My story matters because I matter – Brene Brown

After struggling to come up with a good way of introducing interested community partners to the participants and facilitators at Robin’s Hope while preserving their privacy, we have arrived at this idea for a monthly blog/newsletter/social media post.  Each month a participant and a facilitator will be chosen and will be invited to share their answers to a set of questions.  They will pair their story with an image that represents them.  This way everyone can share in what we are doing at Robin’s Hope and have a chance to celebrate the amazing folks that hang out with us each week.

January 2024’s Llama Leader

Amber Dirby

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story

“I’m Amber, keeper of the critters.  I didn’t know how dysfunctional I grew up and didn’t understand why I was living in a cycle.  Robins Hope has given me the courage to leave an abusive relationship and the resources to help start healing my traumas.”

How did you first hear about Robin's Hope? What does Robin's Hope mean to you now?

Chesterfield Commonwealth Attorney — to me now it means the place that helped me save my life and start healing.”

What is one memory of Robin's Hope that stands out for you?

“Being able to share my small accomplishments in leaving a bad relationship and making healthy choices.”

What is your favorite or most impactful group?

“Boundaries – I never knew about boundaries and how helpful they could make managing my life.”

What makes Robin's Hope unique?

“Our safe space and the way we support each other daily.”

What motivates you to come back to Robin's Hope every week?

“It brings me purpose and helps me to stay on a positive momentum on healing.”

December 2023’s Llama Leader

Ellen D.

November 2023’s Llama Leader

Gretchen G.

October 2023’s Llama Leader

Dahlia C.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story

I am a semiretired art director/designer and artist.

Before COVID lockdown I was making a headway into making new friends by joining art associations, showing my paintings at art shows and teaching crochet classes. 

After the lockdown I joined a zoom silent book clubs and some artist zoom groups. I am introverted,  so I enjoyed spending my days sketching, reading and playing with my cat, Sofia. Sofia is one of my joys in life. 

I also discovered Robin’s Hope. A great place to connect with other people.”

How did you first hear about Robin's Hope? What does Robin's Hope mean to you now?

During COVID lockdown I discovered Robin’s Hope through their website. The Zoom meetings made a big difference for me during COVID-19. For me Robin’s Hope is a place to connect to people, learn new skills and help others.

What is one memory of Robin's Hope that stands out for you?

Robin’s Hope has given me the chance to teach again. Last year I taught how to make a variety of snowflakes and tree ornaments in an art class. I am now teaching people to make flower pins for the fundraising Gala. We are close to our 150 flower pin goal. I plan to teach how to decorate Holiday cards for hospitalized veterans in November. I enjoy getting out and sharing my crafty art knowledge.

What is your favorite or most impactful group?

Golden Seniors, cover topics that are relevant to me and my ongoing challenges. It is a supportive group with people I can easily relate to and laugh with.

What makes Robin's Hope unique?

Robin’s Hope reaches and helps so many people by having in-person and zoom meetings. There is such a variety of groups and meetings that there is something for everyone who is dealing with or has dealt with trauma. The people are friendly and it is easy join a meeting and feel supported.

What motivates you to come back to Robin's Hope every week?

The people.

September 2023’s Llama Leader

“This is my first abstract acrylic painting representing the colors of the medicine wheel in Native American spiritual healing.

It’s where I found my peace.”

Julie Clarke

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story

“It’s been a long journey to find me as a recovering addict and recovering trauma survivor. I have learned to make purpose of my pain so that I can be of service to others to provide hope and inspiration.”

How did you first hear about Robin's Hope? What does Robin's Hope mean to you now?

“I was referred by a friend who had been affiliated with Robin’s Hope when I had a significant trigger I was not anticipating after moving back to Richmond. Robin’s Hope is a safe loving environment where everyone supports each other through their trauma recovery. We see and hear one another and we value each other’s experiences.”

What is one memory of Robin's Hope that stands out for you?

“The bond that I’ve created with a few peers. It’s just all so beautiful even when it isn’t.”

What is your favorite or most impactful group?

“My favorite group is the group that I now facilitate, Healing Through Music. Music has always been a healthy escape and a part of my healing and I want to share that with everyone.”

What makes Robin's Hope unique?

“The diversity of staff, interns and participants and the love that is shared despite our differences.”

