Help Charlottesville's nonprofit community wellness center - Common Ground Healing Arts - make our trauma-relieving services (massage, yoga, acupuncture and meditation) available to all affected by August 12th's hatred and violence, regardless of inability to pay.
I’m sure that you have heard about the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who descended on Charlottesville Saturday August 12th - filling our town with hate, violence, and loss; making many of our residents feel unsafe and shouting in no uncertain terms that they believe some of us are lesser than, that some of us need to stay in our place or go back to where we came from. Three people died, more than 30 people were hospitalized with injuries and thousands were traumatized.
As someone who lives in Charlottesville and was downtown on August 12th, I can assure you that the day was every bit as frightening and disgusting as has been reported. My personal experience began with a peaceful unity march from Charlottesville’s first African American school to a location adjacent to the park occupied by confederate icons and white nationalists holding loaded machine guns. That’s guns. Plural. Not just one gun, but multiple military style guns with extra ammunition. Many wore bullet proof vests, helmets and swastikas. They walked around with fingers on their triggers spewing hateful and ignorant messages. Unfortunately this was merely the tip of the sad, hateful iceberg that moved through Cville on that day.
One part of this day that has not been widely shared is that just before 2:00pm on August 12th hundreds of counter-protestors, myself included, had gathered and were marching peacefully, celebrating because we thought we had run the last of the Nazis out of our town. The moment mimicked Hollywood war victory scenes as did the collective energy. Chants of “Whose streets? Our streets!” reverberated and people were filled with a sense of hope and relief. It was during this moment of optimism and shared joy that our empowered chants were replaced by a series of horrific pops. Bodies flew up in the air. Screams of terror replaced the chants. My partner and I fled in a panic but many stayed and courageously rendered much needed aid. Our bodies could not handle any more trauma that day and my heart and gratitude goes out to every one of those brave people.
Now it is my turn to render aid to our community. I am in the privileged position of running a nonprofit, Common Ground Healing Arts that offers trauma support through acupuncture, massage, yoga and meditation. These services are often seen as a luxury but every day I witness a level of healing that is not found in western medicine alone. My own personal healing experiences with these modalities have been inexplicably profound.
In the days following the domestic terrorist act, symptoms of trauma began unfolding in my mind and body. They have shown up in a variety of forms: intense unproductive anger, deep hateful feelings, flashbacks, muscle tension, sudden tears, extreme lack of focus and exaggerated startle response to noises.
I immediately sought (and continue seeking) support through acupuncture and various types of bodywork, in conjunction with counseling from one of our partner agencies. The results have been a game changer. I have felt relief in all areas and the hate, unproductive anger and flashbacks have disappeared altogether. This relief has given me the passion and energy to mobilize Charlottesville’s healing community for immediate action because everyone deserves to feel the trauma relief I have felt.
My community has been plagued with trauma, grief and merited, valid outrage. Common Ground’s experienced practitioners, ability to coordinate, reputation in the community, and peaceful space create an optimal combination of the skills and environment needed for healing. This is important for the lives of the individuals, and so that as a community we can transform this pain into meaningful action to fight racism in the many masks it wears. The missing piece is the financial resources to offer these services in a sustainable way. Our healing practitioners are currently offering their services for free to as many people as they can, but the need is far greater than what they can afford to do for free.
It is my dream to offer our trauma-relieving services not only on a Pay-What-You-Can range that we currently offer, but with the extremely important asterisk added that *NOBODY WILL BE TURNED AWAY FOR INABILITY TO PAY until there is not one person seeking services because of trauma and fear inflicted upon them by the events of August 12th.
I am asking for your financial support so that nobody will be turned away from our services for inability to pay. Your donations will go into a fund specifically created to support individuals experiencing pain and trauma related to the weekend of August 12th. We are not in the business of comparing traumas or policing income. Trauma and ability to pay will be self defined. We trust our neighbors; our experience with our current Pay-What-You-Can ranges has taught us that this works. Trust works. It occasionally looks miraculous; and it works.
Please let me know if you have any other questions, and thank you for considering.
Executive Director, Common Ground Healing Arts
PS: If checks are your preferred method of donation, please send to:
Common Ground Healing Arts
233 4th St NW
Charlottesville, VA 22903