Dr. Joyce Oliveto, who was the director of Creative Health Institute in 1986 and 1987, says whenever she returns to the center it feels like home.
The internationally renown teacher and healer visited the center during the winter and returns as a guest teacher in May when current director Bobby Morgan is out of the country.
Dr. Joyce, who has wonderful stories from her time spent with Dr. Ann Wigmore, said she was really amazed at the level our programs have been taken to under the direction of Morgan.
“To see the level of expertise is amazing,” Dr. Joyce said. “The classes are not only designed around the original program that Dr. Ann put together. They are even better.”
In addition to being impressed with the quality of classes now available for guests who participate in the CHI Detox Programs and gourmet raw chef classes, Dr. Joyce also said she is impressed with the skill level of the interns who devote months of time to make the programs work.
“Everyone has brought this to the highest level that a raw food center can be,” she said. “The healing that I see taking place here — the education, the motivation and the inspiration, is absolutely amazing.
Dr. Joyce said the feeling of community at CHI today is very close knit. In fact, she said, it is so close knit that she felt as if she was one-in-spirit with everyone at CHI during her five-day stay. She said she felt like that when she was the director. But she never expected to experience that level of community within a five-day stay.
“I believe at the very deepest levels of my heart that people need to know about this place,” she said.
Dr. Joyce came to the center in October 1980 after detoxing at the Hippocrates Institute in Boston with Dr. Ann Wigmore. Her health transformed quickly but when she returned to her home in the Brighton area, she needed community. So Dr. Ann put her in touch with CHI Founder Don Haughey, whose memorial service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Creative Health Institute.
She said when she walked in the door of CHI to meet Don she was desperate for support with the raw living foods lifestyle. Back then there was no other place in Michigan to turn to for support. She could hear carpenters working in the building when she opened the door. Don had purchased it when it was a tavern and when Dr. Joyce met him he was transforming it into a raw-living-foods retreat and education center.
“There were carpenters working on completing the additions to the saloon but from what I understand Don was teaching classes anyway,” Dr. Joyce said. “Back then it was Hippocrates Midwest.”
She loved meeting Don.
“He was a quiet presence. He just had so much knowledge. He could talk for hours no matter what the subject was.”
When Dr. Joyce became the director in 1986 Don was still running his business American Woodcraft and he would visit the center every day but just once a week for meetings.
“I think he walked quietly on the earth. He was a very gentle man — very firm. He knew what needed to be done. Everybody just loved him. They had an energy exchange program through which people would come and volunteer to work in order to get through the program.”
Dr. Joyce said the CHI community was very passionate in the late 1980s when she was director. They painted the buildings themselves and did everything they could with any bit of money they had extra. A few times families with children participated in the energy exchange.
“There was always building and remodeling going on between classes,” she said. “We all felt like free spirits but it was very busy. I remember when I needed to have a break, I would take some classical music out to the room that is now the sitting room. I would just go get my hands in the dirt and I would plant for twelve hours.”
In those days they used to swim nude across the street in front of the mill. There were bushes and trees for privacy and Don wasn’t yet living in the Mill. They had the famous CHI Sunday Buffet dinners and festivals with Dr. Ann Wigmore and Viktoras Kulvinskas.
Creative Health Institute was extremely special to Dr. Ann who visited in the summers.
“It really was the only center in the country that was following her path. Nobody else was. California had changed already,” Dr. Joyce said. “She always felt special when she was here.
When Dr. Joyce first became director of CHI, the center was in a lul. There were not enough guests to keep it going. So she called Dr. Ann to see if she would help her with a marketing effort. The two of them went on tour making appearances on local radio and television stations in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
They stayed in hotels with separate rooms and Dr. Ann always ate alone by herself in her room. After finishing her own dinner, Dr. Ann prepared a meal for Dr. Joyce.
“She would have a table cloth on the floor with a plate and energy soup, dehydrated dates and bananas,” Dr. Joyce said. “We laid on her bed and watched old movies. She loved old movies.”
The times with Dr. Ann were just wonderful, she said.
“She always smelled like strawberries. She used strawberry essential oil and beet juice on her cheeks for a natural blush.”
If they were doing a cable TV show, they would bring in a tray of wheatgrass and a tray of buckwheat. Someone at one of the studios once walked up to the greens and started petting them. “Wow, it smells like strawberries,” the person said, not knowing it was the smell of Dr. Ann’s essential oils.
Dr. Ann winked and said, “Yes, it does, doesn’t it?”
“She had a light-heartedness about her. She was a really sweet soul,” Dr. Joyce said. “But a lot of people didn’t realize that she was funny.”
The fact that Creative Health Institute is keeping the simple raw-living-food traditions of the great healer alive is wonderful because so many other centers have broken from Ann Wigmore’s teachings, Dr. Joyce said.
“One woman knew and believed that we could make a consciousness shift in the world through the living food lifestyle but she took her education, her life experiences with her grandmother, her personal experiences with almost having her foot removed, her health challenges – and started this dream in Boston with Hippocrates Health Institute.”
Dr. Joyce is glad to see the degree to which Dr. Ann is respected and honored at Creative Health Institute and she hopes the Creative Health Institute Community will always keep the memory and traditions of Dr. Ann alive.
“Dr. Ann has had over 50 years of people healing with raw and living foods and the simplicity of this healing program and what it dos for our bodies and our minds and our souls,” Dr. Joyce said. “Her work worked and why change it? Why not pay tribute and recognize somebody who made such a contribution to the world.”
The medical community in the United States has been slow to recognize the benefits of Dr. Ann’s teaching but Dr. Joyce said when she visited other countries she would be met my heads of state and they put her program in hospitals.
“Creative Health Institute has taken Dr. Ann Wigmore’s work – her passion, her vision, her dream,” Dr. Joyce said. “I feel it has been brought to the highest level it could ever be brought to today in 2011. I have never seen it better and I have never seen it this good… There is no ego here.”