in 2016 when they welcomed Zach to his first Black Bear Hunt with House in the Woods. A beautiful friendship that no one expected to become a nationwide story.

Please take the time to read the full stories behind this amazing friendship that took the nation by storm this month. It truly is inspiring. CBS and its’ affiliates broadcast Kaelyn’s and Sgt. Stinson’s story nationally and internationally.

(Links to some of the coverage are below.)


Little did one Marine Corps Vet know he would take away more than game from his hunting trips…..WABI-TV  Lincoln 4th Grader Reunites With Wounded Warrior



I hope the message of love and kindness goes viralJessica Cloukey



 Marine Corps vet Sgt. Zachary Stinson stood using his arms during the national anthem at a 2012 Team USA basketball game. He’s back in the news after developing a special friendship with a young fourth-grader in Maine…..Yahoo Lifestyle News

wounded warrior and a 4th-grade girl became friends on a bear hunt




For this inured veteran, this year’s moose hunt was more than just a hunt….Bangor Daily News   More Than a Moose Hunt





Week Two of Moose Hunting

Well folks, it remains a mystery at this moment. Monday, October 9, 2017 was our second week of moose hunting in western Maine near Rockwood. No pictures submitted and no long tales of the one that got away.….. at least not yet!!! (Fear not, none were lost in the wood of Western Maine as they all are back home.) 


What we do know is that a generous veteran,  Art Bridges, donated his moose tag to Brandon Deaton, an Army, wounded combat veteran from Topsham, Maine and Combat Marine Outdoors as his sub~permittee.

But, as one who attempts to get ALL THE FACTS…I am still perusing this story!!!! Will have to continue to next month’s newsletter!!


October 15, 2017 Three~Day Women Veterans Bird Hunting

Fabulous time with our women veterans as guests at our lodge for bird hunting week.

Veterans joining us for the bird hunt:  Carrie Marple~Mancini, Annie Bachman, Kristina Sabasteanski and Aaron Green~Morse. Anne Martin Devin was also a guest hunter but had to leave prior to photos and television coverage.

Guides: Paul House, Sandy Heldman, Mike Hebert, John Fortunate, Rod Worcester and Robert Clark.

House in the Woods and all of us associated with this great military retreat, lodge, healing space in Lee, Maine want to tell ALL United States Women Veterans how deeply grateful and proud we are of each and every one of you. We hope you will make plans to join us soon.

House in the Woods



Mission Readiness


Coffee at lodge before a day of bird hunting.




The following quotes from the women veterans are courtesy of Taylor Kinzler, Anchor Reporter for WABI TV…Bangor, Maine


From one of the women veterans: We bond quickly. We talk about mom things, we talk about soldier things, we talk about family life and can find common ground to support each other, which is what you do in the military.

I don’t think there’s a common misconception, I think people just don’t understand what drives and draws women into the military and then how to treat them both with the respect as a veteran and still understand that they served, too.

We are a small percentage in the military of female veterans. But we served and we did our mission and you know it’s something we’re proud of.….Erin Green~Morse






Kristina Sabasteanski shares: There’s so many resources and awesome programs in Maine. And the more we can learn about different programs then we can pass these on to veterans.

Had a blast with these fun and strong women Vets! Paul, Dee and Debi were the best to make this all happen. Thanks again for everything! I now have another resource to share with other vets..

This is my first time bird hunting. It’s my first time hunting period. Quite an experience getting out there and learning how things work and watching how the dogs work.

Carrie Mancini shares: I haven’t often had the opportunity to connect with a group of women who have been through similar situations and know exactly where I’m coming from.


Look out world…..these are some powerful women!

I want them to feel appreciated and loved… And you wonder if anybody cares what you’ve done. They do. They really do care….Dee House, Director of Administrative Services, House in the Woods 

The Practice Range

Know your weapon!

Just a refresher course for these veterans.



Create a solid stance. 





Ammo check.









And in the Field


Paul House providing tips for finding the feathered friends.




Listen and watch for your target.



Take the shot!




Hunting With Women Veterans


A great day!!


Debi Gould shares:  Thank you ladies for coming and spending time with us!Thank you for making the time to come! I know how hard that is! So glad you enjoyed and nice shooting!

Kristina Sabasteansk shares: Had a blast with these fun and strong women Vets! Paul, Dee and Debi were the best to make this all happen. Thanks again for everything! I now have another resource to share with other vets.



My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country…..John F. Kennedy……

……..and these women DID for their country!


They Serve for Our Freedom and Liberties.

Each day our women soldiers put their lives on the line for us.

They are your daughter, aunt, sister, mother, or your best friend. Remember the girl next door? You always wondered what she did after graduations! Well, boys and girls….here she is!!

An American Soldier!!!

Women pilots and women infantry have been around for a while! But often one has to do some digging to find the information.


Air Force

 Lt. Col. Christine Mau flew combat missions in the F-15 Strike Eagle in Afghanistan. In May, she became the first woman to fly the                        F-35 Lightning II jet.


Female pilots WWII Original Fly Girls.





Coast Guard

Female members of Coast Guard Air Station Detroit  recreating a famous photo of World War II female pilots, Fly Girls which is posted above.



National Guard

Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar, a former helicopter pilot for the U.S. Air National Guard sits in the co-pilot seat of a helicopter in Kandahar. She served three tours in Afghanistan and is only the second woman, after Amelia Earhart, to get the Distinguished Flying Cross with a Valor Device.


Air Force

Kelly Smith, She flies the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft for the Air Force.




Marine Capt. Katie Higgins, the first female pilot with the U.S. Navy  Blue Angels.




A female Marine graduated from the Corps’ grueling Infantry Officer Course. The woman, who has asked to keep her identity private




Army Capt. Kristen Griest, center, is one of the first women to graduate U.S. Army’s Ranger School.



U.S. Marines Cpl. Kelly Campagna carries Cpl. Lance Rowewood during a corporal’s course five mile hike in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, May 30, 2011.



At House in the Woods many new, lasting friendships develop in a relaxed, welcoming lodge found deep in the wood of Maine. Veterans are simply able to be themselves among their brothers and sisters who know exactly where they are coming from. It takes a vet to truly understand another vet. 

A Huge Thank You to NeoKraft!

How exciting! Pat Bolduc and his NeoKraft business paid for a 2-page spread in the Mainebiz Giving Guide. It looks so awesome and makes me so proud to be a part of House in the Woods. And I’m so grateful to NeoKraft. If you are in our Supporters’ Circle ($5,000 donation or more in the past 3 years), your name is featured at the bottom of page 2. This is a small way to show our appreciation for your donation…..Deanna House, Director of Administrative Services, HITW

It is through such continued generosity of individuals and businesses that House in the Woods is able to provide the lodge for all veterans of all wars from every state in these great United States where we call “home“.

Whether it is a one~time gift or a sustaining gift for our combat wounded, every dollar is essential to our budget to keep the programs going.

We invite you to stop by our beautiful lodge to see firsthand the amazing progress we have made, all from the generosity of those who want to do something to help the men and women who have served and those who are serving every day for our freedom and liberties.


Come on by! The coffee is hot and the company is great!






 You can help House in the Woods build a solid foundation. Your investment in HITW future will help to ensure that our programs remain vital and serve our future generations. Please help us to provide help, hope, and healing to veterans and their families. Click on the link below to see the various ways you can get involved.


House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat is a vision a man had whose son paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq. This vision has become a reality.

Much of which has been realized through the generosity of those who want to do something,  to help in some way. To honor the men and women who have served and those who are serving every day, for our freedom and liberties, and to honor those who did not return home to join in the construction of this lodge.

Every day we honor all those men and women with a smile, a tear and a tug at our hearts…..they are the “best of the best”…


Congratulations to Paul House, Executive Director of House in the Woods 


On October 5, 2017, WLBZ2 Bangor, Maine presented Paul House with the Those Who Care Award.  A primetime one-hour special hosted by NEWS CENTER’s Lee Goldberg and Amanda Hill will air on WLBZ2 on October 14 at 8:00 pm. Click the following link to see full article and video on the WLBZ2 web of Paul’s presenting how House in the Woods became a reality.   

Paul House Those Who Care Award


Vietnam veteran Deane Smith wrote: Paul took a very tragic event of the loss of his son to help heal the physical and mental scars of veterans from all over America. 

October 10, 2017, Deanna House spoke at Tuesday Forum, Maines largest women’s networking group. Tuesday Forum is a networking organization for working women offering support and the opportunity for business and personal growth.

It was such an honor to have Dee share the story of the loss she and Paul endured when their son, Sgt. Joel Amos House, was killed in Iraq, how they turned it around and have reached hundreds of veterans through House in the Woods.

It takes a tremendous amount of faith, courage and commitment to start a non-profit organization for veterans. A lot of energy, a lot of praying and a lot of shaking of hands.

Meeting our wonderful veterans and opening the doors to the lodge to welcome them in, spend some time with Nature and just heal with all that the wood and water of Maine offers….this is what it’s all about and it makes all the hard work so worth the time and effort.

Combat Veterans Motorcycle Fallen Soldier Ride

Combat Veterans Motorcycle Riders held another ride in and made a very generous donation. Thank you, everyone! This was their annual Fallen Soldier Ride to benefit House in the Woods and the Maine Veterans Home in Bangor. We love hearing your bikes coming up the road to the lodge!

 The Summit Project

Honoring Fallen Heroes of Maine

October 14, 2017 Cadillac Mountain, Bar Harbor, Maine

Kaelyn Cloukey had the honor of carrying Sgt. Joel Amos House’s stone to the top of Cadillac Mountain. Again, this amazing young lady displays the values and great spirit her parents have instilled in her and her younger brother Blake.

As Jessica Cloukey shared with me: We just give back what we can. We want to raise children who are productive citizens, who volunteer when they can. We want them to know how important it is to give back to others.

This has been an incredible experience to share with my daughter. Her preparation was diligent, her complaints were ZERO, her speeches were prideful and her passion was evident. To say I’m proud of this young girl is an understatement…..Justin Cloukey 

Kaelyn Treking up the mountain with Joel’s stone.



No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.            


Justin Cloukey and daughter Kaelyn.





 At the top of the Cadillac Mountain, they held a circle ceremony at which time each hiker described their soldier and told his/her story to all the other hikers, sharing what they discovered during their research.  After the descent from the mountain, family members who have been awaiting the hikers, gather in circle.

The carrier of the stone takes their turn presenting the stone to a loved one of the soldier. Kaelyn Cloukey handed the stone of Sgt. Joel House over to his mother,  Deanna House, simply saying; I had the honor and privilege to carry the stone and story of Sgt. Joel Amos House US Army.

 Deanna House receiving her son’s stone which Kaelyn carried on her hike up Cadillac Mountain.



