In a sleepy corner of northern Virginia lays the thriving town of Haymarket, home of Park Valley Church where the first seeds of a mission of hope and help were sown. Although this close congregation was a great source of support for its members and the local community, Pastor Barry White challenged his flock to reach out yet further to find a need and step in to address it. He asked they report back after 30 days and share their stories and experiences. From this simple suggestion blossomed an idea that grew too large to maintain from the church walls, and Serve Our Willing Warriors (SOWW) and eventually the Warrior Retreat at Bull Run was established.
It began with the founding members visiting recovering soldiers at the Ft Belvoir and Walter Reed hospitals, and continued well beyond the 30 day period into annual summer cookouts and holiday gift-giving visits. The gratitude received from these men and women, and the positive response for what they felt was so small an effort made it apparent that their mission was much greater; there was more that could be offered.
On July 19th 2012 Shirley and John Dominick formally founded Serve Our Willing Warriors, a non-profit 501c3. The group’s goal was to establish a retreat for recovering service members to escape the clinical hospital environment, reconnect with their families, to refresh their minds and renew their spirits.
In 2013, SOWW purchased 37 magnificent acres of scenic property on the edge of Bull Run Mountain in Haymarket, VA. The 11,000 square foot house built in 1977, underwent an extensive two-year renovation and now boasts five bedroom suites, a gourmet kitchen, game room, physical therapy and massage therapy rooms, and library. The retreat has two decks to accommodate the majestic views, an inviting stone patio with fire pit, a playground, BBQ area, vegetable garden, serenity garden, and walking trails.
The makeover of this property was an incredible example of community goodwill, with over 100 professional contractors donating material and labor valued at over $1 million dollars. This effort also required hundreds of volunteers giving thousands of hours of their time and energy.
The Warrior Retreat at Bull Run was presented to the general public at a ribbon cutting ceremony held on July 4th, 2015 and officially opened on Veteran’s Day, November 11th, 2015.