New wellness center provides safe space for LGBTQ and minority communities

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Learn more about Wild Fern Wellness Center by visiting its website

A brand new center that combines services such as therapy, massage and hair care, and is a safe, welcoming space that caters to the needs of people of color and members of the LGBTQ community, has just set up shop in Lansing.

Wild Ferns Wellness Center, which opened Monday, is the vision of partners Parker Curtis and Rahjah Evans. The pair wanted to combine the expertise they’ve gained over the years from their different career paths to create a unique community center and services hub.

Curtis, who identifies as transgender and uses they/them pronouns, has worked as a licensed professional counselor for the past six years. Curtis began their therapy career working as an intern at Connally Counseling in Ann Arbor, which is an LGBTQ-focused therapy center.

Curtis spent much of their time at Connally working with transgender clients. They returned to Lansing and began working in private practice and at Alliance Psychological Associates in East Lansing.

Curtis noticed that Lansing lacked the wide range of resources Ann Arbor has, in terms of easily accessible therapy and other social and health services for the LGBTQ community.

“I started thinking what a wonderful thing it would be for our community. This idea just kept building in me that we could be doing more,” Curtis said. “Not just, mental health therapy, but things like holistic wellness and being able to offer other services in a safe environment.”

Curtis notes that Lansing obviously does have places where anybody can receive therapy and get massages, but what makes Wild Fern Wellness Center different is the extra level of care that is put into ensuring LGBTQ and other marginalized clients feel safe. Curtis and Evans want a place where their clients feel safe from having to deal with culturally insensitive transgressions.

“It’s a matter of social accessibility. ‘Do you feel safe? Do you feel welcome? Do you know that when you go in, people are going to use your right name and pronouns? Do you know that when you go in, that you won’t suffer micro transgressions because of the color of your skin?’ Those are the barriers we are trying to get over,” Curtis said.

Evans has a background in financial services, running her own business known as Abloom Billing and Credentialing, and handles the administrative side of Wild Ferns Wellness Center.

“My goal is to let people know that it’s safe here. I want this to be a place where somebody can be their whole self. They won’t have to choose a certain identity to fit in,” Evans said.

Services offered by Wild Ferns Wellness Center include Transformative Therapy, Curtis’ therapy practice, Roots Hair Lounge, a salon run by Rizza Marie Benton, and massage therapy by Alisha Meyers. Electrolysis hair-removal by Mel Mirkin and Suzy Grace is expected to be in operation in the next few weeks.

Curtis said the massage services offered by Meyers are catered toward clients who have experienced trauma and may have otherwise been too nervous to seek out any form of massage therapy.

Wild Ferns Wellness Center hopes to address this by creating the most trusting and accepting environment possible. Clients will have a lot of options to customize their service to the precise way that makes them comfortable.

“We understand how important it is to be trauma-informed in all of our areas. With massage therapy, we recognize that the community we’re centering on has higher rates of experiencing trauma,” Curtis said.

“They may feel uncomfortable receiving something like massage therapy. Being a trauma-informed massage therapist means being nonjudgmental and understanding and meeting the client where they’re at.”

Rizza Marie Benton, who began working with clients at Roots Hair Lounge this week, shares the mutual passion of Curtis and Evans and was highly excited to have their business open up in the same space as Wild Ferns Wellness Center.

“I want to deliver beautiful results, and I have a place to do it at that also reaffirms the things I care about,” Benton said. “It’s going to be a way to spread love and care, when a lot of people need that right now. I think the space we’ve created is beautiful and I hope feel comfortable and welcome in it.”

Though Wild Ferns Wellness Center will focus primarily on being a safe space for people of color and members of the LGBTQ community, Curtis and Evans stress that is not an exclusionary space. Anybody is welcome to seek Wild Fern’s services, regardless of ethnicity or gender identity.

Wild Ferns Wellness Center is also developing an application process for scholarships catered toward those who need financial assistance.

“Centered does not mean exclusionary. We need and want allies here. We want to change up the local culture a little bit,” Curtis said. “We won’t be able to survive without our allies and advocates. I don’t want people to think, ‘I can’t go there; it’s not for me.’ No, we need you here.”

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