Here are a few of the happenings last month.

PBR is the Professional Bull Riders Velocity Tour


September 22, 2017 

Cross Center for Professional Bull Riders, Portland, Maine


Tribute to House in the Woods


Opening ceremony paying tribute to House in the Woods and all veterans.

Bull Riding!!!

Matt Merritt of Matt Merritt Entertainment with the PBR Velocity Tour.


When the bull is loose after the ride, Matt is the man you want out in front!


Matt, the rodeo clown, has the huge task to distract a 2,000+ pound angry bull from going after the cowboy. That’s no easy job. It takes a daredevil. A man who can move fast!! That, ladies and gentlemen, is Matt Merritt!



Left to right:  Mario Real, Michael Gould, and Drew Roberson


 September 24th, Gold Star Mother’s Day



Deanna House, Gold Star Mother, Director of Administrative Services, House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat shares: Today is Gold Star Mothers Day. I send out prayers and love to all moms who have lost their child in war, including those children who brought the war home with them and ultimately fell to suicide. I also pray for the mothers of our enemies. I dream of a world devoid of war where we can all sit down together over coffee and proclaim “let their be peace on Earth and may it begin with us!”

That Day in September Etched in Our Souls Forever


September 11, 2001, I was on the phone, at work, speaking with a client. We were discussing when the next phase of construction on her home’s addition would begin when she suddenly screamed, “Oh my God Brenda, we’re being attacked“.

What seemed nearly immediately after, we all heard the unbelievable news alert that the Pentagon had taken a direct hit by yet another aircraft.  Minutes later the news broadcasted another aircraft had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

This was the fateful day which would begin the future of our losses of many young men and women going into battle on a foreign land far away.

Our flag being hoisted by three firemen working “the pile”, the ruins where so many lives of their brother firemen, civilians and people from all walks of life…all lost that fateful morning.

Where once rose the twin towers of New York, our Nation has made that a sacred ground with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

The Children Honor 9/11

There wasn’t a dry eye in the building (at the HITW lodge) on 9/11 when students from Mt. Jefferson Jr. High came to sing for our veterans who were our guests for a week of hunting and many of our local veterans who stopped by to remember those lost. 

The group of children sang, in those precious voices that only young people possess,  Star Spangled Banner, God Bless the USA, and God Bless America.

All joined in for the Pledge of Allegiance to our beautiful flag of the United States of America.




The children made Thank You cards which they presented to the veterans. At 8:46 a.m. we participated in a nationwide moment of silence for the fallen at 9/11. 


Some of Our August Fun!!

American Legion Ride August 19th

Always a great day for a ride!


Thank you for your continued support to House in the Woods.

Coffee break at the lodge.

Rocky Knoll Golf Tournament August 19th

Orrington, Maine


Rocky Knoll would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to Tom Bryant, Barbara Bagley CPA, David Libby, Advanced Auto Parts, all the sponsors, and all the players who helped make the House in the Woods Tournament so successful!! With your support, we were able to donate over $2000 to help our servicemen and servicewomen!! There were no hole in one winners, but there were many winners, just the same!……Rocky Knoll Country Club


Attendees at Rock Knoll Country Club who are glad the rain held out for the day to play a round of golf in the fundraiser for House in the Woods.


L.-R: Paul House, Tom Bryant and Barbara Bagley. Rocky Knoll tournament raised over $2000 for House in the Woods.



Demolition Derby “Representatives”

August 31, 2017

August 31st at the Windsor Fair in Maine, two of our terrific (and very gutsy) Republican State Representatives drove in the demolition derby at the fair, raising money for two outstanding organizations. Deb Sanderson (pictured on right) raising money for SSG Travis Mills Foundation and Stephanie Hawke (pictured on left) raising money for House in the Woods.



Gifts to House in the Woods Lodge

Mike Lafluer brought a gift to at House in the Woods!






Such a gift from Mike is perfect for September as it was the first week of Black Bear Hunting!


Fred Ireland, of West Enfield, Maine made these great cornhole boards for the guests to have some fun and some friendly competition while at House in the Woods. He is a mason by trade and does amazing stone work. In addition he has recently started a side business of making wooden items. 




Fred has been wanting to contribute something to House in the Woods. Results are great: custom made  cornhole game!


Donating to House in the Woods is a family thing! Fred’s wife Renee, is the general manager at Olive Garden in Bangor. 


For the past two years Renee has donated free salad and bread sticks for a meal during each bear week. You know the veterans clean their plates with this favorite!






207-738-VETS (8387)

House in the Woods offers various hunting, fishing, and recreational programs throughout the year for active military, veterans, and their family members, in the great wilderness of Maine.  All food and lodging is provided at NO COST to our participants.  Contact us for more information. 

House in the Woods



While our men and women are deployed throughout the world, there is (very often) a spouse and children at home base who have relocated many times when the active duty parent is sent on a mission. When the orders come in from the Armed Services it is often off to a new state, new schools for the kids, new job for the spouse. It can be a stressful situation for all. Civilians who have not served, really have no idea how the military family lives. We ask that you take the time to find out.





If you are active military we hope you have discovered Blue Star Families! If not yet, we have provided their link below.

This is a fabulous nonprofit that is so very committed to helping military families.

Or, if you would like to reach out to help the active military families there are many opportunities on the Blue Star Families website to volunteer or make a donation. They are such great advocates for those men and women serving and their families who are at home base.


In April of 2009, a group of military spouses got together in the hopes of making a difference in the lives of military families. They knew the issues surrounding military families and saw a need for a platform where military family members could join forces with the general public and their communities to address the challenges of military life.

Since then, BSF has grown from a few military spouses around a kitchen table to more than 150,000 members and over 35 communities and chapters around the globe. Our programs and services reach more than 1.5 million military families every year.

We strengthen military families every day. Through career development, caregiving, and our leading research on military family life, we’re striving to better understand and provide solutions to the challenges facing today’s military families.

Frequent moves, deployments, and transitions can make life hard for military families. Blue Star Families provides free resources, services, and opportunities to more than 1.5 million military family members annually—making military life more sustainable.


Each year, our local chapters and national team designs hundreds of events for our members.

Join our network. It’s free.

Blue Star Families


House in the Woods

217 Skunk Hill Rd, Lee, ME 04455 

Tel: 207-738-VETS (8387)

Fax: 207-738-4420

Email: deanna.house@houseinthewoods.org

Website: House in the Woods



Leave no man behind, on the battlefield or at home.


Black Bear Hunt

Black Bear Hunting, One of Our Biggest Events at House in the Woods!

The annual, three weeks of Black Bear Hunting is a busy, adventurous and fun time for all associated with House in the Woods! The group of veterans and active military who join us always enjoy themselves, whether or not they harvest a bear. 

This year Black Bear Hunting with House in the Woods was August 26th-September 2nd, September 2nd-September 9th, and September 9th-September 16th, 2017.

We were honored to have 40 guests            this year!


Hunting with other veterans provides the connection often sought but difficult to find in the circle of civilian friends.

Hunting with a Maine Master Guide, having meals with vets and guides and enjoying all that Nature provides in beautiful Maine brings a true sense of a breath of fresh air for these men and women who deserve the best we can provide for them.

After the second or third day many are able to talk about things only another combat vet understands: PTSD and physical injuries, family life and attempts to readjust to all when returning from duty. Friendships develop and a definite healing process takes place.

Truly a different aspect of rehabilitation for our combat warriors.



Hunting With a Hero



Some attendees arrive with very special friends in our network of nonprofit veterans groups; Hunting With a Hero and Combat Marine Outdoors, both of which are amazing veteran organizations, like House in the Woods. Both are also dedicated to getting our vets outdoors, hunting, fishing, kayaking or relaxing on the water in a canoe. Helping them to relax and just breathe!



Combat Marine Outdoors


Combat Marine Outdoors shares: Thank you to House in the Woods. Paul, Dee, the volunteers and the guides were outstanding. The stories, friendships and times we shared will surely last a lifetime.

Maine Bear hunting has been something we look forward to every year. Keep up the good work and look forward to next year. Thank You and God Bless!!…..




The House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat’s Mission is to create a therapeutic, recreational, and educational retreat for our nation’s U.S. armed forces and their families, using outdoor wilderness activities in Maine and natural habitats to help participants share common challenges related to their service and sacrifice in protecting our nation’s freedom and democratic ideals.


Meet One of Our Guides

~Why I Guide for House in the Woods~

I first met Paul and Dee House in 2013. I had just retired from the Marine Corps after 21 years of service, moved back to Maine, and started my second career as the director of a private family foundation. A member of one of the foundation’s committees, Stu Jacobs, contacted me and said I needed to go to Lee and talk to Paul and Dee House about what they were doing. Like a good Marine, I did what I was told. I set up a meeting and headed for Lee.

I arrived at their home and was greeted like an old friend. Paul, Dee, and I sat at their table and they told me their story… And this is where I was moved, but not like most people who are moved by their experience.

Let me provide some back story. One of my last duty stations was Miami, Florida. While in Miami, a collateral duty of mine was to be the Casualty Notification Officer for the south Florida region. In my time there I notified twelve families that their love one had died. I was the ultimate bearer of bad news. The emotions ran the spectrum from absolute hysteria, to very little care at all. One thing that never happened, as far as I know, was that any of the families went on to create an organization with a mission to serve veterans and Gold Star families. They mourned, they healed, and they eventually moved on. When I heard what the House’s and the Emery’s were trying to do I went home and told my wife I have to do something.

Why did I have to do something? Because I believe that there is actually healing power in the Maine woods, and because I believed Paul and Dee. I’ve come across a lot of organizations that say they “help veterans,” and I’m sure they do, but none as honest and straight forward as House in the Woods. I had to do something because I honestly believe that as a combat veteran, who has lost brothers, I must lead a life worthy of their sacrifice. Paul asked me on several occasions to come on fishing trips, or hunts with them but I always turned him down, I’m a pretty good woodsman with plenty of opportunity, I did not want to take someone’s spot. So one day I thought I should get my Registered Maine Guides License and help. It was the best decision I could have made.

The first person I called after I passed the test was Paul. I said, “I’m taking a week of vacation from work and guiding the first week of the bear season,” and that is what I did. It was an experience beyond my expectations. When I departed after my week guiding I sent Paul a text, it read; Paul I just wanted to say thanks for letting me guide this week, it was everything I thought it would be. If I could figure out how to do it all the time I would. The guys are great; you have some real dedicated people there, thanks.”

I didn’t mention the killing of bears, it’s not important. What is important is the comradery that occurs. What’s important is once again having a mission, a focus, and a drive to complete a challenge and to work as a team to do it. That’s what House in the Woods is. It’s a return to what we veterans see as normal. It’s everyone involved from the kitchen staff, guides, volunteers, and even the dog! pouring every ounce of effort into the hunter having a real healing experience. It’s about everyone living a life worthy of their sacrifice.  I already look forward to my next chance to guide for House in the Woods.

