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A history of senior wellness clinics

Norah Bain's legacy should be honoured

The Editor,

Let's take a moment to honour Norah Bain and the legacy she left for the citizens of the City of Richmond.

The year was 1997 and the idea Bain had was to create a monthly program in Richmond where the general public of all ages could have access to holistic practitioners.

As the story goes, one day, she happened to mention her program idea while visiting the Richmond Women's Resource Centre at the Caring Place.

A partnership was formed, brochures and posters were circulated and the monthly Holistic Night program began.

Registration began at 6:30 p.m. on the third Monday of the month.

It was first come, first served, so we soon had numbers to hand out to people as they arrived.

As your number was called, you had a choice of practitioners to choose from in the available 7 - 9 p.m. time slots.

To create an energy exchange, a suggested donation of $5 was established, which was donated to the Women's Resource Centre.

Each month, Bain phoned her growing list of practitioners to remind them of the Holistic Night. She never knew who or how many would show up.

We had a white board the practitioners signed in on when they arrived and that is how the clients knew what and who was available that evening.

She trusted the universe to provide and it always did. The needed number of practitioners would magically arrive for the number of clients that came.

Eventually, monthly email reminders replaced the bulk of the phone calls. The program continued to evolve. Next we booked guest speakers to entertain the public while they were waiting, sometimes for two hours, for their session.

Then, the practitioners wanted to see the guest speakers too, so we had the guest speaker come early and speak to the practitioners first while the public was signing up for sessions.

At 7 p.m., when the sessions started, the guest speaker would then start another presentation for the public.

It was a challenge, speaking to an audience that changed every half hour as new people arrived and others left to go to their session.

Eventually, Bain talked two of us into taking over her job.

We had developed a list of more than one hundred holistic practitioners encompassing everything from Ear Acupuncture, Iridology, Bach Flower Remedy, Reiki, Healing Touch, Touch for Health, Therapeutic Touch, Reflexology, Craniosacral Therapy, to name a few.

And the guest speakers we attracted were professionals and authors.

People started asking if we could take the program to the Minoru Seniors Centre.

On July 18, 2001, we met with Howard Palliser, the recreation programmer, who had already heard about us from some of the seniors.

We agreed to start the Holistic Practitioners sessions tagging on to the monthly blood pressure clinic that was already running.

To start with, the suggested donations went to the Minoru Seniors Centre. This changed and the suggested $5 donation was given to the holistic practitioner.

For a myriad of reasons, after six years, we made the decision to end the Holistic Night program. Although we said our farewells at the Nov. 17, 2003 session, we were certainly not saying farewell to Norah's inspiration.

Fast forward to November 2011. The present day Seniors Wellness Clinic program has evolved into city-wide monthly programs at seven community centres.

It now includes manicures, pedicures, facials and the blood pressure clinic, as well as the annual Activate Wellness Fair.

Lynn Keeling