IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Conference Cancelled
Mental health professionals are performing quiet heroics every day. You are holding space in ways you never have before. America’s long running trauma of racism stands front and center, calling all of us to make this time the fulfillment of America’s promise of freedom and justice for all. COVID-19 has painted uncertainty on all possible futures. The crises in our society are reflected in the lived experiences of each of us and each of our clients. There is no one untouched by the winds of change blowing through every street in America.
Please read this email to the end. There is an action step requiring your attention below.
GROW Conference AVL is also going to change. There will not be a conference this year. This moment in history calls us to adapt and evolve. Together, we worked to build something worth building. Then the world changed so radically and quickly that we postponed, and now we face the reality that our vision will not come to pass. It’s heartbreaking.
After our March 13th announcement to postpone, the Board wrestled with how to fulfill our mission – “to strengthen our mental health ecosystem through collaboration, best practices, leadership, mentorship, and unceasing drive to grow as professionals.” We ruled out a virtual conference because (1) we didn’t have the expertise; (2) we couldn’t guarantee high quality; (3) Zoom fatigue; and (4) it wouldn’t meet the mission. We ruled out rescheduling for later this year because there is too much public health uncertainty. We ruled out simply doing next year what we’d already planned for this year because the needs of our mental health professionals’ community are rapidly changing.
And so we will plan to build the next thing. To that end, the Board of Directors will be regrouping, reorganizing, and revisioning in the coming months. Stay tuned.
For now, our first order of business is to be entirely transparent about your registration money and our financial realities. GROW Conference AVL began without any budget at all, just a handful of people wanting to make the world a better place. Then Lenoir-Rhyne University showed up with seed money and an offer to donate the location. We opened a bank account, formed an LLC, and hired an accountant. Sponsors who believed in the mission showed up. YOU showed up with your presentation proposals and your registration purchases. We hired an event coordinator, printed brochures, and purchased everything we needed to make GROW an exceptional experience. We recruited volunteers, secured event venues, and planned a keynote dinner people would not forget. The Board operated as an all-volunteer body and was paid nothing for its time.
COVID-19 turned the world upside down. Suddenly no conference. No gathering together at all. Instead, a public health emergency and months of Stay-at-Home orders. Instead, a radical reorganization of our lives.
Because we spent money on event planner, brochures, banners, and other items for the conference, we are unable to provide full refunds. You can receive a partial refund in the amount of $158.96, or you can donate your partial refund directly to A Therapist Like Me, the named non-profit that was to receive the GROW community’s donations after the conference.
“A Therapist Like Me is a non-profit, 501(c)3 dedicated to connecting minority-identifying clients to minority-identifying therapists, advancing therapists of color, providing financial gifts to minority-identifying clients for psychotherapy, reducing societal stigma surrounding mental health, and supporting our community.”
Follow this link to let us know whether you would prefer to donate to A Therapist Like Me or to receive your refund. If you do not participate in this step, we will donate on your behalf to ATLM. Refunds will be issued next week, and we will announce the amount donated to ATLM soon after that.
We’re grateful for everyone who was a part of the conference that almost happened. It was going to be a home run. It was going to be incredibly additive. Alongside our gratitude is our hope that we will continue to rise together as a community, growing into something even greater than we’d imagined.
We would like to offer special recognition to our sponsors, who supported and believed in our vision for GROW. Your refund amount is due in part to the generosity of our community sponsors, who, like you, received only partial refunds of their investments or donated their sponsorship fees back to the conference.
GROW Conference AVL Board of Directors
Kelly Denson, Conference Coordinator