Many Americans have been fighting battles on multiple fronts in 2020 amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has been disproportionately affecting communities of color, and a fresh wave in the national movement calling for racial justice. Both are necessary, but for those on the front lines, they can be incredibly draining.
“The year of 2020 has placed us at this tumultuous intersection of pandemic and protests,” explains writer and activist Rachel Cargle, founder of The Loveland Foundation, which provides free therapy and healing to communities of color, with a focus on Black women and girls. “I'm deeply aware of the various roles — from organizers to teachers to artists and beyond. I feel grateful to have the opportunity to show up for other Black people alongside the ways they continuously show up for me and the rest of our community.”
To meet this need, the popular cabin rental company Getaway teamed up with the foundation for a program called “A Year of Rest,” giving away 365 one-night stays to Black changemakers, allowing them a place to safely — if briefly — recharge before getting back to work in the communities they serve.
“We support the critical work taking place and want to offer access to nature as a resource to everyone because rest is critical to continuing the revolution,” Jon Staff, Getaway’s Founder and CEO, told PEOPLE of the company’s plan. “The better we take care of ourselves, the stronger we’ll be as we continue this fight.”
Getaway cabins are tiny, custom-built homes set in the middle of nature, designed to give city dwellers access to the soothing qualities of the great outdoors.
They have 12 outposts across the country — outside of New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, Dallas and more — which are available to rent year-round. For the "A Year of Rest" program, anyone can nominate an individual they think deserves a night away via the Getaway website, and the winners can then pick the cabin location of their choice.
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September is Self-Care Awareness Month; a month to celebrate how taking care of ourselves first allows us to show up better for the people and things that matter most. There are so many ways to practice self-care—escaping to nature is just one idea. How have you been taking care of yourself lately? 📸: @iamsiennachristine #getawayoften
In June, the company launched a program called 100 Nights of Rest, planning to give away 100 free stays, but knew they needed to do more when they were immediately met with thousands of nominations. That’s when they decided to team up with The Loveland Foundation and A Year of Rest was born. (The Nellie May Education Foundation and MiiR are also partners in the program.)
“This climate calls for radical self-care, which in many cases can mean life or death for the Black people on the front lines and others in the Black community who are witnessing and experiencing the racism in this country,” Cargle tells PEOPLE of the inspiration for the program, explaining that she stayed in a Getaway cabin herself in May and found that the chance to step away for a bit made a huge impact on her mental health.
"Walking away from my time there, I knew I wanted to connect with them in an effort to get more Black people into these spaces to tap into the rest and rejuvenation I know we all needed so desperately," Cargle continues.
There's also a physical benefit to taking a 24-hour breather. Many of the body’s functions, such as the nervous system, deteriorate quicker on a cellular level when met with stress, such as the everyday stresses associated with racism, Cargle says, explaining that being able to relax and rest can be both mentally and physically healing.
Staff also feels this is a necessary initiative.
“The last few months, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and discussing racial injustice in America, and we intend to continue doing so,” he says of the Getaway team. “We looked at what we have immediately available to us as a company, and that is access to safe spots for people to rest and recharge in nature.”
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Happy Wednesday everyone. To get you through the midweek slump, we will be sharing a wellness tip every Wednesday to help you remain mindful and prioritize the daily practices that keep you feeling connected and calm. Here is today’s wellness tip: When was the last time you looked at your screen time? It can be a bit of a wake-up call to see how many minutes or hours of your day are spent on your phone, but by creating stricter boundaries around your phone use, you can be more present in your daily life. Try designating certain parts of your home as no-phone zones, like your bedroom, or try creating your own phone lockbox at home. Give it a try, and within a few days you might even designate one day of the week as a digital sabbath. 📸: @moniqueimanhibma
While engaging in conversations that “rightly focus on what is broken,” Staff says Getaway also wants to focus on highlighting the good that still exists, like the thousands of people who have been nominated for the program and their contributions. In addition to the 365 nights this year, Staff promises “we will offer 100 Nights of Rest to people fighting for change every year moving forward.”
To nominate someone for the A Year of Rest program, anyone can visit the Getaway website and fill out an application, which includes a section about why the nominee deserves a stay. Nominees for this round will be accepted until September 24, and will be awarded a $100 gift card for food and transportation in addition to their stay.
Not sure who to choose? “Nominees may be a community organizer, a parent, a healthcare worker, a teacher, an artist, or a friend,” Staff says. “Every contribution, no matter how big or small, moves us forward.”
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