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Spa Giving: Treatments for Wounded Soldiers
A Maryland spa owner thanks our nation’s soldiers by offering some old-fashioned TLC.
A high five. A pat on the back. A supportive hand on the shoulder. These brief gestures may seem insignificant to some but to others they could mean the difference between a good day and a bad one—or a life of heartache and one of hope.
No one understands the importance of human touch better than spa professionals. While a deep-tissue massage or a clarifying facial is designed to target specific issues in the body, the human interaction required also delivers a sense of being nurtured and comforted. And that’s something that one cannot put a price on.
There are those, however, who resist opportunities to be nurtured, viewing them as luxuries of which they are not worthy. Julie Nguyen, owner of Blu Water Day Spa in Kensington, Maryland, believes it is often these reluctant individuals who need care the most. For this reason, Nguyen devoted her latest philanthropic effort to serving strong and valiant soldiers who are not accustomed to being pampered.
“Last month we partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project,” Nguyen explains. “My staff and I spent a day at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in nearby Bethesda and performed mini services such as massage, nail treatments and facials on injured soldiers who had recently returned from service.”
Some of the military men and women were initially hesitant to accept the free services, as they were not used to being taken care of, according to Nguyen. “Many of these individuals are not exposed to luxuries such as spa treatments and are too intimidated to even walk into a spa,” she explains. “However, we insisted and, at the end of the day, they were truly grateful for the experience.”
DAYSPA: Why is philanthropy such an important part of your business?
I am no stranger to suffering and hardship. I came to the U.S. from Vietnam when I was 16. I had so many preconceived notions about what life would be like in America. I thought I was going to have a money tree growing in my backyard! You can imagine my surprise when we arrived and had to start from zero. I had to go out and get a job the day after we arrived because we had absolutely nothing! I remember my family and I fishing through trash cans for household items such as TV sets, telephones and mattresses. I’ve come a long way since then but I always remember that painful time and it makes me want to give back to those in need. I’ve always incorporated charity work into my business since it opened in 2008 and I’ve even started my own organization, Arches of Love, which provides eyebrows and wigs for cancer survivors.
What inspired you to partner with the Wounded Warrior Project?
It’s important to seize the opportunity to give back to those who have given so much, and the Wounded Warrior Project truly touched my heart because it centered on serving our brave soldiers. Many of our clients who are medical professionals and psychiatrists lend their services to Wounded Warriors—that’s how we heard about the organization. We first partnered with the charity on a similar event for Mother’s Day in May. The soldiers and their families loved it. They were so appreciative that we immediately knew we wanted to do it again. This time around we’ve added a few things—music, food and drinks—with the help of local partners such as Whole Foods. They are also regular partners of Wounded Warriors and are always willing to lend a helping hand.
What was your favorite part of the event?
The best part was witnessing a soldier’s joy after being pampered and treated. Some are missing limbs and are going through a difficult and painful time, so it’s very rewarding to know we are able to lift their spirits through a simple massage or manicure.
How did you juggle running a spa and planning the Wounded Warrior event?
I have an efficient staff that is compassionate and excited to participate in philanthropic events, and with their assistance I am able to ensure that the spa and salon run smoothly while we plan events and fundraisers. Giving back is a major source of happiness for me so I allot time devoted to giving back and serving the community. This is just a part of my regular agenda.
Did you accept any donations or market the event at all?
We spread the word via our spa’s Facebook page, and also let our clients know we would be partnering with Wounded Warriors for this event. However, we didn’t ask for donations—the day was all about rewarding the troops by providing our services and time.
Do you find philanthropic events benefit your spa’s business?
Our clients are well aware of our philanthropy since they’ve always been such a major part of our business model. I think our clients have a lot of respect for what we do and it has made them more loyal. When choosing between two spas, the one that’s more involved with its community is the one most people would choose to patronize.