Deadline for Challenge into Change is Friday

This is the week! Be a part of an incredible celebration of women's strength and resilience: Submit your essay or poem today to the Challenge into Change Writing Contest. We're accepting stories of a woman in your life (yourself or someone you know) who has transformed a life challenge into an opportunity for change. Entry deadline is this Friday, December 15. 

Winners receive cash prizes and all authors are honored at the 2018 Virginia Festival of the Book

Click here to submit now.

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Check out the latest buzz about Challenge into Change ...

Charlottesville Family Favorite Award Winner

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We're thrilled to be the recipient of a CharlottesvilleFamily Favorite Gold Award in the Support Group category and Silver Award in the Counseling Service category.

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Thank you to CharlottesvilleFamily and everyone who supports our vision that all women in our community have access to innovative, effective, evidence-based mental health care.

All winners are announced in the December issue of Bloom Magazine.

Our counseling services include free weekly walk-in clinics as well as individual counseling on a sliding scale. Our support groups, which are free, include Women's Support Group, Separation & Divorce Support Group, Sister Circle, and Pregnancy/Infant Loss Support Group. Read more about our free groups.

After Divorce: Selections from Challenge into Change #2

In the lead-up to this year’s December 15 Challenge into Change deadline, we’re revisiting the stories of resilience, hope and growth writers shared with us in 2016-17.

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Challenge into Change is The Women’s Initiative’s annual writing contest honoring women’s stories of overcoming life challenges to find hope and healing.

In this essay, Sheila Boling shares difficulties and wisdom from an experience of going through divorce.

 

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Divorce Laugh to Keep from Crying

By Sheila Boling

Sometimes when you go through a divorce you just have to laugh to keep from crying.

When you get married to stand before God, family, friends and you vow to be with that person until death do you part. You say I do and things are going well. Then suddenly the things that brought you together are the very things that tear you apart. No matter how you tried to stay together you just can’t get past things that were done or said in anger. You may realize you are not compatible at all.

So you separate for 3 months or 1 year depending on your assets or if you have children, etc. During this time you try to put the pieces back together. You look at yourself and reflect on things that went wrong. You think about the things that your spouse/partner complained about can be changed. You decide if you can make the changes without changing who you are as a person. You even try counseling because in all honesty no one wants their marriage to end. You meet and try to work things out. However, you realize that you can’t work out the issues. More things are done or said to make it in impossible.

Now here is where the three stages of divorce come in the good the bad and the ugly.

Stage 1: The hurt that your marriage failed and you are getting a divorce. You have to listen to what people are saying. The typical things I’m sorry it didn’t work out. Oh what happened? The favorite he or she wasn’t the right person for you but I didn’t want to hurt you. You looked so happy. You cry and cry some more because it didn’t work out.

Stage 2: The anger and rage because it has ended. You are mad be-cause of the mean and hurtful comments. You are mad because people keep running to tell you that they saw him or her and they were with someone. You are mad because when the holidays come around you think about the engagement or the marriage. You reflect on the goods times because it was not all bad. Then you are even madder. At times you are mad when any man or woman even tries to talk to you. You chew them out and spit them out. Then you laugh because otherwise you will be crying.

Stage 3: Moving on… The ink on the divorce papers have dried. You are done with the hurt, anger, rage and tears. You do things that make you happy. You regain your confidence that you lost. You regain your self-esteem. You realize you are better than you give yourself credit for. You look back and you just laugh at what you did or the way you acted. You are no longer the deranged divorcee. You pick up the pieces and you move on. You ready to go on with your life. You have moved on when you want your ex to be happy and meet someone. You have moved on when you know you may not have been the right person for them.

People think that women should wear divorce on their forehead like a badge of honor especially if you have been married more than once. They will say third time a charm, haha. So you smile and say you never know. They repeat themselves and you smile and say the same thing. You really want to say something mean. You laugh to keep from crying. You have moved on when you open your heart up to new adventures, new people, and new desires.

So don’t think of divorce as a bad word.

