Keene Creative Healing Connections (CHC) held an arts retreat for local women veterans last week at Wiawaka Holiday House in Lake George. Fran Yardley of Middle Saranac Lake, who was the retreat leader and is CHC’s co-founder said, “We had an astounding experience.”
The veterans ranged in age from 28 to 73 and came from all over New York as well as one who drove up from Virginia. The military branches represented were Army, Air Force and Navy.
Half the women had attended one of CHC’s retreats before and half were new to CHC.
Helen Demong of Saranac Lake is co-leading a sold-out second retreat this week, with Wanda Burch of Fultonville.
Yardley described a workshop she led with Burch and Peggy Lynn of Red Creek.
“It was a Story/Song/Dream workshop,” she said. “I first told a story about masks that became a root image for us all to latch hold of. I then had them take the images that came up for them and talk to a partner about something from their own lives. Then Peggy led them through the creation of a zipper song in which they inserted words that were meaningful to them. Then Wanda introduced them to some concepts about dreams and led the group through some exercises.”
Yardley noted that the experience turned out to be deeply transformative for one particular individual and it was with the help of everyone in the room.
On the last morning, each new vet received the gift of a handmade quilt from Quilts of Valor.
“They said it was like Christmas,” said Yardley. “I am renewed in my awe of how this retreat affects this population of women. They are deeply in need of a safe place where they can tell their untold stories and make bonds with other women vets. Our model works well.”
The next CHC retreat is for women with cancer and other chronic illnesses and takes place from Sept. 21-23 at Great Camp Sagamore. Ample scholarship funds are available. Those scholarship funds are raised through an annual benefit, the Mad Hatters Ball, which will take place at Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid on Thursday, March 21, 2013.
To inquire about attending a retreat or contributing to the scholarship fund please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 390-3899.