Harmony Hill offered its first Extended Cancer Retreat as part of the Cancer Program in 1994. This program was inspired by the internationally acclaimed Commonweal Institute. Our founder, Gretchen Schodde discovered Commonweal through viewing Bill Moyer's 1993 PBS documentary, Healing and the Mind, and soon after was invited to participate in Commonweal's first training workshop.
In 2004, the Harmony Hill Board of Directors took a daring step and approved the Cancer Program to be offered at no cost to participants. Due to the overwhelming need for this program, most of our Extended Cancer Retreats now have waiting lists. Our Extended Cancer Retreats have expanded in recent years to include specialty retreats for women with breast cancer, sexual minority women and caregivers only.
To help meet the demand for our Extended Cancer Retreats, we initiated a new one-day workshop in 2004, Tools for the Journey: Living with Cancer, giving people on the waiting lists practical resources and tools, as well as providing a one-day program option for those unable to attend a three-day retreat. We now take these workshops, abbreviated to 2-3 hours, off campus and out into the community to broaden the availability to those we serve. These workshops have been expanded to include specialty offerings for caregivers only and for men who have been affected by a prostate cancer diagnosis. Occasionally, Tools for the Journey is offered away from Harmony Hill’s campus.
The Cancer Program is only part of the Harmony Hill story. Since our founding, Harmony Hill has been dedicated to inspiring wellness for the general public through various wellness related offerings and facility rentals, generates revenue that enables us to keep the Cancer Program free to those that attend. We recently expanded our Customized Retreat Catalog offerings, which make it possible to add one component such as a massage to your rental or personal retreat stay at the Hill to a completely customized program faciliated by our experienced facilitators, onsite at Harmony Hill or at any offsite venue.