Our story started as the result of a challenge, of sorts, by Dr. Rob Anda, while at a state conference of Community Public Health and Safety Networks in the fall of 2007. Dr. Anda said, “Go home and make something happen.” He felt a grassroots approach, bubbling up from many communities across the state, would be the most effective way to start to “grow” this movement. This somewhat abstract concept started to take shape and step 1 was to invite Dr. Anda to Walla Walla so that many more in our Valley could hear his passion about this powerful work, and his call to action.The local Walla Walla County Community Network invited Dr. Anda to town in March, 2008 and 165 participants attended his morning seminar at our local community college. At the end of the seminar, one participant, a mother of three, was so moved by Dr. Anda’s information, that she stood up, in front of the largely professional organizations of social service providers, health, education and law enforcement entities attending, and said, “For the first time in my life I now know I am not a bad person or a bad parent. I have all 10 ACEs. I just heard Dr. Anda say, My childhood is not my fault.” Her willingness to speak so publicly about something as private as her ACE score was inspirational from the standpoint that if a parent, in her first exposure to this information, was so moved by the message of hope and healing that this movement is truly about, then wouldn’t the WHOLE community want to know this? My friend, Annett Bovent, is that mother. Her journey toward resilience, hard fought since that day in March 2008, is, as Dr. Anda later stated in an international ACE conference in Banff, Canada, “a miracle; that is transendence. I believe everyone should know this (ACE research) because some people will find transcendence in the information and distance themselves from what happened to them and see their lives in perspective. Annett began to heal herself and she changed her relationship with her children. That will reduce the intergenerational transmission of ACEs.” Annett has now gone on to give back to the community that she says helped her heal through her work in Hope Heals. Annett is the parent representative to our initiative.
Many others in the community stepped forward, like Annett, to be champions of this movement. There is not enough space to recognize all of these names and stories in this space, but be assured there are many similar stories as Annett’s, and that is exactly what Dr. Anda predicted when he challenged us to “Go home and make something happen.” That is now happening in many communities and states across the U.S. This page attempts to recognize that without partners like Annett, who know that shame and blame have no place in our human interactions, that fear-based responses and punitive systems must be replaced with love-based, conscious awareness of how we operate at the relationship level and thus our highest energy state, we would not be where we are today in spreading this movement.
To ALL the partners in the Walla Walla Valley and beyong who said “yes” to this movement, THANK YOU!