The Holistic Health Community of Stone Ridge had been providing free treatment to the community one day a month since 2012, growing its unique collective of expert helpers and healers, collaborating with the Rosendale Theatre Collective to offer health-related programming, and holding popular self-care classes and special events. Like everyone else, they’ve had to adapt to COVID-19 – but the result has been more, not less, healthcare offered to the Rondout Valley.
Those who ventured to the Marbletown Community Center for the in-person offerings found it had been more than worth the trip. “I had a massage. I do not have words enough or appropriate to describe my deep appreciation for the work that you perform … I am amazed at the boundless generosity that I received. As a landscaper of 25 years, my body craves the medicine and relief that massage provides. I cannot afford massage in ‘the real world.’ Healthcare Day saved my body and spirit. Thank you,” reads just one of many feedback forms from grateful clients.
Part of the vision has been, all along, to craft a model that other communities could use. To that end, the board of directors (the group makes decisions by consensus) agreed it was time to make a documentary film spotlighting what, exactly, free holistic health care delivery looks like on the ground.
“Holistic Health Community: An Emerging Healthcare Model Based on the Economics of Generosity” was released in the fall of 2019, and two local communities – Beacon and New Paltz – were inspired to adopt the model with the help of the Holistic Health Community … and we all know what happened next. The first community health care day had just been held in New Paltz and plans were under way in Beacon when the novel coronavirus made in-person gatherings inadvisable. The Stone Ridge community, meanwhile, barely missed a beat; they’ve been offering Virtual Holistic Healthcare Week since March, expanding the availability of appointment times for free treatments in a long list of alternative modalities.
Hands-on bodywork is obviously on hold, but co-founder Cornelia Wathen says the group has been serving 60-80 clients a month remotely. “It was profound,” says one. “My back pain diminished by at least 80% by the time we got off the phone. I had a deep sense of a real shift and release of some longstanding and inherited trapped emotions. My back continues to improve, and the feeling of having shifted is still palpable.”
To give it a try, simply visit the Community’s website and sign up for their mailing list in order to receive email invitations to Virtual Holistic Healthcare Week. You’ll receive a listing of assorted treatments available – from hypnotherapy, to Reiki, to Brennan Healing Science, to sound healing, to holistic optometry, to nutritional consultation and much more. Locals are invited to get first dibs, after which the sign-up is opened to all, and Wathen says they’ve had sign-ups from other states.
“We can’t do massage or acupuncture, but a lot of modalities can be done by phone or Zoom, offering more privacy than the Community Center,” says Wathen. “And we can do sound healing, which the Community Center really didn’t allow.”
It’s been a time of growth and groundwork. The documentary, which premiered at the Rosendale Theatre, was accepted at six film festivals and won awards at two. “The film gives a comprehensive look at what we do: how Healthcare Day works, our educational self-care programming, our events, and a quick look at our governance,” says Wathen. “New Paltz and Beacon are all set up now to begin as soon as they safely can; we’re sharing the film far and wide, so once the pandemic is over, the template’s available.”
With a two-year grant newly renewed, the group is moving forward with another part of the dream: the acquisition of land and the building of a dedicated facility, built to heal from the ground up.
“It’s been the future vision from the beginning, and it has become specific and fleshed out,” says Wathen. “We imagine a large campus devoted to health care and well-being, with a small intentional community, regenerative farming, a central building for health care, a building for the arts, conscious birthing and conscious dying facilities and a bathhouse for deep cleansing. We’ve been working with an amazing architect, Janus Welton; she has created designs for what we call the Healing Sanctuary, according to sacred geometry, harmonic resonance and green building principles. We want to create a structure that enhances well-being when you walk in the door and amplifies the work of the individual healers, to demonstrate what is possible at the intersection of architecture and healing.”
The grant, $100,000 a year from an anonymous donor and administered through Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, has just been renewed, and the group will meet with consultants this year to develop a strategic business plan and a strategy to fundraise for land acquisition. “It’s a big vision, but we really believe the process is guided,” says Wathen.
For more information on the services of the Holistic Health Community, visit holistichealthcommunity.org or call 845-867-7008.
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