What does bodywork volunteerism look like? When finding your philanthropy path, ask yourself these questions: What are you good at? What does the world need? What brings you joy? Listen in as Angie Parris-Raney and Kristin Coverly discuss their background and experiences with helping people and organizations through their hands-on skills. From donating their time at races and sporting events, to helping children in Peru, these two practitioners talk about using their bodywork as a gift to their communities and around the world.
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0:01:18.4 Darren Buford: Welcome to the ABMP Podcast. My name is Darren Buford, I'm Editor-in-Chief of Massage & Bodywork Magazine and Senior Director of Communications for ABMP.
0:01:26.4 KC: And I'm Kristin Coverly licensed massage therapist and ABMP's Director of Professional Education.
0:01:31.9 DB: Our guest today is Angie Parris-Raney. Angie is a licensed massage therapist and is the advertising director for ABMP. Angie is Chopra Center certified in meditation and ayurveda. Her training explores physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. You can also see Angie in ABMP's Meditate & Move series that runs every Wednesday on Facebook and in Massage & Bodywork Magazine. And Angie is also the founder of the nonprofit Project Inti, an organisation that provides aid to low-income Peruvian families and communities, which brings us to our podcast today on philanthropy and volunteerism. This podcast is in partnership with ABMP's upcoming massage is for everybody week, July 18th through the 24th. More information will follow at abmp.com and in our member email communications. Hello Angie and hello Kristin?
0:02:22.4 Angie Paris-Rainey: Hello.
0:02:24.8 KC: Angie. Hello, it's so exciting and fun to have you here to talk about your passion projects, I'm gonna make it plural because you have several and we can't wait to hear all about them.
0:02:34.6 AP: Yey.
0:02:34.6 DB: So let me start with a question for both of you. What does philanthropy mean to you?
0:02:39.5 AP: Alright, for me, philanthropy is really about getting in touch with our humanity, it's really about realising that we're all here, having this human experience, and there are gonna be challenges and problems that are part of our collectiveness, our community. And so for me, it's really about what the intention of peace, and it's about finding the problem that you want to help be a part of, and to be part of the solution and to help solve. I also think that it's good for your health too. Because if you come from a place of gratitude and feeling that need to give back, I think that changes your physiology too, and I think it's good. You get a two-way street benefit out of the deal.
0:03:31.7 DB: It's good heart food right? Good heart food.
0:03:34.2 AP: Yeah.
0:03:34.8 DB: There you go, Kristin?
0:03:36.5 KC: Yeah, and Angie I love where you said being part of the solution, I love that. For me, when I think about what is a concise one sentence definition of philanthropy, which is really hard to do because it can be so encompassing, but for me, it's really using your physical, emotional and financial resources and skills to assist individuals and organisations, and that can look a million different ways, but to me, that's the core. Using what I have to help others.
0:04:03.8 DB: Okay, let's hone in a little bit on the profession. Many people separate their professional lives from personal philanthropy, but our field, however, profession has the special ability to mesh the two really well. Angie and Kristin, what does massage philanthropy look like?
0:04:20.6 AP: Well for me, it started way back in massage school, which I think is the story for a lot of us, because we have to give so many hours to practice before you can get your certification, so I think that that's even where that begins, but even after I graduated and before I felt confident enough to go out on to my own, I still volunteered, I still practiced the craft, and I chose to be in places that were near and dear to my heart, and I think this resonates with a lot of our community. Some of that was maybe not helping the greater good, but I was still going to a sporting event and setting up my chair there, or going to a spa party or something like that, and meeting new people, it was a really good way to build a practice, but to also share your gifts and talents with the world.
0:05:15.8 KC: Yeah, and Darren, you are absolutely right, massage therapy and bodywork are set up to be beautiful businesses to give back to the community, and I like to think about the ways that that can happen in two overarching areas, one is directly. So directly helping and giving through touch and volunteering, so we're using our actual skills and bodywork to help others, and the other is having our practice become a vehicle for help and change, so helping and giving financially through my practice and business, so we can look at it so many different ways, but we have the touch help and then we have the help through business and finances too.
