Fundraiser set for Dec. 14; Scholarship winners chosen; Video debuts

A Night of Comedy to Benefit Our Programs

On Dec. 14, join us for a night of comedy, champagne and dessert to benefit The Benji Project featuring Key City Public Theater’s production of “Every Christmas Story Ever Told.”  Instead of rehashing a holiday classic for the umpteenth time, three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told in this madcap romp through the holiday season!

Tickets are $65 including dessert, champagne and holiday magic. Buy yours here.  

Volunteers are also needed to bake desserts and work the house. If you can help, please sign up here.

Winners of Teacher Training Scholarships

Scholarships valued at $5,000 each have been awarded to Teresa Shiraishi and Heather McRae-Woolf to train to become teachers of our programs. Special thanks to the Fund for Women and Girls for underwriting one of the scholarships.

Teresa, a counselor at Dove House, and Heather, an educator, were chosen from a highly competitive field of applicants. The two winners are embarking on their training, which should finish in 2019. Congratulations!

Watch Our New Video

Drumroll please for the debut of a video about our program, produced by award-winning filmmaker, Jessica Plumb.

Teens Learn Stress Management; Boys Need Sponsor

2018 has been an active year for our programs which served more than 60 area youth. Highlights include our four-day summer camp for girls ages 11 to 19 which. The Benji Project also offered two 8-week classes for high school students, including a girls program supported by the Fund for Women and Girls. 

Reunion/refresher programs are scheduled Nov. 17.  We are fundraising for 2019 programs and are especially seeking sponsors for boys programs.

Are you part of an organization or charity that wants to support boys? We are seeking a partner to step up and make sure boys have access to stress management and emotional resilience skills.  Please get in touch.

Participants and staff of Benji Camp in June.

Participants and staff of Benji Camp in June.

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Donor Honor Roll

Deepest thanks to major donors in the second half of the year including Chad’s Legacy Project, Jefferson Healthcare, Ellen Ferguson, Port Townsend Kiwanis, Thomson Reuters, and Bruce R. McCaw and Jolene M. McCaw Donor Advised Fund at United Way of King County.

Gratitude to other generous donors including: Sueleka Matthews, Geroge D Eseveldt, Mary Wilson, Aimee Boulanger, David Beal, Christopher Boyd, Helen Brink, Margery Helander, Donna Eldridge, Larry Dunbar, Beth Ross, Sharon Hoyer, Calah Tenney, Tina McLeese, Joe Cunningham.

If you want to support our teen programs, make your donation here.

The S Word movie on April 7 and NEW summer camp for girls 11-14

Join us for a by-donation showing of "The S Word" movie on Saturday, April 7, at noon at The Rose Theater. Proceeds will benefit The Benji Project. The film will be followed by a talk by Lisa Klein, filmmaker of this

award-winning documentary. This movie, which breaks the silence around suicide, is also being shown to students at Port Townsend High Schoo. Events organized by student Callay Boire Shedd.

Also save the date: We are holding a camp for girls ages 11 to 14 on June 25 to 28. Teachers Lorraine Hobbs and Karen Bluth will offer an age-appropriate version of our Making Friends with Yourself course on mindfulness and self-compassion along with fun activities. Stay tuned for registration.

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Grant Won, Classes to Start, and Much More News

We’ve got lots of news at The Benji Project:

·        The Fund for Women and Girls awards grant to The Benji Project and School Clinics

·        Making Friends with Yourself teen course starts January

·        Teacher scholarships to be awarded in 2018

·        Theater fundraiser was a big success

·        Calling nominees for teen advisory board

·        Teen Self-Compassion Workbook published

·        Save the Date – “The S Word Movie” fundraiser Feb. 8

·        Donor thank-you’s

Grant News

The Fund for Women and Girls has awarded its annual grant to The Benji Project and the School-Based Health Centers. The $8,200 award will support the launch of Making Friends with Yourself by paying for local teacher training and an initial session of the eight-week class for high school age girls. (Class begins in January; See details below.) The Benji Project and SBHC under the leadership of Susan O’Brien will develop a community referral model to help teens access the program.  Thank you to the Fund for Women and Girls!

Program Launch

The Benji Project’s core program on mindful self-compassion for teens will launch in January. The initial session, supported by funding from The Fund for Women and Girls, is for high school girls and will meet on Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. in Port Townsend. The program runs Jan. 25 to March 30 with no meetings on Feb. 8 and Feb. 22. Registration is required. Further details will be posted online soon. Until then, email with questions or for registration information.

Additionally, the course will be taught to students at Jefferson Community School over the same period. Further classes are planned later in the year. We are seeking a sponsor for a community boys’ class.

Teacher Scholarships

Making Friends with Yourself will be taught by teachers visiting from the Seattle area in 2018, but we are working hard to cultivate local teachers. Supported by The Fund for Women and Girls, The Benji Project aims to select and award scholarships to two individuals in 2018 for training to become certified to teach MFY. An application and selection process will be announced by the spring.