Define - Don’t let divorce define who you are as a person
Independent - Newfound independence
Vibrant - Vow to be you, vow to change if it brings out the best in you
Opportunities - The opportunities are endless
Romance - Romance will come your way when you open your heart
Courage - The courage to move beyond divorce, rage, hurt, tears. The confidence in knowing you beat the label tattooed on your forehead
Enjoy- Enjoy everything that life has to offer, Empowered to move forward

Divorce laugh to keep from crying

How our judges and readers responded…

  • You have come through the trauma of divorce and are now on the other side. Your story will speak to so many. There is encouragement here for women considering, or currently going through, a divorce.
  • The DIVORCE acronym helped to pull the author’s writing together, taking a word that can include much hurt and sorrow and using positive, uplifting words to define it.
  • In this piece, the author reflects on the challenges of divorce and the stages by which one may overcome these.
  • The prose moves confidently and powerfully, taking the reader vicariously on a journey of frustration, despair, and into redemption and confidence.

About the author...

I live in Covesville, VA and was a twin. I lost her to breast cancer so I run the Women's Four Miler because of her. I enjoy running, gardening and gathering with friends and family.

Trauma-informed care discussion draws 700 attendees

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The Greater Charlottesville community came together Tuesday morning to commit to addressing trauma as a major public-health issue. 

Theresa Caldwell, left, and Dr. Allison Sampson-Jackson.

Theresa Caldwell, left, and Dr. Allison Sampson-Jackson.

Dr. Allison Sampson-Jackson and Theresa Caldwell lead a conversation entitled “Trauma: How it affects you and every member of our community” at the Paramount. More than 700 people were in attendance.  

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The Women’s Initiative was a co-host of the event in partnership with Adiuvans, the Greater Charlottesville Trauma-Informed Community Network, ReadyKids, Piedmont CASA, the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition and the Early Education Task Force.

Toxic trauma is the result of prolonged or multiple exposures to adverse childhood experiences, abbreviated ACEs, such as physical, sexual and emotional abuse. A landmark study in the 1990s established that these experiences are common and can impact many aspects of physical and mental health, even leading to early death. Additional research is also connecting multigenerational trauma and historical oppression of minority communities to negative health outcomes.

Theresa Caldwell, left, and TWI Board Member Beverly Adams, PhD.

Theresa Caldwell, left, and TWI Board Member Beverly Adams, PhD.

A recent study, for example, found that 61% of mental health conditions that caused a disruption in work or other activities for 14 days or more were related to ACES.

“People are dying, going to jail, suffering...we have to be able to talk about it,” Sampson-Jackson said.

Sampson-Jackson and Caldwell also stressed that resilience—the ability to bounce back from difficult experiences—can be built and nurtured in individuals, families and communities.

The Women’s Initiative is committed to being a leader in trauma-informed care in Central Virginia. TWI Executive Director Elizabeth Irvin, LCSW, is on the steering committee of the Greater Charlottesville Trauma-Informed Community Network and is co-chair of the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition. And, as a part of our 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, The Women’s Initiative is creating a comprehensive trauma program to bring greater awareness of all the ways to heal trauma—including therapy, movement, groups and education.

To learn more or become involved in the Greater Charlottesville Trauma-Informed Community Network, email Trauma@PCASA.org and include your name in the body of the email.

Growing our Mind-Body Program to heal trauma

We're growing our Mind-Body Program to help heal trauma through movement.

Trauma-informed yoga, dance and other movement styles help release muscular tension stored in our bodies because of both everyday stress and histories of trauma. These practices also enable us to use breath to regulate our nervous system, a process which trauma often disrupts. 

All of these offerings are free and open to all women and all bodies, and no experience is required.

Check out our latest mind-body offerings...

Additionally, The Women's Initiative will be hosting a special Holiday Breathe & Move event, with yoga as well as origami paper-crane-making.

Call (434) 872-0047 to reserve your spot, and check out the Facebook event!

Community education on cultural humility

Working toward enhancing our cultural humility approach throughout our organization and the community, The Women's Initiative is co-sponsoring a community education session on cultural humility and implicit bias this December.

Eboni Bugg, LCSW, RYT will be presenting the talk on implicit bias and cultural humility on Monday, December 4, 5:30-7:30 pm, at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. 

"We feel as health care providers that we want to make sure we are doing our part to cultivate a community that is culturally humble and is aware of biases," Jackie Martin, the director of community benefit at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, told CBS19 News. Sentara, UVA Health System and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center are also co-sponsors.

The presentation is free, but space is limited. RSVP by Monday, November 27 by calling 1-800-SENTARA.

Bilingual therapists working together

Bienestar Coordinator Ingrid Ramos, LPC, discusses opportunities to learn about trauma-informed care with bilingual therapists at The Women's Initiative.

Bienestar Coordinator Ingrid Ramos, LPC, discusses opportunities to learn about trauma-informed care with bilingual therapists at The Women's Initiative.

