“You’re never going to believe this,” laughed Susan Manning, “but I first went to OHI to recover from show choir.”
In June 2019, Susan had just finished a full season performing with her show choir, and she was completely exhausted. She was also working overtime as the CEO of Manning Pools. She was ready to transition the company over to the next generation, so she booked herself a week at OHI to consider her future. What she got was so much more…
“I had such a revelatory experience in my one week at OHI, that I just knew I needed to spend more time there,” said Susan. “I was at a crossroads in my life, and I wanted uninterrupted time to figure out what my path needs to be for the next 30 years. The OHI Missionary Program seemed like the perfect opportunity to help others as I helped myself.”
Susan dubbed her 13-week missionary stay “The Great Unwinding.” It started with changing her relationship with food. Susan tipped the scales at over 200lbs, and was addicted to salt. Embracing a juice cleanse and all-raw diet was a revelation to her.
“When I came to OHI, I was taking 14 different medications,” said Susan. “After eating a raw diet for 13 weeks, I now take just 2 medications. My blood pressure is much improved. My blood sugar is completely under control. I’m down from a size 20 to a size 12. OHI showed me that I can be strong and healthy without pharmaceuticals, and has taught me how to use food as medicine. And I can honestly tell you that drinking 100oz of water a day sets the foundation to an entirely new body.”
But it was the missionary program as a whole that opened her up to change. “During my stay, I read ‘The Gospel on Mary Magdalene’ by Jean-Yves Leloup,” said Susan. “It completely changed my life. There is a mantra I took from it that I have really focused on — ‘The human body is a journey through matter toward light.’ That was an enormous spiritual breakthrough for me. As a missionary, it was such a gift to help others on their personal journey toward light. Everyone took to calling me Miss Joy, because I was so happy to be present for whatever God wanted to reveal to me in each moment.”
As a missionary, Susan also found profound joy in teaching classes. “I discovered that I love teaching exercise classes,” laughed Susan. “The exercise class is designed to focus on lymphatic movement. The gentle exercise movement cleanses the lymph system, and leaves you feeling fantastic. Beyond the exercise classes, I absolutely adored the vocal toning class. The group relaxes, the light is dim, and we sing 8 different tones each associated with a different energy center of the body. My spine felt more aligned after that class every time. And as a singer, I honestly believe that class healed my voice. It is much softer and deeper now. My old show choir friends wouldn’t recognize it if they heard me sing now.”
So now that she’s healed her body, mind, and spirit, what’s next for Susan? “I want to start another business, a non-profit, and give back to the OHI Scholarship Program so more people can experience the breakthroughs I experienced,” smiled Susan. “I asked God for a group of women who want to find solutions for big problems, and I think I found that during my missionary stay. The friends I made while I was there will be my friends for life. We’re going to do great things together!”
The unique holistic healing program that OHI offers is based on ancient spiritual disciplines. It often takes new employees a couple of years to fully wrap their arms around all the different classes and activities we offer guests to facilitate their body-mind-spirit transformation to optimum health. But Danielle Demko is not your typical staff member. She spent over 14 years working at a local mega church with the last five years as their Director of Training & Development. With her master’s degree in Industrial & Organizational Psychology, she became a jack-of all-trades, giving her the ability to embrace multiple aspects of OHI in just one short year since she joined the team.
“I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself,” said Danielle. “Working as part of the team at OHI gives me that opportunity. As a Senior Facilitator, I oversee the Missionary Program, I teach an extensive menu of classes, and I work one-on-one with guests. I can see what a life-changing experience OHI offers people, and I am so proud to be a part of that evolution. The guest that checks in on Sunday is a very different person from the one that checks out at the end of their stay. It has changed my whole perspective on what it means to give back to another human being I love that my efforts help others to learn they don’t have to be a victim of their life. They are now empowered and inspired to succeed at ANYTHING!”
Danielle knows many guests come thinking that OHI is a “diet program.” But that is not how she would quantify the OHI holistic healing program. “OHI is about helping people learn the deeper meaning behind how they got to where they are in life. They come hoping to recalibrate the current trajectory they are on or change a diagnosis, and they end up figuring out that they can take charge of their own outcomes in so many ways. I love that OHI explains the science behind the ‘mindset.’ That was really pivotal for me. I already have a great relationship with God. But learning the science behind the ‘mindset’ broadened the spectrum of how I think about God, and all the details He’s in.”
Danielle really enjoys the long-term relationships she builds with those in the OHI Missionary Program. “It takes a special type of person to be in our Missionary Program,” said Danielle. “They are a unique hybrid between guest and staff. They live on the property for 90 days, working on their own spiritual transformation, while at the same time they help OHI guests make the most of their stay ensuring comfort and connection and assist staff with various weekly service hours.”
At OHI, classes and activities are integral to helping quiet and focus your mind in an effort to renew and awaken your spirit. So what is Danielle’s favorite class to teach? It’s hard to choose a favorite,” laughed Danielle. “I love all of the classes at OHI. Each class connects to another regardless of the topic and helps our guest see how they are empowered to take part in their own healing. In choosing a favorite class, I don’t have one. My favorite ‘activity’ is seeing our guests transform in front of my eyes physically, mentally and spiritually. Each class contributes to this process. That being said, I love the evening classes – Alpha I, Emotional Detox and Toning. They are right in my emotional/spiritual ‘wheelhouse’ and directly aligned with my passion. Any class that facilitates the guest gaining deeper insights and peeling back the onion, so to speak…That’s my kinda class!”
After being with OHI for a year, Danielle is still as enthusiastic as the first day she came on board. “I am humbled to be here,” said Danielle. “It is my honor to work at OHI. I love meeting guests, and going alongside them on their healing journey. I feel like I’ve been called to help others through OHI.”