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Flourish Foundation ‘Invites You to Step Into Your Vulnerability’
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Wednesday, August 24, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Jasmine Santacruz joined Flourish Foundation’s Compassionate Leaders just a year ago. But, she says, it’s already laid out a “phenomenal” path for her as she kicks off her senior year at Wood River High School and looks beyond to college.

“I’ve learned kindness, making others happy and always offering myself on behalf of others. “And I’ve learned about vulnerability—that opening myself up to others who are dong likewise shows that I’m  not alone, that I’m not the only one struggling. It shows the human connection.”

Santacruz was among a hundred men, women and youth who turned out Monday for Flourish Foundation’s ninth annual fundraising luncheon at Ketchum’s Limelight Hotel.

They learned from founder Ryan Redman how Flourish Foundation cultivates self-awareness and environmental consciousness among youth.

Compassionate Leaders designed for high school youth is one way that happens.

Santacruz accompanied a dozen Compassionate Leaders to South Africa this year where they picked up garbage at the beach, painted playgrounds in parks and schools, refurbished a classroom and explored commonalities with South African students.

They also visited an elephant park where Santacruz got to see her favorite zebras—her favorite animals. And they attended a national arts festival where they were able to load upon presents for family and friends since everything was so inexpensive.

“I was genuinely the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,” Santacruz said, beaming. “The people there all have big smiles on their faces. They looked me in the eyes as we talked. They asked about my family and they genuinely cared about what I had to say.”

Marjolaine Renfro, a Ketchum artist who began facilitating mindful awareness sessions five years ago, described how she engaged her 15-year-old grandson and his friend in a game of In the Ring—an  interactive card game put out by Flourish Foundation.

“It’s a game about boldly stepping into a radical honesty,” she said. “I was blown away by how brutally honest the kids were.”

Renfro said she tried the game out on adult friends and watched how one man read his card, reached into his pocket, pulled out his cell phone and texted a few words.

“The card had asked him to text the most difficult person in his life,” Renfro recounted. “And he did that, texting his mother who had been in prison most of his life.”

“Flourish Foundation invites you to step into your vulnerability,” she said. Then she proved it by dancing on the stage—something her shy self could never have done years earlier.

“This is flourish!” she said.

Noah Koski, who co-chairs Compassionate Leaders, called it an intentional community of young people who get together to explore self-awareness and engage in community. More than 270 youngsters have taken part in the program so far. Those currently enrolled have powerful conversations on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons in Flourish Foundation’s office near the airport while others are commuting home, he said.

Bridgette Silva, a senior at Sun Valley Community School, said she has enjoyed practicing mindfulness and exploring various values like lovingkindness, ethics and wisdom.

“The theme this year is happiness. I’m not sure what the secret to happiness is. But I want to learn to be live more thoughtfully.  Being kind makes me better because it makes others’ day and makes me feel better, too.”

Nora Blamires, who is heading to Trinity College in Connecticut, said she has liked the emphasis on community involvement.

“We did a lot of volunteer projects, like shoveling people’s driveways without them knowing,” she said.

By the time the luncheon was over dozens had raised their paddles in support of Flourish Foundation with one supporter offering a matching grant of $10,000 and Harry Dreyfuss putting on an entertaining show as the emcee.

Santacruz said she hopes to study politics and economics in college, possibly with a career in international relations in mind. She hopes to get a soccer scholarship to help her do that. In the meantime, she’ll keep looking forward to those Tuesday afternoon Compassionate Leader gatherings.

“I look forward to Tuesday because it gives me a chance to work towards what I want to be. I’ve learned compassion. I’ve learned to listen with open ears and open heart. I’ve learned to prioritize what’s important to me, and I’ve learned to love myself,” she said.

“Life is so beautiful. It shouldn’t be taken for granted. A beautiful sunset, a cold shower after working out—there’s so much to be grateful for.”

BY THE NUMBERS

Flourish Foundation supported 45 Compassionate Leaders and 20 Compassionate Leader alumni with weekly in-person meetings this past year.

Compassionate Leaders contributed 1,568 volunteer hours toward clearing 19.5 miles of trail in the Frank Church, Sawtooth and White Clouds Wilderness areas.

Flourish Foundation provided 130 hours of free adult enrichment classes on human values, yoga, meditation and mindful birthing.

It served more than 2,000 people through its online library of guided meditations.

And it completed its first 25-week Mindful Awareness Digital Course for students and families.

The Foundation offers mindfulness classes in every public school in Blaine County, as well as Sun Valley Community School, Sage School, and Syringa Mountain School.

 

 

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