Massage professionals nearly outnumber clients at help day

There were way more massages available than aching backs to receive them when the island’s massage therapists and other bodywork professionals offered their services free of charge for a day of Giving Back recently, organizers said.

The 23 body work professionals at Kilauea Neighborhood Center committed to providing at least 100 massages, viding but were only able to deliver 25, said Katharina Strack of Touch Kauai, one of the coordinators of the event designed to offer needed massage and other forms of relief to searchers, volunteers, government officials, first responders, and others who helped immediately after the March 14 disaster at Kilauea.

“It’s hard for people to receive services. Real volunteers don’t want to take advantage of services,” said Strack.

Many of those nominated to receive massages or other body work were busy with sports or other family activities on the Saturday the event was carried out, and some of the state and county workers were still busy on the roads, she said.

“The important part was the intention,” she said.

And, there were unexpected benefits for those volunteering their time, too, said Strack and Liisa VanDerMeer of A Touch of Aloha Day Spa in Harbor Mall in Nawiliwili, who coordinated the other simultaneous event at the Koloa Neighborhood Center.

At the Kilauea Neighborhood Center, there was “beautiful energy in there, a unified effort,” with body work professionals showing they care by donating their time and expertise, Strack continued.

It was a showing of “beautiful gratitude for services rendered,” and a chance for practitioners of different therapies to get to know each other, she added.

“It won’t be the last time” they get together to offer something like this, Strack promised. “It will happen.

“We developed friendships along the way, too.” “The event went wonderfully,” said VanDerMeer.

“The best feedback I received was when I was told ‘we needed this nomination process. It took us out of looking for what went wrong, and looking at all that went right,'” she said in an e-mail.

“It was really nice to meet other massage therapists. We are even discussing starting a massage emergency-response team to be able to mobilize when needed,” she said.

“I had the wonderful job (in Koloa) of talking to most of the nominees, and those who nominated them. The stories were beautiful, and the nominees so humble,” she said.

“I had to really convince them that they deserve this massage.” There are people on the list of around 70 people nominated for massages who nominated others on the list, and several people, including the Giving Back massage-team members, Bob Robertson, Bill Troutman and Bruce Fehring, who nominated Ron Wiley of KONG Radio Group.

Fehring, in fact, nominated many people, including search-and-rescue personnel, Kaua’i Police Department officials, elected officials, and friends who helped search for his missing family members and friends.

Of the seven dead after the March 14 disaster, Fehring lost one of his daughters, a son-in-law and grandson, and other close friends.

Deborah Rice of the Hawai’i Community Foundation Lihu’e office, whose husband Rob Rice thought up the Giving Back idea, nominated many people, and was nominated herself.

Massage therapists and helpers at the event included Rob Rice, Strack, Robin Mazor, VanDerMeer, Deborah Rice, Andie Pisacano, Dr. Lisa Chun, Dawn Blake, Kristin Morris, Christina Murphy, Margie Merryman, Soo Youn Hoff, Sandy Menasda, Jill Richardson, Debi Jennison, Pattie White, Tori O’Malley, Loya Whitmer, Annalia Russell, Bernado Licarraga, Brandon Farslow, Casey Holt, Cynthia Piano, D. Shakira Freeman, Deborah Burnham, Ed Stumpf, Elaina Bereiter, Elesa Parche, Eric F. Shapiro, Jill “Kimie” Sadoyama, Julia Young, Karen Bailey, Liza Schiffer, Manima, Marjie Barbier, Philip Young, Sean Laakso, Siri Shabad, Tanja von Zychlinsky, Tracey Shavone, Brandon Farslow and others.

Among those who were willing to help and just couldn’t be there include Carol Hart, Charlotte Russell, David Dinner, Monika Seitz, Nola Conn and Virginia Dunas, Strack said.

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