Jenniffer Truitt, MSOT

Jenniffer Truitt, MSOT

Jenniffer Truitt, MSOT

Jenniffer Truitt attended the first WOW program in 1996, at age 11. Jenniffer has been very active with WOW. As the Community Outreach Coordinator she has made presentations throughout the community. Jenniffer has also created and produced educational materials. She is a member of We Survive’s Board of Directors.

Jenniffer completed her Masters Degree of Science in Occupation Therapy. Jenniffer connects easily with children and has spent years working with children and adult programming, structuring activities to be fun and engaging allowing for Creative Expression.

As a Certified Personal Trainer, Jenniffer combines her expertise to motivate, set goals and provide feedback and accountability to participants while providing fitness assessments.

Jenniffers’s Interest in WOW from its Beginning

“My interest in this program was peaked easily and I am now enthusiastically looking forward to its advancement. Let me explain why I think this is a vital program in the tweens, teen and twenties arena.

My childhood was somewhat unsettled due to frequent moves; as a result we ended up in Wayside Christian Mission. I was probably about six when first introduced to the Mission. We, my siblings and I, were later taken in by other families, but my Mother continued to frequent Wayside. On one of my return visits when I was about 10 or 11, I remember being entertained by young clowns. This has become one of my most secure and happy memories of the Mission. I believe this group of clowns was the first group of WOW Girlz when WOW was first presented to Wayside. The clown’s mission: make the young girls feel more secure, adapt to Wayside, and provide healthful information – mission accomplished.

After attending nursing school I realized again how important it is to me that young girls know there are people that truly care about them and their concerns. The clowns were a small thing that made a huge impact on the way I felt and reacted that day. That is why I have become part of the WOW team.”

JennifferPhotoTrain

Marlene Will, Ed.D.

Marlene Will, Ed.D.

Marlene Will, Ed.D.

Wellness the Write Way Coordinator

Dr. Marlene Will is an educator and author who has taught at Spalding University since 1978 in the Department of Mathematics and Science.

Besides presenting workshops on problem solving skills and using humor in the workplace, Marlene has published numerous professional articles.

Marlene (on left) with Sharon Cecil

Marlene (on left) with Sharon Cecil

Marlene was part of the organizing of We Survive from the very beginning.  There was a lot of research that needed to be done and plans to be made.  In order to get We Survive recognized within the community, Marlene fulfilled speaking engagements at community businesses and organizations, appeared on TV and did radio interviews.

When WOW was created in 1996, Marlene began working on coordinating intergenerational programs and projects.  Many of these projects included writing and working with media.

In 2002, Marlene became the Wellness the Write Way Coordinator.  This program introduced journaling as a wellness and productivity tool.  Participants were encouraged to do purposeful personal writing to help improve their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well being through reflection.  This was a cost-effective tool that can be added to a person healthful toolbox.

In 2003, Marlene created WOW Daughterz.  Having had breast cancer and the mother of two daughters, Marlene wanted there to be a forum for young women to share their thoughts and feelings.  The objective was that no young women ever feel alone after their mother, grandmother, aunt or friend is diagnosed with breast cancer.  These meetings were held monthly at the WOW Resource Center housed within the Jefferson Community College Women’s Center for Growth and Leadership.

Together, Marlene and Sharon Cecil have published numerous workbooks that help people to get in touch with thoughts and feelings while tapping into their inner most energy releasing their own creative expression. Marlene combines her expertise to motivate, set goals and provide feedback and accountability to participants while providing creative ways to express grief.

Marlene has conducted research on learning styles, and has published numerous professional articles.  She has been a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist since 2002.

Sharon Cecil

Sharon Cecil

Sharon Cecil

Co-founder We Survive
Current Executive Director

Sharon Cecil is a registered nurse with a degree in art. Since 1994, she’s put her combined education to work co-founding and creating intergenerational wellness presentations and events as the Executive Director of We Survive, Inc., a non-profit organization.

With over 40 years in healthcare, Sharon is dedicated to creating motivational and inspirational programming focusing on health and wellness.

