As a real estate agent, Excelsior resident Jennifer Morris is used to juggling responsibilities, but her separation from her husband in 2004 brought an entirely new level of stress. As a newly single woman trying to balance a multitude of issues, she felt ill-equipped and alone.
“I was in a place of high emotion and low information,” says Morris. “I was making these huge decisions and didn’t have the resources or tools to help me do that well.” She dreamt of a place she could find the answers and support network she needed to cope with—and even learn to love—her “ever-expanding life.”
She began to define the place she had been looking for during her separation: a one-stop support and resource network where women could get legal and financial advice, develop co-parenting strategies, hear from life coaches and get the inspiration and peace of mind they would need to rebuild their lives post-divorce.
“I wanted to feel like divorce wouldn’t define me, and that I had a future ahead of me,” says Morris. “And I wanted other women to feel that same way.”
In 2005, Morris went to work on a weekend retreat she named Daisy Camp, assembling a team of volunteer professionals who could offer unbiased advice to women.
“I just started calling people. Some hung up on me when I told them what I wanted to do,” says Morris.
One person who didn’t hang up, and remains a crucial part of the Daisy Camp team today, was certified financial planner Amy Wolff. Wolff fit the bill of a financial expert who not only had the knowledge, but the desire, to help women. With female financial planners in the minority, she realized that many women—especially those going through a divorce—seek the unique perspective and trust offered by a female financial planner. To date, Wolff has served as the “financial neutral” on more than 350 divorce cases, as she decided early in her career to focus much of her time on working with women.
When Wolff got the call from Morris in 2005, Wolff said she didn’t even need to think about what her answer would be.
“I was like ‘I’m in!’” she says. “I had such a good gut feeling about [Morris].”
In early 2006, Wolff joined a team of lawyers, psychologists, real estate agents and inspirational speakers for what they thought would be a one-time retreat for women facing or having just gone through a divorce. Morris says that first retreat had a huge turnout and a huge waiting list. With so many women interested in the resources the group had to offer, Daisy Camp developed into a series of multi-day retreats, one-day seminars and evening discussion groups focusing on divorce-related topics. In 2011, Daisy Camp received 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
“If you start off not having a lot of information about something, it’s especially scary,” says Wolff. “Tax law, real estate, custody battles … information builds confidence. Daisy Camp is one of the only places I know that offers an overview of divorce-process choices … it’s down-to-earth education.”
Says Carolyn Riley, who attended Daisy Camp in 2011 while going through a divorce from her husband of 46 years, “Nobody’s really prepared for a divorce … all the decisions, emotions and issues that are raised.”
She recalls financial and legal experts and even a belly-dancing instructor presenting during Daisy Camp.
“Daisy Camp is really a safe place,” says Riley. “We came from all different walks of life, but we all bonded over this one life event that none of us had anticipated.” She says that today, “I’m stronger. I’m more independent. I’m taking better care of myself ... I’m even online dating!”
Daisy Camp graduates are called “daisies” because, as Morris says, “a daisy is a sign of spring and renewal. Daisies are beautiful, but you see them growing in cracks and alongside highways … they symbolize a new beginning. You fertilize them and they just grow and multiply.”