We had the good fortune of connecting with Portia Effinger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Portia, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The thought process behind me starting the nonprofit journey, is a strong desire to bridge a gap between healthcare providers and a necessary community resource. Grief is real, yet it’s still such a taboo topic within today’s society. There has to be safe spaces to care, connect, and create within our community and I am here for it. As a provider, it disturbs me how often a mental health disparity is directly linked to an undiagnosed complicated grief case, due to lack of adequate support or resources. Of course, 15 minute appointment slots alone aren’t enough time to unpack the necessary, so what’s the next step? Building a community outlet, The Recharge Project, and utilizing its resources to advocate for ourselves and future generations. Often times we dismiss the need to grieve with “it’s apart of life”, or not talking about the feelings that surround our pain. Common harsh statements such as, “You have to be strong, and keep moving forward” taint our view of how grief really works. There is so much that happens to the body both physically and mentally when one experiences a significant loss; adequate support after such loss makes a huge difference. These past years have taken so much away from us, but mostly it has opened our eyes. Now is the time to normalize grief, especially within the African American community. It’s time to be ok with not being ok. Let us seek out resources when we need them, talk about the griefs that alter us, and not suffer in silence. It’s time to “Grieve out loud”. The world is grieving, and I’m here to support the journey as we shift the stigma.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a Nurse Practitioner who is a strong mental health and wellness advocate. In the past few years, with all that has happened, I’ve chosen to specialize in grief. As a CGIP (Certified Grief Informed Professional), I am most excited about my community outreach efforts, of which are constantly driven by the love I have for my family and the population I serve.
I believe, what started out as a personal tragedy for my family and I, unfolded into an enlightening journey within my profession. As I began to research, I realized unadressed grief can be the root cause of various healthcare concerns, and there are several gaps in our system that fail to address such. Although it is such a familiar experience, it is such a foreign topic. Being a great listener in a clinical setting has allowed me to further analyze the need for such a community resource as this, especially amongst our youth. Each month my team and I show up in the community, host grief support sessions for our youth, and address neccessary concerns with grieving families. It has certainly become a powerful movement.
The road has not always been easy, but each day I wake up and press the reset button, it is all so worth it. Normalizing conversations surrounding such a shy away topic has to start somewhere, why not in a place that you are most vulnerable. From the clinic to the community, talking about grief has become my new norm. It’s time out for awkwardly dismissing grief; as unadressed grief leads to worsening anxiety, depression, and in worse case scenarios suicide. Our community needs resources, my greatest desire is for them to feel as if I am one.
What sets my movement apart is that I am here to shift the narrative on how the world sees grief globally. From Atlanta to Africa, I aim to start conversations in vulnerable communities all over the world. Amplifying the voices of other’s tragic experiences for the purpose of healing, has so much power. I want the world to know, yes grief is a part of life, however, the journey to healing can be beautiful and you do not have to go at it alone.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One thing I love about the this city is that it caters to all personality types and energies. I love to relax, so anywhere with a nice view and chill vibes, I’m there. If a friend is in town for the weekend of course it all depends on their vibe, but typically we make our own fun. Trying out new restaurants, hitting Jeju spa, strolling the beltline, visiting historic sites, and hanging at the outlets are all musts. For that spiritual recharge, I love SW Atlanta Yoga or a nice Sunday Brunch. Atlanta is like Heaven for a foodie, so of course, the list of spots I love could go on for days. Top 5? South City kitchen, Two Urban Licks, Ray’s on the River, Kiku Sushi bar, and anywhere that serves bomb tacos. Atlanta just has so many options.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate this shout out to my mom, my super hero, and best friend. I know such a cliche right?, however, this woman has literally molded me into the woman I am today. It’s not because of the advice she gave, but rather for each time she replied ” so, what are you gonna do”, that has given me my drive. Many times when we have an issue or feel overwhelmed, we just need someone to listen, not to judge or give biased opinions. She is my person. It’s because of her that I don’t rely on the guidance of others, but instead my choices are lead by God and my own inner voice. In a world filled with so much noise, there is much beauty in the ability to hear your own voice.
“Its the magic within each one of us that gives us the potential to inspire the world” -Kobe Bryant
JP Photography- Julia Pinto PHF/ Recharge Uganda- Omar Makooza