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The Brand New Day Fund Features: The Onsite Foundation

February 28, 2023

I first heard about a place called Onsite Workshops the night I met my future husband, Sean. Well, actually, it was the second time I’d met him, but that’s a story for another time. At 27 years old, Sean was easy to talk to from the start as he freely shared about his current occupation with obvious energy and passion over dinner with our families. Although he had studied hospitality and mostly worked at high-end hotels since graduating, he was now employed at what he called an “experiential therapy retreat.” He described delivering roses and handwritten notes to the program attendees and I joked that it sounded like it was his job to be romantic. The following realization I felt I couldn’t say out loud was this: Those programs were made to help people like me.

It’s sometimes hard to remember that at that time I didn’t possess the vocabulary I would acquire through trauma therapy over the following years. While flirting with this handsome man, I was not yet identifying myself as a domestic abuse survivor, a victim of child rape, or an “adult child” of a deeply dysfunctional family. Nor could I have conceived of a world where I would one day attend said therapy retreat and indeed find that, yes, I had been right, the programs were for people like me. In fact, Onsite Workshops is for all people. Although it can be difficult to describe the place, “Human School” seems to be as accurate a summation as any. 

It would take over two years of challenges, changes, and courage-building before I finally attended Onsite’s flagship “Living Centered” program in February of 2018. I write about this experience in my memoir, Unspeakable: Surviving My Childhood and Finding My Voice.

…The program was everything other people had struggled to explain and more. All activities and therapy took place in either a large or small group. The small groups were established at the beginning of the week and stayed the same throughout the program. Each small group was assigned a group leader, an expert therapist trained in Onsite’s unique combination of practices.

Morning began with a meditation before breakfast. Then a large group class expounded on topics such as codependency, family of origin, trauma, forgiveness, and the inner child. We broke into our small groups for the rest of the day until dinner. The evenings were filled with various support meetings, educational games, or optional activities. Many people choose to journal or simply rest after the emotionally taxing work of the day.

Though I was willing to try anything, I genuinely though certain practices weren’t going to be “my thing.” The staff liked to say, “Attendance is mandatory, participation is optional.” As I sampled the wide buffet of experiences, however, it was hard to ignore the immediate results.

…The mantra of the place was “trust the process” and I found the more I trusted and invested, the more I got out of it. In a strange way, the collective element reminded me of being in an opposite version of my family environment. While our culture had also been immersive, it had been stressful and dominating. It devalued interpersonal connection and the beauty of individuality. Our system had put me at odds with all other people who were not us and told me that if I left, there would be no God, relationship, or career that could save me. Onsite saw opportunity for connection at the core of everything and everyone.

I go on to share some of the specific deep work I did in a “sculpt” with my small group, a powerful therapeutic tool that allowed me to revisit and reprocess the day I left my family’s home and finally escaped from the control of my abusive father. It was life-changing, inspiring, and in many ways, enabled me to reach a new level of health, clarity, and honesty, all of which led to me sharing more of my story through music and memoir.

All of this was made possible by the support of The Onsite Foundation, a charity that provides tools and resources, along with scholarships to best-in-class trauma-informed workshops. With their help, I was able to receive this life-giving opportunity that I would have otherwise not been able to afford. The Onsite Foundation’s most recent efforts are focused on vulnerable and underserved populations including survivors of mass shootings, survivors of sex trafficking, refugees, veterans, first responders, and parents who have lost children. I am grateful and honored to be able to do my part in paying forward their generosity by making this month’s Brand New Day Fund donation benefit The Onsite Foundation. 

I established The Brand New Day Fund (TBNDF) last year to help give back to the wonderful organizations and communities that were there for me in my darkest hour and to lift up the many brave and oh-so-necessary helpers who are changing the lives of other survivors all around us on a daily basis. I look forward to sharing monthly updates on which charities TBNDF is supporting and hopefully you are inspired to find a way to give back and/or get involved in the causes you care about within your community as a result.

– Jessica

Read/listen and learn more about my memoir Unspeakable HERE.

Learn more about The Onsite Foundation HERE.

Learn more about Onsite Workshops HERE.

Donate and learn more about The Brand New Day Fund HERE.