Gentle Wellness Center helps feed the homeless during the pandemic

By Katie Lulla

While being shut down for four months during the pandemic, Gentle Wellness Center in Santa Monica partnered with The People Concern to make lunches for the homeless.

Gentle Wellness Center (GWC) has reopened to continue its mission of helping people become their healthiest selves. After reflecting on the struggles caused by the pandemic, GWC decided to spread empathy by helping The People Concern, one of Los Angeles’ largest social service agencies, deliver sack lunches to homeless people every month.

While GWC has been a part of Santa Monica for 10 years, founder Suzanne Childre has 44 years of experience providing holistic health services. The center offers several cleansing therapies that target different concerns.

“It’s all a matter of what the person wants to accomplish,” Childre said. “The one thing about being holistic is that it’s very individual. It can’t be a cookie cutter.”

GWC specializes in colonic hydrotherapy and every staff member is I-ACT (International Association of Colon Therapists) certified. Colonic cleansing is the clinic’s most common procedure as it gives the most obvious and immediate results.

“We can’t prescribe medicine, diagnose or treat; the only thing we can say is that colonic therapy hydrates the body and removes old waste,” Childre said. “However, it has helped so many people in so many different directions.”

The central idea of colonic hydrotherapy, as well as the other cleansing methods, is releasing toxins from the body. Once the toxins have been cleared, the body will be in a healthier state.

Other cleansing methods offered by GWC include bio-electric lymphatic drainage, amethyst biomat & biobelt, ionic foot baths and the Far-Infrared (FIR) sauna. The pandemic has caused some services to be more in demand such as the amethyst biomat & biobelt due its stress reduction benefits.

“A lot of people have been stagnant at their home desk because they’re not even going to work,” Childre said. “This makes the lymph system stagnant. Like anything, it needs to be cleaned out and the lymph drainage helps to open those up.”
When the pandemic caused GWC to shut down for four months, Childre said that her staff reflected on the community’s current situation and decided to reach out to the homeless that are struggling the most.

At first, GWC had intended to make lunches for the homeless to spread some holiday cheer. They contacted The People Concern and offered to make lunches, which then developed into regular lunch deliveries. Every last Friday of the month, GWC packages and delivers 100 lunches.
“It felt good [to help people],” said Childre. “[After the holiday lunches] I decided that the community is helping to keep us open and I wanted to give something back. If every business in Santa Monica would do even 50 lunches once a month, we’d be able to feed a large number of homeless people.”

Childre pointed out that it doesn’t take a lot to help. The center spends roughly $200 and an hour and half of time making and delivering the sandwiches.

“That’s not a lot of time when people are supporting your business staying open,” Childre said. “I understand there’s some people who are still closed, but people who have been open all along really should think about giving back. That’s the important part.”
Some of GWC’s clients have become aware of the center’s efforts and are now looking to contribute to the cause. Childre hopes to continue the lunch deliveries and possibly do them more frequently.

“It’s nice to be involved,” Childre said. “You take a lot from your community, even if you aren’t taking a lot from the homeless. The People Concern may change what they’d like me to do, but I’d like to keep giving back. I want to encourage other businesses to do the same.”
After the pandemic, the center wants to continue its work and branch out in new ways to help. Childre said that GWC has its limitations due to the pandemic, so she asked for other businesses to get involved in some way.

“If every business in Santa Monica could contribute something to the homeless shelters, instead of saying we’re overrun with homeless people, it would open up their being cared for and maybe having a step up,” Childre said. “There are many out there who didn’t choose to be homeless. They were made homeless through the pandemic and other circumstances beyond their control.”