The Story of Keeping Hope Alive
Keeping Hope Alive was founded by Carol Howard Wooton, MA, MFT, in 2001 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Our mission is to help stroke survivors and their families reclaim whole and meaningful lives through small groups and storytelling classes.
Throughout our development, we have had the support of a hard-working Board of Directors and an extraordinary Advisory Board, including Rachel Naomi Remen, Ram Dass, Angeles Arrien, PhD, David Roche and Sadja Greenwood, MD, MPH. Since our incorporation we have received media attention and numerous grants and private donations to further our work.
Carol was the first stroke survivor to break through an invisible barrier to volunteer on the San Francisco Stroke Committee of the American Heart Association, and co-lead their monthly Stroke Club.
Our innovative program has helped more than 700 Bay Area stroke survivors ranging in age from 24 to 88.
We produced the Different Folks with Different Strokes Storytelling Program with a grant from the Marin Arts Council.
We trained volunteers for San Francisco’s “Stroke Survivors Start Over” peer visitor program of the American Heart Association.
With a grant from the Marin Community Foundation, we partnered with the Stroke Education Council of Marin to publish and develop an online version of the Marin County Stroke Resource Directory (www.strokeinfomarin.org).
We received donations from the Mil Valley and Marin Evening Rotary Clubs, the Clorox Corporation, The Yamanouchi Corporation, the Soroptomistsof San Rafael, Donor Advised Funds of the Marin Community Foundation and Jewish Family and Children’s Services, and from numerous private donors.
We participated in the Marin Human Race.
We have given numerous talks about Small Groups and Emotional Recovery from Stroke, and Stroke in the Family at California Pacific Medical Center, Saint Mary’s and Mt. Zion Hospitals, the Family Caregiver Alliance of San Francisco, Herrick Hospital of Berkeley, the Northern California Association of Rehabilitation Nurses, and the Stroke Center of Palm Springs, California.
I was 38 when a brain stem and cerebellar stroke gave me my life’s work in 1985, and I had been licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist just three years earlier.
After the stroke, I grieved the loss of who I had been and the life I had planned, and focused on learning to function again. I walked slowly, one step at a time. Thought slowly. Spoke slowly. Slept a lot. My recovery was interwoven with Buddhist retreats and practice, exercise, Yoga, Feldenkrais class, shamanic explorations, and training with my mentors, Rachel Naomi Remen, Angeles Arrien, David Roche and Jo Anne Smith.
In 1991, I felt “whole” and competent enough to lead the first small group for stroke survivors at Saint Mary's Hospital and Medical Center in San Francisco, where I had been a patient. Since then, I have pioneered and facilitated small groups for hundreds of stroke survivors in community colleges, hospitals and private-practice settings. I have had the privilege of working with some extraordinary folks like Ram Dass and some very "ordinary” folks - every one engaged in re-creating a self after a stroke.
In the process I have learned patience, and the power of persistence and practice. I learned to pause, to observe my own thoughts, and to listen to the felt sense of intuition, deeper knowing and feeling. I now help people learn to listen to themselves, to their bodies, and to the important people in their lives.