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Because of You: A Story of Resiliency

AKA interns are the best part of our business and what we do. Interns bring our mission to life. Interns show us the importance of equity, the value of connection, and the need to promote a shared understanding of evaluation and research. We support interns as they find themselves and their ultimate purpose. We hire interns connected to the communities we serve. We ask them to take on big projects like community outreach, data collection, interviews, and podcasts. We help interns answer big questions like…Why are we here? What is it that I am called to do? How can we match purpose with meaningful work?

We invited Brighten Crawford, AKA intern to share her thoughts on resilience, mental health, and intergenerational connections.


I always compared finding yourself to mining for gold. Do you know how to mine for gold? As you go deep under the earth you look for the smallest vein of gold - follow it and chip away the excess rock until you have your treasure. That’s how I found myself. At first, I didn’t think there was much there, but over the years and through a painful process of digging deep and gnawing away excess rock I have discovered parts of myself I treasure, and those parts are not new, they have been there since I was formed, and I believe it is my honor and obligation to discover them.

There is much work and complexity when mining for gold this is also true when gold is being formed. I believe we are the same way, formed out of beautiful and complex things. However, we are much more precious than gold.

I was formed of the stuff of resiliency.

I believe my ancestors passed that on to me and it saved my life. Ever since I could remember I have struggled with my mental health. I have come to know the dark abyss that knows no feeling and no mercy. Mental health can be such a scary thing because when you are struggling with it, you feel like you are struggling alone. You feel as if no one could understand and if anyone saw inside your mind, they would take you for a crazy person. It got to a point where my mental health struggles were so severe, that I saw myself facing the choice of life or death. I felt like I could not go on. I saw myself in the dark abyss engulfed by this drowning and suffocating darkness and then suddenly in the corner of my eye I saw this little twinkle of light. I assumed that because I had been so distracted by the darkness, I must not have noticed it, but the closer I got the brighter the light got and soon it filled the room in which I stood. It was then I realized I had chosen life or life had chosen me.

As I learn more about my culture and more about my ancestors, I know I didn’t make many decisions that night.

I didn’t choose life; my ancestors chose it. They fought for it, they gave their life for it. I am here today because of their resilience, because in their choice to live they chose me.

My grandma Lizzie is one of my ancestors who I believe gifted me with resiliency. As a child she was taken and forced to attend boarding school where she, and other children, were tortured in many cruel ways. Some of those children didn’t come back from boarding school. However, she did and it is through her that I have my grandma and it is because of my grandma that I have my dad. In honor of my grandma Lizzie, to whom I owe everything, I wrote this:

Because Of You

I’ve heard the stories.

The ones where they locked you up, where they tried to break you. I know they ripped you from your family, cut your hair, silenced you. They tried to “kill the Indian in you so they could save the man.” Whatever that means.

It is because of your resiliency that you survived. You withstood all odds. It is through you that I get my grandma.

Sure, she didn’t get our language, but you were just trying to protect her. She got to keep her life and most important to me she gave me my dad. It is because of you that I have him.

You gave him strength. He rose above. He built a life for himself. He loved us. He put a roof over our head and food in our belly, sometimes that is more than what he got. Yes, he struggled and failed and disappointed but like a phoenix out of the dust he rose again and with eagle like bravery he is soaring. He taught me how to serve my people, “When one of us succeeds we all do,” He would say. I believe he got that from you.

He gave me more than what he got because you gave grandma better than what you got and now, I get to do the same for my children.

I’ve wrestled with demons, I’ve walked deaths tight rope, I was consumed and buried, but because of you I rose. You passed on your will to fight. You gave me strength I didn’t even know I possessed. Thank you. Thank you for fighting, for never giving up. Now I get a chance. Now I get to love passionately, stand firmly, speak boldly, and I get to live; that is because of you.


2 commentaires

This brought tears to my eyes, it was so beautiful. You are an amazing writer Brighten! I love this so much 💜


Membre inconnu
29 août 2022

Beautiful Brighten! We love you and are so blessed to have you in our lives. You are strong and those wonderful traits you have learned and developed will strengthen generations. Just like your Grandma!

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