How Holistic Wellness Is Helping Homeless Women and Children—and How You Can Do Your Part

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When in need of a positivity boost, diffusing any citrus oil on repeat, reading a feel-good story, or helping others usually does the trick. And sometimes, you get all three at the same time.

That's the case with Aura Cacia's Positive Change Project, an annual grant initiative that backs organizations helping women in need. So when you support the pure essential oil brand, you are, by extension, helping to change lives.

For proof, look no further than Lotus Village—a housing complex serving homeless women and children in Miami's poverty-stricken neighborhood of Overtown. The program offers services unlike anything in proximity for hundreds of miles—and received $40,000 from the Positive Change Project in 2018.

"A home is the most fundamental ingredient for a safe and secure life.”

From the bright murals adorning the walls (created by female artists, of course) to the five-story residential home housing nearly 500 women and children (with current construction projecting room for 1,000), it's a total sanctuary. And that's not to mention the shelves lined with children's books, health and wellness centers, and on-site salon with volunteer stylists.

All of this is intentional. “If you lack a home then everything else like your job, career, health, and wellbeing are all jeopardized," says Constance Collins, president and executive director of Lotus Village. "A home is the most fundamental ingredient for a safe and secure life.”

Over a year-long stay, people referred to Lotus Village experience a multifaceted approach aiming to get displaced women back on their feet. “In the last year, 91 percent of the women and children who exited Lotus House had successful housing outcomes,” Collins says.

Keep reading for more about the proven methods Lotus Village taps to empower women and children.

Lotus house meditation

Providing holistic therapies and a stable home

“When you think about what it means to be a homeless woman, you have to know that nearly always, it’s because of violence,” Collins says. “Homelessness is an escape from violence where women and children experience a loss of community and where all social ties are wrenched completely away.”

That's why providing a nourishing home environment is so essential to rehabilitation—and a cozy and clean place to sleep is only a fraction of that. Both women and children are encouraged to take up acupuncture, yoga, and meditation. “Holistic practices offer safe space for healing to occur which is most needed for anyone to begin again,” Collins says.

Lotus house shelter in Miami

Setting up nutrition for life

The catering kitchen is a high-powered machine, serving nearly 500,000 nourishing meals to residents of Lotus House year-round. Any night of the week, chefs include students and current residents whipping up dishes with locally grown produce, some from the urban garden on site.

“Knowledge is power and participatory learning is a powerful change agent," says Collins. "The working classroom kitchen culinary program, with financial support from the Aura Cacia Positive Change Project, is transformative for women, youth and children seeking to break the cycle of homelessness and build the foundation for a healthier, safer, and brighter future." After all, what says home more than a home-cooked meal?

Lotus house alphabet board

Boosting emotional and physical health

Through Lotus House, the wellness center offers free exams to uninsured women who cannot afford basic health care, including workshops covering crucial topics like oral hygiene, parenting skills, and preventative care—which are so crucial for the women and children Lotus House serves.

“They may be elderly, medically needy, trans, gay, veterans, mentally ill, or with some other special need," Collins says. "Lotus House has extensive experience serving unaccompanied pregnant and parenting youth, utilizing best practices and trauma-informed, evidence-based programs specifically for this population."

Overall, the goal is to provide the kind of well-rounded care—and stability—that only a home can. Through group exercise like yoga and Pilates, dance parties, poetry sessions, and tea breaks, it's all about nourishing each other—and thriving.

In partnership with Aura Cacia

Photos: Lotus House Shelter at Lotus Village

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