At the end of April, we held our very first virtual graduation ceremony for our very first virtual Living Well cohort. A week later, we had our final group session, after meeting together every week since the beginning of October 2020. Then I had the joy of hand-delivering graduation gift bags and participation stipends to each of our seven participants from this cohort. I was able to see the women in person, some for the first time, and even give hugs. I went everywhere from the Bronx to Brooklyn, and I met their sweet families.
In the days following the end of our cohort, I interviewed each participant to get their feedback on the group. One of the group's participants said she "learned that being in a trauma lifestyle with a lot of DV and negativity in your life, can put a big impact on your life. It can stop you from accomplishing the goals you want to accomplish. Once I could break out of that shell, I was able to accomplish my goals and get myself on the right path in life.”
She said she was able to begin looking at her life in a different way. "I’m not the old me anymore. I’ve progressed a lot. It took a while for me to get to where I am today. I don’t want to be the old me anymore, I want to continue to get better.”
This was a challenging year—one where we didn't know if what we were able to do was actually going to be the right thing to do. I am so grateful for the commitment of this group throughout this very untraditional season of our program, for the way they kept showing up every single session and giving themselves wholly over to the process, and for their trust of us from the start. It is always a privilege to walk alongside survivors in their healing process. And this year, I feel especially amazed by the strength and resiliency of this group. I am always humbled and honored to be a part of these women’s lives.
It's especially a privilege to witness God's resurrection bringing each of the women in the group back to life. During one of our last sessions, one of the women said, “I gained so much confidence and peace. I healed, actually. And I just want to say thank you to you all."
-Lesley-Ann Hix Tommey, CBF field personnel in New York City, N.Y.