Founding team members of Strong in Nature are, from left, Erin Green, Jamie Allbach, Jennirer Jenson and Izza Bello. Courtesy photo
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Strong in Nature, a relatively new local nonprofit that supports survivors of sexual violence and trauma is holding a gala evening for local women and their supporters Saturday evening in Kelly Hall at Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church. Called Leadhers Celebrate, the gala is the major fundraiser for 2020 for Strong in Nature.
Tickets for the event are $50 each or $300 for a table for eight and can be bought online at stronginnature.org or at Pig + Fig Café which is catering the food and wine pairings. The evening goes from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and includes a live auction with auctioneer Kristi Ortega as well as a silent auction. Items offered for bid include a ski trip to Tahoe, a guided tour of Charleston and a dinner prepared in your own home by Chef Laura Crucet.
Jennifer Jenson is the community education programmer for Strong in Nature. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
Jennifer Jenson, the nonprofit’s community education programmer, spoke with the Los Alamos Reporter Wednesday about the organization which although established just last July has had strong support and collaboration within the community.
Strong in Nature was started by executive director Jamie Allbach, Erin Green runs the organization’s website and Izza Bello runs the outdoor programming.
“Our founder, Jamie, has her own history and her own story to tell. Part of our mission at Strong in Nature is to speak our own truth. That’s one of our values. So I don’t speak on my teammates experiences but I do speak on my own,” Jenson said. “Jamie found a lot of healing in nature from her own trauma and she wanted to be able to bring that to other survivors as another part of their own healing journey and she found that nature was one of those key components for her.”
When Allbach moved to Los Alamos Jenson said she found the outdoors was so accessible and she got this idea to create nature programs for local survivors. The group works to facilitate that and to make the outdoors accessible for everybody around them. Just seven months later, they are preparing for their first season – operating out of Northern New Mexico – where they do their outdoor adventure programming mostly in the Jemez Mountains and the Santa Fe National Forest.
“We are not certified therapists at all but we are a survivor-lead team so we are survivors empowering other survivors,” Jenson said. “We have men’s and women’s programming this year and we are hoping to continue to develop all types of programming to fit all types of survivors – LGBTQ, non-binary, and veterans – and we’re hoping to be working towards adding those over the next five years and adding in more programs,” Jenson said.
She said there were no plans to do a men’s programming this year.
“When we started becoming more public and out there discussing who we are and what we do, we started getting feedback and there were men who were interested in some type of program for them. We were able to find two male-identifying guys to run our men’s programming. Ryan Ramaker is the men’s program outdoor guide,” Jenson said.
Ryan Ramaker is the outdoors guide of the Strong in Nature men’s program. Courtesy photo
She said right now, most people are hearing Strong in Nature through person-to-person contact.
“We get referrals from some of the mental health professionals here in town. We do community education so we have been in the high school doing healthy relationships and bystander intervention once a semester in the health classes for juniors and seniors. We are also working with JJAB and Family Strengths Network and hoping to something with UNM-LA,” she said,
Jenson stressed that the group‘s work is not a treatment plan, but part of someone’s healing journey. She said the positive response in the community has helped the organization’s group grow quickly and noted that they operate off grants and donations. Seek Outside in Colorado provides the outdoor gear.
The mother of five daughters, Jenson who is divorced, said she was a stay-at-home mom for her entire 14-year marriage so getting back into the workplace has been a really interesting for her. She said she has been a student for the past four years. She said when she got involved, she was thinking she would just do it for a couple of weeks and then someone else would come on board who knew what they were doing better.
“I’m still here,” she said.
“We are all trauma informed, We feel it’s very important that we have the right kind of training and we are continually seeking new forms of training so that we can best serve our population,” Jenson said. “We want people to know who we are so that they can direct survivors to us,” Jenson said.
For more information on Strong in Nature or to obtain tickets for Saturday’s gala, call (509) 572-4126 or go to stronginnature.org