ASU professor wants to expand Cornville 'care farm' to help with grief

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Thursday marks five years since a gunman shot and killed 20 elementary students and six teachers in Newtown, Connecticut. An ASU professor who has worked with some of those families now wants to expand her “care farm” to help those dealing with crippling grief. 

The 10-acre facility in Cornville already runs day programs, but Dr. Joanne Cacciatore wants to open the world’s first ever care farm dealing exclusively with traumatic grief. And it’s with the help of animals who have been through trauma themselves. 

Wilbur the pig, for example, was found in an abandoned house in Scottsdale. Aspen, a dog, was found with porcupine needles in his face. In total, the farm has 18 animals, and all were rescued. 

The people at the farm have been through something, too.

“This is a place for people to come and pause and be with their pain,” said Cacciatore. 

She named the facility Selah House and Care Farm. Selah means pause. Cacciatore said it is a place to bear the unbearable, with the help of animals who have also endured the unimaginable, but are now thriving.

“One of my clients said to me, if this is what love can do for him, maybe he can do the same for me,” Cacciatore said. 

Cacciatore has experienced tremendous loss. Her child passed away 23 years ago. Now, this ASU professor, specializing in trauma and bereavement at ASU’s School of Social Work, has worked with some parents impacted by the Newtown tragedy.

“It changes the dynamic of your own experience from a personal private experience to a public experience,” Cacciatore said. “Your grief is public consumption.”

Care farms are already popular in the UK. Cacciatore hopes the concept brings comfort from Cornville, Arizona.

“We need to be creating this for people who are hurting and suffering and supporting efforts like this,” she said. 

They have already raised $100,000 to make this happen but they’re also looking for donations. For more information, visit their web page.

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