0:05:53.2 DB: Kristin, can you tell us a little bit about some massage philanthropy that you've done, some examples?
0:05:57.7 KC: Absolutely, and like many other massage and bodyworkers listening, I've done a wide variety of things in my community because it is so easy to do that, you can do little things here and there that really make an impact and a difference. So I've done such a wide variety of things, so anything from donating my in-person time and massage work most often in chair massage because I love chair massage and it's easy to travel, so oftentimes I will reach out to a non-profit in my area that I wanna support and give back to and see if they're open to me coming to provide massage for their staff or the populations that they support. I've also done share massage at fundraisers that they're having to raise money to support their cause, so again, everything could look so many different ways, there's no, "Here's the way to volunteer and give back using massage." There's a million different ways.
0:06:51.8 KC: I've also donated gift certificates for the non-profit to use as they'd like to, so sometimes that's in silent auctions, again, to raise money for their organisation, but other times it's to give to their staff, maybe a staff member that's done so much and is really in need of some bodywork and touch, and then periodically. And I just do this sometimes I tell my clients, sometimes I don't. I will donate a percentage of my revenue to support a local non-profit that might need it, and again, that's just a way for me to use my business to give back, in addition to using my touch to give back.
0:07:29.2 DB: Kristin, when you reach out to an organisation, is there any kind of special communication or anything you can recommend to people, especially maybe if I don't "cold call," maybe I don't have a relationship with that organisation.
0:07:43.7 KC: Yeah, and again, back to what you were saying too about massage therapy and bodywork are beautifully set up to be wonderful vehicles for volunteering and philanthropy, it's a really easy cold call to make, it's the easiest cold call you'll ever make in your life is to call up any one person or organisation and say, "I am a massage therapist and I would love to support you. Are you interested in receiving bodywork or in having me donate a gift certificate to support your cause?" I have never received a no in 20 plus years of asking those questions.
0:08:18.4 AP: And I'm gonna chime right in there and echo that because that has definitely been my experience as well. And a lot of the things that Kristin touched upon were excellent points, those are definitely ways that I've used my practice as well too. The donating gift certificates is a really good one too, that I kind of forgot to put until you said that, I was like, Oh yeah, I've done that. And the other thing too is for me, I had a heart for working with little dudes, little kids, and so for me, it was... That was a slice of my business that I never 100% feel comfortable necessarily charging for. For me, that felt like something that was maybe this could be a pay-it forward aspect of my practice. So this was maybe talking about the benefits of massage and how massage can help the parent with the child, and how it can help them through some of the colic or the constipation or the teething or things like that. And so it was a way for me to give them education and kinda help build that relationship for them.
0:09:28.8 AP: But some of the things that I've done locally, I've given chair massage to foster parents, I felt like that was a really good way to give back to them. I volunteered at the Chinese children adoption agency, that was a place that one of my clients worked at, and it was another way that I could use that where I could help build that bond with the new parents and the new child to bring touch there. One of my other clients was a nurse, and she had a program where she was teaching new nurses their craft before they were getting out into the world, and so she was working with another local non-profit, again, working with low-income single mothers and teaching them parenting skills and then kinda brought me into it to again, help bring that healthy nourishing touch there, and then just recently I've been kinda working with another non-profit, so that's kind of... That's where I have the heart space, little part of my practice, that's not maybe the revenue-generating, but I do take a part of the revenue that I do make and kinda keep feeding that, so that just sort of underscores what you'd said there.
0:10:37.5 DB: Angie, did each one of those build on... Was it like networking a little bit, did each one of those... Did one open the next one? How did you learn about each one of those? Or were those just passion things that you reached out for?
