Where Enthusiasm for Good Health Reigns
A sign, which hangs on a wall of Donna Wood’s office reads: Thank God it’s Monday! The sales representatives, who visit the Health Haven owner to sell her nutritional supplements, vitamins, herbs, homeopathic products, bulk items, and produce for her store and café, initially find the phrase perplexing. On the other hand, the seven members of the Health Haven staff simply look at the phrase and smile because they share Woods’ passion for helping others. “From our perspective, it’s not ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ because we all look forward to coming to work on Monday,” Wood says.
More than 30 years in the health food industry hasn’t dampened Woods’ enthusiasm for her work. Even though it wasn’t her first choice for a career, it’s now the only one she would even consider. “My major in college was women’s studies but I had a difficult time trying to find work that allowed me to apply what I had learned,” explains Wood, who accepted a job at a health food store after graduation so she had an income to pay her bills. It only took several months of listening to customer’s stories about how eating habits and supplement choices improved their health, until Woods curiosity needed more anecdotes. “What I was hearing made me hungry for a different type of education, so I read everything I could on natural health, supplements, and all types of alternative therapies, which were around at the time,” recalls Wood, who adds that as the field of healthy lifestyles and preventive medicine has grown exponentially, she has kept up by reading a virtual library of books and trade publications on the various facets of alternative therapies and by attending seminars and trade shows.
Ever since completing a series of online classes, which were required for a certification in nutritional counseling by American Health University, she has been helping people to make healthier food choices. “I wanted to specialize in nutritional counseling so I could work one-on-one with customers who need more time than I can give them in the store,” explains Wood, an avid believer in education as the key to helping people understand how their body works and how it can heal itself, given the right food and conditions.
Pleasantly surprised by the number of allopathic doctors who are beginning to see food and supplements as a natural prescription for their patient’s health challenges, Wood feels a sense of gratitude. “I’m grateful not only for the customers who come here for everything from glucosamine to tart cherry juice, as well as the recognition that we can help, but also for the fact that mainstream medicine is moving in the direction of integrative and functional medicine, which embrace a larger scope of natural healing possibilities such as proper nutrition as a path to good health,” she says Wood, who has long held the dream of gathering with other like-minded business owners to create a holistic health center. “There is space in our location for five other stores and so far our landlord has signed leases with a haute yoga studio, a chiropractor and a small business counseling service that empower women, as well as an acupuncturist so I think it’s happening,” she enthuses.
Perhaps there is room for a new sign on Wood’s wall: Thank God We’re Getting There!
Reprint from Natural Awakenings – South Jersey Edition