We have participated in dozens of events in conjunction with Chicagoland VA hospitals, but this one was special.
The Stand Down began as they always do, with homeless veterans lining up outside as early as 4am. One gentleman told me they had to give serious consideration to their safety in standing outside in this neighborhood in the dark. At 8am organizations begin to arrive and set up their booths, both inside and out. At 9am staff planned to process the line of hundreds of veterans, checking them off a master list and giving them a wristband so they can freely move throughout the event and receive goods, services, and information provided by the vendors and organizations.
This year, however, Mother Nature had other plans. Around 8:30 the sky opened up and poured rain down on the eager crowd and outdoor vendors. Vendors huddled under tents, but got soaked anyway. I was afraid the waiting vets would disburse and the event would be effectively cancelled, but event organizers moved the line and the outdoor vendors indoors with us, and we had the best experience ever. It was crowded and people were soggy, but they were especially eager to try reiki. We had return visits from familiar faces, and plenty of newbies. Vets saw our banner and came rushing up saying, "Reiki!"
I always ask if there's a specific issue to address, be it physical, emotional, or psychological, and one vet responded, "Financial, first chakra!" It has taken years of effort on our parts and the parts of other service providers, yoga instructors, meditation instructors, etc., but this community is beginning to embrace the mind-body connection and understand that working with energy is a path to wellness.
We received so much positive feedback and shared so many wonderful experiences with these heroes. We were busy all day, working on more than 40 vets, several of whom asked about taking reiki classes.
Among the dozens of services, eye exams are among the most popular. Vets are able to get their eyes checked and order glasses.
Hair cuts are offered throughout the day as well.
Huge thanks to Reiki Brigade Stand Down regulars Greg and Patrice. It's always a pleasure sharing this incredible experience with you two!
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