Martina Georges took a LivingWorks ASIST course two years ago in her home state of Alaska while working in Kenai as a Ts’iłq’u Circle Co-Coordinator for the Kenaitze Indian Tribe. She had no idea that training would save a life—and that the life she saved would be a relative.
Ts’iłq’u Circle means “coming together as one” in the Dena’ina language. Operating out of the Old Town Kenai Tribal Courthouse, Martina works with youth facing legal trouble where the Circle provides a place for them to make amends and keep their offenses off the record. The Circle can also be used by others as well as a safe forum for difficult conversations.
When Martina was doing the bridge simulation—one of the exercises in LivingWorks ASIST—with trainer Tim Gillis acting as the person in danger, she recalls being very scared, “I was freaked! I was basically freaking out.” However, she knew she needed to make a connection with him. “In my head I was thinking I have no idea what I’m going to talk to him about, but it’s that interaction with that person that is just like a Circle—you never know what’s going to come out of a Circle. Every single time that we do a Circle it’s always different and so when I had that interaction with Tim, we somehow turned it around.”
A year later a family member reached out to her about a young man, also a relative, who was in danger. Martina notes, “When I first started talking to him I was really nervous—I was really nervous and afraid that I would make a mistake, say something wrong or something leading. I didn’t want to anger him.”
By using their shared Yup’ik language she was able to make a connection that kept her relative safe which she says makes her heart happy. “This is so awesome, I am actually using something that I was trained to do!”
On average one person dies every two days by suicide in Alaska—the length of a LivingWorks ASIST training. Martina notes that recently villages in the state are seeing an uptick (again) in young people dying by suicide.
“I am so grateful for LivingWorks ASIST training because I used the tools to help a young man get out of that mindset. And afterwards, I did debrief with clinicians and did mental health activities, prayers to ground myself and will continue to do self-care. It takes a lot out of you but this was so well worth it! I cannot thank you enough that this training exists! Lives matter!”
Thanks to Martina Georges and trainer Dagmar Mayer who suggested she reach out to LivingWorks to share her uplifting story. Do you have a success story you’d like to share? We’d love to speak with you! Contact us at [email protected]