Coming Full Circle at Phoenix SOAR Training
Alicia Assad, MAPP, has been following her calling to be a storyteller since her words organically emerged at her son’s bedside in a burn unit.
In August, she participated in a Phoenix SOAR Volunteer Training at the burn center where her son was once treated.
That moment you feel like a journey comes full circle….
For me it happened two weeks ago, when I returned to the burn unit where my then toddler son was treated over four years ago.
I walked into a room full of strangers who were there with the same purpose: to be trained as a part of the Phoenix Society SOAR program, so we can go back and provide hope to those just beginning the journey of recovery from a burn injury.
It’s been said (and scientifically validated) that altruism has a wealth of benefits for the one who GIVES. Knowing we must give to heal from what is hard, and to thrive in this life, I mustered up the courage to return to the place where my journey began.
I knew the training and the connections would push me to continue to heal and grow.
I had no idea how moving the experience would be.
I sat down next to a young woman named Daphne, and our first exercise was to get to know our partner, so we could introduce them to the group.
A good old icebreaker, the sort of stuff you dread until you actually break through that ice.
Within two sentences, I was floored by Daphne’s presence. A vibrant woman, she was once a child in the very burn unit my son was treated. She gave me an honest account of what it's like to grow up with scars. Her strength of spirit, heart, and confidence inspires me to think of all my boy will accomplish.
Enter the sensation of immense gratitude for finding myself exactly where I needed to be to heal and grow…then the thought: But wait—I’m here to give back.
I vowed to be stoic, but I was choking back tears as I introduced my new friend, Daphne. By simply sharing her story, Daphne gave me so much hope. If my son lives a life half as full as hers, he will have truly lived. He will not only have survived his injury, he will have thrived.
Daphne is only one of the inspiring survivors I connected with that day. The vulnerability in that room was powerful. It was healing.
It gave us all the strength to go out in the world and do the things we were meant to do as survivors: Share. Connect. Spread the message: “You are not alone.”
If you are reading these words, I want you to say, “I am not alone.”
Yes, you. I want you to say it right now, even if you don’t fully believe it yet.
Then keep reading the stories here on this blog. Stay connected to the Phoenix Society, and reach out for the support you need.
All of us here, we know how hard it can be. Yes, our stories are different and our levels of pain may vary, but what we have in common is the journey we are walking from struggle to strength.
This growth is possible, and it’s easier to reach if we aren’t walking alone. Sometimes though, it takes a little courage to reach out, break that ice, and connect.
My most humble hope is that my story might inspire you, or another parent, or another survivor to keep walking toward the strength I know you can find.
Don’t stop striving to heal and overcome, until you reach the point where you can be a beacon of hope for someone else.
Even then, it just might feel like your journey has just begun. Then you just might keep on walking, because you’ll realize just how much you can still grow through connection.
I’m still walking towards hope. Want to join me?
Our founder's early commitment to peer support continues to drive our mission every day. Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors offers these resources for survivors and families:
- Phoenix SOAR (Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery): a hospital-based, one-on-one peer support program.
- Peer Support Chat: a moderated online Peer Support Chat every Wednesday from 9:00PM - 10:30 PM EST.
- Phoenix World Burn Congress: an annual, international conference that brings together over 900 burn survivors, their families, caregivers, burn care professionals, and firefighters.