Q: Why did you choose the name “The Warrior Project”?
A: One of my husband’s favorite poems was “The Skeleton in Armour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
The ending of this poem is particularly apt…
“In the vast forest here,
Clad in my warlike gear,
Fell I upon my spear,
O, death was grateful!
“Thus, seamed with many scars,
Bursting these prison-bars,
Up to its native stars
My soul ascended!
There from the flowing bowl
Deep drinks the warrior’s soul,
Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!”
– Thus the tale ended.
Johnny was a warrior, fighting demons no one else could see. The name of this project is in no way intended to be reflective of, or piggy back off, Wounded Warriors. Johnny was a warrior long before that term came into existence.
Q: Will you support only those who are struggling with depression, chronic pain, loss of hope, etc, or are you able to help the family members who are standing by helplessly?
A: Our goal is to save lives that might otherwise be lost due to hopelessness and desperation. If we can help a family member or friend get their loved one the support he or she needs to prevent a passive or active suicide, then yes, we want to do that! (And I will feel like the loss of my Johnny has some meaning.) We plan to have support groups/classes/workshops/what-have-you on identifying and helping those who feel there is no hope.
Q: What will The Warrior Project offer for help?
A: One of the hardest things to do when one is depressed and feeling hopeless is to leave home and get out in the world. Depression and hopelessness lie to you, and tell you that you are worthless, and can make it nearly impossible to interact with others. Research has shown that getting out of the house and moving, even if it’s just taking one’s dogs for a walk – can be as helpful as talk therapy or medications, if engaged in regularly.
The Warrior Project will help combat severe depression and hopelessness, including that exacerbated by substance use & abuse, by offering a variety of services that include, but do not depend on, talk therapy or drop in support groups.
The Music Project – Although it is painful for me to do this, I plan to donate John’s keyboards to The Warrior Project, and perhaps find a donated piano and other musical instruments that members can mess around with. I’ll be looking for musicians willing to spend time teaching or jamming with members.
The Art Project – Drawing and painting are often helpful in identifying fears, hopelessness and other feelings, without having to actually say the words. I know many fabulous artists and I’m sure at least one or two would be able to contribute time to this project.
We’ll also offer crafts, adult coloring, and other ideas for those interested in such things.
Build It, Repair It Group – Our arts & antiques shop is forever getting items that are broken or that break while in the shop, or that could use some refurbishing, polishing, sanding, or whatever. Members who can help fix up items that Heritage Collectibles can then sell for a profit (rather than throwing those items out) will be helping The Warrior Project keep its doors open.
Other options, to be expanded on later include…
Drop In Support Groups
Stretch Therapy & Yoga
Library & Bookstore
Games: Chess, Checkers, Cribbage, Monopoly
… Understanding & Coping with Physical Pain
… Living with Grief
Q: Where will The Warrior Project be located?
A: The Warrior Project will be located in the same building as Heritage Collectibles, at 189 Main Street in Lewiston. The shop presently has a main retail section with a 1200 square foot gallery in the back that includes a classroom; it is this gallery area that will become the home of The Warrior Project. Heritage Books & Maps is in yet another area in the same building (but on the Park Street side, with a separate entrance).
We will consolidate all of the art, antiques and other inventory into the main showroom, closing off the gallery area area (which has two of its own entrances) to be used for The Warrior Project, its classroom, clinical office space and so forth.
Members could sign up to volunteer at either Heritage Collectibles or Heritage Books & Maps if they chose, knowing that the sales generated by those two shops would help support services at The Warrior Project. Of course, there would be no requirement that members volunteer.
Q: What will be different about The Warrior Project, when there are other support groups out there trying to help?
A: My husband was not someone who enjoyed going to groups, especially if they were large or if there was too much of a demand on him to talk about things he was uncomfortable discussing. My experience as a social worker tells me that’s not uncommon.
However, John needed to be around people, and when in a good space, liked to keep busy. Now it seems clear that it was only when he was alone or didn’t have a goal-oriented activity to keep him occupied that the hopelessness seemed to overwhelm him.
I believe that those who attend The Warrior Project‘s activities will find themselves supported by others who understand what they are living with, and can nudge, persuade and kick ass to help them find the coping skills they need to get through each day, while learning to recognize how to find hope even when it seems impossible.
Q: How will you decide if someone is truly a “good fit” for The Warrior Project? That is, what if someone just wants to hang out all day and use the Project’s resources, but doesn’t seem to need or benefit from the services offered?
A: That’s a tough question, and will probably have to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. I think the best way to determine if an individual “fits” will be if that person seems to at least be trying to make some headway. And that can be difficult to see as some people can be very quiet and non-responsive for weeks or even months before something finally “clicks” for them.
On the other hand, there will be certain rules that members will be expected to follow. Those with significant behavioral issues will probably be individuals with specialized social services in place (e.g. state-funded case managers, in-home supports & clinicians), and may find the state’s mental health system a better fit for their needs. We at The Warrior Project have no interest in duplicating existing services, nor will our limited funding allow us to do so.
The Warrior Project is really designed for those people who do not have state-funded resources, and probably would not qualify for them if they even tried. I know my husband would not have been considered a candidate for state mental health services: he never missed a day of work at his supervisory position, would not see a therapist, and would have been considered very “high functioning”… because most of the time, he was. And few people other than I knew about those times when he was not.
Therefore, The Warrior Project is intended for those who fall through the big gaping chasms in our society’s ability to address psychic and physical pain… for those people who would die tragically and unexpectedly… and about whom everyone would say, “I had no idea….”.