Rural Opportunity Institute (ROI), the local organization supporting trauma-informed and resilient communities by offering various initiatives that foster healing in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, is thrilled to celebrate Eulanda Thorne, a single mother of four who is using education, human connection and passion to help support healing from stress and trauma.
When she was crowned Ms. Black North Carolina USA 2022, Eulanda Thorne received the affirmation that she had been waiting for since applying to the pageant back in 2020. Despite being the oldest competitor in the pageant, she knew she had what it takes to win. Some may see receiving this honor as an ending, however, Eulanda knew this was only the beginning.
While working as a Program Manager for the Public School Forum of North Carolina, serving as a Certified Resilience Educator for Rural Opportunity Institute (ROI) and raising four children, she knew that she could use her new pageant title to increase the impact of her life’s work. In fact, that is exactly why she competed in the pageant. So, what is her life’s work? For her that’s easy to answer; it is supporting the healing process of others through offerings of education, human connection, and love. Her hope is to utilize her time as Ms. Black North Carolina 2022 sharing with as many people as possible what she has learned about adverse childhood experiences, trauma and building resilience.
This healing journey started in 2018 when Eulanda was sitting in a Reconnect for Resilience Training in Edgecombe County. During this time, she was completing a Master’s Degree program to become a counselor and attended the two-day training through her counselor internship. When one training was not enough, she chose to attend a second time. But even before attending the second training, her passion for this work was so obvious that she was pulled aside and introduced to the leaders who organized the training – this is when she connected with one of the founders of ROI.
She then asked about and was introduced to a train-the-trainer program that would “change the trajectory of her life”. The Resiliency Educator Apprenticeship Program (REAP) conducted by Resources for Resilience literally brought her to tears. She instantly connected with the information and knew it was the missing link to help continue healing from the trauma she and her children had experienced. Within a few months, she attended and completed the training program with the clear purpose of providing the same training that changed her life to other people and to do so with authenticity.
Eulanda now believes wholeheartedly that the work being done by ROI is vital to building strong, resilient communities and wants to do everything she can to help them succeed. Right now her role is serving as one of ROI’s Board Members and Certified Resilience Educators.
In this role, she is able to continue providing training to the community. In her two-day training, she educates on how trauma manifests itself in the body, what Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are, and provides tools and strategies that can help others regulate, stay connected and build resilience during stressful experiences. When asked, “who needs this training the most?” She responded by saying that the training “is needed by anyone who has an amygdala” – which is basically every human. The amygdala is an important brain structure involved in the body’s stress response system. Understanding what happens within this system and how trauma is felt by our bodies can increase our capacity for well-being and healing. And certainly more people need more tools and resources for healing stress and trauma they have sustained.
While Eulanda has only six short months left to wear her crown (due to the Covid pandemic interfering with the regular scheduled pageant date), she plans to make the most out of this time. In addition to connecting with more people and organizations to share this knowledge, she hopes to inspire her own children to lead resilient lives and to stay well in the face of adversity. She also aspires to make an impact with this work in her hometown of Wilson, North Carolina.
Eulanda feels the success she’s experienced on this journey can be attributed to making a clear and conscious choice to lead with love, authenticity and compassion. She lives by that moral compass.