In 2017, a few years into the creation of the New Ulm Wellness Collective, I found myself sitting around a table facilitating a workshop for our Brown County Public Health nurses. As we spit-balled back and forth about the mental health crisis currently facing Brown County, I posed the question: “Are there any ways you see the services and classes we offer at The Well being able to help?” One of the nurses kindly smiled at me and said “Lori, the reality is, the people who need you the most can’t afford you.”
That day set into motion a series of events that colored everything we did moving forward. The reality in our country, especially in rural America, is that health is not a right- it is a luxury. We’ve come a long way regarding community wellness and destigmatizing mental health. That was step one. Step two is: What now? We know that taking care of our mental and emotional health is just as important as taking care of our physical health. But what does that look like in the everyday routines and practices our community has ready access to?
A client who is frequently at The Well wrote us a beautiful affirmation:
“My time at The Well has been life-changing. Circumstances in my life: loss of loved ones, job stress, and worries about our children were taking a great toll on my mental and physical health. I knew I needed to do something. The techniques I have learned at The Well have transformed how I am able to handle stress, pain, and loss in my life. I feel stronger, both physically and mentally, and am extremely grateful for this space.”
She is the tip of the iceberg. Deep down we all know that for every one of her, there are 10 others in our community dealing with similar situations – unable to afford or access providers and coping with life’s struggles in unhealthy or even dangerous ways. I’m willing to bet if you took an inventory of your family, friends, or co-workers, you would be able to name some of those very people for whom an hour of laying on a yoga mat and simply learning how to really breathe could lower their blood pressure, eliminate the need for opioids to deal with chronic pain, or any number of other ailments.
At The Well, I bear witness to the healing that takes place daily. We took seriously our responsibility to answer the expressed health needs we heard coming from our community in our start up years; for that reason, we spent 2019-2020 incorporating as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in order to make it possible to purchase our building, fundraise, apply for grants, and create scholarships and programs that will be available to anyone. We anticipate that the need for our work will only grow because where there is deep need, there is fast growth.
We are on the leading edge, reimagining what the health and wellness field should look like in order to actually work, and empowering individuals to take responsibility for their own wellness by putting the ball back in their court. Our surprising growth in the last five years has shown me our model works: for you, for your families, for your employees. You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
I hope you’ll consider joining us, by making a contribution to our Founder’s Drive: Life WELL Lived.