Amanda Marray and Dr Giavana Jones.
The holiday season is a time for delicious food, the warmth of family, the excitement of Junkanoo, endless laughter, and the shimmering feeling of hope. But not for everyone. For too many Bahamians the holidays are an extended time of loneliness, grief and despair.
Stories of Hope aims to provide support through "Hope for the Holidays", a grief management workshop from 10am - 1pm on Saturday, December 2, at Hillside House and Art Gallery (registration is required by Thursday, November 30). For just $50, attendees will receive practical grief management tools and strategies in a safe, intimate forum led by Dr Giavana Jones, a community psychologist and therapist.
Stories of Hope is a Bahamian non-profit formed in 2016 by Dr Jones, who fondly known in the community as "Dr Gia", and social entrepreneur Amanda Marray, with the vision to bring emotional healing to all.
The organisation began as a platform to share the triumphant stories of Bahamians who have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles by using resources to develop resilience during difficult times.
"Through many years of training I've learned that it is by sharing stories that we realise that we're not alone in our circumstances," said Dr Jones. "Stories connect us to each other and motivate us to seek help when we need it so that we don't lose hope. Ultimately, Stories of Hope seeks to equip Bahamians to develop healthy emotional approaches through the ups and downs of life."
Stories of Hope achieves its mission through a variety of media, workshops and research. Already, Stories of Hope has formed a dedicated following for its inspiring talk show which can be seen on social media and YouTube. Soon, the organisation will share resources and coping mechanisms on its website, and currently has the goal of providing retreats that will impact lives. "Hope for the Holidays" is among its first private retreats.
"The holidays can be an unbelievably difficult time for those who are grieving," said Ms Marray. "What's equally as challenging is trying to find trusted, affordable, private outlets to help you work through your feelings and tackle your daily life. Hope for the Holidays offers all of this under the facilitation of trained professionals."
Dr Jones brings an extensive background of training in the field of mental wellness. Born and raised in the Bahamas, she earned both her MA and PhD in Applied Social Psychology, specialising in Community Psychology, from the University of Windsor. She also holds a MSc in Mental Health Counselling from Palm Beach Atlantic University and an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the College of St Benedict.
It is her passion for bringing healing to Bahamian families and communities that has driven her to co-found Stories of Hope. In addition to the services she provides to the community, Dr Jones is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of the Bahamas and part of the pastoral team of Epic Church Bahamas.
Ms Marray is equally passionate about providing healing for those in need. With years of business experience in banking and non-profit management, she is an expert at bringing ideas to life through research, strategy, communications and execution. Ms Marray received her undergraduate degree in Finance and Marketing at Dalhousie University and an MBA from the University of Miami.
Although there is availability still left for the retreat, spaces are limited in order to create an intimate and confidential healing environment. To reserve space, call or WhatsApp 242-825-6335 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, November 30. Registration by that date is required for participation. More information about Stories of Hope can be found at www.ourstoriesofhope.org.