0:10:48.5 AP: Those were just opportunities that happened at the right... At a certain moment in time, and a couple of those were related to the clientele that I attracted. So it was like I did on-site chair massage, local, of corporate company, and then within there, I met those people, they were within my practice, they had... And then that's where I learned what they did, and then we just kind of co-created those opportunities together.
0:11:17.7 KC: And I love it too. Angie I wonder if this ever happened to you. I once went to a non-profit to do chair massage on the staff, just as a way to give back, and while I was there, I learned that they needed just some office support to get a big mailing out the door. So I came back the next week and volunteered and did that. So once you're starting to give back, then you learn of other ways to give that aren't necessarily massage and bodywork related. Have you had that kind of experience?
0:11:43.1 AP: Yes, I have. [chuckle] During this whole COVID thing, when I didn't feel comfortable being in my practice giving massage, I had this other skill set that I was developing, which was teaching meditation, and so this one local non-profit that I kind of had worked with on and off again, doing the helping low income single parents, again, and elevating them and setting them up, so their program is about providing housing and education and daycare, and then out of their education, they have to have a certain slice of life skills training, and so that's where they bring that out to volunteers of what are your gifts and talents? What can you contribute? So during the whole COVID thing, this is a great way where we could still continue on with the life skills training, and I brought meditation to it, and so we've continued to do this throughout the whole time frame since, I think it was March or April of last year that we started that. But leading meditation once a month to those mothers and helping to bring them out of their stressful situations as well.
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0:14:12.4 DB: Now, let's get back to the podcast. Now, Kristin, were you required to do any kind of volunteer work in massage school?
0:14:20.4 KC: I was and I loved every single minute of it. The over-achiever that I am, I did, I think triple the amount of required hours, we called it our internship program at the school that I went to, Boulder College of Massage Therapy, and yeah, it was a great experience, incredible because it was an internship program where we went out into the community and we were able to volunteer and practice massage and bodywork in a variety of settings with a variety of populations, the most impactful to me was working in our Boulder Community Hospital providing massage to the patients on the different floors of the hospital, you went to a different floor each time, and it was just so powerful, just learning the simplest contact, just being present. And the power that that can have. So again, like Angie referenced earlier that and maybe going to a 5K to provide massage, so wildly different experiences, but yet you're giving back in all of them, and when I started working at this school, I became an Internship Supervisor again in the hospital, so then I was able to help the therapist with their experience there, and then I became the internship director at two different schools here in Colorado, so I have a passion for internships and getting out in the community and helping others and allowing other students and therapists to have that experience too.
0:15:36.5 KC: And that's where I learned how easy it is for us to do this because I was the one making all the calls. Sure, some people would call the school and ask like, "Hey, and your students volunteer and help us at this thing, but oftentimes I was the one seeking out really interesting experiences for my students, so I started to make those calls, so I saw how easy it really can be.
0:15:57.3 DB: Wow, that's super cool. Angie, what about you?
0:16:00.5 AP: Well I just wanted to add to what Kristin had said there. I think one of the other side benefits that comes out of volunteering with all these different types of populations where it can be very different and specific or unique situations, it also teaches you how to be adaptable and how to quickly have to dive into your instincts and to maybe access some other skills that you might not always actively bring to the forefront in your normal practice, so I think it's a good way to keep your skills sharp and also to teach you adaptability and also just to kind of expand your own potential and possibilities.
0:16:49.6 DB: Okay, we've talked a little bit about your own experiences with volunteerism. Let's come up with some examples for our listeners, just in case, if they don't have anything that comes to mind or they don't know where to start. So let's come up with a couple of examples. Angie do you have some things that you think could be a good first start for a massage therapist or a way to expand something they're already doing?
