Company: Purple Mountain Institute

Website Address: www.purple-mountain-institute.org

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Brief description of company:

Since 2001, Purple Mountain Institute (PMI) has provided experiential learning programs to special needs groups including at-risk youth, individuals with developmental and/or physical disabilities, and veterans. In 2008, we supplemented the animal-facilitated programs (Hiking with Goats, Hoods in the Woods, and Horse Sense) by founding the Mindful Veterans Project (MVP) which offers Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) classes to veterans for free.

What are some recent accomplishments or projects your company is working on?

PMI is unique because we offer free classes in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction to veterans and their immediate family members. Our 8-week course was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn of UMass Medical School and has been scientifically validated as an effective tool for relieving the suffering resulting from trauma. Participants in our program include veterans scarred by combat, homelessness, and/or military sexual trauma as well as family members sharing their burden.

Tell us how both your company and convention attendees would benefit from your Hall booth?

There are direct benefits to NN13 attendees. Practicing mindful awareness increases happiness and decreases suffering. We will offer short demonstrations at the booth itself but would like to suggest adding additional instruction as schedule and space would allow. Guided meditation CD’s would also be given away free of charge. Negotiations are underway to distribute copies of Congressman Tim Ryan ( D-OH 13)’s book, A Mindful Nation, at no charge.

There are also indirect benefits to convention participants, such as education. They will take home increased awareness of those who suffer and of the community that exists to help. They may find potential solutions through mindful awareness for themselves or their families and friends. They will be offered opportunities to help veterans and their families by becoming benefactors and/or becoming directly involved in promoting public policy that would further our work with veterans and their families.

There is also a direct benefit for Netroots Nation the organization. Many Americans still believe the incorrect stereotype that progressive causes are anti-military. We have seen recent growth in progressive veteran’s organizations and their attendance at NN. Furthermore, NN has benefitted from past association with groups like Netroots for the Troops. It’s time to take the next step and show that progressives support our struggling veterans. Hosting the Mindful Veterans Program would be a great step in that direction.

The Mindful Veterans Project also benefits from the community spotlight of an NN13 booth. Increased awareness in the Netroots Nation would provide us with a national forum to share what we are doing as we look for partners.

PMI is a small organization with only one paid employee, three part-time contract providers, and one full time volunteer. We started the Mindful Veterans Project with a desire to help alleviate the suffering of veterans and their loved ones. Four years ago, we offered one class a week, four sessions a year. A year later we began offering 2 classes a week, and next month we will begin a new session with 4 classes. The number of agencies, providers, and departments at the VA hospital who refer patients to us is growing daily. And the need is growing even more as troops come home to a nation ill-prepared to deal with the emotional consequences of war.

Not only are we offering MBSR, but we teach drop-in meditation classes at a transitional housing program serving homeless veterans, we teach Mindfulness in a Round Pen which is an animal therapy program with horses as the co-facilitators, and we partner with two other nonprofits to offer free yoga classes to veterans.

We have outrun our resources. PMI is a small nonprofit that is offering a program that is effective in the treatment of trauma. The one paid employee is an MBSR instructor, not a fundraiser. We need help.

We need allies, partners, public and private. We need benefactors and donors.

We need the visibility that a booth at Netroots Nation will provide.

Netroots Nation 2014