 Learn more about the services Jim offers as a Registered Maine Guide.

Jim Neville Outdoors



Lobster Lunch is Served

Each week we begin the hunt with a welcome feast of a lobster boil cooked, prepared and served by our awesome troop of volunteers!




Serving up lobsters fresh from the pot!





Great meal to start the week!







Lovin’ lobsters!!










Attendees are asked if they would like to choose their lobster for lunch.





Nothing like fresh Maine lobster for our veterans!



Giving his lobster a proper “thank you” prior to it going in the pot to boil!





Lobster’s ready!!





These great Maine lobster meals are provided through the generosity of local lobster men and retailers along with all the corn and side dishes that are donated by so many of our fabulous local residents! AND…scrumptious desserts. These generous people know many veterans and active military whom they choose to honor in any way possible. Maine has the best people!!! 


Lunch with the Best of the Best!



The Force Behind the Meals

Jessica Cloukey shares: I want to truly thank each and every volunteer who helped me over the past 3 weeks for House in the Woods. With things at the lodge this year I had to rely on all of you to help me pull this off successfully. We were 110% successful! Things went as smooth as they did because of each of you. THANK YOU! I couldn’t have done it without you. Below are just a few of the generous volunteers! I forgot to take pictures most days I was there!!! 


Daily: 30 people, 3 times per day for 3 weeks. That’s 90 meals a day times 21 days which is almost 1900 meals. Extra people join in on Sundays for which House in the Woods safely plans for a total of 2000 meals!








Best of the Best!!



No task too much for this crew!






One of the many successful bear bait sites prepared at over 200,000 acres of hunting trails.


Total Number of Attendees for 2017 Black Bear Hunt: 40!!!


Tom Gardella and Guide Jim Neville

Tom Gardella, US Army MP, Retired shares: Sometimes things just hit you. Sitting in the airport I think back over the past week. Instead of worrying about what things, I am reminded how fortunate I have been. Janet said to go enjoy my hunting trip, Steven invited me on the hunt, William and Cyle Dallis became my friends and great allies in helping Veterans. Paul House reminded me what it is to be selfless. Big Al and Jim Neville showed me how to never give up. Turbo (dog) displayed how your size doesn’t dictate what you can accomplish. Ron and Sherry displayed how to really care. I was fortunate enough to meet new friends and reconnect with Rob, Jared and Tony. Despite some bumps in the road, I have to say that I have it pretty darn good! Thanks to all for making this such a great trip and memorable experience.….~Tom Gardella, US Army, MP, Retired~

Pictured here L.-R: Paul House, Rob Stitham, Army and his Guide Big Al.

Rob shares: I had 90 seconds left of legal shooting light. I heard the truck driving down the dirt road to come and pick me up. I am getting ready to pack up my bag and something told me to take one last look. I look left…. i look right and she was 12 feet in front from me!!! She walked straight to the bait and it was so dark I lost her in my scope. 18 yard shot, she was gone!!! I zoomed in on my scope to 15 and i saw her. Couldn’t even see my cross-hairs it was that dark and BOOOOMMM!!!! On the 5th and final day of the hunt…in the last 90 seconds of legal shooting light…. It was meant to be. My first hunt in my home state of Maine. SUCCESS!!!

Thank you to Paul House for your vision and friendship. I will remember you and Mrs. House for the rest of my life Sir.

Thanks to my guides Jim Neville and Big Al. Both of your knowledge and determination to get me on a bear was second to none. I won’t forget how hard you both worked this week.

William James Dallis & Ron Gooding, thank you for making this possible. You guys have NO IDEA how much it meant to be able to come home to my home state and harvest a Bear. YOU GUY’S Rock!!!

And last but certainly not least, to my Big Bro Steven Holden, thanks for making this happen and getting my name to Ron and Bill down in South Carolina. Without you this would not have been possible.

Paul House, you have no idea how awesome this week has been to me! Coming back to my home state and harvesting a Bear was always a dream. Thanks for all you do for my brothers and sisters in arms. You and Mrs. Are AMAZING!!! Hope to see you guys soon...~Rob Stitham, US Army~








Mike on left with Big Al the Guide.



Dale with his harvest!







Jared Feldman and Guide Dan.



Steven Holden, Army Medic, Retired with Maine Guide Dan

Steve won week-one Big Bear Trophy for largest bear harvest.

Steve shares: Best hunt ever!! Thank you so much Paul. Your hospitality is amazing. You have the best people working around the clock to make things happen!! This is truly a piece of heaven on earth. AMAZING TIME!!!…. Steven Holden, US Army, Medic, Retired



 Sherry Gooding 

Thank you Paul House, House in the Woods and Hunting with a Hero for a fantastic bear hunt. My guides, Jerry and Richard, were the best! Of course they were – I got a bear!


The real heroes are the soldiers and retired military I am honored to be here with! They are the ones who have made this truly a hunt of a lifetime!

House in the Woods, (a nonprofit) operated by Paul and Dee House, is a hunting lodge for soldiers and veterans and their families in appreciation for their service to our country. I am blown away by the number of volunteers who so selflessly come to serve the guests. They don’t allow us to do anything but eat, fellowship with other guests, eat, hunt, eat!! Sunday was lobster fest with all the Maine lobster you can eat. If you are a vet, check this place out! 

It was an awesome time! Yes, I got my bear but the friends we made was the highlight of the trip! Thank you Jessica Young Cloukey for all your efforts organizing the volunteers and food. Thanks to you, I gained 4 pounds!! You did your job well! ~Sherry Gooding, South Carolina


Sherry received the first place trophy for the largest bear harvested during the second week of black bear hunting.

First bear of week 3 was harvested by Keith who was up for the hunt with Warriors@45North from NH. 

Warriors@45 North



Paul Woodman and his Guide Dean had a great hunt!

Paul shares: To House in the Woods and all the wonderful people who donate their precious time in making the veterans feel so welcome. I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being there.This past week was more than just taking a bear,it was the meeting of new family and making memories that will last a lifetime.Once again thank you all……Paul Woodman, Army

In Between the Hunting 


Left to right: Tom Orf, Guide with Matt Merritt, TJ Riddick, Paul House, Executive Director of House in the Woods, Turbo the dog bear tracker, and Mike Gould.

Matt shares: What an honor this week has been! Richard Wade Jones and myself joined a group of American heroes for a bear hunt in Lee, Maine at House in the Woods. It was a week of healing and decompression for most of the Veterans. As I sit in this airport on my way to Rochester, NY I can’t help but think about all the stories they told, of some of the things they did to protect and serve us. I am also thinking of the volunteers at House in the Woods and how their service to the Veterans helped them heal. If you know of a veteran that needs a break or just wanna donate money or goods to this great organization their website is www.houseinthewoods.org even sharing this post will help.

When we first arrived everyone kinda kept to themselves. Four days later, everyone has opened up and it’s a pretty special scene! God bless all of our troops! “Never above you, Never below you, always beside you.”….Matt Merritt, Professional Rodeo and Bull Riding Entertainer. 


A lot of really cool things have been given to me over the years but, this is special. Here in Maine the people are as genuine as you could imagine. These are hats given to me by Paul House who operates “House in the Woods”. It is a hunting and outdoor retreat for veterans of our country in honor of their son Joel who gave his life for us. Just want everyone to know how humbling this life can be. May god bless all the veterans of our country and their families!!! …..Matt Merritt


Cooking breakfast for our veterans and guides before the hunt begins! Those folks have a BIG appetite!



Some Well-Deserved R&R



Think this will get done this week??


Getting there!!!


We Are Putting the Pieces Together at House in the Woods



Cards in the Great Room at the lodge.







I will keep my rifle clean and ready….

Marines, Drew Robeson & Tommy Wallin prepping for the hunt.

Drew shares: I just returned from a great week of hunting with House in the Woods. A big thank you to Paul House and all of his volunteers who cooked cleaned and guided us through this whole week. Debi Gould, it was so nice meeting you. Matt and Rich, you guys are great Americans and were a riot. I made life long friends through this week. Semper Fi…….Drew Robeson, Marine Corps


A little friendly competition to work off that lobster lunch!


Bob Cobb, 91 yrs old, served in Italy during WWII. He delivered syrup he made 30 years ago to be put on the bear bait sites.

A Gift of Appreciation

Deanna House, Administrative Director of House in the Woods shares: It’s always fun to meet a new group of veterans but so sad when it’s time to say goodbye. Many of our hunters had to leave early because of either Harvey or Irma. 

The Combat Marine Outdoors group presented us with a beautiful cutting board for the kitchen and an oar and a double bit ax trimmed with parachord.

We had fun playing cards in the evening. None of this would have been possible without the outpouring of support through volunteers for kitchen, guiding, cleaning, and office work. I get choked up when I think about how much our community has reached out to support our veterans. Thank you from the bottom of my heart….

Combat Marine Outdoors Presents Gifts to Paul House


Paul House, Executive Director of House in the Woods shares: My wife and I would like to thank the Heritage Flag Company out of North Carolina for this incredible piece of craftsmanship made from barrels in memory of our son Sgt. Joel House. Thank you Rob Stitham one of our vets on the bear hunt for making this happen. This is truly amazing!!!

Debi Gould and Sherry Gooding
Debi Gould shares: Well now, getting back to life after my amazing week spent at House In The Woods, I have had time to sit back and reflect on how incredible it really was.
I learned that real cowboys love golf, and enjoyed sitting, chatting, sharing thoughts and admire your insight, that respect for each other should be given to everyone, even those we don’t agree with. Thank you Richard Wade Jones
I also learned that there are still just good kind-hearted people in this world that will put others before themselves and have an amazing gift to bring smiles and happiness to people they have just met. Thank you Matt Merritt
I have been reminded of the amazing people we call our Veterans. Their willingness to go above and beyond, to include everyone, always put others before themselves and their unspoken pride that they carry so well. To see such strong, brave men that then turn to mush when showing you pictures of their little girl starting her first day of pre k. Thank you Drew Roberson for sharing.
Then of course some things that I will never understand but am in absolute amazement, to look into the eyes of a parent and see the sorrow of someone who has lost the single most important thing in their life but also still see the spark of happiness by doing for others. Can never thank you enough Paul House for what you have done and are continuing to do.
I also want to make sure I give a shout out to these mega companies that still take the time to recognize and say “Thank you” to our Veterans and the amazing people at  House In The Woods: PBR Velocity Tour, Wrangler, Cooper Tire, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, BEX Sunglasses and our own local Maine-ly Tactical & Uniform, thanks Rod.
When I think about my time spent at House in the Woods and what it means to me I tear up. Not because of one feeling of being happy or sad but because you leave with so many emotions all hitting you at once! Things like sorrow, pride, respect, happiness, thankfulness, friendship and blessings. Thank you to everyone for sharing an amazing week with me, I was honored and truly touched.


