Over the past year, Dianna has worked alongside Sanctuary for Families’ Survivor Leaders to create the first trauma-informed, strength training program -an innovative treatment modality focused on healing from trauma. When the program started, the goal was to see whether strength training and weightlifting could help survivors connect with their bodies, reclaim their power, and heal from trauma and PTSD.
Before committing her time to Sanctuary, Dianna worked for over 25 years within the fitness industry. She created Her Strength, a program dedicated to promoting the benefits of strength training for women over the age of 50. As a long time supporter of Sanctuary, Dianna hosted an annual event, Women of Strength, where money was raised in support of Sanctuary.
Having already done so much for Sanctuary, Dianna reached out with an idea to create a wellness program for Sanctuary clients that could utilize both her skills as a fitness instructor and connections across the city. Sanctuary’s team of Survivor Leaders had just created a committee to focus on its very own Wellness Project, so Dianna connecting with Sanctuary at that moment seemed meant to be!
Dianna collaborated with Sanctuary and mobilized a team of fitness instructors to help create the trauma-informed program, and offered six weeks of free sessions to Sanctuary’s Survivor Leaders. The Survivor Leaders Institute is an innovative program that trains former Sanctuary clients, who have been out of their abusive situations for approximately one year, to provide information about gender-based violence to the community. Survivor Leaders are living examples of how victims can recover their health, power, and self-esteem through seeking help and supporting one another.
While creating the program, Dianna understood the collaborative process and valued everyone within the project.
“I think one of Dianna’s greatest strengths is that she truly sees survivors as equals and values their voices. As gender-based violence is rooted in the abuse of power and control, it was imperative that this project centered on shared power, collective decision-making and co-creation, and Dianna got it.” — Shobana Powell, LCSW, Director, Survivor Leadership Program.
Shobana Powell was delighted to honor Dianna for all of her work this year.“Dianna should be recognized because she is the perfect combination of empathy and excellence. Because she values our clients and our mission and because of who she is as a person, she showed up 100% in every single way. Dianna was such an amazing volunteer to work with because no task was too small nor too big for her to take on, and yet, with all of her passion and tenacity, she managed to have great patience and grace in meeting each survivor where they were, never expecting anyone to move at her pace, but empowering them to move at their own. Her humility and humanity were beautiful to see.”
Carmen, one of the participants in the program, reflected on her time with Dianna and wrote,
“During one of our sessions I made a comment, in passing, about the fact that survivors are more than an incident in a lifetime of experiences and she got it. She not only got it, but weeks later, when I had forgotten the conversation she said something after the fundraiser she did that showed me that she had not only heard me, but had been thinking about it and was preaching it loudly and clearly to the uninitiated.”
Working with Dianna has filled everyone with light, positivity, and restoration.
We thank Dianna for her amazing commitment to Sanctuary’s staff and Survivor Leaders! Her impact reaches far beyond what can be captured in words.