Employee Spotlight – Erika Bowman, Light A Path Coordinator

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Employee Spotlight – Erika Bowman, Light A Path Coordinator

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Photo of Erika Bowman, Light a Path Coordinator
Erika Bowman, Light a Path Coordinator

Multiple people connected with Light a Path (LAP) thought of Erika when the LAP Coordinator Position opened up at the YWCA. It was just a matter of time before Erika heard about it, in fact, she had a complete stranger tell her about the position and urge her to make the connection. People, quickly see Erika’s passion, positive attitude, and incredible resilience. She speaks from the heart and has an uncanny ability to connect with anyone she meets.

As a participant, Erika fell in love with the LAP approach of incorporating trauma-sensitive awareness with body movement classes like yoga and strength training. She knows the impact a trauma-informed approach can have on someone whose life may revolve around chaos like addictions, violence, and mental illness spiraling into unhealthy living patterns. Classes in LAP can teach participants healthy coping mechanisms, and allow them to break the cycles of trauma and admit: “the way I am coping is not ok”. Erika loves seeing people in LAP classes find the freedom to break these systemic cycles and lead the life they chose to lead.

Erika comes to the YW certified in Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) and is a Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS). Erika knows from her own experience that community is key in making the transition to something better, and she wants to be a part of bringing that healing community to others. Erika came home from from prison in 2021, in the middle of the pandemic with nothing but journals and needed everything from transportation, a place to live, and a job, to parenting classes, and a healthy space for her daughter. She found a landlord to rent to her, a therapist who worked on a sliding scale, and an Asheville community center, where donation-based classes allowed her to heal and gave her a community. It was at one of her yoga classes that a stranger overheard her story, and encouraged Erika to connect with the YWCA about the LAP Coordinator position.

Erika shares “the truth is most people don’t know what resources exist when in a time of transition, be it out of recovery from addiction or out of incarceration; it is hard to identify needs or even ask for what is needed.” Erika’s experience with LAP classes taught her to first listen carefully to what people need. After the experience of finding her own way with the guidance of LAP volunteers, she is now honored to work with YWCA LAP volunteers on the program side. Most of all, Erika loves that the YWCA’s work to “eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all” fits so well with the LAP’s mission to provide support to people no matter what trauma they have had in their lives.

Finally, Erika wants everyone to know that LAP program participants don’t need to come to the YWCA building because the program is designed to meet folks where they are in the community, be it a recovery center, jail or prison, or other location. Then when those same participants are ready to come home, the YWCA also provides a community to welcome them with open arms. Today, our program at the women’s correctional facility, where Erika first connected with LAP is back and offering more than 8 classes per month with new programs being added monthly.

Erika Bowman, LAP Coordinator
lightapath@ywcaofasheville.org
828-254-7206 x 229

Learn more about Light A Path at the YWCA here.