Reflecting on the Join the Journey Conference 2023

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As we begin 2024, the New York State Trauma-Informed Network and Resource Center (NYSTINRC) would like to reflect on memorable moments from our first in-person annual trauma-informed network conference: Join the Journey!

Hosted at the Fort William Henry Hotel and Conference Center in Lake George, NY, special guest speakers, frontline workers, educators, human service workers, trauma champions, and more from across New York State gathered from November 1-3, 2023.

Join the Journey was a fantastic networking event; we welcomed everyone into a safe space with open arms to learn more about trauma-informed practices, policies, and implementation. Together, we made connections, learned about ourselves, and grew more resilient through the words of our featured speakers and storytellers.

 Through our collective knowledge, experience, and community, we hope all participants from this year’s Join the Journey Conference can resonate with and use new trauma-informed techniques in everyday life.

The Power of Storytelling

We were honored to hear from our diverse panels of storytellers and speakers who brought their unique perspectives to the conference. Our inspirational speakers shared glimpses of their trauma-informed journeys and the critical role that trauma-informed practices play in their lives. While each storyteller painted a different picture, they all shared a common brushstroke – the energy within themselves to move forward is powerful.

 In guest speaker Adair Finucane’s reflection on her experience at Join the Journey, The Stardust Revolution,” she reminds me of an important point. No matter what we’ve been through, all of our stories matter.

“She reminded me that, like hers and yours, my story matters. I deserve the gentleness that I offer others.” Adair Finucane

We learned about the power of community, too. Asking for help and trusting others is challenging but imperative to everyone’s healing journey. Practicing vulnerability and being open pushes us to live with and heal from our trauma.

We experienced a genuine connection through our vulnerability to try new things. The power of connection is extraordinary because words aren’t always necessary. Join the Journey’s wellness workshops taught us to listen and communicate with ourselves without talking. Dozens of attendees carried us away in deep drumming, everyone’s energy resonating with each other. Without verbal communication, the drum circle created a vivid, beautiful rhythm that connected all of us. The energy harnessed at Join the Journey was raw, emotional, and eye-opening.

Join the Journey Hosted Trail-Blazing Speakers and Storytellers, Including: 

Cendie Stanford, Day 1 Featured Speaker, CEO, ACEs Matter, Corp.

Adair Finucane, Healer and Wellness Coach

Billy Gamble, Mental Health Advocate

Bouakham Rosetti, Senior Project Manager and Regional TICN Program Director at CCN

Cathy Cave, Principle Consultant, Inspired Vision & Senior Consultant at National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Mental Health

Melanie Funchess, CEO and Principal at Ubuntu Village Works LLC

Michelle Sperlich, Faculty Member at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work

Julika Von Stackelberg, Family & Community Resilience Educator at Cornell Cooperation Extension Orange County

Brittny Ellington, Founding Executive Director of The Crow HEAL Project, INC. Founder & CEO of The Daughter House Project  

Join the Journey Participants Attended Powerful Workshops, Including:

TIC on a BUDGET – Transforming Does Not Have to Be Expensive

Presented by the YMCA of Rochester and Monroe County, Candyce Singletary, Carrie Michel-Wynne, and Gloria Hall explained how creating trauma-responsible communities doesn’t require a considerable investment. Transformation happens with good leadership and inclusive contributions, not financial investments. 

Healing Practices For Emotional Hygiene and Energy Movement

This immersive, hands-on workshop, presented by Liane Benedict of Oswego County BOCES, presented several healing arts practices. These practices help implement self-care practices and strategies. Through various healing arts practices, attendees learned new ways to support their well-being. 

Frontline Workers Roundtable

How did COVID-19 impact the workplace? Through a discussion of workplace burnout and trauma-responsive practices, organizations learned to begin implementing trauma-responsive practices for frontline workers.

 Working Together to be Trauma-Informed

Join the Journey emphasized the importance of trauma-informed practices in schools and healthcare facilities to assist educators, frontline workers, and other professionals in using and integrating trauma-informed practices and policies in their work.

 Our roundtable workshops allowed us to explore and discuss the different journeys, challenges, and barriers with trauma-responsive practices in schools and healthcare facilities, with the community at the heart of trauma-informed care.

 Overall, attendees were able to connect with a variety of panelists to get expert knowledge.

 Self-Care and Personal Wellness

After focusing on trauma-informed principles for our careers and organizations, we also began to learn about ourselves. Through morning yoga, Breath-Body-Mind sessions, salsa dancing, coloring, and drum circles, we all got to dig deeper and discover how trauma-informed care and practices can be fun while significantly influencing and impacting our lives.

 Building Our Trauma-Informed Tool Kit for Future Generations

Even though we are all experiencing different lives, we can all work together toward the common goal of healing.

“Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of the journey. At other times, it is allowing another to take yours.” Vera Nazarian

 We are creating a more trauma-informed New York State through our fantastic guest speakers, storytellers, workshop leaders, salsa dance instructors, and ourselves. We’re beyond touched by the unwavering support from our attendees. We are so happy that we can help everyone on their healing path along beautiful Lake George.

 When we come together, we are strong, powerful, and connected. We can’t wait to continue the celebrations next year at our second-annual conference, #JoinTheJourney! Visit our Join the Journey page to learn more about the conference’s events. 

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