0:17:09.8 AP: Yeah, I was listening to Jane Goodall's Hopecast the other day, and there was a guest that was on there, and of course they were talking about conservation and things like that, and so they were talking about how do you decide where to start or what to do, and she has had three really good questions to ask yourself, and one is, what are you good at? And then two is, what does the world need? And then three, what brings you joy? And I think that's a really good place to start and maybe ask yourself those questions, and then from there, it can be anything, it could be veterans, it could be the disabled, it could be geriatric, it could be mental health or learning disabilities, maybe healthcare workers or disaster workers or animal shelters. If it's not a specific cause like that, maybe it's doing some kind of research, working on some kind of a research project of a specific topic that is of importance to you. So again, to Kristin's point, it could be whether you're doing the fundraising for it or if you're supporting it, or maybe it's even outside of massage slightly too, or maybe there's a segue into that. But yeah, those are some ideas that come to my mind.
0:18:27.6 KC: I love those three questions, absolutely love it. And I'm gonna add a fourth to ask, because I know just from experience working with therapists over the years that there can be some hesitation about reaching out and having that new experience and pushing that boundary. So I'm gonna say also fourth question, what feels doable? And so I'm gonna encourage people to say, if I'm not quite ready to make the cold call, take a baby step, work one step towards that goal, maybe it is donating a portion of your revenue to a local non-profit, month one, done. Month two, look at your friend and family network, who do you know already that has a comfort level that works somewhere that you'd like to support? Ask them if you can come and provide some massage, then you've got that comfortable experience, but yet you're still taking the next step and then push yourself in month three, to try something new that you don't have that experience with yet.
0:19:23.0 AP: And there's also another really good website called volunteermatch.org, and that can be another place for you to go check out and you can... Again, they'll align you with different non-profits and based on what your interests are too and locale, where you wanna go.
0:19:39.2 DB: Oh, I love that you guys have provided so many cool suggestions here. So I went back and I've worked at Massage & Bodywork Magazine for a long time, and I went back and looked in our archives in the May June 2012 issue, the cover story says, "Do good," and it's all about volunteerism, and I believe we interviewed Angie Paris Rainey in that magazine, listeners, it's available at massageandbodyworkdigital.com. But one of the things I wanted to bring out of that article that I re-looked at was, after you've done the philanthropy, what's a good communication plan or strategy? And I'll just kinda take off a few things here quickly to help our listeners. This is to explore ways to announce your good works after your volunteerism is done.
0:20:27.0 DB: So one is obviously your website, it's an ideal place to include news briefs about your volunteerism, and if you have an overriding philosophy that guides your professional life, this is a perfect place to spell it out, your printed materials, such as your business cards or your brochures, they can highlight your business philosophy as well, and it would be valuable to balance your professional materials with doing volunteer work, and what I mean by that is putting less formal photography or images of yourself there, it makes you look really approachable, it's less formal, it creates a nice rapport for your clientele and they understand the philosophies and the volunteers and the things that support you that drive your passion.
0:21:08.4 DB: Next is charities, any charities that you support. If you're a donor or a volunteer to an organisation, you can always just add that link to your website and/or keep brochures around the office. Next in is a bulletin board is a perfect place to post photos of yourself giving massages in these various instances, and finally, framed photos or articles, especially if you partnered with a local newspaper or radio broadcast, anything where you can take materials that have a visual element and put them up and framing it, it's just gonna... Your clients are gonna see it, they're gonna see how you align with the causes that really drive your passions.
0:21:45.0 KC: Okay, Angie we've been talking a lot about all the different ways that therapists can give back locally in their own communities, but you have taken it, I was gonna say a step further, but really it's miles and miles and miles further. Tell us about Project Inti and how you took massage abroad?
0:22:03.6 AP: Yeah. Well, that was the reflection coming back to when I was in college, I wanted to go join the Peace Corps, and I didn't do that. That was a path that I didn't take at the time, and so there came a little point in life where I just was at this crossroads, like What was that? What did I miss out on? Let me go check that out. Let me go do a couple of weeks as opposed to a couple of years and just see what that is like. So I studied Spanish in college and studied all of the different indigenous cultures and things like that, and Peru was just on the list. It was, I wanted to see that iconic Machu Picchu, but I also wanted to explore what that was, that I didn't get to do, so I found Cross-Cultural Solutions, and what I loved about them was that their philosophy was to go into these communities and not necessarily overwhelm them and bring in a bunch of things, it was more about connecting with them, building relationships, seeing what their situation is, coming at it from a place of empathy and compassion obviously, but then trying to work within their framework to figure out what can we do with the tools and the resources that they have to elevate them, to give them an education, to give them a pathway forward.
