Editor’s Note: This story is the first in a series highlighting how local businesses, organizations, churches and schools give back this holiday season. The series will run every Tuesday in the Community section through Dec. 25.
CEDAR RAPIDS — So often we hear stories of lending a hand to someone in need.
The massage therapists at Hands in Harmony do so literally.
Hands in Harmony is part of Hands for Heroes, a national organization of health care professionals who donate their time and skills to provide therapeutic bodywork for veterans.
“We offer fee-free therapeutic massage or energy work to all veterans,” says Wahneta Dimmer, Hands in Harmony’s owner/operator.
This isn’t a one-time deal, though, veterans are guaranteed the service once a month — at no cost to them — for as long as they need it.
Hands in Harmony’s partnership with the program started in May. Dimmer says Hands in Harmony served a dozen veterans that month.
Now, Hands in Harmony serves about a dozen veterans a week — although Dimmer says she’d love to help more.
“For so many people, their physical pain is a layer to their emotional issues,” Dimmer says. “Everything these veterans had to deal with overseas, everything they saw and experienced, comes home with them. It’s embedded in them physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.”
Therapeutic massage or energy work gives veterans an opportunity to sit quietly for an hour, she says.
Some veterans, Dimmer says, arrive apprehensive about the program.
“They have a hard time believing it’s free,” she says. “I think the people who give the most have the hardest time receiving.”
Some also have a hard time being touched — at first. But as the work continues, that part of their well-being begins to heal, too.
“It’s part of my business philosophy of healing the world one heart at a time,” Dimmer says.
Hands for Heroes isn’t the only way Hands in Harmony is giving back to the community. Earlier this month, the company launched a campaign to help HACAP stock its shelves this holiday season.
Clients who bring non-perishable foods to Hands in Harmony receive cash back for their massage services.
“It’s a way for our clients who do have the money to pamper themselves to give back to the community,” Dimmer says.
More than 70 pounds of food — and some cash donations — have been collected for HACAP so far. The program will continue through the end of November.
“It feels good to be able to give back,” Dimmer says.