When I decided the theme of my blog and the direction I wanted to take it, with weekly posts featuring other women in our community whom I admire, am inspired by and who are just in general true “bosses,” I knew right away I was going to feature “Miss Ashley,” as her students call her, in one of the first posts.
I’ve always noticed Ashley (not just because she’s a 6 foot tall, gorgeous blonde), but because she has that thing about her where you know she’s smart, you can tell she’s approachable, you can see that she cares a lot, and when you’re lucky enough to talk to her, you can feel that she’s genuinely listening. I guess I would call that the new wave version of an “IT Girl.”
So, being the business-minded person that I am… the only logical thing to do was to ask her to be an instructor and help me build my community with all of her magnificence. At this point, I was in full fledged “heart-eye emoji?” status being around Ashley and THEN I learned what she did outside of the studio and I just fell in love with this human being!
Ashley, you are a true B.O.S.S. Bold because you’ve taken the leap to do something you are passionate about and believe in; Outspoken because you know what to say and when to say it to those impressionable teenagers; Smart because you recognized there was a need that was being underserved; and Sassy because I take your classes each week and I totally love your “butt-cheek” jokes!
This is Ashley’s story of how she’s making her mark on our community. Enjoy!
As I look back, one consistent influence in my life has been the presence of strong, intelligent, and independent women. I couldn’t be more inspired by the creation of this blog by one of those women and I am honored to be a part of it. My name is Ashley Sartini, I’m a therapist, friend, fiancee, daughter, bar method instructor/lover/enthusiast and just an overall believer in living life with your whole heart. I’m excited to be featured on Barre Boss and to share my incredible organization, Mending Matters, with you all.
Before I get into the details about my journey into entrepreneurship, here’s a little about me. I was born and raised in a small town in Utah. I grew up knowing everyone in my community, believing that life was simple, and that fresh air was easy to come by. When I was 18 years old I moved to Los Angeles to go to college and it was the first time in my life that I really had to get outside my comfort zone. There were many days I wanted to go back to the simplicity I’d always known, but something kept me rooted in California. Here I learned how to rely on myself, make new friends, and more importantly that I crave a life a bit more complex.
During college, my desire to be a part of something bigger than my tiny version of a world led me on a new career path (originally I planned to be a glamorous sports broadcaster, but let’s just say, things changed). At 19, I started working in a residential treatment facility for teenage girls whom had been placed there for a variety of challenges, including but not limited to mental health issues, behavior problems, family chaos, and substance abuse. I spent two summers encountering a pain I felt helpless to fix and I knew more needed to done. This ultimately became a running theme for my life, I am never satisfied with mediocrity.
In 2010, I moved to San Diego for graduate school to get my Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. After graduation, I landed a job working as a school-based therapist for a local organization. I didn’t know it at the time, but returning to a high school would change my life forever. Teenagers quickly became my people. They taught me a lot about honesty, respect, emotional changes, and what it means to be truly understood. I loved the work I was doing, but I knew it was falling short, too many kids were suffering.
Like I said, I’ve always surrounded myself with strong women. I need them. They give me energy to make a difference in the lives of others. One of my colleagues at the time, and now current business partner and close friend, is one of those women. Esther and I both had the same vision about leaving a lasting impact and knew we could reach more teenagers by developing a community for them. So with a leap of faith, we ended our respective jobs and decided to create Mending Matters, an organization dedicated to giving high school students access to mental health services. In layman’s terms, we provide teens a person at their schools to talk to about things happening in their life. Mending Matters went live in September 2014 on three different high school campuses in San Diego County. Since that time we added a fourth high school and have served over 1,000 teens in the community, and that number continues to grow every day.
Our organization creates unique spaces on high school campuses. Our offices are centrally located and accessible to the entire student population. I would argue that we are quite “trendy”. Students view our space as a safe and different place where they can share the secrets and challenges they might not tell their friends, parents, or teachers. Each school has a therapist present throughout the week. What we have discovered as an organization (and probably have always known) is that high school is one of the most challenging times in a person’s life. While going through social, emotional and physical changes, teens at our schools also face an array of difficulties stemming from peer pressure, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, trauma, loss, gang violence, poverty, homelessness, relationships, family challenges, substance abuse, sexual exploitation, and the list could go on and on and on. It’s really easy to think, “oh this could never happen where we live”, but the hard reality is that it is happening in our communities and these kids need someone to talk to.
We can get caught up on the negative things that are happening because we live in a pretty messed up world, but that does nothing for you as readers or for my hopes for Mending Matters. Instead, I’m going to tell you that great things are happening at Mending Matters. Teens are talking, they are asking for help and they are building resilience because we believe they can. The impact is significant. Our service rate exceeds 90% meaning we are able to serve the vast majority of the students referred to our programs.
Esther and I have big dreams for Mending Matters and I mean REALLY big dreams. We believe in the effectiveness of our programs and plan to implement them in high schools all over San Diego County. We dream of expanding our programs throughout the state of California and one day throughout the nation. This population is often misunderstood and unheard, and that inspires us. The simple truth is these young people are our world’s future and they deserve to be given the opportunity to lead healthier lives. Mending Matters helps make that happen every.single.day. and we plan to continue that for as long as possible.
If you all are wondering how Bar Method fits into this journey, that’s probably a story better saved for another day. But I will say this, Bar Method has personally helped me as I worked to build Mending Matters. Taking and teaching class has become my therapy -physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially. This community is my family and there is nothing better than constantly having the support of strong, healthy women around me.
For more information about Mending Matters or to learn how to support our cause, visit http://sdmendingmatters.org