As a breast cancer survivor and registered nurse (with a specialty in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing), Sharon knows we all face adversity. In 1996, Sharon started the WOW Program, dedicated to providing educational programming through intergenerational mentoring and creative expression.

Rising from the ashes of a “dysfunctional family,” Sharon focuses on providing information that heightens awareness, educates, and advocates. Her motivational and inspirational talks, seminars and workshops encourage people to laugh and “lighten up.” They share a common theme: maintain a positive attitude when faced with adversity.

As a 1996 Olympic Torchbearer, Sharon carries the “Power of the Dream…deep within her heart” each and every day.SharonWithTorch

Since carrying the Olympic Torch, in 1996, Sharon has had a passionate goal of helping youth realize “The Power of the Dream,”.—the theme song from the 1996 Olympics.

Through life experiences, Sharon and Marlene Will realized the importance of nutrition, physical health, and a positive mental outlook—the Mind, Body, Spirit connection.  These are areas addressed by the WOW and Creative Expression programs. Both programs advocate the position that the more a person knows about him or her self, the better prepared he/she will be to face any problems that may develop in his/her life.  Combining art and writing, Sharon believes that expressing yourself creatively offers good health and healing.

Beside being an educator, writer and consultant, Sharon has been a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist since 2002.

Melissa Black

Melissa Black

Melissa Black

Haven of Hope Coordinator-Envisioner

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Early in 2004, Melissa submitted a story to We Survive for the WOW Magazine—“To Live Your Life.” This story reflected on how Melissa’s dad…”inspires me to live my life to the fullest…he fought for his life and won.”

On August 10, 2004, Melissa volunteered at Media Mania held at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Media Mania was a dual Press Conference and Media Promotional event.

The WOW Team held a Press Conference introducing new initiatives to the press and then did a promotional radio talk show on “Big Talk on Small Business.” As a volunteer with the WOW Team, Melissa greeted people as they entered the conference and was a guest on Big Talk on Small Business.

From that moment on Melissa became a permanent part of the WOW Team. One aspect of WOW is training youth to facilitate writing programs and mentor on the talk show—Get in the NOW with WOW. Melissa wanted to do both.

Melissa became part of the production process for the WOW magazine and talk show. As Melissa says, “these are skills that provide tremendous advantages.”

In 2008, Melissa changed directions and wanted to see more activities at We Survive’s Corporate Headquarters. She started a campaign to garner help and gave the headquarters the name—Haven of Hope.

Melissa, a big believer in creative expression, took Moody Cecil’s vision and was able to envision what Moody wanted…”a real hands on learning lab outside of the classroom—nurturance in nature.”

The first Haven of Hope—Day of Hope—Health and Wellness Day Camp was held in the summer of 2009.

From 2009 until the present, Melissa was busy recruiting volunteers in order to expand on that first Day of Hope experience, created a logo, sought donations of materials to revitalize the old farmhouse, headed to college, got married, has a family and is the Haven of Hope Coordinator.

Melissa recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Louisville.

Moody Cecil

Moody Cecil

Moody Cecil
Visionary
Co-Founder, We Survive

Moody Cecil has been dedicated to working with youth and the vision of creating “a legacy for future generations.”

HPIM1257Sharon and Moody Cecil co-founded We Survive in 1994. Moody dedicated his homestead to be a Stewardship Forest. The homestead is now known as Haven of Hope (We Survive’s corporate headquarters) and is a Certified Stewardship Forest—a designation given by the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

Moody has been a fierce champion for both the young and old. He has an extraordinary love of nature.

One example of his gift of giving began in the fall of 1999, Moody completed a Master Gardening Course through the Jefferson County Extension Office in order to learn more about plants and garden design. Moody needed volunteer hours as part of the Mast Gardening curriculum. Someone mentioned the National Arbor Day Poster Contest. It seemed only natural for him to explore the Arbor Day information. He became the first Kentucky State Coordinator and began planning the 2000 Arbor Day National Poster Contest in September, 1999. He was the State Coordinator for five years. After he resigned, they did not find a new coordinator for quite some time. It is felt that Moody’s shoes must have been hard to fill.

