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Early Spring HOWA 2009

Tragedy Turns into Triumph for an Artist and Her Family

Arizona retreat center blossoms with help from a utility vehicle

Sometimes the worst circumstances bring about an unexpected and wonderful surprise. That's exactly what happened to Candy Roe when her husband, Mike, died unexpectedly in 2003. Roe turned what was a traumatic experience for her family into a beautiful retreat center for visitors to experience relaxation and rest from their busy lives.

Candy Roe

Candy Roe

It wasn't an easy time for Roe and her three children after Mike's death. They were faced with the loss of a husband and father. Suddenly Roe was responsible for providing for her family and trying to make sense of what happened to them.

Roe received some compensation after her husband's death was ruled a medical accident. She prayed for direction and felt a very strong call to build a retreat house — a place for visitors to come and experience a refreshing break from life — and at the same time honor the memory of her husband. She also believed that in serving others, there is healing.

"Things didn't happen as quickly as I wanted them to," Roe says. For more than two years and while looking for the perfect property for her retreat center, she purchased a home in Pine, Ariz., where she spent one or two days a week. She spent one year landscaping the front yard by herself and another year working on the inside of the new home. She felt this home was a place to grieve in her own way.

She fell in love with Pine and hoped one day to live there. Part of her landscaping project at this home was building two creeks, a footbridge, planting trees, creating a retaining wall and shoveling tons of rock. "I found, picked up and carried hundreds of rocks to create the creek beds that took water flowing down the driveway into a large creek bed below my house, which was a natural creek," she says.

A new beginning

When the home in Pine was complete after two years with landscaping and indoor décor, she searched for the dream house for her retreat center. Roe found just what she had been looking for just three miles from the home she bought. "It looked like a big challenge when I bought the property," she recalls. "Everything was overgrown, neglected and full of weeds. It took many, many volunteers to help me get the house to where it is today." Before purchasing the property, she spent several months of due diligence and brought over 14 different people to see the house and give their thoughts on the idea. Many of the people who saw the house made the same comment. "It has potential," they said. To Roe, that's all she needed to hear. To others, the house seemed like an enormous project which would take more work than the majority of people would ever want to tackle.

Roe sold the first house she purchased in Pine and moved into the Breath of Life Retreat Center. "The house serves religious groups, scrap booking and quilting retreats, just to name a few of our guests," Roe says. "People from around here visit the house and their mouths drop. Creating this retreat center has been very healing for me and for a lot of my friends and family. It's been a labor of love and something I felt very strongly about doing. The credit does not go to me, but to those who have given their time and chose to believe in what I felt led to do."

Renovating the 4,000-square-foot house was no small task for Roe. "I'm a do-it-myself, get-it-done, workin- the-dirt type of person," she says. Her desire to turn the house into her dream kept her determined to see the project through. "When it all started, I had planned to do as much as I could myself. I knew my limitations and hired contractors to help me with the major parts, like demolishing walls and building new ones, adding a garage and a 600-square-foot meeting room."

Utility vehicle helps with outdoor facelift

Clearing snow has never been so easy thanks to the Bobcat utility vehicle.

In addition to a monumental to-do list inside the house, the outside of Roe's retreat center needed a facelift. She quickly realized she needed a piece of equipment to help her complete the landscaping, and after visiting with a friend, she went to Bingham Equipment — the Bobcat dealership — in Mesa, Ariz., to find something that would help ease her burden. A sales specialist showed Roe the Bobcat® 2300 utility vehicle and attachments, and she was immediately sold on the concept. "I thought, this is exactly what I am looking for," she says. "I was getting very tired of lifting rocks and supplies myself."

Roe relied on her artistic background to create a landscape design that provided both quiet areas for relaxing and spaces for socializing. Landscaping projects at the retreat center included moving materials from the front of the house to the back for a new patio. Equipped with the Rapid- Link™ attachment system and light material bucket, the 2300 allowed her to easily transport flagstone, granite, sand, trees and flowers.

"I can easily move 80-pound pieces of flagstone or bags of cement in the bucket, and it is very easy to change the attachments from the bucket to the pallet fork," Roe says. She also used the bucket to spread dirt in the backyard — something that would have been done by hand with shovels and rakes if not for the 2300. A snow blade comes in handy in the winter, since Pine is at 5,400 feet elevation, about 110 miles northeast of Phoenix.

Roe complemented the natural landscaping with an assortment of junipers, plum trees, some privets and marigolds. "The marigolds are beautiful and colorful, and the deer and other critters stay away from them," she explains.

Future plans for the property include building a deck in the backyard that will link to the existing deck. "We want to give people another place to sit and enjoy the beauty of this place," Roe says. "We would like to add a fire pit, a gazebo, and a garden in hopes of having fresh vegetables for our guests and us."

A new best friend

"If I didn't have the 2300, a lot of the work would not have gotten done, because I did much of the work myself," she says. "It was almost like having two or three people with me, but I was using the machine instead. My Bobcat 2300 is my best friend because it helped me get so much of the landscaping done.

"Volunteers who generously gave their time and talents to the project were quickly able to learn the abilities of the Bobcat 2300. I achieved my goals with help from the machine and it made for some fun work for the volunteers."

Whether Roe needs to haul landscaping supplies at home, do some light grading or plow snow, the Bobcat utility vehicle is the perfect machine for her. Since finishing the home, Roe has remarried and lives in a guest house next to the retreat center. Roe's dream of honoring her late husband has been fulfilled with the retreat house nestled among the pine trees and spectacular mountains.