Thanks to your generosity, we are able to provide FREE outdoor retreats to our service members and their families. Your contribution and support may change, or save, a veteran’s life.  Get involved today.

If you would like to sponsor an event for a veteran who may not be able to afford it, simply visit House in the Woods at link below.

House in the Woods

Sponsoring a vet for such an event is a gift they will cherish for a lifetime.



We honor, respect and love each and every veteran who has served, and the active combat warriors who are currently serving our country. Because of your dedication, all citizens of these great United States enjoy the freedom and liberties your service has granted us.


~God bless each and every one of you~


We offer outdoor retreats for active duty military, veterans, and their family members, in the great wilderness of Maine. Activities include hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, nature tours, campfires, swimming, and wildlife identification and spotting.




August Newsletter

There’s Plenty of Time Left to Enjoy Summer!!

canoe on lakeYou know those “lazy days of summer”??? Well, they don’t exist in Maine!! There’s always, always something to do at House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat in Lee, Maine.

But of course, we do have our relaxing moments on the water or or at the lodge at day’s end.

002One of the guest suites at House in the Woods lodge where your day will end listening to the sounds of Nature outside your window. This particular room is family size!! Bring your spouse and kids. They will enjoy it. Private bathrooms for each suite and all rooms are ADA compliant. We also have an elevator for wheelchair access.

Our lodge is a perfect way to end the day after a long day of hunting or fishing. Share a fabulous meal, with all attendees and guides, right from our huge commercial kitchen! Sit around a campfire outside and just relax enjoying the Maine sky in the evening! It seems there are far more stars hanging over Maine! Perhaps it’s just the beautiful, clean air???

If You Are New to Our Lodge, This is Who We Are

House in the Woods is a nonprofit organization offering outdoor programs to bring together small groups of active military, veterans, and their family members to relax, share, bond, and deal with the stress, loss, grief, and other emotions which can haunt the grieving soul. 

We offer canoeing, kayaking, hiking, hunting, fishing, nature tours, campfires, swimming, wildlife identification and spotting, and other natural Eastern Maine resource “treasures” God has given our beautiful state to enjoy. As participants face the outdoor challenges presented by Mother Nature herself, they will have the opportunity to share laughter, memories, sorrow, service, and pride, among many other common bonds.

Come Join Us at House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat

At House in the Woods we know how to make the most of all four seasons of New England. We offer veterans and active military to join in events that many combat wounded thought were no longer available to them due to their injuries. Never say never!!

One of our most popular and large-group attendance is Black Bear Hunting.


The-GuysAt last years black bear hunt our combat wounded had a fabulous week of hunting. Nothing stopping these men! Don’t hesitate to give it a try!! Nearly all participants went home with their own harvest of black bear.




House in the Woods already has a record-breaking 47 guests who have reserved a spot.


There is still room for more! Just connect with House in the Woods if we have peaked your interest. House in the Woods

Or contact Deanna House at: Dee House

Following are dates for bear hunts:

Week 1: August 26th-September 2nd

Week 2: September 2nd-September 9th

Week 3: September 9th-September 16th

This week our Maine Guides have been placing bear bait at over 40 sites on 200,000 acres of Maine wood. Ask anyone who has hunted bear in Maine and they will tell you….there are plenty of hungry bear out there! We have the secret!!!!

Lobster boil AugustLast year’s lobster boil lunch for those attending bear hunt week. This is served each week for bear hunting. All meals are donated by local residents and businesses. This is at no cost to any of the veterans or active military and families attending our events.



During Black Bear Hunting events Jessica Cloukey does an amazing job each year of coordinating our large network of volunteers to provide all the necessary and absolutely scrumptious meals for the black bear hunt. Her organization and logistics skills are outstanding, and she knows down to the last pound of bacon what is needed. None of this would be possible without the numerous local volunteers who always seem to jump at the chance to help with many of the events.

Here are the meal statistics to give you an idea of how this has to all fall into place in a precise manner:

Daily: 30 people, 3 times per day for 3 weeks. That’s 90 meals a day times 21 days which is almost 1900 meals. Extra people join in on Sundays for which House in the Woods safely plans for a total of 2000 meals!

Now that the lodge is complete with a beautiful commercial size kitchen and large great room/dining room, the Cloukey family can have their home back! Their generosity goes beyond most.

You see, in the past, the meals were served in their beautiful large yard hosting lobster boil and barbecuing paraphernalia. Their garage was converted to a dining room for all attendees for a sit-down meal, guides and volunteers.

Currently all major goods, for all meals, for all weeks of the bear hunt have been met by outstanding citizens and business owners of Lee, Lincoln and surrounding towns. That fact alone is outstanding! It took less than a week to get the inventory filled by generous folks of Maine who love and honor our veterans!

BUT…there is an ongoing need for the following: Attention bakers! 

House in the Woods needs your expertise. We need:
* 4 loaves of homemade bread each week
* 2 dozen muffins each week
* 3 or 4 people each week to make a sweet treat of your choice Sundays and Thursdays for the weeks of August 26th-Sept 16th.

But if you are in Washington, DC, Sacramento, CA or New Mexico or any other location and would love to support this great event for our veterans you can send checks made out to House in the Woods. In the memo indicate Bear Hunt. Mail to Machias Savings Bank attn: Jessica Cloukey, Branch Manager,  P.O. Box 7, Lincoln ME 04457.


There are many, many volunteers who serve House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat. It is our goal to present more of them in upcoming editions of our monthly newsletters. We thought this would be a good place to start with the black bear hunt. We have some absolutely amazing unsung heroes for our nonprofit veterans and active military retreat.

Jessica is like many working mothers and wives of her generation. Busy doing everyday tasks and then some!! Both she Justin  volunteer locally for many causes.



Jessica and Justin organized a parade across Lincoln  in 2014 where participants carried memorial stones for The Summit Project. 

The Summit Project


Justin Cloukey is an ER Nurse who is also studying for his Masters while being a great Dad to two awesome kids and and great supportive husband. He, like his wife, volunteers in the area and is a very supportive community member.


This picture is when the Cloukeys organized The Lynx Rush. An obstacle course race they designed and ran for 2 years in Lincoln.  

Bangor Daily News

They were able to raise $16,000 with this fundraiser for Lincoln to finish the local walking trails!

It’s a pleasure to have such committed young folks working with us at House in the Woods.

Justin representing House in the Woods in the 2017 Lincoln Homecoming Parade.




      Hiking Mt. Katahdin in their “spare time”!    



The Cloukey’s combined energy and love for their community is commendable! Always ready to help.


Look What We’ve Been Up To!!!


Kayaking & Canoeing

June 22nd~25thU.S. Veteran’s Rowing & Kayaking of Connecticut and six visually impaired veterans were guests of House in the Woods.

We had a fantastic time spent on the rivers and ponds in Lee and the surrounding area.


Kayaking w blind group

U.S. Veteran’s Rowing & Kayaking Program is a non-profit volunteer organization based in Connecticut and serves all military veterans in the East Coast region that suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and other health related issues. A great organization for those who are visually impaired and would otherwise not be learning to navigate a kayak or canoe over the waters.

Paul and Dee house with super dog Turbo kayaking with veterans.

Entire kayaking group

This group is the Spaghetti Supper fundraiser we held for U.S. Veterans Rowing & Kayaking. It’s a mixture of event participants, volunteers, and community guests. We helped raise over $600 to help defray their cost of transporting guests and gear to this event.


Kennebec River Striper Fishing Trip

July 24th, Bath, Maine


Capt. Logo

We had an amazing day fishing for striped bass…better known as striper  with Maine Saltwater Outfitters owned by Capt. Forrest Faulkingham and two other boats.




Fly By Night SV1 bass boat.



Ready group

Six veterans were able to join in this event with House in the Woods.




Capt. Forrest has been guiding the Kennebec River for nearly 20 years, thus he knows where the “good catch’ is!  He is  well-known for his incredible fly-tying. His technique has been  in many books and magazines nationwide.


Coffe before fish

Early morning cup of coffee while awaiting boat.




The guide in one of the other boats was Capt. Mike Faulkingham, son of Capt. Forrest. Mike has been trolling the waters of Chesuncook Lake with his father since he was young. Both are avid saltwater fly fishermen. The third boat was Capt. Jay.

We caught many stripers but regulation states they must be over 28 inches to keep. Thus many were released for another time of fishing when they mature. But a couple of the vets caught over reg size and we all were happy fishermen and women!!


One of the veterans had a battle with a seal over a striper…but the seal won! Sadly no pictures of that!!

This is our shortest event; come Sunday and fish Monday morning. Ideal for veterans with jobs and those who cannot be away from home for a longer period of time.


Turbo and Paul

Turbo, the infamous dog, was taking a cruise with us on the Kennebec.







Now, if I sign this, you say I get to keep all the fish I catch?? (Just joking but it’s the first thing that came to mind as a writer!!)




Joel LobsterDinner is served!

                              Devouring lobsters





Ahhh…..dessert! Is that wild  Maine blueberries in that pie with ice cream???

Pie and icecreamA wonderful local pastor and his wife served a delicious lobster meal to all of us. People of Maine are so honored to say “pull up a chair and eat” to any veteran. We cannot thank you enough!

thankyou_largeHampton Inn logoA great big thank you to Hampton Inn of Bath for providing four  rooms for this event!




Sunbury Village donation

The Maine Troop Greeters and House In The Woods were the guests of honor for dinner at Sunbury Village Retirement Community on July 26th.

Sunbury Village Veterans presented both organizations funds raised from our 4th Annual Classic Car Show and BBQ held on Memorial Day.

A total of $1,600 was raised with the support of local Classic Car Groups, Bangor Businesses and of course the Residents and Staff of Sunbury Village. Each nonprofit received $750.



The Katahdin Area Red Hatters came by to visit us at HITW. We always welcome visitors. Drop by if you are in the area!





August 19th Rocky Knoll Country Club Golf Tournament


The House in the Woods Golf Tournament is at Rocky Knoll on August 19th. There is a $15,000 hole in one sponsored by Advanced Auto Parts Bangor. We need hole sponsors for $100 a hole, door prizes, and most of all golfers.

$60 a person includes 18 holes of golf ,cart, meal and door prizes, come one come all, this is an awesome cause! Remember these people gave it up for our freedom and safety!!! (posting from Rocky Knoll FB page)

$15,000 Hole in One Contest sponsored by Bangor Area Advanced Auto Parts 

If you are interested in an awesome day of golfing or would like to attend to simply support House in the Woods, please contact Dee House, Administrative Director at HITW: Dee House

Or call House in the Woods: 207~738~4421

We are also looking for hole and tournament sponsors.