As a part of efforts to strengthen our community's diverse workforce, The Women's Initiative hosted a growing network of bilingual (Spanish/English) mental health professionals today at our main office. Ingrid Ramos, LPC, our Bienestar Coordinator, facilitated the meeting of the CJ (Creciendo Juntos) Mental Health Work Group, whose mission is to promote the availability, coordination and quality of mental health services for the Spanish-speaking community in our region.

For a directory of mental health services for the Spanish-speaking community in our area, click here.

If you are a Spanish-speaking therapist who would like to join this group, email Ulises Martinez at umartinez@thewomensinitiative.org

Learn more about The Women's Initiative's Bienestar Program here.

One Month Left to Submit to Challenge into Change

Amanda and Aerial on the air with DJ Max and Charles. Thanks Razor for the picture! 

Amanda and Aerial on the air with DJ Max and Charles. Thanks Razor for the picture! 

There is just over one month left to submit your story to our annual writing contest celebrating the power of storytelling as healing, Challenge into Change.

This weekend on 101.3 JAMZ “In My Humble Opinion,” previous Challenge into Change winner Aerial Perkins talked about her essay “Pretty Brown Girl” and inspired others to write their stories.

Submit your essay or poem by December 15. Contest rules & online submission portal can be found here.

 

A Voice for the Silent: Selections from Challenge into Change #1

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Challenge into Change is The Women’s Initiative’s annual writing contest honoring women’s stories of overcoming life challenges to find hope and healing.

In the lead-up to this year’s December 15 deadline for submissions, we’re revisiting the stories of resilience, hope and growth writers shared with us in 2016-17, starting with this powerful, lyrical poem about overcoming domestic violence by Donna Lloyd.

You Are

By Donna Lloyd

Domestic violence rocks a person's world.
It turns everything upside down.
It is a hurricane,
that blows the fiercest of winds.
It is a tsunami, that slams you like a freight train.
It's an atomic bomb,
destroying everything you hold dear. 

You wake up one day –
Your friends are gone.
Your family is gone.
But worst of all,
You are gone. 

You were born with a light
burning bright - deep inside you.
It has always been there.
When the dark days come,
go and find this light.
Take hold of its hand. 
You will do things you have
long since forgotten you could do.
You have the power.
You are worthy. 
You are strong.

How our judges and readers responded…

  • “What a moving, empowering poem.”
  • “I really like how your use of repetition evolves from images of destruction and pessimism to images of hope and optimism.”

About the author...

Donna is a survivor of childhood trauma and domestic abuse. Continuing on her healing path, she seeks to become a voice for the silent by raising awareness of these issues through her writing and art.

Welcome new therapists!

We are thrilled to welcome three therapists to our Clinical Team!

Monica Garfias, LPC, NCC

Monica Garfias, LPC, NCC

Aislinn Groves, LCSW

Aislinn Groves, LCSW

Alyson Stewart, MFT

Alyson Stewart, MFT

  • Monica Garfias, LPC, NCC
  • Aislinn Groves, LCSW
  • Alyson Stewart, MFT

Monica is a Bilingual Therapist working with our Bienestar program to provide counseling, social support and education for Latina women in our community. She is passionate about treating women who have experienced trauma.

Aislinn is a Part-Time Mental Health Therapist who will be working with clients two days a week in individual counseling and walk-in clinic. A Charlottesville native, Aislinn views therapy as a collaborative process, supporting each client in accessing their innate capacities for understanding and growth.

Alyson is the Sister Circle Mental Health Therapist, working with our Sister Circle program to provide mental health and wellness programming for Black women and women of color. Alyson will be co-facilitating the weekly Sister Circle support group as well as seeing clients in individual counseling and walk-in clinic at our main office. Alyson describes a client’s process as the overcomer’s journey, where the path on the road to progress can be a bumpy one, but it leads to resiliency, resourcefulness and perseverance.

Read more about our whole team here.

New artworks up in our halls

We are so fortunate to have the keen eye of volunteer art curator Terry Coffey selecting and hanging artwork for the walls of our offices. This fall and winter, Terry has brought to our main office the works of seven BozART Fine Art Collective artists. We are celebrating this exhibition with a First Fridays reception from 5:30-7:30 pm on November 3. All are welcome.

The paintings and mixed media works brighten our hallways, providing a warm, calm, healing environment for our clients.

The BozART show will be on display at our main office, 1101 East High Street, through the end of December.

Learn more about the BozART show here.