HPIM0948As time passes, Moody’s memory is fading. He is losing many of the memories that he held so dear. But his desire to be around people of all ages and his love of nature still shines bright as he continues to make new memories for those of us who love his company.

What is most admired about Moody is that he continues to be a champion for causes in which he believes. This allows those of us around him to Celebrate Life.

In Pursuit of Hopes and Dreams through Creative Expression

In Pursuit of Hopes and Dreams through Creative Expression

This is a journey of 3 Wise Women and 1 Wise Guy (the Visionary) and an Envisioner

Everyone has dreams. Some dreams are forgotten, others are never forgotten but never are followed through.

You are about to go on a journey that involves:

Friendships
Families
Love
Heartaches
Happiness
HOPE

A Celebration of Life

AttitudeDuring this journey, you will get to know Sharon Cecil, Marlene Will, Jenniffer Truitt, Moody Cecil and Melissa Black. A group of people brought together through extraordinary circumstances, overcoming multiple adversities while believing in the power of a dream.

By stepping out of a comfort zone, a craft class began in 1974, where Sharon Cecil met Marlene Will. Two young mothers were seeking an opportunity to be creative while meeting new people. The class became a social network. Participants further developed their creative abilities—the sharing of ideas and making all sort of artistic craft items.

There were a few that were able to sell items through consignment. Others enjoyed the single items made during class, taking that knowledge home and creating gifts for family and friends.

The class began to include short walking trips, visiting shops along a corridor in the heart of the Highland community in Louisville. These short trips soon included lunch along with innovative conversation. The talents of each participant shared.

It was amazing the creative energy generated from a class that continued until 1988.

In 1994, Sharon and Moody Cecil co-founded We Survive. Sharon, Moody and Marlene began coordinating programming.

Jenniffer Truitt was introduced to programming created by Sharon, Marlene and Girl Scout Troop 1472 in 1996. Jenniffer was an 11-year old homeless child who just happened to be at the shelter during the first WOW Program.

As a middle school student, Melissa Black entered the picture in 2004. Melissa’s writing abilities awarded her the opportunity to be published in a magazine that was started by We Survive’s WOW team in 2000.

Creative Expression

Creative Expression

Expressing yourself creatively offers good health and healing

There are so many different approaches to mental and physical healing. Writing and the arts offer many choices for you to express yourself.  By releasing your emotions through some form of medium, you can improve your health.

Our team created a Creative Expression program that has been done in many settings over the years. Creative expression offers participants creative, innovative learning providing the opportunity to express feelings and learn new techniques to stimulate intellectual responses through art, writing and movement.  This affords the opportunity to enrich lives through learned techniques.

James Pennebaker, Ph D., is a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

He has earned honors and received grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Pennebaker has been a wonderful resource for our writing programming.

writingHealWe have referred his book “Writing to Heal: A guided journal for recovering from trauma & emotional upheaval” during programs and workshops.  This book offers an introduction to writing, health and healing along with some exercises that are applicable to a general audience.

In a Psychology Today article http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/write-yourself-well/201208/expressive-writing  Expressive Writing Published on August 15, 2012 by John F. Evans, Ed.D, it is stated that Expressive Writing is the cornerstone of wellness and writing connections. Under the “ Become Your Own Researcher” section, you can view “The Pennebaker Writing Prompt.”

Marlene Will and Sharon Cecil are available to consult with you regarding the Creative Expression programming.

We Survive’s Creative Expression uses artistic methods, especially writing.  This can lead to lower healthcare costs and increase productivity.  It helps you find yourself as an individual and connects you to the bigger picture.  Writing provides insights, brings things together, shows relationships and wholeness instead of separations.

Contact  Marlene or Sharon and schedule a consultation to see how We Survive’s Creative Expression can help you heal.

Sharon Cecil
sharon@wesurvive.org

Marlene Will

marlene@wesurvive.org

Community Service becomes a Compassionate Mission

Community Service becomes a Compassionate Mission

Community Service becomes a Compassionate Mission

We are asked to do community service for school, work, scouts and the list goes on and on. Some feel that they have to do it. When done, they move on.