It’s not too late to step up to support and honor our veterans! Are you an avid golfer who wants to step up to sponsor? Are you a business that often takes clients for “golf meetings”? We know many deals are sealed “on the green”!!

Perhaps you can seal this deal of sponsoring a portion of the tournament.

This 18-hole golf course offers beautiful views and challenging play for golfers at every skill level. Well-groomed fairways and greens keep Rocky Knoll, difficult yet friendly, laid out over more than 140 scenic acres in Orrington, Maine.


August 19th Millinocket American Legion Riders Post #80 Motorcycle Ride


Check with House in the Woods‘ Administrative Director, Deanna House for more information regarding this fundraiser ride.

Dee’s email: Dee House

Or call House in the Woods: 207~738~4421

The Honorable Michael Michaud, former U.S. Senator presenting a special award at HITW Open House to recognize and thank Millinocket American Legion Riders Post #80 for their outstanding and continued generous support of House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat.

Awesome, awesome group of men and ladies who know what it truly means to be a veteran.

American Legion Riders chapters are well known for their charitable work, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local children’s hospitals, schools, veterans homes, severely wounded service members and scholarships. 



Give a veteran the opportunity to relax in the company of other veterans who have similar experiences and can listen, empathize, and care, by sponsoring a hunting, fishing, or recreational trip.


When you make us your charity and shop at Amazon Smile, we receive 0.5% of all your qualifying totals.


Your family, business, or organization can hold a fundraiser.  It’s a great way to get together with people you know and serve vets at the same time.


You can help House in the Woods build a solid foundation. Your investment in HITW future will help to ensure that our programs remain vital and serve our future generations. Please help us to provide help, hope, and healing to veterans and their families.


For our new “Home” at HITW.  Your support could help us meet the future demands of our facility, which will help us better serve our nation’s veterans.


We have many volunteer opportunities available.  Make an impact by donating your time to HITW.  Contact us for more information. 

Dee’s email: Dee House

Or call House in the Woods: 207~738~4421

We Would Love To Have You Join Us

Please take the time to visit our website to understand how we are honoring our veterans who paid for our freedom with their lives and those who are combat wounded, as well as all active military.


House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat



We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.  ~Winston Churchill~













Celebration at House in the Woods!

Open House July 8, 2017

with-gratitudepine trees

House in the Woods

Military & Family Retreat



IMG_6292 On a perfect, sun shining summer day, with not a cloud in the sky, over 600 visitors walked through these doors to enter House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat, located in Lee, Maine .

Young and old, grandparents and grandchildren, veterans of many wars and some active military. Dignitaries, local neighbors and those from far and wide enjoyed a tour of the beautiful lodge and meeting the House and Emery families whose dream to build became a reality.




build it and they




build it 2

Pass through two eagle statues….


IMG_6291Fabulous metal eagles at the entrance of House in the Woods. These magnificent birds were crafted at a wood and metal shop in The Villages of Florida. Such generous gifts honoring our veterans and active military have been received from many Americans who just want to “do something” to show their appreciation!!!




IMG_3866[1]Folk lore states that this stately regal bird, with its keen eyes ,symbolizes ready insight, courage, strength and immortality.

pine trees


Dee greeting visitorsWelcoming Guests




Signing the Guest Book


Signing guest book2




Hundreds of names are in our guest book!

Man guest bookTo all who attended our Open House, thank you for joining us. Please drop in again soon to see the lodge in action with our combat warriors and and meet our great crew!

Dedicated sign

 pine trees



warriors @ 45 northRepresentatives from Warriors @45 North. A great nonprofit, also free for veterans, located in Pittsburg, NH.



Girls vet dogTwo young guests admiring veteran and Maine Guide, Lawrence McManus’ guide dog. Lawrence served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He knows the residuals of PTSD and credits HITW with saving him and wants to do the same for other vets.”They helped me through a hard time in my life and it’s still helping me by helping others.”

Lawrence volunteers as a guide for hunting events at HITW .


HITW LogoThis is where the wounded souls and bodies of combat warriors can feel “at home”. 

This is where our active military can come, while on leave, before returning to base or before being deployed overseas.     

This is where veterans of all wars are honored in the most respectful and caring manner that is so deserving of their years of service.

This is where we continue to honor our brave warriors who paid, with their lives, for our freedom and liberties we enjoy each day. Those who are among the bravest of warriors from long ago and from just last week.

This is where many of the volunteers and supporters give of their time and financial support to be a part of honoring our military men and women from all 50 states.

~This is where, together we heal ~

pine trees

~ Please remember all lodging and meals are free to all veterans and active military~


House in the Woods has the most amazing volunteers!The following is just a sample of the many who selflessly give of their time:

volunteer of year1

Richard Harriman, Vietnam Veteran who is deserving of the award Volunteer of the Year for House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat. Richard has been right here with us since digging of the foundation. His generosity of his time and effort is priceless!

volunteer of year Richard

Richard was also awarded his Vietnam service medal which had never been presented to him.

pine trees


Jessica and Justin Cloukey great volunteer husband and wife team!  They are always lending a hand throughout the year.

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Tom Orfe

Dean Smith, another hands-on volunteer and a Vietnam veteran.

help sticker

Our volunteers interact with the veterans and their families attending the events . A great number of volunteers for House in the Woods are veterans themselves.

It takes a veteran to truly understand another veteran!

Since the inception of House in the Woods so many people have come forward as volunteers. Those who have that understanding of the military life, of our veterans and what they sacrificed, of our families who have found themselves with the title of Gold Star Families. We are so blessed to have such a great, dependable and committed group of volunteers who all understand and believe in our mission.

The House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat Mission:

To create a therapeutic, recreational, and educational retreat for our nation’s U.S. armed forces and their families, using outdoor wilderness activities in Maine and natural habitats to help participants share common challenges related to their service and sacrifice in protecting our nation’s freedom and democratic ideals.


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IMG_6330Team of outstanding women who kept the table well-stocked with fresh fruit and other delicious appetizers for the continuous flow of visitors.




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So Many Choices

IMG_6471     YUMMMM



 Big Smiles From All





Finger Desserts





Good food, good friends, great conversations!


outdoor diningDining options: out in nature or inside beautiful lodge.

Enjoying eats

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The Foyer





Sharing stories from the past and hopes for the future…..

maddy marissa

The younger generation learned a bit more about veterans, their sacrifices and how we honor them.

IMG_6451Admiring pictures of soldiers from many years ago!

Doug Sukeforth & friendsImmediate right: Doug Sukeforth, an integral supporter and friends.

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Maine Dignitaries

Elizabeth Schneider-MacTaggert1

Elizabeth Schenider~MacTaggert was a Maine state senator when the conception of House in the Woods was just a dream. She worked diligently to advocate for us. Elizabeth continues to support our efforts. We cannot thank her enough!





The Honorable Michael Michaud, former U.S. Senator.






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Richard & Nancy LarkinFar left: U.S. Representative Bruce Poliquin presenting to Richard and Nancy Larkin for their generosity of support to HITW.




Beth TurnerBeth Turner, Maine State Representative and Stacey Guerin of Flaggs Restarurant Equipment admiring the many quilts hand stitched for each bed in the lodge.



DignitariesMichael Noyes, Regional Representative for U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Barbara Hayslett, Regional Representative for U.S. Senator Angus King, Jr., volunteer Nancy Small and Honorable Michael Michaud, former U.S. Senator. Nancy and her Bangor-based Bear Paw Quilt Guild made many of the quilts found throughout the lodge. Nancy also made all curtains in the rooms.


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Nancy LothropMichael Carpenter, Maine State Senator and Dee House presenting Nancy Lothrop, a former Navy wife, with certificate of appreciation for volunteering.





welcome lodge






Dresser hand built



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Perfect place to lay your head at day’s end!

003Rooms with views of nothing but Maine wood. Peace and quiet abound in the midst of Nature.



~All accommodations are ADA approved and accessible. We have an elevator for those who are unable to use the stairs.~



guest room~ Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while…. Mark6:31 ~


~Each suite has its own large private bathroom.~



Comfy guest room large enough for a family!



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Guides bunk room


Resting GuideWe caught one of our guides testing out his new bunk where he will be hanging his hat during hunting and fishing events with our guests.


~Large private bathrooms with each bunk room.~


Tom Orfe1

Tom Orfe, another Vietnam veteran and Maine Guide whom you will find at many of the events volunteering.






Mike Cox

Don Hessline and Mike Cox two volunteer guides for House in the Woods.



pine treesdee & paul greetingDee and Paul House

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joel~ In memory of SSgt. Joel House ~ 




IMG_6551Paul House, Daughter Joy and Grandson Eddie

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IMG_6492Bill Emery and Luke House

Bill & QuieBill and Quie Emery

blair~ In memory of SSgt. Blair Emery~


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Staff Sgt. Micahel Leslie Severance~ In Memory of SSgt. Michael Leslie Severance ~

A resident of Lee, Maine, Mike Severance was a member of the 317th Airlift Maintenance Squadron as a flight crew chief, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mike was stationed at Dyess AF Base Abilene, TX when in 2005 he was tragically killed. As with Joel and Blair, Mike served  with honor and dedication to our country.

In a town as small as Lee, everyone knows everyone and the three combat warriors were friends. Mike’s older brother Frank is married to Blair Emery’s sister Betsy.

mike severance son & fatherMike Severance, His Father, Les Severance and Mike’s Son, Shane in 2004.

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On The Lower Level

Archery Room

To help our veterans practice their skills of bow hunting, we have an indoor archery range. Soon to be filled with archery gear. Regulation size range for future competition events!

archery indoor 2

Rowing Room

gymRowing machines loaned to HITW by U.S. Veteran’s Rowing & Kayaking of Connecticut for great cardio and upper body workout! The veterans organization was visiting the lodge in June. Pictures and editorial of their trip to House in the Woods will be included in the regular newsletter to follow within a couple of weeks.


Future plans for indoor rowing competition as a fundraiser! That should be a great time and an excellent workout!!


Additional physical equipment will be added in this large room for our guests’ use to get those endorphins pumping for the day’s events.

Luke Joel rowingRow, row, row!!! Put your back into it boy!!


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~ To Honor All Our Fallen Warriors ~


US Rep. Bruce PoliquinU.S. Representative Bruce Poliquin presenting the American Flag to memorialize Joel House, Blair Emery and Michael Severance and all of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. This flag has flown over our nation’s Capitol. Representative Poliquin stated; Freedom is not free. We do not have a country without Joel and all these other heroes who have fallen.


gold star banner

Home of the free

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~ Gift  for House in the Woods ~

Neokraft Signs Inc. of Lewiston, Maine

Phil Bolduc, President of Neokraft Signs had an all-hands field trip to Lee to present donated signs to House in the Woods . Additionally Neokraft presented an ATV named aptly named Recovery I, to Paul and Dee House.


