Scholarship Winners to Embark on Training with The Benji Project

The Benji Project has awarded scholarships to Nancy Israel and Aaron “AJ” Feit to train as instructors in its program of stress management and emotional resilience skills for adolescents.

Israel, a youth educator at the Northwest Maritime Center, and Feit, a social worker in Port Townsend schools, will finish their training in mid-2020 when they will be ready to lead The Benji Project’s “Making Friends with Yourself” class and other programs. The scholarships underwrite training costs of about $5,000 per recipient.

The pair will join 2018 scholarship winners Teresa Shiraishi and Heather McRae-Woolf who will complete their training this summer.

“We are thrilled to have Nancy and AJ join The Benji Project,” said Cynthia Osterman, Founder and Board Chair. “They were chosen from a highly competitive field of applicants. The selection committee was impressed by their experience working with youth, commitment to our mission, and personal qualities.”

Israel has over 25 years of experience working with youth in the field of environmental/maritime education. She currently works as the School Program Manager at the Northwest Maritime Center where she creates and provides experiential programming with local and regional schools.

"I am thrilled to receive the scholarship. I look forward to learning more about how to make mindfulness and self compassion more accessible to the youth of our community," she said.

Feit, who holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California, works for Kitsap Mental Health Services and the Port Townsend School District as a social worker in Port Townsend schools and has experience as a therapist and group facilitator.

“I am both elated and honored to have been chosen as a 2019 scholarship recipient, and am excited to share mindfulness - a critical component of self-regulation and successfully weathering life’s storms – with those who are most vulnerable to those challenges,” Feit said.