Yesterday evening, September 25th, marked the first “unveiling” of the work-in-progress support center: “A place of our own”. The Eating Disorder Foundation, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado, has been providing education and support for those affected by eating disorders and their families since 2005. Now, in February 2012, the EDF will open a state-of-the-art support center where people struggling with eating disorders and presenting with varying degrees of recovery can come and hang out in a safe place. “A place of our own” will be the first of its kind in the nation and is blazing the trail for increased advocacy, education, and awareness in eating disorder treatment and recovery.
I have been volunteering with the EDF for the past two and a half years, participating in projects such as educational presentations in schools and organizing outreach events, but most of my time has been spent in facilitating the weekly ANAD support group for those struggling with eating disorders (Tuesdays, 6:30-8pm; free. Contact me for more information). Through this group, I have been honored to be invited into the lives of the members in an intimate and supportive way, and I have developed deep relationships with group members as well as other volunteers involved with the foundation. Toni Saiber, the founder of EDF, has tirelessly put the word out about the need for attention and education towards eating disorder recovery. She and the 300 people who attended the fundraiser yesterday evening plus other supporters are saving lives every day.
Are you a professional or someone with interest in volunteering with the Eating Disorder Foundation? We need volunteers at our new support center! We are looking for facilitators to help out with a plethora of new groups and classes: you could facilitate and educational class or a movement group, you could run a support group, conduct a workshop, present a town hall meeting, or lead a recreational activity. The purpose of the support center is to “help people integrate what they learn into their everyday lives, thus increasing the chances for longterm change.” By giving to others, our lives are forever touched and changed.
Classes and groups are not meant as treatment, but as resources to help build resiliency and skills to support recovery. “A place of our own” will be a place where people can come and hang out, with no expectations or pressure – something that is often foreign in the world that eating disorders create. It is a safe place where you will not be judged for who you are or where you are on your journey towards recovery. It is a positive, healthy space where members can inspire and encourage one another. When I think about this idea, my heart skips a beat. Though eating disorders are increasing in numbers, variety, and severity, having a place like the EDF’s support center is going to battle those numbers and provide acceptance and hope in a world where there can be so much pain.
As the gold and red autumn leaves were falling around the new support center yesterday evening, I had a vision of what will be going on in that very space just six months from now. There will be people hanging out in the garden, reading books. They might be quietly discussing tools for healthy mind and healthy body. A yoga class will be in session upstairs in the group room. There will be volunteers on hand to guide a person away from harm and towards recovery. Or, they will just sit and be with themselves. Sometimes, just being present in the moment and appreciating its gifts is all that is needed.
The Eating Disorder Foundation is offering those who struggle with eating disorders a helping hand. You are not alone. I am so inspired by the work and vision of the EDF, and by those who will use this space as a gateway to their own recovery.
For more information about “A place of our own” and how you can help, go to www.eatingdisorderfoundation.org.