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited http://lightfestreignited.info/ set the wheels in motion for numerous projects to continue—several with a new beginning. Others were a continuation of projects started.
On July 12, We Survive’s Beacon of Hope Project  broke ground for a Lighthouse to greet visitors when they enter the driveway crossing the ridge to Haven of Hope.

laurenLauren D., a high school student, was one of those people who just needed hours for her school service project.

Lauren states, “In the beginning, this service project was just another school assignment.  I had no idea what I was in for.

At first, I didn’t really know the point of the lighthouse.  After talking with Sharon Cecil, I realized the lighthouse is a symbolic representation of hope that children will first see when they drive up to Haven of Hope.  The lighthouse will be turned on when they first come in for the day and then turned off when they leave.

I hope this lighthouse I build for them will be something they will remember when they leave and that it helps put a smile on their face.  I love being able to make people happy.  Life can sometimes be rough and the last thing anyone would want to lose is hope.

I believe the lighthouse will inspire these children to keep moving forward even in times of hardship. I love that the children will be able to experience nature and a sense of peace when they look back on this memory of a Day of Hope at Haven of Hope.

I am hoping that by building this lighthouse, I can help children and their families remember this experience because of the light that shines bright in their hearts that day, just as the lighthouse will shine.”

When youth become so dedicated with their Hopes and Dreams, it takes the focus off of the negative stereotyping that is placed on youth through societal views. Therefore shining a Light of HOPE on their positive efforts—there is HOPE for future generations.lighthouse

Some of the thoughts the youth have conveyed about societal views toward them—young people today are seen as knife or gun wielding, trouble making and lazy. Or they are depicted as being from an affluent family, going to private school and are drug-taking soon to be school dropouts who are a disappointment to their friends and family.

Having worked with youth over 40 years, I continue to see amazing results no matter where they live or the circumstances that they face. When given a task that is on target with their passion, a young person is all about getting it done.

I am reminded of Erin Gruwell’s story “Freedom Writers.” Some years ago, we were able to interview Erin. She is a remarkable woman with an INCREDIBLE story that anyone who works with youth should see the movie or read the book.

 

Sharon Cecil: A True Story

Sharon Cecil: A True Story

 

On May 16, 1990, I was scheduled for a biopsy. Biopsy is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as “the study of tissue taken from a living person or organism”. What events lead up to a day that felt like the plot for a horror movie? This couldn’t be happening to me. I was too busy. after all, I’d always heard “life at 40”. Plus, I was going to graduate from nursing school in a few days and my daughter was going to graduate from high school in a few days and turn 18 in a couple of weeks. My husband and I were making plans for a wonderful celebration. Our lives were moving full stream ahead.

The Beginning

On January 15, 1990, I found a lump in my breast. It felt like a large, egg shaped knot in the lower quadrant of my breast. I had always done my monthly breast self-exam (BSE). This was not my idea of a Happy New Year gift. The lump scared me. I needed to call my doctor. it was not regular doctor office hours when I found this lump that was invading my privacy. I called the office anyway. I was told to call back in the morning. I call the office first thing the next morning.

A mammogram was ordered for January 30. Those days of waiting before I could have the mammogram were difficult. I had so many questions. I could not understand why I had to wait so long so have this lump checked. I didn’t understand why I hadn’t noticed this lump sooner. How could it be there now and not feel anything the month before? If it is breast cancer, will I die? The questions kept eating at me.

The results of my mammogram were excellent according to my OB/GYN and internist. “Nothing to be concerned about.” So I decided I needed to get back to business as usual. I need to stop feeling like my body has been invaded. Or worse yet, that my body was failing me. Yet, once a month, I was reminded that the lump was still there. February, March, and April proved that this “nothing to be concerned about” lump was becoming more tender and larger. This just didn’t feel right emotionally or physically. The question kept hitting me in the gut, “If this is breast cancer, will I die?”

I began to ask other people questions. I talked with a couple of my nursing instructors and friends who were nurses. I was reminded that I had no predisposing factors. I was told that:

Cancer lumps are not painful
40 is too young for breast cancer
You breast fed your child-that’s good
The list went on and on. This all sounded like what I wanted and needed to hear. Then, why did I continue to have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach?

