There is something new and exciting, and really quite special coming to Keyser...something that can give folks an opportunity to offer hope and inspiration to perfect strangers...something that just might be that significant piece of the puzzle that uplifts, encourages and makes a difference.

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
There is something new and exciting, and really quite special coming to Keyser...something that can give folks an opportunity to offer hope and inspiration to perfect strangers...something that just might be that significant piece of the puzzle that uplifts, encourages and makes a difference.
For you see, we all have bad days. We all have those days when we just want to pull the covers over our heads and pretend we are not adults today.
Hope. We all need that. Hope is not just a desire for something good in the future, but rather a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future. Yes, we hope and we expect.
Little Red Mailbox. Until last week, I was not familiar with this project at all. In fact, it was Fred Engle at the Candlewyck Inn here in Keyser who brought it to my attention. I immediately looked up the website to learn more, and was I floored!
A project that started in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, it is one where there is a little red mailbox placed at Glenmere Public Access Beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The purpose of this little red mailbox is for folks to stop by and do one of several things. Open the mailbox, take out the journal, and add your own message of hope to those who may need it. Or, just read through the journal and gather hope and inspiration from your reading. Visitors are encouraged to leave painted rocks, painted seashells, hand-drawn notes or messages...really anything that someone coming after them could read, touch, feel the power of friendship and true humanity.
The exceptional news is that the Candlewyck Inn on Mineral Street will be the site of a little red mailbox, and it will be the first one in this tri-state area! Keyser will be the holder of Little Red Mailbox #16 - the 16th little red mailbox in the country!!
"We are expecting this mailbox very soon," says Fred Engle. "Leave a note, a rock or just a sign of good news and hope to anyone who needs it!"
“When a child gives you a gift, even if it is a rock they just picked up, exude gratitude. It may be the only thing they have to give, and they have chosen to give it to you," adds Fred.
Why Keyser, why Candlewyck Inn? Well, let me tell you - it's for a very, very special reason...a very personal reason.
I spoke with Autumn Mancuso, who is a friend of mine and also a teacher at Mount Savage Middle School in Mount Savage, Maryland. She is also Fred's sister-in-law. But, here is the real connection: Autumn had a sister named Amber Boal Wills. She was former employee of the Candlewyck, and much loved aunt of Autumn's son Brady Engle.
Amber was a graduate of Bruce High School in Westernport, and sometime after graduation, she married Kelly Wills. They eventually had two boys and felt they had created the perfect family. Later in the marriage, Kelly received a good job offer, and they moved to Williamsburg, Virginia.
Shortly after the family was settled in Williamsburg, Amber noticed rather soon that she had lost 15 pounds, and she called to make the exciting announcement to her sister Autumn. As it would turn out, the weight loss was not a good thing. It was the first of several symptoms that sent Amber to the doctor - strongly and emphatically encouraged by Autumn. Amber did not have a lot of symptoms, but she did notice that she suffered with indigestion quite often, and she was bloated - more than she had ever noticed before. In fact, she called Autumn and told her she was bloated like a basketball. THAT is when the doctor visit was urgent.
After some diagnostic testing, Amber was diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer at the age of 44. It was devastating news.
Amber was still able to maintain her sarcastic sense of humor throughout her numerous rounds of chemotherapy. According to Autumn, the family welcomed her lightened the situation.
The Boal family had already been through the same cancer years prior with Autumn and Amber's dad's mother, so they knew what was to come. But, they made the best of it and loved Amber and her family all through the cancer treatments, medications and doctor appointments. In the end, Amber bravely took on the cancer monster for four years - and passed away at the age of 48 on April 15, 2012 - which was the same age that her grandmother had died from the same disease.
As you can imagine, Amber's death was very difficult to handle. She left behind a loving husband and two young sons and a home they made together...and Autumn lost her only sister. What made it even more tragic for Autumn was that, in addition to Amber, she also lost both of her parents - all within a 17-month period.
As we all know, death is so final. But, we take comfort in knowing thought our loved ones are in God's kingdom. When Amber was living, she and Autumn talked frequently about making a trip to the Outer Banks. Unfortunately, Amber never did make it there. But, her remaining family decided - let's go, Amber would WANT us to! So, Autumn began planning.
Everyone was going to go - Autumn, her husband and son, and Kelly and the boys. They all decided they would rent a house and have the very best of all vacations. Autumn was in charge of making the travel arrangements, and in doing so, after getting a confirmation once all the details were finalized, she discovered that the travel agent's name was Amber. This would be one of many signs that the family would see and hear since Amber's death.
It was bittersweet.
Moving forward, Autumn was browsing through Facebook one day and found the Facebook page for Little Red Mailbox 1. She was moved by what she read, and began thinking about how she could do something like this to honor her sister.
Autumn was really not sure how to proceed, so she continued her research on the little red mailbox page - reading the commentaries, looking at all of the pictures, and gathering information on how the project works. Autumn just knew that this was something she wanted to do for Amber, but just couldn't think of a location for the little red mailbox.
It wasn't feasible to put it at her home or at Mount Savage Middle School, so where would she put this little box of hope? Her research, planning and consideration for a site for the little red mailbox took about two years. She wanted to make it special, and fitting.
So just a little while ago, Autumn decided to put out a post on her Facebook page to see if anyone might have any ideas where she could place this little red mailbox. In no time at all, she heard from her brother-in-law Fred. "We would be honored to allow the placement of the little red mailbox at Candlewyck Inn."
Amber cried tears of joy in knowing that her sister will finally be honored in this way - especially at a place where Amber previously worked when she lived in this area.
"We are expecting the little red mailbox #16 any day now," says Autumn. It will be decorated with teal butterflies because these were Amber's favorite. Amber even had a tattoo on her foot of this butterfly! We love and miss her every single day of our lives, and to be able to honor her memory with this little red mailbox...I can hardly express how absolutely lovely it is."
As I write this, I'm looking out my living room picture window, and there is the most incredible, magnificent, spectacular rainbow...the first one I've ever seen outside my window. It's as if God sent the rainbow after the storm to remind us that there is hope...there is love ever after. Yes, there are storms - some so devastating and tragic - but rainbows always come.
God's blessings to the Boal family and for all you have lost. I, for one, will be a regular visitor to the Little Red Mailbox #16. Bring hope, find hope, share hope. Will you?
Coming soon to Candlewyck Inn. Thanks, Fred.