First annual Women’s Empowerment Retreat helps residents reclaim their power
Soft guitar music played as the women entered the banquet room. As they gazed around the beautifully decorated room, they were immediately welcomed by four life coaches. Thus marked the beginning of the first annual COTS Women’s Empowerment Retreat, “I am SO Enough…Possibilities Are Abundant.” The retreat was held over two Saturdays in July at Atlas Coffee Mill, which generously donated their lovely space.
The retreat was made possible by a generous anonymous donation from an individual who wanted to do something special for the residents of COTS’ Women’s Program. “When I was told of the donation and its goal I knew I wanted to do something that would help strengthen the women and have a long-lasting impact to enrich their lives,” explains Dawn Butler, Women’s Case Manager. “I’ve worked with women for years and have been a firsthand witness at the oppression, struggles, low self-esteem, lack of affordable mental health services, addiction, domestic and sexual abuse, and trauma many women face–often daily. It seemed natural to hold an event that drew them together as strong/independent women and to focus on the possibilities and what they CAN achieve.”
The retreat was led by four area life coaches: Cassie Schuh (Zaptastic Professional Coaching), Lynn McLaughlin (DandAlliance, LLC), Sarah Crawford (Siwati Life Coaching LLC), and Jeanne Loehnis (Songs for Your Spirit, LLC). This was the first time that the four women had the opportunity to work together. As expressed by Cassie Schuh, “Planning the COTS Women’s Empowerment Retreat with the other area Life Coaches was a great experience! Having different backgrounds and a variety of coaching experiences and tools allowed us to incorporate different perspectives into the retreat experience for the COTS women.”
Current and past residents of COTS Women’s Program were invited to attend. During the retreat, they discussed topics such as creating vision, empowerment, identifying personal strengths, and building trust in self and others. In total, 21 current and former residents attended the retreat.
“We all have our own story to tell”
After attending the first session, one COTS resident said her goal was to “Take [her] power back.” Erin, who also attended the retreat, says that the experience was life-changing.“ I never really knew how to stand up for myself as a woman…Yeah, we all have our own story to tell. But I learned how to understand women better, and I learned how to understand myself better as a woman.”
For Erin, part of the joy of the retreat was simply being able to share stories with other women. She was particularly inspired by another attendee who is also a single mom. In fact, Erin’s experience echoes that of many other attendees, who all noted that they felt comforted by the commonalities between all of their experiences–and the level of trust that the women felt with each other as they shared their stories.
“It was so beautiful because I knew I was meant to be there,” Erin grins.
Dawn enjoyed watching the retreat come to fruition: “It was emotional, heartwarming, strengthening, beautiful, and so much more than I had originally imagined.”
The retreat was only made possible by the generosity of numerous donors, including Atlas Coffee Mill & Cafe, Fox Banquets & Rivertyme Catering, Woodman’s Markets, Insta Print Plus, Inc., DandAlliance LLC, The Mooring Programs, Inc., Songs For Your Spirit Life Coaching, StoweGood, and a generous anonymous donor.