Everybody deserves a massage

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 17, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Debilitating pain left Ronald Brown immobile for days.
But after receiving a chair massage from Travis Alligood on Monday, the Rowan Helping Ministries shelter guest felt revived.
“I was in serous pain for four days,” he said. “Serious pain, I never left the side of the building. Now I feel great.”
And Brown said it’s the first time he’s felt relaxed in a long time.
“Everybody here is going through a lot of stress; we all have a lot on our minds,” he said. “It’s impossible to relax and there is no release, so this was nice.”
Alligood, who works at the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA, joined fellow licensed massage therapists Donna Ridenhour and Ricky Pate on Monday to give shelter guests free chair massages that lasted between five and 10 minutes.
Ridenhour, who owns Southern Touch NMT in Rockwell, organized the event as part of the national EveryBody Deserves a Massage week.
“This is basically something to give back, promote wellness and touch a segment of the population who can’t afford massage,” she said. “Everybody needs a massage, but everybody can’t afford one.”
Ridenhour has been a massage therapist for four years, but this is the first year she’s participated in the week. She could have volunteered her time anywhere, but Rowan Helping Ministries holds a special place in her heart.
“I had been kind of poor during the past year and I’ve never been one to ask for help, but it got to the point that I was hungry,” she said. “Everybody said just go there and get some food, so I did and they filled my trunk full. You don’t forget a kindness shown to you.”
Barry Moody said he was surprised the massage therapist were giving away their services for free.
“I thought they were joking, it’s kind of shocking,” he said. “I think it’s outstanding that they came out to do it.”
Like Brown, Moody felt immediate relief in his upper arm.
“(The pain) didn’t go away, but it feels a hell of a lot better than it did,” he said. “I had just learned to live with it.”
Judith Smith said her massage felt so good she didn’t what to get up.
“It felt great,” she said. “I know my back was tight.”
The massage was better than Danesha Pou imagined it would be.
“It felt good, I even dozed off,” she said. “It was really a blessing because I was going to ask my friend Judy here to give me a massage.”
Todd Kamback was on cloud nine when he left the chair.
“It was excellent, phenomenal, oh so enjoyable,” he said. “I’ve never had a professional massage so that was nice.”
Kamback said he appreciated the massage therapists lending their time and skills Monday.
“It’s very kind hearted and I really respect them for coming out here this evening,” he said.
Ozie Terrell said the massage Monday was his first, but he hopes it’s not his last.
“I hope they come back again,” he said.
Ridenhour is hoping to do just that. She wants to bring a team of massage therapists to the shelter once a month.
“Sometimes just feeling better makes life better,” she said. “So many people look at these people as untouchables, but they are human beings who just happen to be down on their luck.”
Pate, who works out of his China Grove home part time, said he knows what that’s like. That’s why he jumped at the opportunity to lend his hands Monday.
“I’ve actually been helped by this place before with electric bills and rent,” he said.
Ridenhour hopes to help even more people Thursday. She’ll be set up outside of Walmart from 3 to 8 p.m. offering chair massages to anyone who donates items to Rowan Helping Ministries.
She said five food items will get people a five-minute massage and 10 items will mean 10 minutes. Those who donate undergarments will receive a free gift card to come to her studio for a table massage.
Cam Campbell, community relations director for Rowan Helping Ministries, said the pantry isn’t bare right now, but it could quickly get that way.
“Demand is up, 50 people received food from us today,” she said Monday. “It goes out as soon as it comes in.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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