Denim Day strengthens our community response to sexual violence

On Wednesday, April 24, Aurora caregivers supported Denim Day, a campaign to raise awareness and support survivors of sexual assault.

In some locations, caregivers were able to wear denim in exchange for a $5 donation to the Aurora Health Care Abuse Response Fund.  View a slideshow of activities at multiple Aurora locations in southeastern Wisconsin.

Aurora Health Care Foundation President Cristy Garcia-Thomas and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

Aurora Health Care Foundation President Cristy Garcia-Thomas and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Local leaders joined at Milwaukee City Hall for a press conference hosted by the City’s Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.  This year’s “Persons of Influence” campaign featured local leaders wearing denim in support of the 2013 event.

Aurora Health Care is a champion for sexual assault survivors through the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) programs throughout our system, the Sexual Assault Treatment Center, and The Healing Center, where survivors receive free counseling, group therapy and bilingual advocacy.

The Healing Center provides services to more than 600 people annually, and the Sexual Assault Treatment Center has treated more than 1,200 people since 2010.

Through your gift to Denim Day, you can help The Healing Center and other Aurora Health Care services strengthen our community response to sexual violence.

Every gift can change a life. Consider yours today at http://bit.ly/XoHTU3

Spirited Souls- Britny’s Gift to The Healing Center

We’d like to recognize Britny for her generous donation to The Healing Center. Instead of birthday presents, she asked for money to help survivors heal. Britny raised $450 and we feel so grateful for her fundraising and caring heart!

The Healing Center provides counseling, group therapy and other support services. All of our services are free, as we believe that everyone, regardless of inability to pay, deserves the help they need. To learn more about our services, please visit our website

What are you thankful for?

Stephanie coordinates volunteers, marketing efforts and operations for The Healing Center in Walker’s Point.

As Thanksgiving approaches I am reminded of the true reason we gather this Thursday. While I eagerly await the turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, I have to remember the meaning behind this holiday: giving thanks for family and friends and acknowledging the little things in life that allow me to feel gratitude.

This year I am thankful for the fact that my family can come together from all parts of the U.S. (Wisconsin, St. Louis and New York) and for all the healthy, happy new babies in my life (born and still on the way!).

For me, Thanksgiving is also a time to appreciate the simple things that make life precious: thoughtful friendships that still last even though we live miles and miles apart, the volunteers I work with each year who graciously give of their time and resources to help The Healing Center, my downstairs neighbor who continually rakes, shovels and maintains the yard we share (even though we really are responsible for the back!).

It’s easy to get caught up in all the negativity that surrounds us on a daily basis and forget about the big and little things that actually make our lives positive. Personally, I’ve found that by truly feeling thankful for all that I’ve been given makes me happier and feel a lot more control to tackle obstacles. Life isn’t perfect and I don’t think it’s supposed to be. It is a balancing act between good and bad, easy and difficult, giving and receiving.

I hope you enjoy this Thanksgiving with family, friends and all whom you love (and enjoy the pie as well!).

What makes you feel thankful?

The Healing Center provides counseling, group therapy and other support services. All of our services are free, as we believe that everyone, regardless of inability to pay, deserves the help they need. To learn more about our services, please visit our website

How can a wellness retreat help you recharge and refocus?

Stephanie coordinates volunteers, marketing efforts and operations for The Healing Center in Walker’s Point.

The Healing Center’s staff and interns recently took a day off to relax and rejuvenate. We all headed west to a retreat center out in the country and were welcomed with warm food, massages and activities to promote spiritual healing.

The day was cold and grey, but we still managed to sneak in some nature walks, time around the fire and “soul painting” outside in the barn. It was nice to take a break from the daily routine and catch up with co-workers. Take a look at our day away from the office!

Why take a wellness retreat? Our daily lives are in constant motion, as we go from work to school to our home life. While routines help us function day to day, it’s important to take a break sometimes and relax our bodies and minds.

Retreats allow for this holistic time off and help us reconnect with our spirits. It’s also beneficial to spend time with others and experience nature, eat nutritious foods that we don’t always have time to cook at home and try out new therapeutic techniques like massage, Reiki or Tai Chi. Retreats also allow us to hit the reset button, break us out of the mundane and recharge so that when we do go back to “normal life” we’re refreshed.

The Healing Center provides counseling, group therapy and other support services. All of our services are free, as we believe that everyone, regardless of inability to pay, deserves the help they need. To learn more about our services, please visit our website

Fighting for women’s wellness worldwide

Stephanie coordinates volunteers, marketing efforts and operations for The Healing Center in Walker’s Point.

Last week I watched this amazing film called Half the Sky, a documentary about turning oppression into opportunity for women around the world. This 4-hour special chronicled the lives of these women as they faced abuse and poverty head on and tackled complicated issues such as sex trafficking, gender-based violence, maternal mortality and lack of access to education.

I am in awe of the strength of those who face such brutal attacks, lifelong trauma and hardships at every turn. It was encouraging to see how leaders from the countries highlighted in the film (Kenya, Cambodia, Somaliland and beyond) fought for women’s rights and in many cases, continue to risk their own safety on a daily basis for those in need.

If you have the chance to see this film, I highly recommend it! There is also a great website for learning more about those involved and the important issues: http://www.halftheskymovement.org/

The Healing Center provides counseling, group therapy and other support services. All of our services are free, as we believe that everyone, regardless of inability to pay, deserves the help they need. To learn more about our services, please visit our website

Changes for a better life

Stephanie coordinates volunteers, marketing efforts and operations for The Healing Center in Walker’s Point.

