In 2010, Theresa Wolfe was going through a rough time in her life. She and her husband were in the process of separating, her mother died, she was figuring out her next steps in life, and dealing with ongoing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The PTSD stemmed from experiencing sexual abuse as a child.
- Photo Courtesy Of Theresa Wolfe
- COMMUNITY GROWTH Theresa Wolfe is committed to creating a peer network where sexual assault and sexual abuse survivors can thrive.
At the time, she had finished counseling sessions with Stand Strong, formerly the Women's Shelter of San Luis Obispo.
"I had to decide whether I was going to go to additional counseling or a support group," she said.
Her brother offered up the idea of trying out an outdoor activity that would help her through this transitioning phase in her life—surfing.
"When I went out surfing for the first time, it changed my life. I experienced a euphoria out there," Wolfe said.
Surfing led to meeting people with similar interests, becoming a representative for a surf company, and volunteering with AmpSurf. AmpSurf is a nonprofit organization established to promote, inspire, educate, and rehabilitate people with all disabilities and their families through adaptive surfing and other outdoor activities.
Wolfe said she realized that participating in these activities was helping not only her, but others who had dealt with traumatic events in their lives. People who understood one another and were comfortable working together on activities was exactly what Wolfe needed. It was an alternative to a counseling group, group session, or a retreat.
The community she is currently building pulls from that experience. It's called Coastal Thrivers Corporation and she describes it as a peer network.
"We're gathering survivors together that are at a level of acceptance and want to help others," she said.
You have to be a member to join the group on outdoor activities such as bike rides or hikes. Coastal Thrivers is members only to ensure each individual's safety, but the group is always accepting new members.
Group member Rebecca Prewett is currently applying for the secretary position. She said that Coastal Thrivers has helped her during her healing process.
"One of the things in my healing journey that I felt is important is finding a community to realize that what I went through, I was not alone in that," Prewett said.
Creating a community for survivors of sexual abuse or sexual trauma is something that Prewett feels Coastal Thrivers is doing very well for being in its early stages of establishment.
While Wolfe is building a community of understanding and comfort, she wants to make it clear that Coastal Thrivers' members are not counselors. If someone is seeking professional help, she directs them to contact Stand Strong (standstrongnow.org) and RISE SLO (riseslo.org).
"This is a low risk way to connect with other survivors because we're not asking them to come and tell us their story. It's not as scary as going to a therapy session or a group session," Prewett said.
To learn more about Coastal Thrivers Corporation, how to become a member, or how to donate, visit coastalthrivers.org.
Old Mission School has raised more than $100,000 for a state-of-the-art Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) lab that includes project-based, collaborative learning. All grades will have access to the classroom on a day-to-day basis. Working with Los Angeles based expert Anita Kreide, Old Mission School plans to roll out the transition to STEM learning over the course of the next three years. For more information about the institution and its focus on STEM learning, visit oldmissionschool.com. Δ
Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to email@example.com.