Kristen Rubis moved to Olympia in 1998 to attend The Evergreen State College. After graduating in 2001, she started her own healing arts business. Over the years her services have included yoga classes and workshops, doula services, childbirth education, massage and sound healing. She also visits workplaces, schools and retreats as the Traveling Yogini, sending her healing energy out into the world.
Kristen considers herself to be on a path of service in our community. “Olympia is a unique town that offers beautiful surroundings, an incredible farmers market, a conscious community and a big heart,” she says. “I love how easy it is to create community and become involved in so many ways.”
In addition to sharing what she calls “sacred space” with over 200 yoga students each month, Kristen has always had a particular focus on supporting women. As a doula she has witnessed 43 births, and as a childbirth educator and massage practitioner she has supported many mothers during and after their pregnancy journey. I personally credit Kristen’s prenatal yoga classes and massage with making two uncomfortable pregnancies more bearable.
Kristen first began to see the need for an empowerment program for young girls while working as a para-educator at Olympia High School. It was there that she witnessed how negatively many of the girls treated each other and how they often allowed boys to be disrespectful to them as well. She explains, “I knew at that time I needed to connect with girls before they hit the high school years in order to show them a different way to engage and be in community together.”
Kristen began teaching monthly Yoga 4 Girls classes in 2007 but saw early on the need to spend more concentrated time with the girls. In 2008 she began offering day camps, originally lasting just for three hours and eventually working up to week-long Empowerment Camps. For the last eight years she has been offering three camp sessions per year in Olympia, while traveling to other states to run them as well. According to Kristen the impact is obvious, “It’s amazing to see the differences in these girls in just one week!”
The success of the camps can be attributed to Kristen’s loving energy and engaging way of being. Longtime friend, Jennifer Johnson, says, “Ever since I have known her, kids have always been drawn to her – they share their thoughts and most private feelings with her. She makes people feel comfortable and confident just by being so comfortable and confident herself (at least I think that’s the secret!). The generosity and love she exudes are inspiring and energizing to be around.”
Kristen has always offered payment plans, sliding scale fees, and self-funded scholarships for her camps, but the need has continued to grow. After a lot of encouragement from women in our community, who said they would love to contribute to her endeavor, Kristen finally decided this last year that it was time to turn her empowerment project into a full-fledged non-profit.
In October 2016 Empowerment 4 Girls launched, kicking off with a fundraiser hosted by local caterer, Sandy Cavin. Sandy explains, “At first, I just wanted to donate money to sponsor girls for the camps. Then that didn’t seem like enough, so I asked if I could put on a small benefit dinner to raise money. Dockside Bistro generously donated their whole restaurant space, and before we knew it, the event sold out. In the end we raised almost $8,000. We rallied all the amazing women we knew, and the rest is ‘herstory.’”
As a non-profit organization, Empowerment 4 Girls will be able to seek community support, grants, and sponsorships to help offset the costs of running the camps and provide more scholarships for girls to attend.
In 2017 Empowerment 4 Girls will offer five, week-long Empowerment Camps in Olympia, WA, Sedona, AZ, and Detroit, MI. The next camp session runs from April 3-7 when most local schools are on spring break. They will also begin planning for a new Conscious Minds, Conscious Bodies, Sexual Education Program as well as teacher trainings in order to increase their capacity to offer more camps and workshops. One of Kristen’s long-term goals is to create a Teen Advisory Board to help shape current and future programming.
Jennifer, who now serves as secretary for the Empowerment 4 Girls board, has full confidence in the future impact of the program. She says, “We are just getting started, so I won’t even try to limit our potential. The empowerment of girls and women contributes to every facet of creating a more vibrant, equal and just world.”
Sandy agrees that the impact is far-reaching. “We get to see the change in the girls directly, but what we don’t get to see is the impact and contribution they now have on their families and siblings, friends at school and really everybody they come in contact with. They are unknowingly empowering, inspiring and educating others. That is the best part,” she says.
Kristen is always sure to share her gratitude with this interview being no exception, “I am deeply humbled by how much support has shown up to turn this dream into a reality. Girl Power Rocks!”
To learn more, visit www.empowerment4girls.com.