Wanda Smith Schick Cristina Garelli
As two homeopaths volunteering at a homeless resource center in San Francisco’s Mission District nearly a decade ago, we realized that many of the homeless we were treating were veterans. Soon after volunteering there, we found that the environment at the center was very challenging for the homeless veterans: the large crowds, sudden noises, solicitation of drugs, and sudden eruption of violent acts all proved to be triggering and harmful for the veterans to be around. Despite this challenging backdrop,we quickly found that the veteran population reacted very well to homeopathic treatment.
This lack of a safe place for us to treat homeless veterans is what led us to found the (HIP) in 2012. HIP was created as an all-volunteer non-profit501(c)(3)organization which aims to provide free and/or low-cost homeopathic care through clinics for veterans as well as homeless and other underserved people. We’ve been fortunate enough to have had generous donors who valued our services and identified with our cause of supporting disenfranchised individuals.
Since then, we’ve been working on how best to treat the many people we come into with through our clinics. We’ve found that the majority of our clients—not just veterans—exhibit Post Traumatic Stress, usually a symptom of an earlier personal or intergenerational trauma that has gone unaddressed for some time, often many years. Even though the PTS is often visible from the outset, we’ve learned that in order to adequately treat a client’s complicated mental issues, it’s helpful to establish a relationship of trust with them first. So, we usually start by treating whatever issue our client comes to us with, be it pain in the left foot or a headache. Successfully treating our clients’ complaints builds their faith in us, making it easier for us to start focusing on the deeper emotional issues.We have repeatedly found homeopathy to be a great tool for treating these issues even when more traditional modes of medication (in many of our clients’ cases, anti-depressants and other similar drugs) have failed.
Otherchallenges in working with the disenfranchised include that clients’ mental and physical ailments are often very severe, and there’s no guarantee that any given client will ever re-visit the clinic. For both of these reasons, we’ve taken the unique approach of prescribing a remedy, administering it to our client, and observing its results in real time. If the remedy doesn’t have an immediate effect, we’ll many times prescribe another. Often, these positive results will encourage the client to believe in the power of homeopathy and seek its help for other issues as well. Working alongside each other in the clinicsis especially helpful, as having two sets of eyes on the same individual helps us understand all aspects of any given case quicker.
In the seven years since we started HIP, we’ve seen very encouraging results, have continued to benefit from fundraising, and have had the pleasure to open several other clinics to reach even more people. In 2018 alone, HIP provided 403 homeopathic treatments, and as of the beginning of this year, we run four clinics across San Francisco and Silicon Valley. If ever we feel discouraged we’re pleasantly surprised byour clients: one whoafter a lifetime of homelessness is able to keep a job, find housing, realize life is hard but still manage; another, a veteran, who tells us that when he first started seeing us he was taking 20 prescription drugs for very serious complaints and he is now down to 4; and, more recently, a victim of the California Wildfires who embraced us and danced around after our treatment, telling us her chronic pain is now completely gone. The positive results and feedback we’ve gotten from our clients has encouraged us to keep helping as many people as we can.
Editor’s Note: Readers can HIP for service by leaving a message on their website: or by phone (415) 494-9447 or (650) 383-7683
dignity and hope to her homeless and disenfranchised clients, she treats