Joyful Inspiration Day of Empowerment 2018 ~ photography by Mike Horm
As published in The Austin Times 02/2018
By Michelle Keller
Survivors of domestic violence recently attended a Day of Empowerment retreat provided by non-profit organization Joyful Inspiration. Held in an unnamed location for the protection of the survivors, the retreat lasted from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 17, 2018.
Planned retreat activities included massage, self-defense, yoga and other educational classes. Vision board sessions are also planned during the retreat. Volunteers and practitioners attended the activities along with the survivors. Some of the volunteers are also survivors who were led into their fields from their own past experiences.
The entire event was offered at no cost. Marking her third retreat for the cause, founder Jenea Frierson said, “I was stunned by how many of the ladies assumed there was a fee involved. When we initially received responses, so many of the women wanted to know what the catch was to attending a “free retreat”. There is no catch. This is what we do because it’s what we’ve been called to do. We hold an absolutely free retreat with no strings attached. We want to give these ladies hope of a brighter future filled with joy and healing.”
She continued, “Our mission is to bring hope to the broken-hearted by showing them how to live happy and successful lives, and creating an opportunity for a brighter future for themselves and their children as a result. Our vision for the first two to three years is to provide retreats for women who are victims of domestic violence. The goal is to teach these women how to find success and inner happiness.”
According to studies, up to 35 percent of the U.S. population will be physically aggressive towards a partner at some point in their lives. A recent study by The National Coalition of Domestic Violence reports 76,704 cases in the state of Texas alone. “Domestic violence occurs in every demographic,” Frierson explained. “Our primary objective at Joyful Inspiration is to initiate the healing process so that the survivors can return to joyful and productive lives.”
After the retreat a survivor commented, “I work in a hospital clinic as a nationally certified medical assistant. I finally mustered the strength and called the police on my abuser in February of 2016 and I have been away from him for two years. This weekend helped me learn that it’s time for me to move to the other side of abuse. It’s time to step towards letting go of the past and the stories and maybe even toward forgiveness. Jesus has led me in every step of safety and starting a new life. I am so thankful to Him. I am also thankful for the Christian atmosphere that Jenea provides. This retreat is a gathering of sisters who are healing together.”
All services offered by Joyful Inspiration are provided by the community on a volunteer basis.
While there are a lot of fun activities offered to the survivors, Frierson said it’s important to know that the organization will continue to support these survivors by following up with the ladies and having practitioners donate services once the retreat is over. “Our intent is to be the safety net for these ladies when unexpected hardships happen,” she explained. “The first six months to a year after leaving an abusive relationship is the hardest for women to learn how to be self-sufficient and learn to budget and thrive. Things happen in everyday life like car repair, doctor’s appointments, school supplies, etc., and we want to be here to help them see a path when the road seems impossible.”
When asked about future plans for Joyful Inspiration, Frierson said, “Our long-term vision is to have a residential property to house the survivors along with therapy, spiritual enrichment, life skills training, and off-site education opportunities so that the residents are better equipped to lead successful lives.”
Donations of items/services that are needed include:
Legal Services (on the top of the list of needs)
Massage gift certificates
Restaurant gift certificates
Salon gift certificates (a new hair do goes a long way to lifting a woman’s self-esteem!)
Chiropractic services (always helps to heal the body as you heal the soul)
Self-defense classes (it’s so important to give them their power back)
Gym memberships (how uplifting to get back in tune with your body!)
Gift Cards (grocery stores, Visa, Wal-Mart, etc)
For more information and to find out how to donate or become a sponsor visit www.joyfulinspiration.org or contact Jenea Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org