What motivates you to come back to Robin's Hope every week?

“It brings me joy.”

August 2023’s Llama Leader

Euna Dunn

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story

I am an artist, a baker, and an empath. A harpist, an active listener, and a fast learner. I have a diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder, and I am a trauma survivor.

How did you first hear about Robin's Hope? What does Robin's Hope mean to you now?

I first found Robin’s Hope on a flyer in the back of the RBHA CSU. The flyer was old, the address was wrong, and I knew I needed to be there. I can honestly say that Robin’s Hope saved my life. If it wasn’t for this place and these people, I wouldn’t be able to get up everyday. To me Robin’s Hope means support, compassion, and acceptance.

What is one memory of Robin's Hope that stands out for you?

The first time we played “Yes, and…” (a group storytelling improv game). Everyone was cooperative and participatory. We started with a hermit Llama in the forest and ended with a sticky, dirty Llama navigating a hot air balloon trying to find Robin’s Hope. There was a pick up truck and some hitchhiking in there somewhere, too. We encouraged each other, laughed together, and it was beautiful.

What is your favorite or most impactful group?

I don’t have a favorite group at Robin’s Hope. Sometimes we talk about trauma and/or distress, sometimes we play games, sometimes we make art and have open discussions. As a peer run program, we decide what we need everyday. Coping skills at 3pm but someone is having a mental health crisis? Let’s talk about that instead. Don’t feel like setting life goals at 2:15pm? Let’s play bingo. Routines and schedules are great, and sometimes we’re just people.

What makes Robin's Hope unique?

There is no place like home, and as of yet there is no copy cat recipe for Robin’s Hope. I’ve attended a lot of support groups, and I have been in therapy for decades. I had never found a place to call home before I found the healing heard. I came here to be fixed, and for the first time in my life was told I wasn’t broken. Robin’s Hope didn’t teach me how to be a “normal” person. They taught me how to love and respect myself as I am (with a dash of self awareness as well as a growth mindset). We hear each other and heal each other. You don’t find that anywhere else.

What motivates you to come back to Robin's Hope every week?

Robin’s Hope is my healing, my grounding, and my reality check. This place and these people are my stable solid foundation. The healing heard is my safe place even when nowhere else is.

August 2023’s Llama Leader

Jena Rivas

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story

My name is Jena Rivas, I am 31. When I was little my mom and my bio dad argued a lot. I started having night-terrors. I am diagnosed with high-functioning autism, OCD, and a mood disorder.

How did you first hear about Robin's Hope? What does Robin's Hope mean to you now?

I heard about Robins Hope through Friends 4 recovery, if it wasn’t for Robins Hope I would be sitting at home. Robin’s Hope means the world to me. The staff has taught me to be brave and to have confidence in myself.

What is one memory of Robin's Hope that stands out for you?

Being able to stand up for myself.

What is your favorite or most impactful group?

My favorite group is Rise, because it has taught me to conquer my fears.

What makes Robin's Hope unique?

Robins Hope is unique in a lot of ways cause they help people who have had trauma or experienced abuse. The staff at Robins Hope is there to listen and not judge. 

What motivates you to come back to Robin's Hope every week?

The thing that motivates me to go back to Robins Hope every week is being around my peers and to have people who understand.

July 2023’s Llama Leader

Kirstie James

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story

My name is Kirstie and I am a social work clinical intern.  I am a partner, a mother, and a lover of fur babies.  I am passionate about social work and helping others through their struggles.

How did you first hear about Robin's Hope? What does Robin's Hope mean to you now?

I first learned about Robin’s Hope when I met Jennifer and Heather at a table at a National Night Out Event.  I discussed my love for social work and trauma-informed care.  Quite honestly, these two individuals were totally down to earth and I loved their vibe.  I feel extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside them and the rest of the staff at this wonderful, life-changing organization.

What is one memory of Robin's Hope that stands out for you?

When I first walked into Robins Hope for an in-person group day. I felt so welcomed.  I loved seeing everyone speak to one another with dignity and mutual respect.  It was comforting.

What is your favorite or most impactful group?

RISE Group.  I enjoy the discussions within the group and love contributing as well.

What makes Robin's Hope unique?

The mission of helping everyone struggling with trauma.

