A Cambridge business is trying out a new method of payment they call “Pay It Forward.”
Massage and Natural Healing Center is offering customers the opportunity to pay what they can afford—with a minimum of $20—for a service, and in exchange the customer will volunteer within the community.
“It’s promoting health and kindness, because everybody deserves to feel good,” Owner and Massage Therapist Sarah Erickson said. The other two women in the building are Holistic Health Practitioner Nicole LaClare and Reiki Practitioner Bev Seline. “Our hope is that people will not only feel better when they leave here, but they will be kinder to people, maybe want to help people more.”
They’ve been using the “pay it forward” system for a couple weeks now, and Erickson said it’s going well.
“Some people come in and pay $30 or $40 or they’ll pay $50, but they feel safe knowing that we’re not going to turn them away, nor will they be frowned upon if they can’t afford it, because we encourage people to come in,” she said. “How can we call ourselves therapists and healers if we’re turning people away because they can’t afford it? How is that being a healer? How is that being kind? How is that being true to our calling?”
The three women are all mothers, and Erickson said they want their kids to grow up in a better, kinder world.
“If you have something that would help somebody else, and it’s just a skill you have, but you’re not going to do it just because that person doesn’t have money yet you know they really need it—that’s cruel, and I don’t want to teach that to my kids, so I figure we have to live by example,” Erickson said.
Massage and Natural Healing Center, located at 1535 East Highway 95, has already been using a sort of bartering system for a while. For instance, Erickson might give someone a massage in exchange for a haircut.
The “pay it forward” system based on volunteering, however, is new. The normal price for an hour-long massage is $65 and $45 for a half hour, but Erickson said customers can pay whatever they can afford—as low as $20—and then do something good in the community.
LaClare and Seline are using the same system for their services. Seline practices Reiki, which is a Japanese palm healing technique intended to channel energy and create a state of equilibrium.
They have a chalkboard in the lobby with organization names and phone numbers for ideas, such as Family Pathways and local churches.
“Once you get stressed about money and you’re always thinking about money, it consumes your life,” Erickson said. “You’re always worried about it and you’re not as happy. Money doesn’t buy you happiness.”
LaClare said they’re promoting natural health and healing in a more raw way. As a holistic health practitioner, she said she often sees people who can’t afford the cost because their health insurance doesn’t cover it.
LaClare looks at clients in a holistic way, which means the whole person. For instance, if someone has chronic migraines, rather than prescribing something intended to treat it when it happens, she would try to determine the cause in order for the client to make appropriate lifestyle changes to heal.
She doesn’t want cost to be a barrier. So far, people have been honest about what they can afford.
“It’s a business, yes, and we do need to make money, but people are actually pretty honest about it when they come in,” Erickson said. “You would think there would be a lot of people who are totally taking advantage of it, and they’re really not.”
Ultimately, Erickson, LaClare and Seline simply want to help others in their community.
“Stuff is so expensive that people can’t even afford to take care of themselves, and that’s a big problem,” Erickson said. “We’re trying to do something to help our community.”
Massage and Natural Healing Center is located at 1535 East Highway 95 in Cambridge. They can be reached at 763-360-0760.