Some of our clients are dealing with cancer treatment, and expecting to recover and resume their lives. Others have stopped treatment and are nearing the end of life.
About the Founder
Steve Gordon is a former journalist who left a 30-year career in that field after starting The Hand to Heart Project in 2007. He began his training as a massage therapist in 1999, and early on, the cancer experiences of several people close to him helped shape his interest in oncology and end-of-life massage. He began providing massage to oncology patients while still in his massage training program, and continued doing that at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., for many years, working with long-time DHMC Healing Arts Practitioner Briane Pinkson. Steve and his wife, Nora, live in Cornish, NH.
Steve now balances his massage therapy work between The Hand to Heart Project and his private massage therapy practice in Hanover and Cornish, NH. He is also the co-author, with Dartmouth College professor Irene Kacandes, of the book Let’s Talk About Death: Asking the Questions that Profoundly Change the Way We Live and Die.
About the Project
In the summer of 2006, while at DHMC, Steve visited a patient in her mid-30s, a single mom who was about to be discharged home in hospice. She had a painful form of bone cancer, and after about 20 minutes of massage, she breathed deeply and said:
“For the first time in months, I don’t hurt anywhere.”
Steve asked her if she could get someone to come to her home to provide some comforting massage, and she replied that she could never afford it.
With that inspiration, Steve talked to Leo McKenna, a friend with years of business experience who provided the encouragement and support that helped get The Hand to Heart Project started. Other friends and colleagues agreed to join the board of directors or were instrumental in designing how the program would work.
In the summer of 2020, we decided that thanks to the generosity of our donors, we had the resources to do more than we were doing. So now, The Hand to Heart Project is offering the comfort of massage and compassionate touch to people with cancer in 15 towns in southwestern Vermont. Massage Therapist, Registered Nurse, and certified end-of-life doula, Anna Maynard, is offering her services in this region.
Several other massage therapists have worked with the project over the years. Currently there are six massage therapists working with the Hand to Heart Project. In addition to Steve, Briane Pinkson and Beth Hazlett are two of the therapists.
The Towns We Cover
Hand to Heart works in about twenty towns in the Upper Valley area of New Hampshire and Vermont. Those towns include: in New Hampshire – Lyme, Hanover, Lebanon, Enfield, Plainfield, Grantham, Cornish, Claremont, New London, Newport and Charlestown; in Vermont – Thetford, Norwich, Hartford, Hartland, Windsor, West Windsor, Weathersfield, Woodstock and Springfield.
We also serve about 15 towns in southwestern Vermont – Rutland, Clarendon, Shrewsbury, Wallingford, Danny, Pawlet, Rupert, Dorset, Sandgate, Manchester, Sunderland, Arlington, Shaftsbury, Bennington and Woodford.
We stretch the boundaries beyond those towns on occasion, when we can, but that’s our core area, and if you live inside it and have cancer, you could be a Hand to Heart client.
Our Board of Directors
Hand to Heart’s continuation over these several years, including through a challenging economic downturn, is a testament to the support provided by a handful of foundations, a great many individuals and a fine board of directors.
Members of the board of directors for NH-VT Palliative Services, the nonprofit corporation that runs Hand to Heart, are:
Leeli Bonney of Meriden, NH
Jean Allen of Claremont, NH
Gene Lattuga of Cornish, NH
Cynthia Howe of Meriden, NH
Tara Velozo, Hanover, NH
Steve Gordon of Cornish, NH
The project is run by the nonprofit corporation NH-VT Palliative Services, and is funded almost entirely by grants and individual contributions.