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In 1999, Heartwood Center opened its doors with a team of twelve healing professionals and a vision: to be a membership organization where healing practitioners could work together as they grew their practices and served the entire community.

What began with 12 acupuncturists, therapists, and other holistic healers has grown to more than 60 practitioners and a prominent storefront at the corner of Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue. Now, as Heartwood Center transitions to its new non-profit status, the goal to provide low or no-cost services to those in need can be achieved.

“Becoming a non-profit is the next step for Heartwood, and it’s something I’ve always wanted,” said Nancy Floy, founder and director of Heartwood Center. “By providing low cost services, we are making sure that all people are being served while we promote economic development by supporting these practitioners and their small businesses.”

To celebrate its new status and to raise awareness and support for the low-cost services it already provides, Heartwood is hosting a dance party. This benefit, to be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 18 at 1818 Dempster St., will feature the soulful music of Shirley King, daughter of international blues legend BB King, as well as appetizers from local eateries and auction items from India and Nepal that include artwork and jewelry.

Funds raised will be used in support of programs already established by Heartwood to serve those in need. Several years ago, for example, the Heartwood Women and Cancer Program was established for women across the Chicagoland area who are in financial need and are living with cancer. Women benefit from services ranging from massage to psychotherapy to meditation instruction. 

Heartwood also developed a partnership with nearby Erie Family Health Center, which provides high-quality care to patients in the language of their choice. Erie refers patients to Heartwood, which provides holistic care to families, regardless of their ability to pay.

Two years ago, Heartwood launched a Kickstart campaign, raising $50,000 to bring Curt’s Café South to Dempster Street. Curt’s has quickly become the neighborhood gathering place, while training and supporting Evanston’s at-risk young women.

Heartwood’s new non-profit status comes as its ownership is being transferred to Mindrolling (MINH-droh-lyng) International, the organization led by Her Eminence Mindrolling (MINH-droh-lyng) Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche. Rinpoche is Tibetan Buddhism’s most prominent female lama and teaches in centers worldwide. Heartwood has become the healing arts component of Mindrolling International, and funding is being sought to bring Tibetan medical professionals to Heartwood for training and services.

The relationship with Rinpoche began in 2014, when a formal request was made to Her Eminence to take over the Tsogyaling Meditation Center, a sangha (community) that met at Heartwood and was led by Ms. Floy. Rinpoche gave the center its new name – Mindrol Ӧsel Ling or Garden of Luminosity – and provides regular teaching and retreats.

“This is a very unique relationship, and it fits our path of compassion, to get off the meditation cushion and get into the world, providing holistic, healing services for all of Evanston,” said Ms. Floy.

Tickets for the Oct. 8 celebration are available at mindroloselling.org.