Along with many other therapists, I have joined Instagram with a business page for my therapy practice. Aptly, I follow many other wellness professionals (e.g. therapists, registered dieticians, fitness experts, holistic healers, environmentalists and more) on social media. I am always happy to scroll through my Instagram feed and absorb the messages my peers, both in my local community and abroad, are sharing.

One thing that these wellness professionals typically have in common is that they believe in living holistically. A holistic lifestyle encompasses a focus on the whole person which, medically, entails treating the entire person rather than just the specific symptoms.

One day as I was scrolling on Instagram, I saw an advertisement that looked like a wheel of green leaves. My assumption was “it’s probably something about recycling,” given the recent legislative changes regarding the use of plastic in Connecticut.

I’m glad I did not skim past it, but rather took a moment to read the post. It said, “The Holistic Chamber of Commerce Presents The Westport Chapter’s First Meeting. Come Learn About The HCC And Become A Founding Member.” The meeting was to be hosted in the evening at the Westport Library right after I would finish with my last client of the day. The library is, quite literally, one minute from my downtown Westport office. All signs were pointing for me to attend. So, I did.

I am so happy I did. That night I met a group of passionate, smart, and dedicated people. While our businesses were different, our values were very similar. I felt connected to the people in the room upon the first meeting, specifically the Westport Chapter Presidents- an intelligent, engaging, and all around adorable couple named Chelsea and Rob Messer.

Chelsea and Rob shared with the group about their mission to “change the health and lifestyle of the current generation, so that we can save our future generation with natural solutions.” Their passion is in holistic wellness and health, specifically through the use of natural essential oils.

Though I knew almost nothing about the Holistic Chamber of Commerce, I was drawn in by the conversation amongst the people in the room. We talked of change, of reshaping the lifestyles of community members, of positivity, and of our dreams for the future.

The more I learned about the Holistic Chamber of Commerce the more I liked it. It is an international trade organization for holistically minded practitioners, professionals, resource providers, and business owners. The goal of the organization at large and its local chapters is to “make it easier for consumers to learn about and access holistic, natural and eco-friendly products, services and solutions” (Holistic Chamber of Commerce, 2019). By doing this, we are also helping business owners network, learn more about how to run their businesses, market more effectively, and learn a variety of other practical business skills.

I had an opportunity to become a founding member of the new Westport chapter, which was exciting for me because Westport has always been my community. My parents, Susan Schiff (maiden name Glickman) and Neil Schiff were raised in Westport and met when they were 15 years old at Staples High School. They fell in love immediately and married at age 24. They are still happily married, as in love today as they were when they were 15. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents still live in Westport and I will always remember the many fun days I spent running around the Compo beach playground with them.

For Westport to now have its own chapter of the Holistic Chamber of Commerce is a big deal. It’s an incredible opportunity. Of course, people from surrounding towns are always welcome to join. But to have our home base in Westport is wonderful.

As a team, our goal is to help people locate and access healthier methods of alleviating pain, improve and/or reverse damage of diagnoses such as arthritis, heart disease, and obesity, and help people transform as a whole through “techniques that influence physical, emotional, mental, financial and environmental health” (Holistic Chamber of Commerce, 2019).

In this business sharing community, we are able to connect through chapter meetings, events, and workshops, as well as online. We share ideas and experiences to help each other succeed. By sharing this information and ideas with others, not only can we nourish the community with incredible healthy and eco-friendly products and services but we can also partner together to grow our local businesses and reach our personal and communal goals.

I am honored to serve as the Senior Vice President of the Westport Chapter of the Holistic Chamber of Commerce. If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to reach out to the Westport Chapter at: westport@holisticchamberofcommerce.com

Caroline H. Schiff is a psychotherapist and licensed master social worker who practices in downtown Westport. Visit Caroline at www.carolinehschiff.com or on Instagram @thewestporttherapist.