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Donations help Shuswap’s U-Grow Girl host first retreat for survivors of childhood sexual abuse

Seven Survivors were able to take part in free event
Leha Marshall and Crystal Wood of U-Grow Girl, and Kailee Amlin, Lindsay Wong and Gena Ginn of Shuswap Cider Co., collaborated on a fundraiser that involved partial sales from a haskap cider to support a retreat for women survivors of sexual abuse. (File photo)

For the past few years, Crystal Wood and sister-in-law Leha Marshall have been focused on the goal of providing a free healing retreat for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

The duo behind U-Grow Girl were recently able to offer their first retreat, thanks in part to donations from businesses and community groups. Among them, was a recent donation of $3,800 from the Shuswap Rotary Club. A post acknowledging donors on U-Grow Girl’s Facebook page states the donated funding helped gift seven survivors free attendance at the Time To Heal Retreat held Oct. 19-23 in Sorrento that included accommodation and transportation, meals, eight holistic practitioners, a clinical director (psychologist), equine-assisted therapy, hours of holistic healing classes and a survivor support group.

“The gift you have given to us and to the beautiful survivors who attended is truly PRICELESS. They now have their own Tribe of Warrior Women to Support one another in their Healing Journeys. And we can’t Thank You enough,” reads the post.

In a follow-up post, Wood and Marshall describe the magic that happened at the first retreat with one word: love.

“We planned for amazing education classes that would shift a survivor’s perspective to give them freedom.

“We planned for somatic movement classes so our participants could learn how to release trauma stored in their bodies. We planned for Equine Assisted Therapy so the magic intuition of the horses could shed light on hidden emotions. We planned to spoil these courageous survivors rotten with amazing food, and foot massages so they felt cared for and supported… What we could not have planned for was the love.

“7 Survivors and 5 team members came together and created a safe space where vulnerability was welcomed, where love was at the root of every conversation, and where courage was supported so true breakthroughs and transformations could happen.”

U-Grow Girl is a family-run flower farm in Grandview Bench that sells fresh and dried bouquets, wedding floral arrangements, seasonal, artisan gifts and other items. It is also a community contribution company that dedicates 60 per cent of its profits to funding the Time to Heal retreat for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Wood herself is a Survivor. She said the idea for Time to Heal was inspired by a free outdoors-oriented therapeutic retreat she took part in in the U.S.

“I realized this is what we need to replicate,” Wood told the Observer in an October 2020 interview. “That’s why, when I got back, I made it really clear to the family, if we’re going to do this venture, it needs to be a gift from us to survivors, they need to be attending free of charge.”

Wood and Marshall have questioned many times if they could do what they set out to accomplish.

“And just like that, after five days with these incredible women, we know all the hard work and sacrifice was worth it,” they said. “Our family gave it our all and we had the most amazing supporters stand with us and share their time and their dollars to help us achieve our goal.”

Read more: Shuswap farmers aim to grow healing retreat for childhood sexual abuse survivors

Read more: Shuswap Cider Company and U Grow Girl form fruitful partnership

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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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