Reap What You Sow

Spirit of Service and Spirit in Action help people harvest spiritual and physical well being.

Nestled between the Santa Cruz River and Tucson Mountain Park lies a garden of hope and opportunity. Formally called The Farmacy Garden, the 9-acre plot is home to organic vegetables, fruit and herbs and stands as a successful example of service and volunteerism. Donna Tullar's dream is taking shape.

Tullar is the founder and executive director of Spirit of Service, Inc., a non-profit organization providing direct health services, prevention and wellness education to needy individuals. Spirit of Service, which coordinates the efforts of the volunteers at The Farmacy Garden, provides services that combine conventional medicine with natural methods.

Founded in October 1997, Spirit of Service began with a question-- "What do you think of the idea of offering sliding fee health care services to uninsured working poor families in an integrative manner?" --said Tullar. She asked friends, all health care practitioners, and they were eager to help. A new concept was born.

With a staff of five, Spirit of Service began providing health care services on a walk-in basis to needy individuals and families who paid based on what they could afford. Set up in a local church parish hall, clients got to choose from a variety of practitioners, including a registered nurse, psychiatrist, acupuncturist, Bowen therapist and massage therapist. This worked "amazingly well," said Tullar, who is "still to this day ... surprised at how effective that was."

As word spread about the new organization, more clients came, causing the location and operation of the clinic to change. Although still operating on a sliding-fee scale, the clinic is now housed in an office on North Stone Avenue, but no longer operates on a walk-in basis. Instead, clients must call to make an appointment, meet with Tullar for an intake assessment and then are referred to a volunteer practitioner in the community. Clients still may receive bodywork therapies in the office, however.

With 45 volunteer health care practitioners in the community, clients can see a variety of professionals including a cardiologist, physiologist and podiatrist. Practitioners also offer services such as acupuncture, counseling, hypnotherapy, massage and chiropractic among others. Many of the practitioners take an integrative approach, said Tullar, who describes integrative medicine as "utilizing the combination of Western and wholistic medicine together in order to facilitate wellness and wholeness in a person's health and well-being. We encourage people to stay healthy through prevention."

Preventive medicine is a key component in the practice of Arlene Kellman, the organization's medical director. Kellman, trained as an osteopathic physician, maintains a private practice in classical homeopathy. Spirit of Service is "the only organization providing complimentary treatment for people who have little ability to pay," said Kellman. Added Tullar, "We are really here to provide a service for people in need."

Those in need range from homeless, penniless people to working people who are underinsured. "We serve everyone. We do not discriminate against anyone. We treat everyone equally, and that's a really important part of the service we provide," said Tullar. Service providers are volunteers who receive no compensation. Nor is Tullar paid.

The spirit of volunteerism spreads out to The Farmacy Garden, which is tended by clients and community volunteers. Clients receiving treatment at the Spirit of Service Clinic may volunteer in the garden as payment for services received. They are also welcome to take produce in exchange for their garden service. As clients and volunteers tend the garden, they help plant the seeds of giving that Spirit in Service champions. From those seeds comes a harvest of good.

HARVESTING INDIVIDUAL WELL being, social harmony and spiritual growth could be the slogan for another local organization with benevolent goals. The Spirit in Action Center, located on East Broadway, seeks to assist individuals on their spiritual path to greater levels of consciousness and self-awareness. "The whole purpose of the center is to get a person centered and in well-being" said Vickie Wortman, co-founder and sole-proprietor of the center.

Wortman, with co-founder Davena Amick-Elder, opened the center's doors on October 6, 2001.The center has a large room for classes, a room for counseling services, lending library and peaceful meditation room. The co-founders have established themselves as knowledgeable and friendly guides to local seekers looking for classes, information or simply a place to meet like-minded individuals. "A lot of members usually start out the sentence with 'I just moved here,' " said Wortman. To newcomers and locals alike, the center provides an opportunity to experience healing and drumming circles, guided meditations, holistic seminars, as well as classes in tai chi, yoga and movement.

With a full-time career in law enforcement, Wortman works 20 hours a week at the center. Amick-Elder is self-employed as a spiritual counselor, Reiki master teacher and hypnotherapist. Both she and Wortman are not paid for their efforts at the center. "It is such a passion with everybody involved that we have this. ... It's more a spiritual center and the purpose isn't to make money--it's to meet the expenses," said Wortman. This giving philosophy extends to many of the class instructors who teach as volunteers.

There are three levels of membership--associate, contributing and practitioner--at the center. For a membership fee, associate members receive classes, events and seminars, and contributing members also receive a discount on room rentals, among other benefits. The highest level of membership is geared toward practitioners looking for a place to hold classes, conduct business and receive referrals.

One such practitioner member, Gina Stanfill, a tai chi instructor, said her business has grown as a result of her membership. "You have a place to work that's comfortable, relaxing and open. They respect you for being a business. ... It's like I found a home," said Stanfill. "[The center has] a lot to offer the community," she said.

Reaching out to the community appeals to another practitioner member, Susan Goldman Eller. Eller, a personal growth counselor and Reiki master teacher, was pleased to find an accommodating atmosphere to grow her private practice. She enjoys the opportunities the center provides and is encouraged by the level of support. "[The center] offers a good service; the rates are reasonable. I am very happy with the arrangement," she said.

The center's co-founders seek to help the community reach the goal of achieving happiness. "Take a look at where you are and your relationships to all and what you are missing. We can help you fill in that blank. We can help you to explore something in a safe environment without judgment," said Wortman.

For new explorers and seasoned seekers, the Spirit in Action Center offers opportunities for business, fellowship and enjoyment. As Wortman and Amick-Elder follow their bliss, they help Tucsonans find theirs.

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