“Tragedy” is a simple word; easy enough to read, to spell, to say… but this simple word packs a powerful punch. For many people, the word “tragedy” is much more than black letters on white paper. It’s a heavy fog – a haunting reality. It’s the bedrock of their existence; it’s the crucible that shaped them into the individuals they are. Tragedy can destroy a person’s life with steady erosion over time or with a flash flood. If tragedy defined their life from their formative years, that person may never be who they could have been. Their best chance of surviving [and thriving] is dependent on the resiliency factors present in their life.
Resilience is not something you either have or you don’t – it’s something you create. It’s not the ability to simply “bounce back”; it’s the ability to grow and thrive even after life-altering tragedy. It’s about relationship-building, not unyielding independence. Skills are important, as is the stable, consistent presence of a caring adult. So how can a person who experienced ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) build resilience, and how do they help others create resilience?
Laurie Haluska grew up in an abusive household. Outside observers remained unaware; while she and her siblings were well-behaved, all were deeply affected. Each tried to find healing in various ways; some of the siblings turned to therapy and spiritual paths. When Laurie’s brother Steve died 18 years ago, all the siblings worried about their brother John – knowing the two boys had been close. No matter what they did in the next 13 years, John seemed unreachable. He died from suicide 5 years ago this August. Laurie was heartbroken and felt so helpless; from that day forward, she desired to make a difference in the lives of others who’d experienced trauma. That desire grew steadily.
As she grew up, Laurie kept herself grounded with sewing. “It was my safe place, my outlet,” she recalls. Laurie has worked in professional costume design and construction for 40 years, and in light of what happened to her brothers, her passion to create a safe haven for others with ACEs has grown. So, she decided to put those two passions together: she chose to offer kids an option with which to create an outlet of their own. She would create a safe place in which she would teach them how to sew.
Laurie’s goal was to create a classroom where she could teach sewing to students without charge. In order to cover rent and overhead costs, she opened a tuxedo rental and bridal boutique – Laila Design Studio – with a professional costume shop / classroom in the back. A few months after opening, she learned her shop was only 3 blocks away from Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, a high school known for implementing methods to give at-risk teens the tools to build resiliency. [Recently, Jamie Redford made a documentary about Lincoln High School called “Paper Tigers,” illustrating these methods.]
Laurie is now an official part of Lincoln’s after-school program, holding a sewing class in her shop. The first class, last year, recreated Star Wars costumes to wear on their float in Walla Walla’s Christmas parade. This was a project close to Laurie’s heart, since she worked on the costume crew for Return of the Jedi.It was a great success! The students had a wonderful time and their float won “Best in Show”. This year (2016-2017 school year), classes have just begun. We have two projects: a float for the Christmas parade and their spring play.
Laila Design Studio is still a young business and is not yet bringing enough sales in to cover the overhead costs of the classes. So, any donations will be used to cover the cost of fabric and supplies as well as contributing to the overhead costs, including the following: rent, utilities, and payment of part-time employees who assist with classes and keep everything running smoothly. In order to cover both class projects [fabric and supplies], our goal is to raise $3500. In order to cover overhead costs for classes [rent, utilities, part-time employees], we need $3000/month. Any contribution you are able to make is greatly appreciated; thank you for your support. If you think this is a great project and have no funds you are able to contribute at this time, please support us by offering prayers for each kid to find their own resilience.
To learn more about Laurie's credentials, please visit her website:
www.haluskadesign.com or the bridal boutique website: www.lailadesignstudio.com