Sing being installed

Installation of House in the Woods sign.

Sign lettersLettering at the Ready to Be Installed



Sign installed

Job Complete







exterior sign HITWlogoHouse in the Woods Logo Sign on Lodge




sign company crewAwesome Crew of Neocraft Signs

New TraxATV Recovery I will certainly be put to great use by guests and guides of House in the Woods.

Sign company giftSurprising Paul House with Recovery I.

Interior Signage

Great room sign Also gifted by Neokraft Signs, each room throughout the lodge is numbered and named with lodge decor signs which are also lettered in braille for the sight impaired.

Just amazing!


signs roomsPerfect Finishing Touch

Guest Room Sign2


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thank you

House in the Woods has been so blessed to have amazing donations from local and nationwide companies and individuals. There is no way to tell you how deeply appreciative we are of each and every gift.

Our veterans and families as well as our active military and their families, as guests to the lodge, will be enjoying their stay in such beautiful, new and comfortable accommodations at no charge to them. And, our directors and volunteers have superb office space. We also have an amazing commercial kitchen and beautiful great room for all to gather for meals, presentations or meetings.

We invite you to read our previous newsletters found on this website under Military & Veterans tab. There you will find the amazing generosity of many of the wonderful gifts donated to the completion of our lodge and many of the annual recreational events that take place.


get involved 2pine cone border


 You can help House in the Woods build a solid foundation. Your investment in HITW future will help to ensure that our programs remain vital and serve our future generations. Please help us to provide help, hope, and healing to veterans and their families.

The following link will take you to House in the Woods web site where you can easily donate on line or contact Deanna House, Director of Administrative Services.

HITW Get Involved


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In appreciation to Jean Hanington for sharing many of the photographs posted in this special, celebration newsletter. She captured such special moments!!JeanSheldon and Jean Hanington




Brenda Pic

Brenda Everson~Shaw






Profile 4Brenda Everson~Shaw and Granddaughter Marissa

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We ask the you always remember those who have given their lives since the American Revolution and support our young men and women who currently serve our country. 


flag on mountain


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I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
















Happy Fathers’ Day

thanks DadHappy Fathers’ Day!

 June 18th 2017


Happy Father’s Day to our Military Dads


wwii-us-navy-sailor-and-son-historic-imageFathers who are serving our military far from home have a mission to accomplish every day. All too often uncertainty fills their days, but they have done their best to prepare their children (of all ages) that the entire family is on a mission. Dads know that it’s not just them who is serving our country…it is his wife, his children and grandchildren alike.

It takes a special family and those of us at House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat thank each and every family who serves! We are proud of your Dads who are far away!



~ A young man’s letter to his soldier Dad ~

teen writing letterHi Dad,

Miss you Dad! You may not be here every day like I wish you could be. But you taught me to be strong, to love God and country, to be respectful and always stand for our flag. You taught me that a man gives a strong and grateful handshake.You taught me that is was okay for a man to cry. I hope you remembered that when I cried when you hugged me goodbye before leaving this time!

Purchase this image at http://www.stocksy.com/556712You taught me how to put that worm on the hook, how to skip stones across the pond, how to love Nature, how to tie my boots and to be respectful to others. You taught me to always hold the door for ladies, veterans and the elderly.


skipping stonesYou asked me not to worry and to take care of Mom and my little sister. You asked me to rake the yard and make sure all the doors are locked at night. You asked me to be loyal to friends and family and you asked me to pray for you and your troops every night. You asked me to work hard in school and to have a lot of fun with friends.

Boots flag & tags 2Sometimes I wish you just had a regular job like Bob’s father, but Bob’s father doesn’t wear dog tags and combat boots.

I’m telling you that I love you Dad. I’m telling you that you really are the best man in the world. I’m telling you that you can depend on me, but I’m telling you to come home safe to us as soon as you can. I’m telling you that I want to be just like you when I grow up!

I love you and miss you Dad……Happy Fathers’ Day……Love, Matt


Happy Father’s Day to our Military Dads

soldier with young daughterWe thank every Dad who is away from his children, not just on Fathers’ Day, but every day. Thank you for your sacrifice and your service to our country.


                                                soldier and yong son



I’ll be back soon…I promise!

US-flag-and-bible-crossWe pray for all our troop and their families each and every day.


We can never thank you enough for your service, but please let us try by visiting us at House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat. All lodging and meals are free to all military personnel and veterans alike!


~A little tip for Dad’s who getting ready for deployment~

Our-Deployment-Jar3I read of an idea for a soldier dad to leave his child when he is deployed: fill a container full of Hershey’s Kisses that equal the number of days you are deployed. Your child takes one Kiss out of the container each day while you are gone as a small token of your love for him or her….A Kiss From Daddy


friends-helpingWithout the support of our community and friends from far and wide, none of this would be possible!! Thank you for supporting House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat and all our combat wounded, our active military and their families and our veterans.

~Together We Heal~

HANDSHouse in the Woods Military & Family Retreat

House in the Woods


thank you



Widows Sons LogoThe motorcycle group, Widows Sons Masonic Riders, Wayfarers Chapter members and friends Motorcycle Ride-In on May 28th brought them to Lee to tour House in the Woods and present us with a gift of financial support.


sons of widows group shotThankful-greatful

sons of widows check presentation

Widows Sons presented a gift to Paul and Deanna House for House in the Woods.

sons of widows bike shot 2





sunbury village logo

Sunbury Village, a beautiful independent lifestyle in a hospitable community  located in Bangor, Maine held their 4th Annual Memorial Day Fundraiser benefiting House in the Woods and Maine Troop Greeters. This is a community that loves and supports our veterans and military families.

Sunbury Antique Car Show 2Beautiful antique cars, classic cars, awesome items for raffle tables and a scrumptious barbecue filled the day with some great friends, new and old, and wonderful residents of beautiful Sunbury Village.

Sunbury antique carsWe thank you for seeing the value in our therapeutic, recreational and educational retreat for our combat wounded, their families and veterans of all wars. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.


Sunbury Village Pau, Dee & friends

Paul and Deanna House, Nancy and Tom Small. Unwavering supporters of our military!


 Sunbury Village Antique Car Show

They don’t make them like they used to!!




thank you2



Darlings logo

Darlings Auto Mall

Per Jay Darling, president of Darling’s Auto;  In memory and support of all of our nation’s veterans and active duty military personnel, we will be donating $100 for every vehicle sold at all Darling’s locations between May 20th to May 31st $100 per car sold. to one of these local nonprofit organization that serves our nations heroes:

House in the Woods, Maine Troop Greeters, Maine Veterans Project, The Travis Mills Foundation, and The Betsy Ann Ross House of Hope.

Upon purchase of an automobile Darlings Auto asks the customer to choose the nonprofit to whom they would like the donation to be given. This has been a huge success for each of these nonprofits. In May of 2016 the same promotion raised $26,000 for Maine veterans-related charities.



House in the Woods is proud to be a $5,0000 Community Matters More winner.

On behalf of those we serve, we thank you for your vote.


Community matters more








Lake Ontario Fishing Adventure~

hattrick_logoJune 5-8th sixteen veterans ventured with House in the Woods to Oswego, NY for some fabulous fishing with Hat Trick Charters.

What a great bunch of guys. From dinners to ice cream to 9 hours on the road, and of course, to the 2 days of fishing on Lake Ontario.  Everyone had fun, laughed, and made new friends. Thanks to all who support House in the Woods who helped us make this trip possible. This year we were joined by Warriors@45North, our partner agency from NH.


Ontario fish 3Fishing is never better than with friends!


Ontario fishing






Ontario fishing ice cream

But, ice cream with friends comes in second place!!Ontario fishing ice cream2



upcoming events


Kayaking & Canoeing


June 22nd~25th:  U.S. Veteran’s Rowing & Kayaking of Connecticut will be accompanying six visually impaired veterans as guests of House in the Woods.

They will spend their days traversing the rivers and ponds in Lee and the surrounding area.

U.S. Veteran’s Rowing & Kayaking Program is a non-profit volunteer organization based in Connecticut and serves all military veterans in the East Coast region that suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and other health related issues. A great organization for those who are visually impaired and would otherwise not be learning to navigate a kayak or canoe.


spaghetti-dinner_0June 22nd: House in the Woods is holding a spaghetti dinner at the new lodge, House in the Woods, for U.S. Veteran’s Rowing & Kayaking Program to help defray their cost of transporting guests and gear to this event.

Public welcome!! Dinner is served at 6:00 p.m. Come join us and see who’s doing the cooking!!!




HITW LogoJune 24th: Band Together for Veterans

Join us for a concert fundraiser at Mt. Jefferson ski area in Lee, Maine to Benefit the House in the Woods! This event is a Multi-Band concert featuring Maine Headliners:


Magic Bus ~ A WHO Tribute band, Piranha Brothers, Bandwich, Say What?, Jamie Barton and more!

Special guests, Karen and Morrill Worcester from Wreaths Across America and local dignitaries will be in attendance.

Matrix Music Productions has graciously donated the Mt. Jefferson Ski Area as a venue to hold this event. Buy your tickets and come enjoy some great music, a beautiful location and support a tremendous cause..House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat!!!  Purchase Tickets

We hope you will join us to make this a tremendously successful day!

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June 26th~29: Maine Registered Guide School

Registered-Maine-Guide-PatchTo be rescheduled. We will broadcast new date.

Instructor, Carol Ware joins Paul House. Students are are instructed and readied for the Hunting, Fishing and/or Recreation guides license examination.

Carroll-Ware-300x225Carol Ware (left), Registered Maine Guide Instructor.

This course builds top notch map and compass proficiency, and equips students to react quickly and efficiently during stressful situations, such as a lost client or medical emergency. Students will also become better woodsman. They will gain knowledge on a variety of subjects from map reading, navigation, boating, hunting, species identification and countless other topics. Participants will also be given a wealth of information on starting and running a guiding business which we have gained through two decades of experience.

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July 1 from 12 – 4 pm:  rock freedom Joel

Sgt. Joel A. House Beach and Barbecue Day. 

Joel was buried on July 3, 2007. This is the 10th anniversary. Deanna & Paul House host a FREE barbecue fundraiser at the public beach on Silver Lake in Lee, ME.  We have a 20 plus prize raffle that includes an Old Town canoe and a muzzle loader. Proceeds go to the Sgt. Joel A. House Summer Camp Scholarship Fund. Sgt. Joel A. House Summer Camp

We also host a Pie-in-the-Face auction that can be hilarious.  Join our Facebook page at http://facebook.com/ sgtjoelhouse to see photos from previous years.