What motivates you to come back to Robin's Hope every week?

The atmosphere and support I feel from my supervisor and staff.  Also, the creative groups and the conversations that occur among everyone within the in-person groups and virtual groups.

June 2023’s Llama Leader

Tori Walker

How did you first hear about Robin's Hope? What does Robin's Hope mean to you now?

After a locked vacation, what I call my stay at a mental health unit, I was told I needed to find a trauma support group. They had no suggestions so I googled trauma support and found Robin’s Hope. I have been a huge advocate ever since.

What is your favorite thing about Robin's Hope?

The love that is given and shared in total acceptance.

What is one memory of Robin's Hope that stands out for you?

Every experience with Robin’s Hope is a cherished memory, I couldn’t begin to evaluate each one. They are all positive and memorable.

What is your favorite or most impactful group?

All of them. Each one teaches you something about yourself, also the valuable resilience skills taught in RISE. The ability teaching you how to express yourself.

What makes Robin's Hope unique?

There is not another support group like Robin’s Hope. We have people who attend online from virtually all over the world. There is a reason for this.

What motivates you to come back to Robin's Hope every week?

The love, the acceptance, the caring, the sharing, the peace of mind that coming to Robin’s Hope gives me.

May 2023’s Llama Leader

Melissa Harper

How did you first hear about Robin's Hope? What does Robin's Hope mean to you now?

I met Jennifer Kell as a graduate student and discussed an internship with her for my pursuit of a Masters of Social Work.

What is one memory of Robin's Hope that stands out for you?

My favorite memory is attending the very first group, it was an in-person peer check in.  I had no idea what to expect but sat minding my own business and watching the goings on.  I saw people who were clearly friends sitting together.  Then, I looked deeper and saw that everyone was together.  There were no cliques.  Everyone was accepted and knew it, even all the new people.  There was an instant feeling of welcome.

What is your favorite thing about Robin's Hope?

I can’t decide.  I am going to cheat and say that it is free because then I can include everything.  Robin’s Hope touches the community in so many ways but does not charge members for any services.  The in-person groups, virtual groups, clinical counseling services, policy advocacy for Virginians, and even large events for the community are all free.  So many people can be reached and touched by Robin’s Hope.  People can find a sense of community here, even when they aren’t physically here, yet they can do so for free – no one is turned away!

What is your favorite or most impactful group?

Peer check in.  I like both the in-person and virtual peer check ins because I can meet different people at different groups.  I like the lack of a plan.  I like how the group starts with everyone talking about themselves and what is on their mind as we move through the group. I love seeing where the conversations go after everyone has checked in and we collectively dive into deeper conversation.  No two group check ins have been the same.

What makes Robin's Hope unique?

The true lack of judgment.  I used to think all humans judged so, wherever humans were, judgement followed.  I have been proven wrong about that ideal at Robin’s Hope.  You will not meet a collectively more varied group, yet everyone is embraced like a family in healing and support.

What motivates you to come back to Robin's Hope every week?

Smiles.  Everyone learns your name.  I am bad at remembering names, but I have learned them all too.  You are greeted with a warm smile and a hello when you walk into Robin’s Hope.  No one cares what you look like or how different you might be, in fact, those differences are embraced at Robin’s Hope.  No matter who you are, or where you are coming from, you will receive genuine smiles and can feel the warmth immediately.

April 2023’s Llama Leader

Laura McBride

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story

I’m a Trauma Survivor, single mother of two adult single children. I am the youngest of 5 children. I have struggled with depression all my life, and PTSD. I have not understood why I couldn’t have healthy relationships or communicate my needs in a clear concise manner. About 4 years ago, I was introduced to Robin’s Hope by a friend and Peer Counselor in training to come check out a workshop on “Gaslighting”. From that moment on I was hooked! I was able to be a “part” of the conversation, not be humiliated for having emotions, or shamed for how I looked or thought. I signed up for the email list and continued coming to Virtual Groups( Body Keeps the Score, Boundaries, Peer Check-In, Seeking Safety). I fought to get counseling at Robin’s Hope as I listened in the Group and saw and heard the transformation the women were making. I showed up for myself for 18 months every Thursday morning. I got to learn who I was and what I liked. I was scared, broken, abandoned, rejected, manipulated, and confused. I had been in a ten year toxic relationship with a narcissist that modeled the relationship I had with my emotionally immature father and the physically and emotionally violent relationship my parents had with each other. I continued to work on the Trauma. After the Trauma, my counselor wanted me to work on other things like esteem, communication skills, boundaries, expectations, and also my future. My counselor is still doing groups but took a break to get certified. I fought to get someone at Robin’s Hope to help me the rest of the way. Michael found me my current Peer Specialist, Melissa. She has forced me to work on the most important part of my recovery. Imposter Syndrome and my value. I am currently finishing a certification in Life Coaching. She has listened, read, and given awesome feedback every Tuesday morning on Zoom as I walk through this scary but exciting adventure in my life at 58 years old to take what I’ve learned, experienced, and grown from and offer it to someone else. For that I’m so grateful ❣️

