Agnesian HealthCare supports Mahala’s Hope Wellness Center efforts

Shelly Haberman
Mahala Hope

“Yoga teaches me natural ways to deal with my stress and anxiety by breathing properly, meditating and learning to center myself. These techniques allow me to let my obsessive thoughts pass through my mind…and keep me grounded and present.”

Those words from a Mahala’s Hope client - a women’s recovery residence in Eden - demonstrate why a donation from Agnesian HealthCare, a member of SSM Health, is so vital to the mission and values of Mahala’s Hope.

Thanks to a two-year, $13,200 grant, Mahala’s Hope Wellness Center is now offering its clients yoga and fitness classes five days per week. Some women exercise on their own during other times as well.

Mahala’s Hope offers women in recovery a better chance of success by providing a recovery residence specifically designed to address substance abuse and trauma. The facility teaches individual holistic health, how to care for one’s self, and how to live in healthy relationships with others.

The newly-opened recovery residence provides women tools for addressing their past addiction, gives them safe coping skills, and teaches them how to live in light of their new-found sobriety. Mahala’s Hope also offers equine experiential learning, which helps clients learn responsibility, respect, leadership and self-confidence.

“Yoga and exercise are very helpful in treating depression, anxiety, substance abuse and trauma, all of which our clients have experienced or continue to,” according to Sandy Hardie, Mahala’s Hope director. “Our focus on the physical health of the women through exercise and healthy eating is a part of what makes our program unique.”

Melissa Schmidt, a Russian Kettlebell Level II certified instructor (RKC II), has found tremendous reward working with Mahala’s Hope clients, and has personally observed the benefits it has for female participants. “I have seen some women completely transform in 90 days,” Schmidt says. “Physically and mentally, the women change in a positive way and are more open to experiences, communicate more openly and come to recognize their strengths.”

Lora Vahlsing, certified Hatha Yoga instructor, has also seen firsthand how yoga, meditation and relaxation heal and support clients.

“I watch the women become more grounded, more sure of themselves,” Vahlsing says. “The more they practice, the more they’re willing to try poses they didn’t think they could do. When they do a pose they think they couldn’t, they get a light in their eyes! They start to see themselves differently, and they like what they see.”

Kickboxing is also a component offered.

“We understand as a health care provider that it takes a well-rounded approach to help women in recovery get a fresh start at a new life,” says Holly Brenner, regional vice president - Marketing, Communications and Foundations for SSM Health of Wisconsin. “Just like at Agnesian HealthCare, we know it’s important to look at the whole person to approach treatment that addresses all aspects of a person’s life, and yoga and physical activity is one component. We are delighted to support Mahala’s Hope in its wellness center initiatives.”

For more information on Mahala’s Hope, call (920) 904-6445 or visit

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