TEMECULA – Taryn Murphy knows that sometimes, it’s the seemingly simple things that can have the greatest impact on people.
On Thursday, Murphy, a senior in high school, donated writing journals to Su Casa, a domestic violence shelter in Long Beach. The journals will be used in the shelter’s therapy programs.
For Murphy, a Valley News Intern, this delivery is a milestone – her first official donation as a part of her recently created charity.
Murphy is the founder of Journals for the Journey, a charitable outreach with a mission to foster healing for survivors of trauma or abuse. The outreach, which provides journals at no cost to safe-houses and shelters, is an effort to promote the therapeutic experience of journaling for individuals who have been mistreated, neglected, or have undergone painful ordeals. Murphy’s target groups include domestic abuse survivors, human trafficking survivors, children in the foster care system, and veterans.
Murphy, who has been journaling for 12 years, developed the idea for her outreach at the kitchen table with her mother one afternoon. After researching human trafficking for her speech and debate class, she became passionate about the victims of the crime and wanted to find a way to help.
“As I uncovered the stories behind this horrible practice, I felt my heart break for the enslaved people. Even more, I was shocked to learn that human trafficking was happening in my own backyard,” said Murphy.
Murphy began to brainstorm as to how she could make a difference. She had long been aware of the therapeutic and emotional benefits of journaling, but as she continued to research the topic, the idea of providing that cathartic activity to victims of human trafficking became clear.
“Psychologists, doctors, and health studies repeatedly conclude that journaling can dramatically reduce and heal emotional trauma,” Murphy explained.
Knowing that there are many others in need due to a variety of human traumas, Murphy realized she didn’t have to stop at human trafficking survivors.
“I then asked myself, ‘Why stop at just human trafficking? Why not also reach those who have suffered from domestic abuse? Or sexual abuse? Or any other kind of trauma?’” she recalled.
Thus, Journals for the Journey was born. After contacting safe-houses and shelters in her area, Murphy found that many of them were voicing a need for journal donations.
“They repeatedly expressed that funds just weren’t there for anything other than necessities, and that donated journals would be a huge blessing for them,” she explained.
Creating her own website and visiting local businesses for donations, Murphy created a game plan and set to work. With a small stock of journals, she reached out to Su Casa and drove out to deliver her first donation.
Christina Kreachbaum, director of Community Outreach at Su Casa, praised Murphy’s outreach, saying that Su Casa attempts to provide every individual at the shelter with a journal.
“There are a lot of things that we use the journals for,” she said.
These journals not only provide a physical place to record one’s thoughts, she explained, but they also symbolize independence for survivors.
“The biggest part, too, is it’s theirs and theirs alone. Having something that is your own is not something that they’ve had for a long time, because violation of privacy is a very big part of controlling relationships,” Kreachbaum said.
The journals are provided for shelter residents of all ages, from children to adults. No matter how old a survivor is, physical journals can change the healing game.
“There’s something very therapeutic about having the tactile experience,” Kreachbaum said. “With the journals, it’s something that people carry with them. They can keep it safe.”
Murphy hopes to expand Journals for the Journey’s reach to multiple states. Her biggest hurdle, she says, is finding donors.
“Many people say they are going to donate, but don’t follow through. It can be frustrating. But I’m optimistic. Any dollar, any journal, anything helps,” Murphy said. “There is such a need out there and we have only scratched the surface.”