LifeSpark Year in Review: Opportunities and Challenges

12/29/2022.  By Sandy Priester.

For LifeSpark, 2022 has been a year of challenge, progress, and change.
Here are the top six focus areas for the year.

ONE: LifeSpark wellness sessions: Continuing our work, supporting those in need

This year, we provided 2,250 Reiki and Healing Touch sessions to individuals with cancer and their caregivers.

    • Weekly program – 1568 sessions for 149 people (8 + weeks of remote sessions/person)
    • Hospital program – 622 sessions for about 210 people. Hands-on sessions are given at cancer infusion centers at these facilities: UCHealth Anschutz Cancer Center, Denver Health Medical Center, and UCHealth Memorial Hospital Cancer Center.
    • Oncology nurses – 60 sessions given.
    • 93 talented and compassionate Reiki and Healing Touch providers delivered these services this year.
  • While we served fewer people than pre-COVID years, the numbers are fairly consistent since 2020, except for the hospital program, which was halted by the hospitals in 2020 and then restarted by them in 2021.

TWO: Remote Program: Surprisingly popular and growing

  • Before COVID in 2019, we offered in-person hands-on sessions at 19 partner locations. However, in March of 2020 because of COVID we switched to remote sessions to keep everyone safe. This new remote program, which combines Reiki and Healing Touch with guided imagery has been surprisingly popular, and we can now serve people no matter where they live.
  • This year we delivered Reiki and Healing Touch sessions to people in 17 states, and we expect our remote program to continue to grow. Even so, over 90% of those we serve are still in Colorado, and the Colorado front range will continue to be our focus. We do not advertise or promote our program outside of Colorado, but we do not turn people away either. The natural growth of remote sessions outside of Colorado is the result of word-of-mouth marketing and the internet.

THREE: In-Person Sessions: Lots of interest, locations slowly being set up

As requests continue to come in for In-person sessions, we have begun reaching out to previous location partners about using their space for hands-on sessions.

  • Much has changed in the past 3 years and many of them are no longer available.  However, some of our oldest partners, including Green Mountain United Methodist Church in Lakewood and Atonement Lutheran Church in Boulder have welcomed us back.
  • In addition, we have added a couple of new sites, including Discover Your Spiritual Gifts in Littleton, and King of Glory Lutheran Church in Arvada, and now have locations in Boulder, Arvada, Lakewood, and Littleton.
  • We are planning to expand to many more cities along the Colorado front range over the next six months.

FOUR: Research:  Supporting oncology nurses with an easy-to-use self-care tool

  • Last November we began a 14-month COMIRB-approved formal research project at the UCHealth Anschutz Cancer Center. We trained 14 oncology nurses in Reiki as a self-care tool to help them be less stressed and more resilient. Preliminary results show a statistically significant improvement in resilience both immediately after the training and after three months. The final analysis will be ready early next year.
  • The why behind the study. Stress, burnout, and staffing shortages for oncology nurses are at an all-time high. Teaching Reiki as a self-care practice offers an easy-to-use method for relaxation and wellness for these critical front-line healthcare professionals. Supporting these nurses helps them give better care to the cancer patients who we also serve.
  • We are planning a much larger study that will help us verify whether Reiki can be used as a low-cost sustainable solution for oncology nurse burnout.

FIVE: Financial challenges:  Increased costs and smaller events

  • LifeSpark generates close to half of our funding for the year from two annual events: the NightSparks Gala each spring and the Touching Tomorrow Luncheon each fall. In 2020 and 2021, because of COVID, these events were both held remotely.
  • This year we returned to in-person events for both. However, attendance at these events was less than half of previous non-COVID years producing lower income than needed. Add rising costs in all areas of our work and lower funding from regular donation sources and the result has been financial challenges all year.
  • We are actively seeking new ways to raise needed funds for our work. If you have ideas for us or would like to help in some way, please let us know.

SIX: Technology – Investing in our future

We have been investing in technology that will help us become more efficient and effective.

  • Our new Learning Management System supports the online training of our Reiki and Healing Touch volunteers.
  • LifeSpark purchased multiple Zoom licenses early this year to support 50+ LifeSpark providers who connect with their participants via Zoom every week. (Zoom ended its free no-time-limit service for two parties early this year).
  • We are halfway through a six-month development process for software that will help us manage the matching, tracking, and oversight of LifeSpark providers with cancer patients. Apoorva, a local software development company, is donating the development of this software for us.
  • Other technology has been upgraded and expanded to support the increasing complexity of making matches with people across the state and nation.

Our commitment has never been stronger! 

Through it all our commitment to wellness and healing is as strong as ever.

Reiki and Healing Touch therapies act as a catalyst for deep healing on all levels. As more and more people discover this, interest in these therapies will continue to increase, as will our partnerships with the hospitals where we work.

You are a part of our community.  We count on you for financial support and other kinds of help, and you are the reason we are able to do this work.  Thank you!

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