I’ve found the phrase, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” to be quite beneficial in my life and it usually helps me avoid making a big deal out of nothing. There are a few things in life though that if changed, can help you feel a lot happier. This article by Paula Davis-Laack, JD, MAPP highlights some key ways to de-stress, live healthier and become more productive:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pressure-proof/201210/life-is-too-short-10-things-not-worth-tolerating

The Healing Center provides counseling, group therapy and other support services. All of our services are free, as we believe that everyone, regardless of inability to pay, deserves the help they need. To learn more about our services, please visit our website

Spirited Souls: Meet Rhonda Begos

Rhonda Begos survived childhood sexual abuse. She experienced a great amount of trauma from an early age and because of this, had a difficult time making positive life decisions into her adulthood. She finally took the brave step to seek counseling and called The Healing Center.

Rhonda believes this allowed her to address why she struggled with certain parts of her life and helped her understand that she needed to learn how to forgive herself and take responsibility for her own happiness.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently wrote a nice feature story on Rhonda, and I’d love to share it with you here!

We’d also like to share this video interview with Rhonda, explaining how The Healing Center helped her live well as a healthy adult.  For more information, view our YouTube playlist or visit our website.

The Healing Center provides counseling, group therapy and other support services. All of our services are free, as we believe that everyone, regardless of inability to pay, deserves the help they need.  Please consider making an online gift to extend our reach in the community.  To learn more about our services, please visit our website

Five ways to reconnect with your spiritual self

Stephanie coordinates volunteers, marketing efforts and operations for The Healing Center in Walker’s Point.

1. Look for opportunities to add goodness to the world. This will enhance your own self love and appreciation for others.

2. Take time each day to reflect by meditating, praying or reading a spiritual poem or book. This will strengthen your emotional well-being.

3. Offer forgiveness to those who may have hurt you.
You may not ever forget, but by forgiving others, you relieve burden from your mind and make room for happy thoughts.

4. Become aware of your positive and negative behavior. This will help you understand your strengths and also recognize room for growth.

5. Be the best YOU, each and every day. In the words of Jay-Z, “The worst thing to be, is successful as someone else.” Monotony is boring, individuality is fascinating.

The Healing Center provides counseling, group therapy and other support services. All of our services are free, as we believe that everyone, regardless of inability to pay, deserves the help they need. To learn more about our services, please visit our website

Lift your spirit with 21 random acts of kindness

Stephanie coordinates volunteers, marketing efforts and operations for The Healing Center in Walker’s Point.

It’s nice to be reminded from time to time about the random acts of kindness that take place every day around the world.

Need your spirits lifted today?  Check out this Huffington Post slideshow.  You’ll be glad you did.

Truly, it’s hard for me to pick my favorite! This really made my day, and I have a feeling it might brighten yours as well.

The Healing Center provides counseling, group therapy and other support services. All of our services are free, as we believe that everyone, regardless of inability to pay, deserves the help they need. To learn more about our services, please visit our website

Spirited souls: Meet Olivia, nine-year-old athlete!

It was a beautiful summer morning when I met up with Olivia, her mom and younger sister Maya on the steps of Concordia University, overlooking the water.

“It’s so pretty here. I feel like I’m on a beach in Florida!” I exclaimed. “But it’s not an ocean, this is a lake!” laughed Olivia and Maya. Ahh, but I can dream, can’t I? Alright, back to the important business of the day. Let’s meet Olivia!

She’s an active and very busy 9 ½ year old, going into the 4th grade. She loves math (I wish I could say the same for myself!) and the color purple. Olivia also has Prader-Willi Syndrome which makes her crave food so intensely that it can be difficult to focus on other tasks. People affected by this syndrome often have difficulties managing their weight, which can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Despite the fact that Olivia has Prader-Willi Syndrome, she is not letting this challenge slow her down. She’s working hard to keep herself healthy and just accomplished a great feat! Running an entire 5K!

To learn more about Prader-Willi Syndrome, find support or donate to help those affected, please visit: http://www.PWSAofWI.org

Take a look at my interview with Olivia:

1. Tell me one thing about yourself that you think makes you unique?

I’m in a Pomeranian dance group and practice the German Backfische dance. During a show, I wear an 8-layer tracht (traditional German costume) with a red skirt and a white shirt. I also wear an apron with a vest.

2. You worked really hard and just ran your first 5K. That’s amazing! How did you train?

I ran 3 days a week. In the beginning, I started running for 2 minutes and then I added 1 minute every time I ran. A 5K is about 3 miles and on race day I ran the 5K in 1 hour and 4 minutes.

3. You also keep yourself healthy and ready to run by eating lots of nutritious foods.  I’ve been told you have a good system for figuring out what foods are good and what are bad. Can you tell me about it?

Every food has a color (This is similar to a stoplight. Green means go! Red means stop!). An example of a green food (ok to eat a lot) is salad. A yellow food (good in smaller amounts) is something like bread and a red food (tiny amounts as a treat) could be M&M cookies.

4. Was it always easy to wake up and run or did you have some days where you just wanted to take a break? What did you do to keep yourself going?

Some days I didn’t want to practice, but my dad would say “Come on! Let’s go!” Then I would go with him.

5. What did your parents say or do after you crossed the finish line?

My mom cried and gave me a big hug. My dad also cried and said, “I’m so proud of you. You did it!”

6. Do you have another goal for yourself right now that you’re working towards?

I want to do the Power Run. It’s a ½ mile run in Green Bay.

7. Ok, one last question. Since this blog is about spiritual wellness, what’s something you do if you’re feeling sad about something and want to feel better?

I have a sip of water and take a deep breath. My dad also always makes me feel better.