On March 3, 2015, Amy Budinich and Lauren Kress came together and began to formulate plans for a transformational program that would support individuals recovering from addiction and other mental health issues.
Lauren remembers the day incredibly well for two reasons; first, because it was her birthday 🙂 and second because she was in the midst of a personal epiphany about the benefits of physical fitness.
Amy had talked for years about opening a community center for people in recovery, offering a combination of physical and mental diversion in the form of yoga, exercise, sport, and meditation can counteract addiction relapse.
Lauren showed up for lunch wholly ready to tell Amy that she was on board to turn that dream into a reality.
Today, Amy and Lauren are the co-founders of Root to Rise, a registered nonprofit organization that provides free resources, services, and support to individuals recovering from addiction and other mental health issues.
Root to Rise believes that a combination of physical and mental diversion in the form of yoga, exercise, sport, and meditation can counteract addiction relapse. They also provide a strong, supportive community and foster personal development programs which are essential to maintaining sobriety. In addition, Root to Rise delivers professional outreach programs for rehabilitation facilities, schools, and detention centers.
We sat down with Lauren to learn more about the Root to Rise’s growth and goals.
NJYC: We love the story of that first lunch, but tell us more about the passion and personal experience fueling Root to Rise.
Lauren: Root to Rise was the answer to a question we didn’t even know we had.
Recovery was always the inspiration. Amy is really candid about her own recovery; I have a personal connection in that I’ve watched several people really close to me struggle with drugs and alcohol. We looked around the community and we saw people dying. I had a helpless feeling, and thought why isn’t anyone doing anything? Then I realized, I’m someone and I can do something. Amy felt the same way. We heard the call to action – this was our answer.
NJYC: Tell us more about what you see in the community on a daily basis.
Lauren: There’s definitely a big gap between when people are in active substance abuse and when they choose sobriety. Whether you go to rehab or you’re able to get clean on your own, that time when you’re trying to transition back into your everyday life is when the most relapses happen. There aren’t enough affordable resources available right now. We wanted to bridge that gap and create a strong, supportive community free of stigma.
Starting Root to Rise was an opportunity to reclaim power. This a growing epidemic. We want people to know that living a full life while is recovery is absolutely possible.
NJYC: Tell us about your successes so far.
Lauren: We feel successful every day because we get to watch people embrace their sobriety is a gift. Root to Rise humanizes the disease of addiction. That goes beyond the conventional definition of “success.”
In terms of a tangible return, we are incredibly proud of our new space, at 911 Main Street in Belmar, NJ. Our community has a home!
NJYC: That’s amazing! Please tell us about your new space in Belmar, NJ.
Lauren: Yes! After two years of work, brainstorming, connecting, committing and caring, we have a brand new studio located at 911 Main Street in Belmar, New Jersey. We offer yoga classes, workshops, meditation, and recovery meetups. You can call us at 732-739-RISE for more information or check out our website. (Recovery Meetups are held Tuesdays at 7:30 PM and Saturdays at 10:00 AM)
We collaborated with Yoga Peace Kula, a local non-profit dedicated to making the benefits of yoga available to all beings, to open up the Belmar studio. Now we have a home for all our offerings; a place to facilitate connections and continue wiping away the shame and stigma often associated with substance abuse.
NJYC: And what kind of help do you need from our NJ Yoga Community (and beyond)?
Lauren: This is a labor of love for us, as any non-profit is. You have to feel passionate to make it happen. We need passionate people involved on every level, from dedicated yoga teachers who can help grow our outreach program to therapists, business owners, grant writers, fundraisers, educators and event volunteers who are willing to donate their time and talents. We don’t have a perfect number of volunteers in mind. We will truly take anyone who wants to help.
NJYC: Tell us about your fundraising efforts and events. We know you’ve thrown some huge, incredibly well attended yoga events that speak directly to the power and presence of Root to Rise. What else is happening?
Lauren: All of our funding comes from private donors and planned events, so we are grateful for every dollar donated and every opportunity we have to connect with anyone and everyone willing to help sustain us through financial contributions.
On October 22, 2017, Toast Asbury Park has organized a 5K fun run to benefit Root to Rise.
Afterwards, there will be plenty of pancakes, live music, and local vendors in Kennedy Park, Asbury Park, NJ. You can register right here for the run, or make a donation to support us as we run, walk and roll to the finish line. There are sponsorship opportunities available too, if any business owners are reading this!
After the Pancake Run, we will plan an Ugly Sweater party for the holidays, so stay tuned for more on that.
NJYC: And you know we will. In fact, we are going to start working on that sweater now!
Here are the links for how you can find out more about Root to Rise AND get involved in all they do. Click through, follow Root to Rise and get involved in all they do!
Studio: 911 Main Street, Belmar, NJ 07719
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