After returning to the US from a multiple month stay in the Amazon while healing with shamans, former tech entrepreneur Dana Kittrelle wondered: what’s next? She was ready to devote her time to healing modalities, but the path forward wasn’t obvious.
“I had a clear sense to wait,” she tells Lucid News. “Sure enough, Covid happened.”
The ensuing lockdowns disrupted the livelihoods of millions, especially those whose work necessitates human contact and falls outside traditional career paths – like medicine healers.
That’s when integrative healer Jordana Ma came to her with the idea for the Bay Area Resilience Fund, a nonprofit to provide financial assistance to integrative medicine healers in the San Francisco Bay Area who are experiencing economic distress from the pandemic.
“We saw the vulnerability in the elder and underserved, such as black and indigenous healer communities, and realized that we risked losing these invaluable resources of collected wisdom from our local communities,” Ma tells Lucid News. “This would be not just a failure of the system, but also a massive failure of our community.”
The fund provides need-based grants of $500 to $2,500 to healers working in different modalities that are dependent on touch and gathering, including traditional medicine, acupuncture, psychedelic therapy, bodywork, shamanic healing, energy healing, and more.
Their website states that their grants are offered to healers who “make an outsized impact on their communities through their work and heartfelt engagement.”
One of the fund’s first recipients is a Pema Sheth, a shamanic practitioner who offers healing circles in Oakland to address ailments such as PTSD, addiction, and depression. (Because of the sensitive nature of this work, grant recipient names have been changed.) Pema has served her community for 20 years using indigenous methods, counseling, and herbal remedies to help veterans, people of color, and victims of sexual assault. One of her clients is a war veteran who hadn’t cried in 15 years and struggled to keep a job before meeting Pema.
In a Medium article written by the organization, they describe his symptoms as having “dramatically decreased” after a few weeks of working with Pema. Eventually, he was able to reconnect with his body, restore relationships, and return to school towards a new career path.
Another first round recipient is Jay, an Oakland-based healer with over ten years experience who offers medicine healing circles exclusively for people of color to address the trauma in their bodies.
“She also works on helping people with sexual trauma, and mediates between people who have been sexually harmed by their parents, with their parents,” says Kittrelle.
The fund’s selection process factors in the applicant’s community impact, needs, and years of experience, with a preference for elders, First Nations/indigenous folks, POC, women and nonbinary folks, LGBTQIA+, veterans, and other marginalized groups.
In their first round they raised over $25,000 in three weeks, and made grants to eight Bay Area healers.
Their second round of funding ends June 25, and their third and final round will go until July 25. At the end of July, they “intend to close applications to focus on creating a resource guide to help give direction to healers to pivot their practices to be more adaptive to the current conditions,” says Ma.
For Ma and Kittrelle, this fund is a means of weaving a culture that is “healthier, more connected, and more inclusive.”
“There are people who have so much appreciation for this work in the Bay Area,” says Kittrelle. “This project helps them channel that gratitude.”