I studied art in college. The art history professor at our little liberal arts school had enough personality to fill the redesigned 1950’s gym that was our art building. He was loud, proud, and British. He was also endearing.
When I built enough rapport to playfully slug his shoulder while at the Chicago Art Institute my senior, because he deserved it for some playfully arrogant statement he made, I felt on top of the world. He smiled, received my slug, and continued on with some brilliant description of the painting in front of us.
I loved his class. Except it was right after lunch. We called it “art in the dark,” because rarely did anyone make it through class without snoozing from the dim lights and a full belly.
I remember the day we talked about Michelangelo--the maverick, the genius, the renaissance man. In his eloquent and blunt way, with his British accent of course, he told us about how Michelangelo would sit and stare at a block of stone for hours. Literally a whole work day.
Can you imagine that today? He would have projects funded by the Pope and what did Michelangelo do? He stared. One day he was asked about this bizarre practice and his response was: “I’m looking forward David.” Then slowly but surely he found him.
And boy, did he find David in all his lusciously carved glory.
I got to the “how” of Khesed by staring at the mental health canvas in my mind, looking for Khesed. The biggest roadblock to people seeking mental health and wellness support? Accessibility and affordability of services. The is true for most everyone, not just the poor.
Every human deserves quality healthcare and that includes behavioral health. By eliminating the greatest roadblock, accessibility which includes affordability, kindness can spread.
The curves and nuances of our business model slowly took form:
Generosity from those who believe in our mission.
The Khesed Subsidy Program™ considering the whole person, not just rapport of finances. This program we are supporting with research and accountability.
Partnerships with business, churches, organizations, and clinicians who believe in social impact. They believe in it so much that they want to use to transform their community with Khesed.
Our free initial consultation focused on getting clients directly connected to help within one business week, even if they do not work with us.
Staff support and collaboration structured to help us live out Khesed in how we relate to each other…
Each example above was like an additional paint stroke, texture, and hue that eventually created Khesed.
Yvon Chouinard, the Founder of Patagonia, who I deeply respect as a literary mentor, wrote about delinquents as truth-tellers in his business memoir, Let My People Go Surfing. He wrote, “If you want to understand the entrepreneur, study the juvenile delinquent. The delinquent is saying with his actions, ‘This sucks. I’m going to do my own thing."
I found solace in this quote when forming Khesed.
I often hear from people, when I tell them the two-sentence synopsis of Khesed, “I never heard of a model like this. I have heard of benevolence funds, sliding scales, but not a whole package like this to eliminate inaccessibility to care, and the way you spread because of generous organizations within the community...and it’s a wellness center?! I love the integration of care.”
“Me too,” I say with a smile.
“How does it work?!” They ask, intrigued but their eyes also often speak to their skepticism. “Surely it’s too good to be true,” they say.
So, I tell them about different strokes I made on the Khesed canvas.
Of course it sounds more eloquent that the grind of time, frustration, drafts, standing back, getting lost in the forest of reflection, conversations, sketches, more annoyance with need for accessibility of care, watching how people still seek refuge in their communities. Seeing empty parking lots at churches during the week, and all the other life-giving and difficult experiences that influenced each stroke.
Each stroke slowly but surely built the living and breathing organism of Khesed Wellness. And! We just celebrated celebrated our first year as an organization. How great is that?!
Everything we do is about spreading kindness. That includes kindness internally and externally. We have a stellar Board of Directors leading our organization. Our unbelievable clinical and wellness team have hearts of kindness, not-to-mention amazing skill-sets as therapists and practitioners.
Our nation is overdue for a solution based in kindness, reciprocity, and longevity. We’re here, that’s our how.