0:23:30.8 AP: So I picked a really challenging little first out the gate place, it was in Ayacucho, Peru, which is where the Shining Path during the '80s had done all of their terrorism, and so Ayacucho is a place within Peru that, is in a touristy place, there's not a lot of other industry out there, there's no farming and produce and things like that, it's tucked away in a part of the Andes, that's where the coca-trade is, and so that is a big problem in that area, and so it was interesting. So we as an organisation went there and there were different projects that people could take, so either they were working in the prisons, they might have been working in the hospitals, there was a lot of pre-med students there trying to get their hands on with that experience, there were working in the geriatric crowd, and there were some other ones that I'm missing, but the one that I chose was to work with the Wawa Wasi which in Quechua, which is the native language's baby house, so it's day care, is what it is. And so it was a grassroots program that was to help these women living in poverty, to give them a place of day care up to age three, for them to have a safe space to take their kids so that they could go out and work the markets or wherever they were working.
0:24:54.5 AP: And then within the Wawa Wasi, that was government subsidised was to then provide a nutritious meal or two to the kids, so it was like a fortified porridge, and then we would pick a project, and so it was just working on hygiene. And so it's interesting as when you go into some of these things, you got these grand ideas. Like, "I'm gonna go save the world, and I'm gonna do all of this and I'm gonna do it in two weeks." And you're like, "Oh God, we're not gonna do all of this in two weeks," we're just gonna take one thing and we're going to repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. And what I realised, "Oh my God, I'm working with kids that are three and under." This is how children work, you repeat the same little game, the same little toy, you make it a fun, playful thing, and the more that you repeat it over and over again, the more it becomes them, and they learn that, so it was just for those couple of weeks, we're just trying to get through the day and we're learning how to wash hands, and we're doing it before we go to the toilet or after the toilet, or before meal or whatever that was. And playing all the different games.
0:26:00.0 AP: And I love Cross-Cultural Solutions, it was a wonderful organisation to hold my hand through the whole process. It was also expensive too, because you have to pay money to go volunteer, to do these things, and I was like, "Okay, if I'm gonna keep going back, I gotta figure out a more affordable way to do this, so I kinda cut through the middle man, and I went right to a local Peruvian non-profit where they could direct connect me, and so I went back a second year, and then I stayed with a host family and then worked at an orphanage for children with disabilities, and then I totally fell in love with my host family and fell in love with the kids at the orphanage.
0:26:45.1 AP: And on the last day that I was to leave on that trip, there was a little boy who needed to have a surgery, and there was a US doctor who was in and had told us about how he didn't have a good swallow reflex, so he wasn't absorbing enough nutrients and he was gonna need to have a surgery or he wasn't gonna make it. So this is how I'm leaving this second trip and I'm like, "Oh my God," and there wasn't anything I could do and I wanted to come back like, how did the story end? And so I came back a third year, and by that time, one of my massage clients was like, "Okay, if you're gonna keep doing this, I wanna help support that, let's set up a non-profit for you. Let's set up a 501c3 for you." And I was like, "Well, that's not what I'm intending to do." That's not what I wanted to do. I didn't wanna be in charge of an organisation, but also not gonna say no to something like that either, so I was like, "Alright, let's do this, let's see where this journey takes me," and she's like, "You don't have to over think this. Just do what you do. But this gives us an outlet now to where we can support you and we get a tax benefit out of it."