Justin and son pie in face          Justin pie in face from sonHey Dad, One good turn (pie) deserves another!

Justin pie in face results



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We are so excited!!

The day has arrived….

to invite you to join us in celebrating the Open House for the lodge and offices of House in The Woods Military & Family Retreat!!


~July 8th, 2017 OPEN HOUSE~

For details please click over to the tab Military & Veterans, click on Newsletters where you will find Open House Invitation. You will find lots of additional information. Plus take a moment to read the other newsletters created for House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat.

We hope you can join us to see the beautiful lodge built to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Meet the people who brought House in the Woods to fruition, meet the many tradesmen who built the lodge, meet the volunteers who jump in at a moment’s notice, and meet some of the donors and sponsors who have made this possible. Perhaps, as a combat wounded warrior, veteran or active military, you will be our guest as one of our upcoming events.


LodgeWe are a community from all walks of life who honor and love our veterans and active military.

welcome lodgeDrop in July 8th between the hours of 10:00 a.m.~8:00 p.m.


HITW Logo217 Skunk Hill Road, Lee, Maine 04455

Email: Deanna House, Director of Administrative Services


Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up…….Galatians 6:9

Happy Fathers Day type for card or ad.

Soldier praying

Volunteers You can help House in the Woods.  Volunteering is a great way to support our lodge. One day, one week or a month. We have a great force of volunteers with a wide-range of skills, but we are always grateful for more help. Perhaps you are kicking around some ideas for summer vacation. Maine is fabulous in the summer!! If you have some free time and want to teach your children about honoring those who serve, join us for a day or a few hours by volunteering your time. Everyone has a useful skill that can be of service.

Contact Deanna House, Director of Administrative Services




Open House Invitation

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House in the Woods Military and Family Retreat



open house

July 8th, 2017

10:00 a.m. ~ 8:00 p.m.

217 Skunk Hill Road

Lee, Maine 04455

Tel: 207~738~4421

Part of architectural project, blueprint and close upThe dream has become   a reality!



We are so excited!!

The day has arrived….

to invite you to join us in celebrating the Open House for the lodge and offices.


From a “hole in the ground” to…….

construction siteA beautiful lodge…….

where our weary warriors and their families can rest and commune with their comrades from all branches of the Armed Forces.


Here they can relax, breathe in the fresh Maine air and smell the pines while enjoying hunting, fishing, and therapeutic recreational programs throughout the year.

Canoe on shoreThis is truly build it and they will come!

This is how the House and Emery families are honoring their sons.

This is where the wounded souls and bodies of combat warriors can feel “at home”. 

This is where our active military can come, while on leave, before returning to base or before being deployed overseas.     

This is where veterans of all wars are honored in the most respectful and caring manner that is so deserving of their years of service.

This is where we continue to honor our brave warriors who paid, with their lives, for our freedom and liberties we enjoy each day. Those who are among the bravest of warriors from long ago and from just last week.

This is where many of the volunteers and supporters give of their time and financial support to be a part of honoring our military men and women from all 50 states.

~This is where, TOGETHER WE HEAL~


American Flag 1~ In an instant everything changed: and it was never the same again……..~


Soldiers crossFor those readers who are new to postings of House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat the following will acquaint you with how it all began.

Two hometown boys who loved the wood of Maine and loved living in the small town of Lee.


gold star bannerTwo families from Lee, Maine became Gold Star Families in 2007.


Dee and Paul

Paul and Dee House founded House in the Woods after their son, Sgt. Joel A. House, was killed by a roadside bomb while serving in the Army in Iraq in June 23, 2007.

They dreamed of creating a program using Maine’s outdoor resources that would help military families support one another.


Sgt. Joel new picSgt. Joel A. House


gold star banner


Bill & Quie Emery

Bill and Quie Emery are the parents of Sgt. Blair Emery who made the ultimate sacrifice on November 30, 2007 in Iraq.

The Emerys learned first hand the power of being comforted by other Gold Star Family members when Blair was memorialized just five months after Joel.

blairSgt. Blair Emery

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COMRADESPlease, come join us! We look forward to seeing each of you on July 8th between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Lee may be a small town but we are on the map and GPS.

Call us with any questions: 207~738~4421.

House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat

217 Skunk Hill Road

Lee, Maine 04455

45.3601° N, 68.2864° W

 Service members salute the American flag during a retreat ceremony Oct. 2, 2014, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The four military members represented each branch of the U.S. military and assembled to show solidarity. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Harry Brexel)


Mothers’ Day, Memorial Day

mothers day 3painting mother & childMay 14th is Mother’s Day! House in the Woods Military and Family Retreat would like to wish each Mom and Grandmother….a very, very happy Mother’s Day.

You are the boo-boo fixer, the referee between siblings, the one who knows how to cook their favorite meal just the way they love it. The nurturer, the shoulder to cry on and the first to cheer on and encourage your child’s choices. The Mom who gives the best hugs and is often the only one who “really gets it”.

You mend broken hearts, advise on career choices and lovingly tell the child when he or she “may want to change” the outfit they have on before going out in public!!

You can pick out their voice or laughter with 30 classmates all talking at once and you know by the tone of each cry what their immediate needs are. You are the one your child seeks when she comes running through the door and yells, “Mom where are you?” The love between a mother and child cannot be replaced…ever!!

You are among the blessed to have the title of Mother.!

flowers on vines

                          Woman, Soldier, Mom

Military Mom1A Military Mom simply wants to hold her child on Mother’s Day…and every day! It takes a special woman to remain steadfast as she leaves for deployment while serving her country. One who has made this choice for a career knowing she’s doing this for her children and for her country.

Those of us who have never lived through that “one last hug” before leaving cannot honestly know what it is like. What possibly goes through her mind as she has played all potential scenarios over and over in her head? A woman who stepped up to serve her country and prays for Skype and Facetime or texting to have a few precious moments with her little one.

If you are able to spend the day with your mother please take a few moments to remember the young mothers who are Military Moms, especially the moms who are on deployment away from their toddlers, teens and adult kids.


crying mom with babyThink of the sacrifices these women make and the degree of commitment they have in serving our country. Keep them in your prayers. Too often we civilians forget about our country’s men and women who serve if we do not live near a military base, running into military personnel in uniform at the supermarket or a school event for your child. Please keep in mind the women who make this noble choice, do so on a volunteer basis. They have made that life-altering decision to become a defender of our country. Their lives are completely different than those of civilians mothers, yet they still love being a mother. Instead of judging them, as some often do, I ask that you try to put yourself in their boots for one day. Respect and honor all the sacrifices they have made for you and your children.

military mom

flowers on vinesmom holding babyToday we sincerely want to thank all the military mothers who serve our country both here and abroad.  Leaving for a faraway land must be so difficult , but the homecoming has got to be the best moment you experience. That one second when you first spot your child and realize you can finally hold him or her again.  Most civilians don’t understand what you endure, but we definitely want to thank you as you truly are a Special Mom. We pray for you and your family daily~

flowers on vines

Women Navy officerProud of all our Navy, Army, Marine, and Coast Guard women.




female pilot USAF

Happy Mother’s Day to each armed services Mom!!



women soldierThank you for your service and your sacrifices.

flowers on vines


gold star mothers1During World War I, military families started a tradition of hanging a small banner in the windows of their homes. The banner had a white background, a red border and one blue star for each family member in the military. If a family member died in service, a gold star replaced the blue. That gold star has become a simple, cherished symbol of a loved one lost in combat, a parent’s way to hold tight a child’s memory.

Gold Star Mothers is an organization of mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the service of our country. This is a Veterans Service Organization, established in 1928 and chartered by the United States Congress in 1984. American Gold Star Mothers continue to honor their sons and daughters through service — service to veterans and patriotic events.

gold star bannerIt is with the most honorable and highest respect with which we hold the Gold Star Mothers. Throughout history many of us have come to know of or are related to a woman who has lost a son or daughter to combat. With each Mother’s Day that passes, their loss tugs even stronger at the heart of the mother. We ask that you continue to pray for these mothers whose son or daughter made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, for it is these women who can no longer hold their child, laugh with him/her or take a quiet stroll on the beach with them.

Is the Gold Star Mother that friend or relative working endlessly to support our troops? Is she the one who volunteers to send packages to our troops on deployment or write letters of gratitude and encouragement to the young men and women serving our country? Is this woman the one standing next to you at the Memorial Day Parade, waving her small American flag with tears in her eyes?

You can be supportive of this very special mother by asking how you can help her with her mission. Give her a warm hug and tell her how sorry you are for her loss. It will give you the opportunity to get to know her and respect all that she has endured. You will certainly bring a smile to her face when you say “can I help you with that?”

flowers on vines


A Gold Star Mother Shares

Dee and Paul

Deanna House, Mother of a Fallen Hero and Director of Administrative Services at House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat, lost her son Sgt.Joel A. House, KIA Iraq June 23, 2007. Joel was 22 years old and Dee was 47 on that fateful day…the day of her birthday.

Dee is a quiet woman when first you are in her presence. But under that soft, gracious demeanor lies an extremely intelligent, well-educated individual with a loving fierceness when it comes to family, our combat wounded, active military and all veterans.

Dee is a Gold Star Mother who is on a mission to help other veterans. She is here is to honor Joel and she does this every day of her life. The following is penned by Joel’s Mom….Deanna House:

HUM-JoelPortrait of Sgt. Joel A. House by Michael Reagan

 Michael Reagan was a young man in the 1960’s, old enough to go to Vietnam.  He had graduated from a Seattle, Washington High School in 1965 and enlisted in the U.S. Marines.  At 19-years old a fellow Marine bled to death in his arms.  

“He just looked me in the face and said, Mike, I just wanna go home,  Michael says.

“And he looked at me, closed his eyes and died. Then we covered him with a tarp. I’ve seen that face for 48 years every day.”

After returning from the War, “people spat on me; no one seemed to understand what I’d been through. I felt as if I had dug a hole and buried part of myself in Vietnam”.  

After returning home and holding some unfulfilling jobs, Michael went to art school.  Afterwards he was hired as a computer programming for his school district.  Seattle was quickly becoming an actors’ refuge from Hollywood.  Before long he was meeting celebrities. He offered to draw them two portraits, one for themselves and the other to come back to him autographed.   For years he practiced, getting better and better.  He drew actors, presidents, athletes, etc.

Then the war in Iraq started and casualties began arriving at Dover Air Force Base, Maryland. In 2003 a widow of a fallen corpsman asked Michael to draw a portrait of her husband.  The words of the man who had died in his arms hit him, “Bring me home.”  