The Middle

In May, I was scheduled for another mammogram. Again, it showed nothing. I was scheduled for a biopsy and on May 16, I was told that I had breast cancer. On May 21, I had a modified radical mastectomy with lymph node dissection (this is where some lymph nodes are removed and examined so the doctors can stage the cancer and determine treatment). Great, now I’m being amputated and dissected.

My first thoughts were about my family. I didn’t want to leave my beautiful, wonderful, loving family. I was so afraid of dying. I was being drafted into war I did not want to fight. I started comparing myself to the young men who had been drafted into the Vietnam War. The emotions ran rampant. Different doctors had different recommendations, one of which was to see an oncologist. At this moment in time, my biggest concern was the legacy (having been taught and told this disease runs in families), I would be leaving my daughter….Breast Cancer.

And we’re off…now I felt I was in a race for time. I started Chemotherapy. It felt as if a day didn’t go by that I was in a doctor’s office. Some weeks, I would see up to three different doctors. The months drug by slowly. I was still working as much as possible and I was completing my last semester of nursing school.

The End

In December, 1990, I finished nursing school and my chemotherapy on the same day.

I decided to stop and take some time to reflect on the past year. I did see my daughter go to her senior prom, graduate from high school and celebrate her 18th birthday. I realized how grateful I was. Now more than ever, I realized positive thoughts would create positive experiences. How could I relay these gratitude’s. I realized the spoken word is very powerful. I had a lot of realization going through me.

In 1991 I passed my state boards and I am a real nurse (R.N.)

In March, 1991, I made my first public appearance speaking on gratitude and attitude. I had buttons made to say “HANG ON TO A GOOD ATTITUDE”. Later that year, I had cards printed that read “Shar’n my gratitude with a gift of a gold ATTITUDE”. Attached to these cards was a gold attitude pin. Then I began volunteering for cancer organizations throughout the community. I was the BSE (breast self-exam) program coordinator for the American Cancer Society for several years.

In 1994, We Survive, Inc. was born. Women Offering Wisdom (WOW), a division of We Survive, was created. WOW is an inter-generational education program promoting communication between younger and older women. Its focus is to educate younger women-ranging in age from puberty to early childhood-on ways to develop and maintain healthy lifestyles.

Through my experiences in life, I realized the importance of nutrition, physical health, and a positive mental outlook. These are areas addressed with the WOW program. Advocating the position that the more young women know about their bodies, the better prepared they will be to face any problems that may develop later in their lives. The WOW program incorporates breast self-exam into its program.

In 1998, I continue to speak publicly, my family is wonderful, and my life is moving full stream ahead.

We Survive A true Story

Breast cancer from a 17 year old’s perspective

On May 16,1990, my mother was told she had breast cancer. All I knew was “cancer means death,” isn’t that what everyone thinks?

This was a time when plans were being made. Most immediately, I was getting ready for my prom on May 18. My mom and I had already been shopping for my dress, my shoes and all the things that I needed. But, there were nails, hair and all the other stuff that goes with getting ready that needed to be done.

Then, there was graduation. Graduation was suppose to be one of the most exciting times of my life. There was going to be a graduation party. People coming over to the house to just say “hi”.

Plus, I was about to turn that magical 18 on May 29. Although, I’m not sure why it was suppose to be magical. It just was. I was really looking forward to having a party.

Did I mention my mom was going to graduate, too? She was finishing nursing school. There was going to be this grand old bash.

As you can see, this was suppose to be the best of times. Do you remember my first sentence on this page?

Cancer changed everything. All I could feel was scared. I felt as if this was unfair. I was cheated of having a good time. All of our plans were disrupted. Taking care of my mom was so hard. She would talk to me like I was an adult. I felt as if I couldn’t be a kid. I resented not being able to do what we had planned.

I didn’t want cancer in my life.

The cornerstone of WOW is Sharon Cecil & her daughter Michelle’s story.

WOW’s objective is no young women ever feel the way Michelle felt. WOW is an informational program and provides a vehicle of communication for young women in Michelle’s situation.