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The commitment to attend was scary. Attending was life changing. Years of grief and loss were transformed with the first exercise. There was great joy in rediscovering who I was. I no longer felt alone.

—Vince Crisostomo

This was a group effort led by an expert team who knew what they were doing bring out the beauty and strength in
all of us.

—Mick Robinson

Until your program, I feel like we have been left to our own devices when it comes to healing the emotional wounds and I am very grateful for the opportunity to do that healing with this very special group. The lightness and happiness that we felt at the gatherings conclusion was amazing.

—Ed Duddleston

The hand-on-heart exercise was what I think I reacted most to. To be that intimate, looking into someone's eyes while feeling their heart beat, was truly looking into their soul. I could see everything in his eyes that he's been through. I couldn't help but start to sob.

—John Traglia

Fighting for life was a need, i never had a chance to heal or work on me, now i get that chance after all these years.

—Steve Ibarra

Picture of Heart Lodge for meetings, yoga and more.
Retreat Center Mission

Honoring Our Experience

A Retreat for ALL people impacted by HIV

Honoring Ourselves at Saratoga SpringsMany of us who lived through the the most difficult days of the AIDS epidemic at times ask ourselves, "Did that really happen?” Yes, it did, and for better or for worse this epidemic has had a profound role in shaping us into the people we are today. Our memory of this time is both deep and complex. It was a tragic time of profound loss, suffering, and trauma for us individually and as a community. We lost partners, friends, and for some, entire extended families—the loss was unfathomable. And along with that loss came a powerful sense of purpose and connectedness, as an embattled community came together. The world came to witness our courage and heroism as we walked through fire. 

At a time when the AIDS epidemic seems to be referred to as ancient history, we choose to come together to honor what it is we walked through and are presently carrying. This gathering is an opportunity for us to honor the personal experience of walking through this era of AIDS, as well as to honor the powerful shared experience of this time.

WHO? - This gathering welcomes ALL people touched by HIV. Women, men, young, old, LGBT or straight, HIV-negative & HIV-positive!. Each of us has been impacted by this epidemic and have powerful experiences to share. We welcome HIV-negative people- too often their losses and their contributions can seem to be overlooked or under appreciated. At this retreat our healing relies on all of us coming together. 

Please note: This is a workshop requiring full participation involving sharing, experiential exercises, group activities and connecting with one another with the goal of mutual healing. 

WHY GATHER?  - We have learned from our response to the epidemic that joining together in community is profoundly healing. But, we'll join for many reasons- some shared, some personal… to honor what we experienced, to honor one another and to remember those lost. We will join because simply being with one another can help make sense of this experience. At this gathering we will share not only personal stories of suffering but also acknowledge the wisdom and resilience gained. 

WHEN?  -     Monday, September 15 - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Arrive after 3pm on the first day.  Dinner is at 6pm with program starting at 8pm sharp.  Retreat finishes at 3pm on last day.  Please plan to stay for the entire retreat. 

WHERE?  -  Saratoga Springs Retreat Center  10243 Saratoga Springs Rd, Upper Lake, CA 95485

HOW MUCH? - Cost for this workshop is sliding scale $199-449, based on your ability to pay, and includes 6 meals, lodging, taxes and all fees.  Your generosity allows others with less funds attend. Please pay at the highest level of the sliding scale that you can afford. 

Financial Aid- Scholarship assistance is available through the generous support of Shanti. Please state your need and request on the application.

Payments can be made via PayPal, personal check or credit card through the Saratoga Springs Office.  Complete the form below and click on Submit to move to the payment page.

Being Present - Because of the expected intensity of the experience and in honoring our desire to be fully present for one another, we ask participants to refrain from alcohol and drugs immediately before and during the event.  Our experience is we have greater clarity, group cohesion and presence in a drug and alcohol free environment. 

MORE INFO  - This retreat will be facilitated by Gregg Cassin and friends. Gregg is a long-term survivor of HIV. He's been leading retreats and workshops for the LGBT/HIV, and at-risk youth communities for over 25 years. During the height of the epidemic Gregg founded the Healing Circle, and the San Francisco Center for Living, as well as leading conferences nationally with AIDS, Medicine and Miracles. Gregg is now a staff member of Shanti.

This retreat is an experiential workshop which encourages participants to be engaged with the community gathered.  

Questions re retreat? -

“Gregg Cassin is a truly masterful facilitator. He is not one of those slick or over-polished personalities. Rather, he is genuine, warm, and humble—with a  wicked sense of humor that puts people at their ease.  He makes people feel that he is “one of us.” He has that ability—so rare among professional facilitators—to speak from his heart, respond to the real needs of a group in the moment, and make it safe for others to speak honestly. Indeed, I have never seen anyone who can help a group “open” so effectively, making it instantly safe for them to explore even sensitive issues with both kindness and compassion.”-- Martin Boroson, Author, One-Moment Meditation: Stillness for People on the Go.

Pre-registration & Information

Please fill out the following form and we will contact you with more information.  We appreciate your time and participation in this process.  Registration is limited to the first 60 participants. 

If you attended the previous Honoring Our Experience retreat, please fill in only those 5 items marked with an (r).  

Saratoga Springs: 707-275-9503 | email

* items are required.
*Retreat: Honoring Our Experience September 15-17, 2014
*Full Name: (r)
*Email: (r)
*Address :
*Zip/Postal Code:
*Telephone: (r)
*HIV Status: Positive Date:  
*First time attending Honoring Our Experience?
First timer First timers, please tell us some of your story here
Payment Information:  
*Amount paying sliding scale $199-449: How much will you be paying? (r)
Financial assistance: Scholarships are available through the generous support of Shanti.  Are you a client of any other HIV service organization that can assist with cost? 
Please  share your interest in attending this retreat these organizations. Thanks for working with us and supporting this community event!
Please tell us about your financial need:


The following questions are about your personal experiences around the HIV epidemic.  Please share as much as you can.  This information is crucial to forming the retreat and will have an impact on your experiences there.  Fi you attended the previous Honoring Our Experience event and have already answered these questions, you can us PA to indicate previously answered.

*Briefly describe your losses from the epidemic. A partner? Family member? Friend, several friends, most friends?


*How have you handled the losses and grief?


*How did you respond during the early years? I.e. involved in ACT-Up, Shanti, The Healing Circle, support or men's groups or none of the above?


*What do you hope to get out of this weekend?


*How did you hear about this retreat?

A Friend

*Which groups you have attended?

Gregg's workshops and/or retreats or AM&M
California Mens Gathering (CMG)
The Billys

Please list any questions, comments or special needs you have such as vegetarian, allergies, special needs, etc.:

Clicking SUBMIT above will display the payment page where you can pay by PayPal, Credit Card or Personal Check.
Thank you for your participation!  This form may take a few moments to send.