Evanston’s West Village becoming holistic healing area

When Nancy Floy purchased 1818 Dempster St. in 2010 to house Heartwood Center, her holistic health care center, the 12,000 square foot building located between Dodge and Darrow had been vacant for three years.

The windows were filled with bullet holes, and Floy described it as “an abandoned wreck.”

Today, Heartwood Center is thriving in its beautifully renovated space where 50 holistic professionals, including Floy, have their practices. The licensed acupuncturist and entrepreneur isn’t finished. Floy is driving a project that she hopes will help turn her depressed block into an area for businesses that heal and help others.

“This really is a renaissance and a huge expansion,” said Floy, a board-certified acupuncturist, who started her practice in 1995 at another Evanston location before starting Heartwood Center.

She is also the President of the Evanston West Village Business Association, an organization that consists of business owners from the Dempster Dodge neighborhood.

She thought of the idea when she saw a few new businesses, including Starbucks and Valli Produce, a gourmet grocery store, opening on the block.

“Everyone around here started putting their homes and properties on the market, so I began looking into expanding,” she said.

With the help of her Heartwood Center members, who she said came together and gave personal loans to Heartwood, the center was able to purchase the parking lot next door to the center, and homes on the other side of the building and just across the street.

The center’s building manager and his family will rent one of the homes, and the other will be used to house out of town guest speakers.

Also, Perla Café is for sale, which has Floy partnering with Evanston’s Curt’s Café to turn the restaurant into a place where teen mothers will train, work and learn the restaurant business.

“I put myself through college and graduate school by waitressing,” said Floy, who said that, coincidentally, she would buy her uniforms at the company that formerly occupied Heartwood Center’s building.

Floy, who is of Russian and Mongolian descent, was born in Texas, and was removed from her home at an early age by the state because of violence and abuse. She was raised in Seattle by her grandmother, a meditation teacher and healer.

“My grandma was a kitchen table healer, and I apprenticed there as a kid,” said Floy, who would go on to earn both an undergraduate degree and master’s degree in art history from Northwestern. “She was a great herbalist, and strong and tough, but very compassionate. I grew up watching people get better.”

After spending six years as an assistant curator for the Art Institute, Floy began running shelters for abused women and children, an experience she said made her realize that shelter was “just a Band-aid,” and that there was a severe need for physical, mental and emotional healing.

Heartwood Center consists of 50 holistic practitioners that include acupuncturists, massage therapists, integrative medicine physicians, naturopaths, psychiatrists, chiropractors, psychotherapists, and teachers of tai chi, yoga and meditation.

The members pay a monthly fee and receive an office, as well as marketing support from Heartwood.

“I enjoy the business model they have,” said David Johnson, LCSW, who has been a Heartwood member for 10 years. “I get to talk and collaborate with other holistic-minded practitioners, including psychotherapists. I’m often seeing the same patient as someone else here and it’s nice to collaborate on different cases.”

The center has 22 private offices, two classrooms, a few conference rooms, a yoga and meditation studio, and a 3,000 square foot event space.

Additionally, the center houses Heartwood Foundation’s Women & Cancer program, which provides free holistic health care treatments to low income women with cancer.

“You live in a human body that will age, and it will get sick,” Floy said. “We offer a place to bring your emotional, physical and spiritual pain, and I wish for anyone to come here and heal in whatever way they need to heal.”

Heartwood Center

1818 Dempster Street

(847) 491-1122

heartwoodcenter.com

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