How did you first hear about Robin's Hope? What does Robin's Hope mean to you now?

4 years ago through a Peer Recovery Specialist in training. Robin’s Hope is a life raft for those who are drowning and need to get safely to land. Those who are both launching the raft and on the other side are loving, safe, non-judgemental, but also giving you the necessary push to learn from that need to get into risky behavior situations with unhealthy people. But if you do, they give you the tools to take care of yourself and not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help.

What is one memory of Robin's Hope that stands out for you?

Being in the Body Keeps the Score. Finishing the book and then repeating it. The exercises Angie used were so wonderful as were the discussions we had. It made the book even more applicable personally to my life.

What is your favorite or most impactful group?

Seeking Safety. Often the quotes that were drawn and gone over at the beginning of the next week we all had a living experience with it.

What makes Robin's Hope unique?

The way they handle trauma through art, song, music, breath work, mindfulness, meditation, journaling, and workshops is a true healing. They continue to offer more options for what gets the message of hope and healing out there for the most.

What motivates you to come back to Robin's Hope every week?

Currently for achieving my Goal- Counseling. I never know when I’ll pop into a Group however. My counselor taught me to open my mind and body to many options and not limit myself in a boring rut.

March 2023’s Llama Leader

Cherie Silva

How did you first hear about Robin's Hope? What does Robin's Hope mean to you now?

I heard about Robin’s Hope on the internet and Heather Pate when she volunteered at Friends for Recovery

What is your favorite thing about Robin's Hope?

Robin’s Hope feels like we are one big happy and caring family

What is one memory of Robin's Hope that stands out or one accomplishment you have made that stands for you?

I appreciate how helpful the peers are with me because I have MS

What is your favorite group (or most impactful)? Why?

My favorite group is 100 Questions and Peer Check in the questions help to open my mind and peer check ins help me to feel more comfortable talking to my peers

What makes Robin's Hope unique?

It’s very organized and professional

What motivates you to come back to Robin's Hope every week?

I am motivated to come back to see my peers and share my story and it feels like one big happy family.

Angie

How did you first hear about Robin's Hope? What does Robin's Hope mean to you now?

I first started coming to Robin’s Hope through FRIENDS in Recovery. As soon as I came into Robin’s Hope I immediately felt welcome. Everyone was very welcoming and laid back. Now, I see Robin’s Hope as my second family. 

What is one memory of Robin's Hope that stands out for you?

My favorite thing about Robin’s Hope is having a place where I feel accepted. I was so comfortable here that I shared my non-binary gender identity with others for the first time. I wouldn’t have been able to do that had I not felt so safe and accepted. My favorite memory from Robin’s Hope was the Gala. I was able to dance with all my friends and feel comfortable doing so. One accomplishment I’ve achieved is abstaining from self-harm. Self-harming was a coping skill I frequently used. But now, it has been a month and a half since I’ve self-harmed.

What is your favorite or most impactful group?

Art group is definitely my favorite. I love doing anything art related. My favorite thing I made was a half-blue half-pink mask for the Gala.

What makes Robin's Hope unique?

Everyone is open in groups at Robin’s Hope. I don’t feel like I will be judged for what I share during group time.  Robin’s Hope is my main source of social connection.

What motivates you to come back to Robin's Hope every week?

When FRIENDS in Recovery closed everything fell apart for me. I lost my sense of support and I thought I was going to kill myself. Now, I have that support system again. I love coming back to see my friends every week.