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Operation Care Fair

Some time to relax

Northwest Guardian

Published: 03:46PM November 9th, 2017

Northwest Guardian

Griselda Perez, left, her daughter, Yuna Perez, 13, middle, and Bless Kazacos, right, work on sample paintings like Chris Bradley’s “Flowers and Sun” painting (foreground) during Operation Care Fair Saturday.

Four hours of pampering, Caribbean music, light refreshments and mimosas left attendees Saturday at Operation Care Fair at American Lake Conference Center feeling fabulous.

About 200 people participated in the annual event at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which offered a variety of free activities and products in an all fun wellness event.

“All you need to do is relax and let the energy do the work,” said Penny Devine, Reiki master and owner of the Devine Reiki Growth Center in Olympia, as she worked on a guest at the fair.

The guest sat motionless in a massage chair, her head and back exposed, as Devine lightly touched her head first, attempting to radiate healing energy and peaceful relaxation. Several attendees signed up at the Reiki booth for the half-hour treatment.

Staff Sergeant Dominic Garza, of the 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade, said he was excited to try Reiki, since his 15-year-old daughter is into spiritual healing, and he was sure she’d be proud of him for his activities at the event.

His friend, Brandi Greenfield, who attended Operation Care Fair with Garza, said she has experienced the Japanese art of stress-reduction and relaxation many times and has been pleased with its effects.

“I’ve had amazing experiences,” she said. “A lot of people think it’s hokey pokey, but it’s not.”

Devine said she’s worked with many service members through the years, and Reiki has been especially beneficial to those affected by post-traumatic stress.

The Olympia center offers free sessions for wounded warriors and sessions for others on a donation basis.

Also popular at the fair was an art class, offered in four sessions timed throughout the day, which was a shortened version of the Arts and Crafts Center’s monthly Wine and Canvas art sessions for amateurs.

After a swift lesson in technique, even beginners are able to recreate art with oil on canvas.

“This is my first time painting,” said Chris Bradley, of Spanaway, the spouse of a retiree, as she showed off a bright yellow field of flowers artwork. Bradley said she expected her husband to be impressed when she brought her project home to hang on a wall.

Bradley’s new friend, Tanisha Medina, an Army veteran, worked beside Bradley, creating a piece of art that nearly duplicated the work of other artists in the room. Medina said she planned to hang her artwork in her home, so the bright yellow flowers can make up for some of the gloom outside when the rain is falling.

Although she also is an amateur, Medina said the session allowed Medina to try her creative side. Medina said she had a lot of fun at the fair, beginning with a Zumba session participated in by many attendees.

“It was a great workout and choreographed in a way that anyone could pick up and dance with,” she said.

A henna tattoo booth, led by Jada Moon of, also was a hit with many who attended the event.

Army spouse Nohelia Suce, of Puyallup, brought her daughters, Sabrina, 16, and Evie, 15, to get floral tattoos on their hands and arms. The trio came to the fair last year also, and said the tattoos were their favorite activity.

“The tattoo lasts about two weeks; I’d never get a real tattoo,” Suce said, with a laugh.

Suce said the smell of the tattoo was as nice as the finished product.

“It smells so good,” she said, as Moon listed the ingredients in the ink as: tea tree oil, lavender and the henna herb.

As Jah Breeze Carribean Steel Pan band played some jazz and traditional Jamaican music, guests walked around the conference center room, sipping mimosas or nibbling on fruit, cheese, meatballs and other snacks.

String Thyme herbalist Danielle McCutcheon, of Vashon Island, brought out her violin and played a few soothing tunes as guests sampled her Comfy Cream, a mousse-like cream made from the roots of the comfrey plant, and other herbal salves and lotions.

“I’ve studied and made these creams for about 10 years,” said the Tacoma Symphony violinist and string instructor. “I love making music and making people feel better.”