Friends & Family!
As most of you know, our awesome Aven is a brave, strong, insightful, self-assured, communicative, and brilliant human being. She is thoughtful, creative, hilarious, and one of the most loving teens we all are lucky enough to know! She is unique and powerful! Aven has been on a mission to find her place in our Tucson schools, and she has truly struggled to find a community that feels like 'home' to her. Over the last few years, our family has been looking for a small town for our future- one that our big family can try life out in more simple, natural, and purposeful ways. This is what led me to discovering Viroqua and the mindblowing offerings and community of Youth Initiative High School. Our intention was to have Aven finish high school here in Tucson, and we would eventually move to Viroqua full-time after her senior year of high school, upon graduation and the summer before Makkai will begin high school. We can't imagine the boys and Edie in any other place as they move forward in their development, and Mikey and I in ours.
To wholly feel The Driftless Valley out so we could begin planning for our future, Aven and I carefully traveled to Viroqua at the end of last April. Both of us felt a sense of ease in our bodies being there- one that is almost impossible to explain. The two of us slowed and calmed, and experienced renewal in nature. We did a considerable amount of processing and came back to Tucson with even more desire for joy, peace, and truth. So, what did we do? We got into an RV, and 6 of us drove right back to Wisconsin, lucky enough to be welcomed back by our new Driftless friends, Ellen and Ira. As we considered the idea of possibly buying a second home in Viroqua and spending summers for a few years there, we had to prioritize working through some health challenges here in Tucson and had to put all of our purpose and energy into our present circumstances.
However, Aven is an independent explorer, and she always finds her way into bettering herself and her own circumstances. With the pandemic causing such a wave of isolation and stagnation, as well as her desire to be in a school that sees her for who she is and what she is capable of, she started doing some research. This is when she approached me with what she believes is her calling- to attend the Youth Initiative Boarding program and begin learning in new ways, ways which honor the mind, body, and spirit of each student! After an impressive application and a 2 hour interview with staff and students, Aven was offered a chance of a lifetime, to join the student family at Youth Initiative High School! Making the decision to let our 15 year old daughter take such an enormous leap, so far away from home, siblings, and everyone who loves and supports her was no easy 'yes' for her dad and me.
Here we are a little nervous, but inspired and proud, hoping we can make this happen for her. For those of you who know us well, you know we have had to prioritize what little money we have toward other very important causes within our family . We are dedicated to being able to pay Aven's monthly tuition costs, as well as normal day to day living costs, but getting this endeavor rolling isn't something we can afford without help. We have initial payments to make, as well as travel expenses we will face, and preparing Aven with school supplies, boarding supplies, a complete REAL, (ha ha) winter wardrobe, and other school-related financial obligations. If we can reach our goal and all things align, Aven will begin class November 16th!
Please know that this school is being incredibly mindful in terms of the pandemic. We trust they are being as safe and preventative as possible.
We know so many of us are struggling with money during this very unpredictable time. Please only help if it is easy for you to do. We never take a positive thought, wish, or prayer for granted! Thank you for your dedicated support and friendship! Please take a moment to look at the pictures we have posted, as well as watch the video. We hope it gives you a good sense of why this opportunity is so special and important.
With love & gratitude,
Aven and all of Us
- Joy Winkelman
- Davida Larson
- Rita Sanders
- Sarah Cotten