It takes a community to make a difference.
Our survivor to thriver grant was designed to assist and empower an individual to reach their educational and professional goals through financial support and mentoring.
Each year we choose one applicant to receive a monetary grant to use toward turning their dreams into a reality.
2017 Survivor to Thriver Grant Recipient
Leiko Koko Bergers
Grant Received: $500 towards starting Urban Wilderness Yoga
Leiko was in a severely abusive relationship in her 20’s.
The Purple Dot Yoga Project was drawn to Leiko, the moment we met and I invited her to a casual lunch to learn more about her story and her spirit to continue through adversity. As she told me about her life; her previous abusive relationship, overcoming all of that through yoga, and her desire to convert a school bus into a mobile yoga studio for donation based classes in underserved communities, I was inspired to create our Survivor to Thriver Grant.
What is your name?
Leiko Renee Bergers, I have been Koko since I was two years old.
If you could share a cup of coffee with anyone who would it be and why?
My mom before she was diagnosed with Alzheimers, I miss our conversations and her giving me her wisdom.
What makes you feel good inside and out?
Life and the way that I choose to live it, and yoga.
Tell us about a challenging time in your life:
When I was in my early 20s I gave birth to a child who has special needs. I was a single mother… homeless and helpless. I couldn’t go back to her father because he was abusive. In every essence of the word. I lived in shelters and in my car.
If someone is going through the same thing right now what would you tell them?
I know that it sounds cliche, but don’t be afraid of your story. Where you are is right where you need to be. You have choices, you can either let it all fall down around you and feel defeated, or you can reach deep down. Going inside takes courage. Build on that. Make your foundation YOU. Know that nothing more matters, not your past, and not where you can be in the future…. Right here and right now matters. For in this present moment…. Life happens. Let it. Feel your feelings and follow your heart. Is what you are doing NOW less harm and more good? That is the one question that needs to lead you.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done in your life so far?
Traveling to 38 states in a two year period. Being able to do what I love. Yoga.
Something you wish people knew about struggle/domestic violence?
I wish that people knew that the struggle is real, you don’t know who is facing the demon of domestic violence and wanting to get out. It is not easy to ask for help. And please if you find yourself speaking with someone who is dealing with it. Do not ask them things like, “what did YOU do, he is such a nice man” etc.
Through your personal tragedy what was the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Never give up. This is a testing place, not a resting place
If you could do anything what would you do and why?
If I could do anything I would build a community of tiny homes for people who have been homeless and who have lived in abuse. The community / village would uplift. It would be a very mindful and peaceful place to live.
If you could pick a super power, which one?
My super power would be to give courage and hope.
What’s the inspiration behind Urban Wilderness Yoga?
The inspiration behind UWY was wanting people to get outside… step out of our comfort zones. To make yoga accessible to everyone, not just people who have money. Get into nature, connect and know that we are ok.
What is your big goal with Urban Wilderness Yoga?
To someday have the Urban Wilderness village.
Any final words for anyone reading this?
Never give up. You never know who is hearing or seeing your story… what you are going through is possible helping others.