When the widow opened the drawing of her husband, tears filled her eyes.  She said;

“I was able to reconnect to him instantly. We talked about things that we hadn’t finished talking about when he died. I ended my conversation with him telling him I loved him.” She said, “I felt him say he loved me back. And for the first time in a year, I’ve slept all night.’”

When Michael hung up the phone, he turned to his wife and said, “Now we need to do them all,” he told her. “Our whole life’s about to change.”

Vincent Santaniello, the young Marine who bled to death in Reagan’s arms, is listed on the Vietnam Memorial.  His parents had passed on when Reagan tracked down Vincent’s nephew Ralph to finally fulfill his friend’s last request. 

Vincent Santaniello, 46 years after that request, had finally arrived home.  Ralph, overcome by the mixture of grief and pride, realized that his uncle had not died in vain. Because of his death, a generation of fallen heroes would live on forever.



gold star and flag

Deanne House: “I didn’t know that story until my art history assignment pushed me to find an art object and relate it to me personally, as well as describe how it fit into the 20th century timeline. 

I have a Michael Reagan portrait of my son, Sgt. Joel A. House who was killed on my 47th birthday, June 23, 2007. Believe me when I say, no mother wants to own a Michael Reagan portrait, and yet, we can’t describe the blessing it is each day to see our sons and daughters picture hanging there, so real looking, with eyes that bite into our hearts, accompanying us through our fields of stolen dreams.

Joel was 22-years old, the youngest of my 3 children.  He was on his second tour of duty with the 2-8 Cavalry.  The 2nd tour was a duty he did not want.  He had been forced to remain in the Army due to the Stop-Loss program.  Like the soldier who died in Reagan’s arms, all Joel wanted was to come home to Lee, Maine and live the rest of his life close to his family, the woods and waterways, and the Maine way of life.  

Our Michael Reagan portrait arrived within a year of Joel’s death. “It was so real,” says my husband. “it was like Joel came alive.” I only saw this photo through a text message at first.

My dreams were coming true for me, and just before Joel was killed, I was hired to teach at a prestigious American school in Monterrey, Mexico. I was going to be only 5 hours from Ft. Hood, TX and planned to drive there to meet him in January of 2008 when he returned to American soil.

Now I was closing up shop on my dream to learn the Spanish language and Mexican culture, a goal that would help me become a better qualified Spanish teacher. I was returning to Lee to help my husband with our memorial scholarship program and with his new mission, to create an outdoor retreat program that would help veterans from all generations come together, relax and share their stories, and maybe leave with a new hunting or fishing story of their own.

We selected the photo of this drawing to represent his memorial scholarship, The Sgt. Joel A. House Summer Camp Fund.  Each summer we help over 50 Maine kids reach for their dreams by helping them to attend an academic, sports, visual/performing arts, conservation, or Bible camp of their choice.  Our hope is that Joel’s ultimate sacrifice will challenge young people to explore the imaginative possibilities of their potential.  Sgt. Joel A. House Summer Camp Fund

During the first few years of the scholarship program, I used to see that image every day as I’d read scholarship applications and as I uploaded changes to the website or Face Book page.  Summer camp just happened to coincide with the anniversary of Joel’s death. 

Seeing Joel’s picture so lifelike, with his mouth expression posed just like he had done in real life, with his eyes that followed me around the room, would set off a quiet crying “jag”, a pity party of one. 

My emotions were all represented in that facial expression:  anger at death, jealousy of those who had not died, who were living their lives, bitterness at life.  Yet Reagan’s ability to capture the essence of Joel was comforting. Joel’s patient eyes under his tank helmet could leap from the frame and assure me that he was still with me; he’d never left me. 

This image of my boy who would never turn 23 had a way of straightening my spine. “Do the work, Ma,” he would say. After a few years, the image changed my sorrow over losing Joel to contentment that I was able to help so many kids. His mouth can change ever so subtly from “Mom, it’s gonna be OK” to “Mom, what are you thinking?”……….

 ~Deanna House, Mother of a Fallen Hero~


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my son my hero

 Dee has asked me to share the link to her journal about losing Joel: Tribute to My Son

You will find this a very moving, honest journey written by a Mom who only wanted time to turn back a few years!

Deanna House has become that voice in my ear.

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 Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, the American Soldier and Jesus Christ. One died for your soul, and the other died for your freedom……..



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memorial Day 2As you spend your holiday with friends and family, remember that Memorial Day represents the sacrifices of thousands of those young men and women who stepped up for your freedom!

Many continue to serve, many troops preparing for a new deployment, many families relocating or waiting here at home for the return of their loved one. As you attend your baseball games and cookouts, please keep in mind these are men and women who volunteer for this life of service to our Country. Our country no longer has the draft system used in previous wars. It is a conscious decision to serve. They serve for your freedom of your liberties. 

On the battlefield we leave no soldier behind. As a nation let it be our pledge that when they return we leave no veteran behind.

no man behind

some gave all

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~Saluting and honoring all who made the ultimate sacrifice.~

Viet Nam Wall

banner flags


Caskets on aircraftTo those who courageously gave their lives ….we thank you and we honor you, we pray for your loved ones.

flowers on vinesTomb of Unknown SoldierTomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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thank you donationg

York Beach Firefighters donates $1,700 to               House in the Woods

York FF2Jenna and Cathy Gavin and York Beach Firefighters present Luke House and son Joel with a donation to House in the Woods.

The York Beach Fire Department of York Beach, Maine received a gift from the family of the late Army Sgt. Kyle Gavin. In turn, the firefighters decided to present this wonderful gift to Luke House (brother of Sgt. Joel House) and Luke’s son Joel for the nonprofit retreat House in the Woods Military & Family Retreat.

Per Sea Coast Online News: The idea was sparked by Gavin’s boss at Shoreline Construction and York Beach Fire Department Capt. Gary Woods, and friend Anthony DiElsi, a firefighter in the department. Gavin, who died at age 29 in March 2016, was “a good friend of a lot of people” at the station, said Woods.

Pleae read the entire Sea Coast article at this link Sea Coast Online News

flowers on vines

Katie Neal Boston Marathon Runner

Battle Badges Paul and KatieDuring this year’s Battle of the Badges Paul House received a wonderful gift.
 Paul House states: It was such an honor to meet Katie Neal from Enfield who is running in the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 17 in honor of my son Sgt. Joel A. House, killed in action 6/23/2007 in Iraq.  She raised over $3,000 to support House in the Woods mission to serve veterans through free outdoor therapeutic, educational, and recreational programs.





Battle badges logoThis year’s Battle of the Badges was great fun!! All of us associated with House in the Woods love getting together with these guys and gals for a day of some good competition.

The black & blue teams…no I mean color shirts!!

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Battle of badges game2
Battle of badges game7These men mean business!!


Battle of badges game5

Must be a new position for a team player!
Battle of badges game10
Wait, is that a foul??
Battle of badges game9
Let’s hope that one went in!!
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turkey hunter

 Man with turkey2

Chad Smith shared:  I had a couple great days turkey hunting with my father courtesy of “House in the Woods.” Thank you Paul House and everyone involved. You are all doing special things for our Veterans. Thanks to my guide Christopher Labonte. We had a great time, met some great people and made great memories. I was lucky to be in the blind with my father when he bagged his first Maine turkey.


All attendees enjoyed a fabulous turkey supper on Sunday’s arrival. Evidently someone bagged a turkey pre-event!! And, a gut-filling spaghetti feed was devoured by all upon departure Wednesday. Great time had by everyone!!


goen fishing 2

allagash-riverThe Allagash Wilderness Waterway in the North Wood of Maine

May 8-11th: Trout fishing at Nugent’s Camps on Chamberlain Lake in Maine’s Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Open water fishing for togue (lake trout), brook trout with some brookies, 5 lbs. or better, and whitefish on Chamberlain Lake of Maine.

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May 14 at 11:00 a.m. is the rebroadcast of the HITW episode, Growing Home. At this time it’s only available in the Maine market on NBC affiliates. The web Growing Home TV.

 Pine Cones First Annual House in the Woods Golf Fundraising Scramble

May 22nd:   The Premiere HITW Golf Scramble at Martindale Country Club in Auburn. All the money raised from this Fund Raiser will go to House in the Woods and all involved are not paid to help in this event. Lunch and dinner will be served.
At House in the Woods we are working hard in this growth time to be able to bring more Active Duty and Vets plus their families to outdoor therapeutic,educational and recreational programs. This day of golfing will help support our efforts for all who come to our new lodge at House in the Woods. A great respite for those who are dealing with combat wounds, both physical and PTSD.
We need more donations for this awesome Golf Scramble plus we need more teams! Please contact Mike Albert at 207-333-1053 or e-mail aalob@live.com
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Widows Sons Logo
May 28th: the Widows’ Sons Riders will motorcycle to Lee. We always enjoy hearing the bikes come up the road. 
motorcycels 2
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Summit Poject logo
Memorial Weekend: The Summit Project climbs Katahdin carrying rocks of fallen. Join The Patriot Riders of America-Maine Chapter #1, Patriot Riders of America-Maine Chapter Two, and Patriot Riders of America – Maine Chapter 3 for the third annual The Summit Project, honoring Maine’s heroes and their families. While the Patriot Riders will be transporting the stones the support of everyone would be awesome so we ask that you join the convoy.
More details are available at The Summit Project Face Book page:The Summit Project-Face Book Page
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May 31: Application deadline for the Sgt. Joel A. House Summer Camp Fund scholarship. 
joelThis scholarship assists Maine children to attend an academic, sports, visual/performing arts, conservation, or Bible camp of their choice.  Applications are available at http://sgtjoelhouse.com
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hanging fish
June 1 – 8: Lake Ontario Fishing Trip to Oswego, NY.  Make sure you contact Paul House soon if you are interested in joining us for this trip. Call HITW: 207-738-4421.
 Target trophy Brown Trout are awaiting you! This time of the year the larger adult Brown trout are in 60 ft of water or less. Let’s see who brings home the “big one”!!


flowers on vines

All who are connected with House in the Woods Military and Family Retreat want to wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day and an honorable Memorial Day.

Please remember the Mom who serves our country while apart from her children. Remember to keep them in your prayers.

Mom soldier welcome home2Pray for the souls of the soldiers whom we remember this Memorial Day.

us-flag-and-soldiers Each who made the ultimate sacrifice did so for each of us…..the combat warrior fought and gave his life for all who are citizens of our great United States!


US-flag-and-bible-crossWe shall continue to pray for your safety and for the loved ones who await you at your home……..




House in the Woods Military and Family Retreat

217 Skunk Hill Road

Lee, Maine o4455

Phone: 207-738-4421

Fax: 207-738-4420

Email: Deanna House, Director of Administrative Services