by Mahala Grant-Grierson
A grassroots community center at Hillcrest Apartments now offers free acupuncture to the community’s low-income residents every week. “It has always been important for people to take care of one another, to offer what they have or what they can do directly to their friends and neighbors,” says Susanna Lea, executive director of local nonprofit Traditions Acupuncture Foundation. She helped launch the Hillcrest initiative, which got underway in late February.
At first glance, the clinic isn’t your average practice in Chinese medicine. Volunteer acupuncturists, including Brooke Tyler, Sarah King, Chelsea Holladay and Skye Mallory of Clasique Acupuncture and Pilates Studio, staff the clinic on Fridays. D Smith with Everyday Acupuncture has also joined the volunteer team. “We can each get in there and get involved, really put ourselves out there and create connection,” says Lea.
Nicole Hinebaugh, director of programs at the Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation, offered the use of the Hillcrest community center, Traditions Acupuncture Foundation funds the program, and Golden Needle donated the supplies, Lea explains.
She’s grateful for the support thus far, but adds that the acupuncture community would greatly benefit by getting involved — there are approximately 1,300 licensed acupuncturists in the city of Asheville, according to the North Carolina Licensing Acupuncture Board.
TAF is supported solely by fundraising, grants and donations, says Lea. It initiates programs throughout the Asheville area to provide no-cost Chinese acupuncture health services. Its goal is to promote and fund access to Chinese medical care for the medically underserved in the greater Asheville community, she says. The need for TAF’s services is evident, but it takes staff, volunteers and other resources to make it happen.
“Being connected is what ultimately creates happiness and well-being,” says Lea.
TAF currently has two free acupuncture projects, including the Hillcrest Apartments free acupuncture clinic and a weekly free community-style acupuncture clinic at the Haywood Street Congregation. For more information or to help, contact Traditions Acupuncture Clinic at traditionsacupuncturefoundation.org.