Sanctuary: Blog

We the People - a traumatized nation

Submitted by: Alexandria Connally, Vice Principal, ANDRUS Orchard School

The preamble of the United States Constitution opens with three powerful words, "We the People". This is clearly the subject of the entire document. America prides itself on being a democracy; a land of freedom. This is a land where the people can speak openly about the government. As I look through history, I question the inclusivity of the term, "We the People". In 1787, the 3/5 Compromise was created. It stated that slaves were considered only 3/5 of a white person and most slave owners considered slaves as property. It wasn't until the 13th Amendment to the Constitution that Blacks in the South would be free. The 14th Amendment gave slaves citizenship and the 15th Amendment gave them the right to vote. The 15th Amendment was not sufficient, hence the need for President Johnson's Voting Act of 1965.

Another group of individuals who were excluded from "We the People" were women who would basically had no rights until the 1970s – Women's Rights Movement. It wasn't until the 2012 election where 17 women (the maximum ever) were voted into the US Senate. I could spend hours debating the Homestead Act and the battle of Wounded Knee which terminated thousands of lives of the First Americans. In 1898, America invaded Puerto Rico and like the five other territories, they do not hold any Electoral College votes. There was the imprisoning of Japanese born Americans during WWII and the treatment of Muslim Americans after September 11th.

What I've noticed about all of these groups is that they have two identities. They are American and then there are identified by their Nationality. Do they represent America or their own culture? I've traveled internationally and I am always amazed by people's thoughts around my nationality. I've traveled to China in and the natives marveled at the color of my skin. I was treated like royalty. It was the first time in my life that I can remember being Black meant being privileged. A year or so earlier, I traveled to Rome. Most of the natives thought I was from South America. I would imagine that is because most of the darker skinned people are from Africa the color of my skin was unfamiliar to the Italians that I met. As I began to explain that I was African-American, I saw many puzzled faces. Eventually, one man responded, "So where does your allegiance fall?" Considering that I have only been to Africa once this was an easy question to answer. As the conversation continued, my friend began to explain to me that in their culture there were no sub-cultures. So if you were African decent and an Italian citizen, you were considered Italian. If your skin was light or dark, if you were African, Asian or European, it didn't matter. An individual who held citizenship in Italy was an Italian. There were no Afro-Italians, Euro-Italians, and Asian-Italians. I realized at that point that there was a clear understanding of "We the People". It is not the job of the legislation to create laws that distribute invitations to join the exclusive group of "We the People". It is the job of every individual citizen. How do we remedy this trauma? It begins with a conversation, an open-mind, and the understanding that our differences make us stronger.


Live like a King

Submitted by: Alexandria Connally, Vice Principal, ANDRUS Orchard School


On January 21st American celebrated the birth of a King. On January 16, 1920, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would grace the world with his presence. This great man would attend college at age 15, speak out against racist injustice and become known as the Father of the Civil Rights Movement. He would eventually, give his life for his cause that he believed was right and just. In my opinion, one of the most powerful statements every uttered was "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." We all know that Dr. King was committed to Non-Violence but have you ever thought about his commitment to social learning? The statement above insinuates that there should be a learning experience; an experience where individuals are taught about the similarities and differences of others. An experience that allows one to understand the thoughts, needs and desires of others before they think of the color of their skin, the sound of their accent or their religious practices. My commitment to Social Learning is not to make assumptions about people. What is yours?


Self Care for Life

Compiled by: Nechsma Alvarez, HR Assistant, ANDRUS

Self care means doing things to support your physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing. Reduce stress and feel more able to cope with whatever life throws at you. Self care can protect you against burnout in your work and your personal life and can also put you in the best position to feel healthy and thriving, and to get the most enjoyment out of life.

Taking time for self care can be very difficult, especially if you're busy or spend a lot of time looking after others. However, the better you're feeling the more able you'll be to put your energy into work, family, or other activities in your life. So this weekend try to Schedule "You" Time.

