Businesses, strangers shared a mission to help a friend

Scented candles and room sprays, exotic succulent arrangements, hand-stitched linens, herbal teas, handbags and purses, and handmade jewelry were a few of the options at a benefit for Chula Vistan Christine Morris, a 37 year old who has lived with paralysis since a 2006 car accident. Held at Mission Collective Market at Harvest Collective in Bonita on June 12, 10% of proceeds of all sales go to Help Hope Live in Christine’s honor, a nonprofit organization she partnered with in 2007 so that all donations to her rehabilitative recovery are tax deductible.

Morris said she was a front passenger in a car rollover accident on Bonita Road and when it rolled on to her side of the car, the roof absorbed all the impact putting pressure on her neck. The fire department had to use jaws of life to free her, and she was immediately life-flighted to Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego in Hillcrest. She said her nurse’s name was Christine also and that they bantered back and forth, with her not having any indication of how serious her injuries were.

“I wasn’t fearful to tell you the truth,” she said. “I didn’t know that the extent of what I was going to be experiencing. They did a 10 hour surgery and to support my neck, so they have rods and plates in my neck just to stabilize it. With my injury the spinal cord injury it does not allow the connection for my nerves my brain to the nerves of my muscles, so my muscles are fine, it’s just the connecting signals do not work with my spinal cord injury.”
Morris said her physical therapy requires a lot of stimulation with repetitive movement. She said that is why it is important that she does her therapy as much as possible. Morris goes to therapy two hours, three days a week. Each one hour session costs $100.

Due to her ongoing therapy, Morris can stand with assistance now, her lungs are stronger, and her muscles in her torso, shoulders and triceps are much stronger now.

“I can take steps with assistance,” she said. “My right leg is a little weaker and is a little bit slower than my left leg. My glutes are engaged so I can push my pelvic muscles more. So, from where I was to where I am now, it has been a long road, but there is much more hope of where I will be in the future.”

Morris said the only way she can continue her therapy is with the consistent help with therapy and volunteers like the ones that are helping her through the open market fundraiser.

Her sister, Sarah Lopez, hosted the event at her business Harvest Collective. She said she gladly helps with these types of fundraisers to help her sister walk again.

Lopez said that she opened her business right before the pandemic in March 2020 with the goal of being a local place for small businesses, ministries and nonprofits to come together that do not have the ability to rent a facility. She also owns a commercial kitchen next door, for small businesses can rent out the kitchen and can produce their products without the overhead of a restaurant. She said due to its location, openness and the ability to provide services outdoors, that she was able to run the businesses during the pandemic.

“Both spaces are very focused for local entrepreneurship in the community,” she said. “We love Bonita, we love the community. We are a family business, and it is great to be able to do things like this.”

Lopez said starting the business came out of the need that she saw within the entrepreneurial community and saw that there really was no hub for local business owners to gather, have training workshops, the things needed for a startup business or home-based businesses looking to expand.