Sunday October 3rd, 2010. Veda’s 3rd annual A Moment of Peace event, my first one, and one day I will never forget. For those of you who do not know what Moment of Peace is, it is an event in which Veda closes their doors to the public at all 3 locations for one Sunday a year to volunteer services to those in our community who have had a rough year due to illness or other unforeseen life circumstances. Basically, someone nominates a friend or family member they feel deserves to be pampered for a day, a committee chooses the recipients, contacts them, and they come in for a full day of spa and hair services on the house; not to mention delicious homemade food brought in by the employees. WOW!
Wondering how this amazing event was created? I was too, so I asked the creator, Tara Kiele, assistant manager/esthetician at the North Academy location. When Tara was 19 she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma- a cancer of the lymphatic system. She said the disease impacted her emotionally, spiritually and physically, “You can’t escape your head, and I wanted to do something to let people escape reality.” So, Tara went to Veda’s GM/CO-Owner, Carrie Perkins and asked for her help to “Give back to a community that is so good to us,” as Kayla, a stylist from the Southgate location stated. From there, A Moment of Peace was created, “Because these recipients need just that… a moment of peace,” said Tara.
When I asked Carrie why she jumped at the chance to get involved in this event she simply stated, “Because of the second line of Aveda’s mission statement.” The first two lines read: Our mission at Aveda is to care for the world we live in, from the products we make to the ways in which we give back to society. Carrie said A Moment of Peace is all about renewal; hopefully giving recipients a sense of renewal among their everyday struggles, also giving staff a sense of gratitude and a chance to renew their commitment to Veda and Aveda. Carrie’s last statement to me about Moment of Peace, and I LOVE IT, was this, “Everybody wins! It’s a big fat love fest!”
I also had a chance to sit down with the first ever Face of Veda, Emily. She shared with me a tragic story about her parents being in a car accident when she was 19, which killed her father and left her mother with a traumatic brain injury, “I struggled with depression and anxiety, and would’ve really appreciated something like this.” In hearing her story I realized how great it is that these people, unlike Emily, have this day in which they can shut out all the bad stuff going on, relax and rejuvenate.
I came into this event with the expectation that the atmosphere would be more of a somber, melancholy, gray one. I expected recipients to come in looking sick and in pain, being sad and lost. What I found was the complete opposite. I don’t know that I have ever seen or felt a more happy and appreciative ambience. The recipients were excited and for many of them I found myself asking “Why is that person here? They seem perfectly happy and healthy!” When I began to talk to them I found their spirits to be also positive. One recipient in particular, Molly was having services done at the University Village location. For her, this day was not only a day of peace, but one of celebration. You see, after having battled breast cancer, Molly was having her last chemo treatment on Monday October 4th, just one day after the A Moment of Peace. Despite losing all her hair and dealing with all the struggles that this disease brings, Molly was one of the happiest, most grateful people I have ever met. I was so thrilled that she was chosen and honored to have met such an incredible person.
Another recipient I sat down with at the Southgate location, although high-spirited, still has a long road ahead of her and was so deserving of this day. Heather was nominated by her husband Jeff, who stated “My wife never complains!” At the age of 25 Heather was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis as well as gastroparesis- a condition in which the muscles in your stomach do not function properly. Her days are often filled with tears and pain due to both conditions, neither of which are curable, and through it all she stays strong, even as her husband deploys with his Army troop. She said that when she got the phone call she had been chosen, she “was in shock!” Heather said she couldn’t even believe that her husband had taken the time to write a letter and nominate her because he “just doesn’t do things like that.” She hadn’t read the letter her husband sent in, so I let her read it while I was talking to her. As she began to read the 1 ½ page letter she became very emotional and the only word she managed to get out was, “Wow,” over and over. When I asked Heather what A Moment of Peace meant to her, she said with a huge smile on her face, “This day means I am able to breathe a little bit.”
At the end of the day, I expected to feel emotionally drained and sad. I ended up feeling exhilarated and more grateful for the life I have and the Company I work for than I ever thought possible. I leave you with this thought; “Your life feels different on you, once you greet death and understand your heart's position. You wear your life like a garment from the mission bundle sale ever after -- lightly because you realize you never paid anything for it, cherishing because you know you won't ever come by such a bargain again.” I found that most of the recipients live their life like this now, and hope that more of us can live life like this in the future, not having greeted death. I am forever appreciative of this event that touches so many lives every year and has touched mine in every way.