0:27:56.8 AP: So that's what we did. So we started this non-profit. So when I came back, I continued to explore and hike throughout Peru and combined with these volunteer experiences and I needed to have a local partner, 'cause who am I? I'm not gonna know where to go in Peru, so I brought him into the whole fold, and then from there, this whole thing has expanded into things like we continue to teach the hygiene when we... Now, we do bring in things, we'll bring in toys, we'll bring in shoes, we'll bring in soccer balls, we'll bring in food items and things like that, but we always wanna try to leave behind a little bit of education, so we'll bring the soaps and we'll talk about how we wash our hands, we'll brush the teeth. One of my dentists had donated toothbrushes for me to haul down there one time, and they got those little sand timers, and they had the brightly colored sand timers, everybody was more fascinated by the sand timers 'cause that's how long you're supposed to brush your teeth, and they were laughing at me like how ridiculous I was, I'm like, "No, that's how long you should be brushing your teeth." So continued with the hygiene thing, teaching Leave No Trace principles and things like that.
0:29:09.1 AP: And so one of the things that I did in subsequent years is that I went with another organisation called FIMRC, The Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children, headquartered out in the Philly area. And I went down there just because I wanted to understand what's the healthcare system like, what are we dealing with, and we got to shadow doctors on hospital rounds, we got to scrub in and watch some surgeries, we got to do some community projects, but what impacted me the most, when we were doing the hospital rounds, was just to see the contamination issue, there was always concerns over again, the hygiene thing, cross-contamination, not having all of the supplies and things like that, but it was also an awareness of the emergency system, but there wasn't an emergency system, so there were people who would spend two, three hours walking to get to a clinic that may or may not even have the supplies. You can drive yourself crazy starting to see what the big picture is, and all the ways that they all integrate together, but you really have to just kind of pick a slice, hone in on it, and just know that little seeds get planted and they sprout and they can make an impact and then collectively all of it can make some kind of an impact.
0:30:32.3 DB: Well, said. Let's bring this podcast to a close here, let me ask the final question here to Kristin. Kristin, what are some side benefits of doing philanthropy, of doing volunteer work?
0:30:43.2 KC: Yeah, absolutely. Of course side benefit is helping the people that you're directly working with and feeding your own soul. So absolutely, those two things first and foremost. Other by-products are that it helps your business, so I always like to describe marketing as letting people know who you are and what you have to offer, and naturally, as you're getting out in the community in different ways, meaning different populations and interacting with new people, you're letting a whole new group of people know who you are and what you have to offer, so it's just a beautiful way to spread the word about what you do, and that will hopefully bring new clients to your practice too.
0:31:22.7 DB: Excellent. I wanna thank our guests today, Kristin Coverly and Angie Paris-Rainey. To find out more about the work that Angie's been doing, visit projectinti.org, that's project-I-N-T-I.org. The ABMP podcast is produced by the team at Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals a professional membership organisation supporting massage therapists and bodyworkers. Membership includes liability insurance, free continuing education, helpful reference apps like Five-Minute Muscles and the award winning Massage & Bodywork Magazine. Go to abmp.com to learn more about becoming a member. Thanks Angie and thanks Kristin.
0:31:57.9 KC: Thank you so much Angie, it was so inspiring. Thanks for sharing.
0:32:01.7 AP: Thank you guys. It's always so much fun to talk to you.
0:32:06.9 KC: Members are loving ABMP Five-Minute Muscles and ABMP Pocket Pathology, two quick reference web apps included with ABMP membership. ABMP Five-Minute Muscles delivers muscle-specific palpation and technique videos plus origins, insertions, and actions for the 83 muscles most commonly addressed by bodyworkers. ABMP Pocket Pathology created in conjunction with Ruth Werner, puts key information for nearly 200 common pathologies at your fingertips and provides the knowledge you need to help you make informed treatment decisions. Start learning today. ABMP members login at abmp.com, and look for the links in the Featured Benefits section of your Member home page. Not a member? Learn about these exciting member benefits at abmp.com/more.