Most of us find it hard to schedule in time for ourselves with no other obligations. If we are struggling to find time to sleep, fitting in a massage may seem impossible. The wonderful thing is that "you" time is likely to leave you more energized, more emotionally grounded, and better able to face the world and its challenges. Taking time for yourself may actually support you to power through your the other tasks in your life. You may also feel more fulfilled and lively as a result. If you spend a lot of time doing for others and not engaging in self care, it's easy to start feeling drained and for resentment to creep in.

What you do during your "you" time depends on what brings you joy and relaxation. It could be painting, watching a movie, reading a book, going to a play, or taking a hot bath. It might even be taking 5 minutes to breathe and listen to your favorite song. Whatever helps you to feel supported, refreshed, and less stressed. If you haven't been doing much self care, it may take awhile to sort out what will bring you the most pleasure during your free time. The process of figuring that out can also be rewarding.

Whatever activities you choose for your "you" time; it may be helpful to schedule that time. Experiment with treating it with as much importance as a big meeting at work. It's easy to push time for self care aside if you haven't made it a priority.

New Year's Resolutions

Submitted by Joan Bender, Faculty, Sanctuary Institute


Support New Year's Resolutions with Self-Care Plans, Community Meetings and Safety Plans


It's that time of year again when we say good-bye to the past year, and look forward to the excitement and newness of the year ahead. It is a time when many of us participate in the ritual of the New Year's Resolution. As we reflect on the year that just passed, we think about all of the things that we would like to change about our lives or ourselves, and we set goals related to the changes we want to create. Often these goals involve changing our life style in some way. We commit to things like eating better, exercising, spending more time with family and friends or doing good deeds for others, just to name a few.

We start off excited about our resolutions, and share them with our family and friends. We're eager to get them going and jump in to changing our behavior full speed ahead. But if any of you are like me, in a few short weeks, you'll find yourself falling victim to your old ways, and before long you'll find that you are persecuting yourself for slacking off on your resolution.

This year, I've decided to break that reenactment, and decided that I'm going to use some of my Sanctuary tools to help me. I'm starting by revising my Self-Care Plan. Now I have my resolution written down, and I can use my Self-Care Plan to remind me. I've also kept my Self-Care Plan changes simple, and in small steps. When the brain experiences too much change, too quick, it gets stressed and wants to shift back to old behaviors. I'm hoping that by making small changes, practicing them over time and adding to them periodically, I will be more successful in maintaining those changes.

I'm also using my Safety Plan to manage any stress related to changing my behavior. I've revised my Safety Plan as well. I've added positive self talk and inspirational quotes, so that it can also be an inspirational tool, when I want to give up.

"Give up?!?!" I know, sometimes it is so hard to get motivated or maybe you're motivated, but you're just feeling really tired and worn out. You think that no one will know that you didn't exercise, or eat healthy or reach out to a friend today. That is, unless you have a structure in place to help support you. Social support is one of the greatest factors in successfully changing your behavior, and what better way to get social support than during Community Meeting. Enlist your friends or coworkers to help support you in your new year's resolutions with Community Meetings. You might even want to set up a daily Community Meeting with a group of friends or coworkers specific to your new year's resolutions and how you are all doing with them.

Happy New Year! Best wishes and much success with your resolutions. Are you using any Sanctuary tools to help you with your resolutions this year? If so, commit to social learning and share what you are doing. We'd love to hear from you.


Creating Sanctuary

Submitted by: Roy Kearse, VP of Residential Treatment, Samaritan Village


I want to tell you something that's really sensible

It's about adopting SANCTUARY and its Seven Principles.


I have suddenly got a real yearning

To increase my knowledge of social learning.


I'm also asking everyone to increase their ability

When it comes to practicing social responsibility.


You may ask, how can we do both?

Well that comes from learning and growth.


Tell the truth, don't engage in hypocrisy

Open things up by creating an environment of democracy.


Don't be resistant or practice belligerence

Learn to exercise emotional intelligence.


Open your mouth and break the silence

This is one way to promote nonviolence.


If you do this we will increase everyone's education

And hopefully this will create better communication.