Michael Portilla, an enthusiastic 8-year member of the Annapolis Holistic Health Center, explains his organization's purpose with succinct good humor.
"We get together to give anyone a hearing who thinks they know something about the spiritual and physical aspects of health."
For the past decade, the AHHC has perpetuated a philosophy that stresses the connection between body, mind and spirit to attain good health.
Their lectures and workshops have put the membership in touch with such techniques as acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga, meditation, nutrition and many types of psychotherapy. "We are interested in both orthodox and alternate methods," says Portilla. "We've learned a lot over the years."
It's been a decade since Helen Leanos of Annapolis founded the Holistic Health Center. Sunday -- 100 lectures and scores of potluck suppers later -- more than 200 of Leanos' friends and fellow devotees of holism gathered at Downs on the Severn for a celebration of the center's 10th anniversary.
For Leanos, the past decade of work has been a labor of love. "Our work really lifts my heart," she says. "We have been helpful to people by providing them with information that would otherwise be difficult to find. That makes me feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing."
At Sunday's "Tencennial" festivities, the center's friends and supporters enjoyed food, music and a silent auction that featured such items as an astrological reading, a collection of gemstones and crystals, message, acupuncture and foot reflexology sessions and a consultation with a homeopathic doctor. (Homeopathy is a system of medical treatment that stresses, among other things, the application of natural remedies rather than synthetic drugs.) Many of those in attendance were eager to talk about holistic health and the role the center plays in their lives.
Jack Teitlebaum, an Annapolis physician, is an avid supporter of the center and is quick to point out that his orthodox medical practice and the holistic approach are often complementary.
"It's like stocking a tool box," he says. "You would never ask yourself 'Should I have a hammer or should I have nails or a pair of pliers?' You need an entire set of tools. That's what holistic health provides -- a whole other set of tools that can be used to encourage people to use their own energy to get and stay healthy."
"I'm just a holistic health type of guy," says Greg Martins of Arnold with a smile. "I've always focused on spiritual matters and many of the people in the center have similar interests. The networking is very important to me."
Perry Gardner of Old Mill stresses the AHHC's informational role. "If someone wants to try acupuncture, for example, we'll put them in touch with someone good," he says with pride. "We're a clearinghouse of information."
That information is much appreciated by Cindy Slates of Annapolis, who has become very interested in working with people who addictively place the needs of others totally ahead of their own, to the detriment of their own psychological health.
"I've gotten into these healing activities because of the influence of this group," she reports, "and I'm very grateful because this has become a very important thing in my life.
"What I really like," says Bill Boro, surveying Sunday's festive scene, "is that these people who know how to get together and have a good time."