Theater Night

The Benji Project’s night of theater fundraiser at Key City Public Theater for “The Book Club Play” in October was a big success. Thank you to KCPT, the many volunteers, supporters and our honorary host, Holley Carlson of Coldwell Banker. More than $4,000 was raised.

Teen Advisory Board

Thank you to the teens who have stepped forward to form our Teen Advisory Board. Among this board’s crucial roles will be to help select our teacher scholarship winners and advise on how to promote Making Friends with Yourself. Do you know a teen who is motivated to help others? We are accepting nominations for additional board members. Please contact for details.

Workbook Published

Karen Bluth, the co-creator of our Making Friends with Yourself program, published “The Self-Compassion Workbook for Teens” in November. It offers valuable tools and exercises based in mindfulness and self-compassion and is a great adjunct to our live classes. By purchasing your copy via our link to Amazon, you help support our programs. The Benji Project will in 2018 donate copies to local schools, organizations and libraries to make this resource available in the community. If you would like a copy for your organization, please contact

“The S Word Movie”

PTHS student Callay Boire-Shedd is organizing screenings in February of “The S Word Movie,” which played at the PT Film Festival and breaks the silence around discussing suicide. Filmmaker Lisa Klein will attend. As part of the events, a fundraiser screening for The Benji Project will be held at the Starlight Room on Feb. 8. Further details to come.

Donor Thank You’s

Thank you to all who have donated in the fourth quarter. Every donation is meaningful.

Major Donor Thanks: The Fund for Women and Girls, Sarah Schmidt, Center for Anti-Bullying and Non-Violence / PEACE-ART

Donor Thanks:  Rebecca Kimball, Holly Petta, Janeen Armstrong, Sarah Rubenstein, Peter Wiant, Suzy Carroll, David Taylor, Sherry NeSmith, Ellen Emmenegger, David Osterman, Arshad Mohammed, Sharon Kuznetsov, Laura Ovette, Mary Biskup


There are lots of developments at The Benji Project including upcoming events for adults and teens, progress on non-profit status, and the formation of a youth advisory board. Read on to learn more.


FOR ADULTS: SUPPORTING YOUTH WITH MINDFUL SELF-COMPASSIONA 1-1/2 day workshop will be held Aug. 26 and 27. Co-creators of the Making Friends with Yourself program Lorraine Hobbs and Karen Bluth will introduce parents and professionals to helping teens navigate adolescence with self-compassion. CE credit will be available. Read more here.

A half-day workshop for youth ages 11 to 19 about mindful self-compassion will be held on Aug. 27 in the afternoon. Instructors Lorraine Hobbs and Karen Bluth will give teens an overview of mindful self-compassion and offer simple meditations, tools and exercises to build self-compassion. Teens interested in joining The Benji Project youth advisory board (see details below) are requested to join this program. Read more here

Learn more about how to become a teacher of mindful self-compassion for teens and volunteer opportunities with The Benji Project at this event on Aug 27 at 5:30 p.m.. Lorraine Hobbs and Karen Bluth will explain the certifications and experience necessary to lead the Making Friends with Yourself Program. The Benji Project hopes to support the development of local teachers for the Port Townsend program. The Benji Project also needs help with fundraising, publicity and other activities. Get the details here.


Do you know a youth ages 11-19 who likes helping other teens? The Benji Project is forming a youth advisory board to help spread the word about our mission and to offer guidance to The Benji Project on the best ways to bring mindful self-compassion programs to the youth of Port Townsend. The youth advisory board will meet two to four times a year with possibility of further volunteer involvement. If possible, youth advisory board members are requested to attend the half-day workshop on Aug. 27. If you or someone you know is a good fit, please email with name, age, phone number and email address. 

The Benji Project aims to launch the core program on mindful self-compassion for teens in the autumn. The program will be run once a week for eight weeks and is open to ages 11 to 19.  Dates and times have not been determined yet. Email if you want to suggest a time. 


The Benji Project will hold one-day retreats – Oct 28 for boys and Oct 29 for girls – for teens to attend with a parent, caregiver or other key adult. This program is focused on guiding parents and teens toward treating each other and themselves with more kindness as the youth goes through adolescence. Activities and discussion on such topics as: What I wish my teen/my parent knew about how I am feeling. What it’s like to be me. How can we develop ways for greater understanding and communication.  Registration and more details will be available later this summer.   


The Benji Project is working towards gaining fiscal sponsorship which would enable us to accept tax-deductible donations and access more funding sources. The program would operate under the administrative umbrella of another nonprofit. Stay tuned for more updates.


The Benji Project wants to make trainings available to all, but the costs are high. A fundraising committee will start work this autumn. Contact and let us know if you can serve. If you would like to donate, email 


The weekend core skills workshop in March was a success with 34 registrants. Instructors Lorraine Hobbs and Tim Burnett led group meditations, exercises, journaling and discussion. If you weren't able to attend this workshop and would like it to be offered again, let us know. We might repeat it if there is enough demand.



Cynthia spoke about mindful self-compassion and The Benji Project at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on June 25. You can listen or read the talk here