Community Programs holds an important, multifaceted role in the Windhorse Model. There are practical, personal, and professional (or clinical) applications that programming plays in our community.
Community Programs represents a landmark of recovery on clients’ paths. Therapeutic relationships on Windhorse teams are foundational for rediscovering the Basic Sanity that underlies the recovery model of the Windhorse Approach. Once established, those relationships are the anchor of any progress for clients in the community. For many, Community Programs offers a step closer to natural relationships and society more generally. These offerings can rekindle a passion for activities and events within the supportive mindful relationships of the Windhorse Community but outside the dedicated familiarity of teams. Clients can take advantage of the practical and specific job training opportunities of Community Programs. Whether clients are practicing soft skills by shifting their allegiance to service by helping newcomers to a group, jumping in to clean up, or even co-leading a group they are familiar with, there is a natural confidence and care for others that we see develop over time. CP also offers more direct job training support. Options range from resume building and interviewing skills, to one-on-one career counseling and help enrolling with the Department of Vocational Rehab (DVR), offering job coaching. We have also run volunteer work groups at various locations including farms, hotels, churches and food banks. We have partnerships with some work-readiness locations such as Mindful Works which offers partnership on the job as clients get used to the natural pressures and accomplishments of work or volunteering.
Our group leaders offer a place to come together regularly, reliably, and during holidays and seasonal transitions to celebrate, grieve, and mark time together. We also create a context for special events by maintaining consistent communication, scheduling, and being a reference point. We offer food and drink and track the practical elements of events together. Staff strive to support clients’ accessibility needs, and personal requests from the community that arise, in order for them to safely attend. Sometimes this can include checking in during the event when things are overwhelming, offering rides, and making sure age, diet, social location, and physical or psychological differences are accommodated for so everyone can feel welcome.
Community is made of the people actually in it. Any idea of a perfect situation will be replaced by the folksy reality of an ever-changing group of real people—as in life. Each group member relies on each other member to participate as they can, speak their mind, take breaks, make suggestions, and just come along. For example, a Photography group relied on some regulars bringing in their photos and others to witness those photos. Some used the activity of photography as a therapeutic process, others were practicing editing for the first time, others just liked to show up and view the series of images. Another group, focused on volunteering, was small and consistently working at a local retirement home. They helped with what was needed for the day in the kitchen at first, then cleaning, and soon volunteers found their own niche in the space. Some sat with residents, just listening to their stories; others helped arrange flowers for the week, and someone realized they really enjoyed calling out the bingo numbers. People discovered interests and skills there with the bright and eager reward of personal appreciation for compassion, patience, and presence. For someone constantly at the receiving end of therapeutic attention, the experience of giving back can be vivid and relieving. We have had many placements for direct volunteering opportunities, but the experience of giving back happens in every group offering from Community Programs. People support each other often spontaneously, without expecting anything to be given or offered, but over time becoming familiar with compassionate awareness as an extension of being present in the moment. That familiarity is practical training for work, friendships, and many other aspirations as humans functioning sustainably in the world. We as staff, clients, and family mutually recover and practice the ability to be present to each other in community.
Many connections and friendships that develop in Community Programs between staff, clients, and leadership happen organically and are long-lasting, based on nonclinical shared experience and conversation in a safe and consistent environment and schedule. Community Programs is a unique place for staff and clients to come together as peers in relationship to a shared activity. We hold open mic ‘coffee house’ nights where people perform or read favorite songs and poems or debut original pieces for the community. We have also hosted an open studio during North Boulder’s Art Walks, allowing anyone in our WCS community to sell or share their art with the public. We sponsored a kickball team who competed with other public teams in Boulder, using a unique team name to keep our connection to the organization confidential (to respect client privacy). We have sponsored outings and volunteer placements, tours, hikes, and we regularly experiment with new foods to cook or taste. These are all ways Community Programs brings a supportive container and relationships further out into society when appropriate. We also invite specialists into the community to teach and train us about various topics of interest including diversity, inclusivity, contemplative practice, and clinical ideas.
As this arm of the Windhorse organization continues to evolve, we hope to match the needs and personalities of an evolving community. Together we can escape, connect, create, and transition. If Windhorse teams are like an intentional village, Community Programs is the marketplace, school, grocery and event center for the village to visit. We sit, watch, or move more as peers, without the power differential that happens on teams with clinical relationships.
Please check out website or reach out to email@example.com to learn more about ways you can get involved with Community Programs.
Michael Levy, LPC Graduated from Antioch college 2004 with a mixed focus on psychology and society. Buddhist and meditation retreats intensively between 2002 through 2018. He was hired at Windhorse integrative health in 2004 and worked on four teams as a housemate over 6 years and many other teams as a counselor and clinical mentor until 2010. Mike was hired at Windhorse Community Services in 2011. He finished his MA in Professional Counseling in 2012 and was licensed in 2016. Since then, Michael has been trained and worked as a Team Counselor and an IP. He has supervised 10 to 15 housemates and was Housemate supervisor for some time. Mike continues to relate to his experience as a housemate as a core experience for all of his work at Windhorse and with others. Currently bringing that experience to his new role as Community Programs Administrator, trying to integrate households, community, and society.