My name is Jessica Compton, I am the founder & director of Tree of Stars. I started reaching out organically through a Cafe tour that I developed, handing out a brochure that had me telling my story. The A blog Abandoned Abducted Abused Addict ADD Arrested.
I walked around Hamilton connecting with cafe owners asking them to post the brouchres up for outreach. Some days I would drive and some days I would walk. Some days I would go alone, and some days take a friend with me. I remember my cousin Teresa McLean I completed 25 cafes in one day.
I would encourage others to connect with me on social media to meet up in person for peer support, or offer anyone to attend a workshop I created.
I had the lovely cafe owner Julie from Shady Grove Lukaya Cafe offer Tree of stars space to have the workshops/meet ups in her cafe. I accepted with huge graditude.
The first couple of months the workshop/meet up consisted of different musicians I knew from the community volunteering their time in performing for half an hour. I would then have individuals hear me tell my story. I would encourage others to share in conversations with one another, sometimes individuals will share poetry, some would sit and not say anything which is completely optional and okay. Sometimes I offer colouring materials.
I observed for months, and I thought maybe if I give journals & a pen as a safety piece & guide with prompting topics could give abit more purpose with encouraging others to pparticipate. I also decided to detail the workshop by proving step by step what to expect on the Facebook events .This helps with anxieties.
When I first started my outreach, I would sometimes sit in the cafe alone. Since April 2017 the outreach has approximately 5-25 people that show up & participate.
I guess this also pieces together that I have been a consistent resource through my workshops every other Tuesday since April 2017.
Another questions people ask me…What inspired you to create Tree of Stars? I have been inspired & encouraged by many people who have passed through my life, and who have passed away, who never gave up on me & many therapists reminding me to work on certain goals.
Before TOS, my beautiful aunt Angela Betts and I met up one day to visit my grandmother. We were talking in my car about house sitting my other aunt’s place that is located out in the country, & I would be by myself. Right away I said I couldn’t because it’s my biggest triggers from my past, the trauma of being abducted. My aunt who has a huge heart encouraged & inspired me to try & overcome or work on one of my biggest fears. I did succeed in watching her house alone for one week. In that one week I took my print of the tree with the star in it and, I started to develop the cafe tour.
Personally Tree of Stars is a blessing to me, it has and is a continuous self care healing journey. Yes, I have my daily struggles that I have to cope with, I do take medication for my mental illnesses and I know I will always have to check in/follow up with my therapist as apart of my life plan.
Professionally Tree of Stars has been a continuous learning & growing experience, especially since I solely run my business & fund out of pocket. I have learned a list of things such as designing brochures, flyers, posters for our outreach events, business cards, banners, booth set ups at many public events, prints for photography pieces and other merchandise, funding, expenses, budgeting, networking, marketing, branding, time management, schedules, skills for successful leadership, limits & boundaries, donations, communities, learning to say no, learning about proper documentation & signatures, evaluation & observation of others building community trust to “share the sandbox”, setting logical goals when developing T.O.S community outreach projects, being creative and mindful in ways such as collaborating with others, providing specific details of expectations, value others feedback to a certain point and most of all “Self-care & Be Yourself”.
I hope you all try to connect with T.O.S. in some creative healing aspect.
Reminder you are not alone, you are not a burden. You are enough and we want you to reach out at anytime.
If we cant help you, or be of any resource to you, we want to guide or reference you to a place that can.
Tree of Stars had 2 music event fundraisers in Hamilton that raised funds. It was organized and ran by myself and a couple of volunteers.
In addition any gift cards/prizes that have been donated in the past from businesses that have given out free items were given out at T.O.S CD charity release party.
Currently If any items are given we give right back to the community for a free door prizes at our Free Community Events & Journal workshops.
#mentalhealth #addictionsrecovery #tellingourstories #HamOnt #music #art