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Deschutes County commissioners receive briefing on SriPonya, a new recovery program in Bend

(Update: Adding video, comments from co-founders)

Nonprofit launches 'Central Oregon Recovery Collective'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- SriPonya is a new nonprofit wellness program in Bend, helping empower people of all ages to recover from addictive patterns or behaviors.

"I gave Jennifer the nickname of Sri, which in Sanskrit means beautiful," Greg Mead, SriPonya's co-founder, told NewsChannel 21 Monday. "She gave me the nickname of Ponya -- it's a take on panda."

"In Swahili, if you pronounce it with a long 'O' (in) Ponya, it means cure or healing. We thought, 'Oh, I like that a lot!' It means 'beautiful healing' or 'beautiful cure," Mead said, explaining the organization's name.

The nonprofit recently submitted a discretionary grant application to Deschutes County commissioners, who expressed interest in the organization and wanted to know more about SriPonya.

Monday's meeting agenda included a presentation from the co-founders of SriPonya, giving more details about the organization.

SriPonya has raised a total of $90,000 to date through grants from the Central Oregon Health Council and the Roundhouse Foundation. The nonprofit applied for $2,500 from the county, which would support their monthly film programs.

SriPonya's other co-founder, Jennifer Eales, said, "Greg and I, we met in recovery. I just celebrated 18 years sober on Monday. So together, we have like 29 years of recovery."

The nonprofit offers events to support those in recovery, there's also a virtual recovery community and in-person retreats.

"We felt a calling that if we're suffering and struggling, we know other people probably are," Eales said. "We started in 2019, but the nonprofit got 501 (c) (3) status in 2021."

About 20 people have gone through the programs -- from the school of recovery to retreats.

"You get rid of the alcohol, but really the alcohol is but a symptom," Eales said. "So, we have to get down to the causes and conditions, and we found that a lot of people have been impacted by trauma." 

"If someone reaches out there's a hand that can reach back in support and provide either direction or programs or treatment," Mead said.

 The nonprofit also helps to feed the homeless. They go to the camp behind Sonic Burger in Madras every Wednesday at noon.

The organization (Sri, from Sanskrit, meaning beautiful, and Ponya from Swahili meaning healing) calls itself a "recovery collective" and notes, "SriPonya's mission is to empower individuals, couples, families, organizations and communities to recover from addictions and self-defeating patterns and to support long-term recovery communities by providing recovery events, a virtual recovery community, and culturally responsive and trauma-informed programs."

SCORC (the SriPonya Central Oregon Recovery Collective) said it "will lower barriers to access for people needing help through a 3-pronged approach: (1) partnering and collaborating with community organizations to host documentary screenings addressing addiction, substance abuse and key mental health issues with panel discussions; (2) developing an interactive, trauma-informed, recovery content library through the SCORC website, to include, a podcast, storytelling and online courses; and (3) offering transformational, in-person recovery programs."

For Native American Heritage Month, SriPonya is collaborating with BendFilm and Out Central Oregon to screen the film Gather on Monday night at the Tin Pan Alley Theater at 7 p.m., with a panel to follow. Gather is an intimate portrait of the growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political and cultural identities through food sovereignty, while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide.

Mead told commissioners, "It's been impactful, to come home to myself … We begin to focus on bringing people home to themselves."

The co-founders also said they have sold out the 250 tickets for each film showing so far and plan a program launch event at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at the SCP Redmond Hotel. Their future vision includes a retreat center by Smith Rock and a detoxification facility in Madras.

SriPonya said it will soon be able to offer the SCORC due in part to other grants already received from the Roundhouse Foundation and Central Oregon Health Council. To learn more about SriPonya or to donate, visit sriponya.com, or contact Jennifer Eales at 541-408-0968 or jennifer@sriponya.com

Article Topic Follows: Bend
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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.

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