Rest for the Best

Late last year, Spa Gregorie’s and Stu News Newport launched a campaign to recognize and reward those in our community who REALLY needed some much needed relaxation at the spa. 

Maybe it’s an over-stretched healthcare worker who has seen her share of suffering on the job. A mom struggling to juggle kids, work and life to make ends meet. A young man caring for his ailing parent. Someone nearing the end of their rope – emotionally, financially and spiritually – who has been cloistered and isolated at home for months.

Well, here are our winners…  Congratulations to all!


Tasha Gillespie: 

I would very much like to nominate one of my team members for the Spa Gregories giveaway. Here’s some background: 

My husband and I run a pediatric and adolescent mental health practice, The Weichman Clinic at Hoag Neurosciences Institute. Our team of clinicians treats pretty much every mental health issue a child or teen can deal with and we are supported by an incredible administrative team. 

During pre-Covid times, our front desk team regularly fielded calls from stressed out parents looking for ways to help their children’s mental health and our team does an incredible job showing empathy, support, and responsiveness. However, since the Covid crisis, the frequency of full-panic, emotional parent phone calls has gone through the roof. But one of our employees stands out in particular, Tasha Gillespie. 

Tasha is a single mom of a preschool age daughter and in addition to working with us, she also is putting herself through college to fulfill pre-nursing requirements. She also supports her mother, who also lives with them. Her plate has always been very full and she never complains. 

When Covid quarantine hit, Tasha’s partner at our front desk decided that due to health reasons to work remotely for the next year. While understandable, this left Tasha alone at our front desk to field these phone calls completely solo plus help handle all of our other administrative needs. The stress level of the families we treat has increased consistently since March, the types of urgent and intense calls coming to Tasha from parents looking for help for their children has sky-rocketed, and the emotional melt-downs occurring via phone are at an all-time high. In addition to handling scheduling for 17 doctors and therapists and troubleshooting telehealth issues for our remote patients, Tasha has also found herself also as a surrogate therapist to some of these parents who need to vent to ANYONE about all of the things going wrong. 

All the while Tasha is trying to care for both her preschool daughter and her own mother (who also lives with them) while attending school online. Her attitude is upbeat and positive, she never complains, and she does an incredible job handling the challenges with grace and dignity. We can tell she is stressed out from her workload and definitely deserves some pampering but would never take the time to treat herself. We think she would be an outstanding candidate to receive this treat from Spa Gregories. She truly has been on the frontlines of the mental health crisis created by Covid-19.

As an aside, Spa Gregories was the only source of disinfectant we could find in the early Covid days and due to them we were able to keep our offices sanitized for the patients who needed to be seen in person. We were so grateful for their pivot and in a way, they really did help us stay open so we could continue helping others. 

Thanks for the consideration!  Cara Weichman

Michelle Waxman:

Do you have any idea what it’s like to be a teacher right now, this week, in Orange County? 

I’m not a teacher but I share a home office with one and I have to tell you about my wife, Michelle.  She’s been teaching high school English for 31 years and she has never worked harder or more passionately than she has since classes started last month and it’s been astonishing to observe. The COVID pandemic hit suddenly back in March, shutting down schools with barely a couple days notice and teachers were suddenly almost totally on their own without any real plan or solid online platform in place to guide this notion of “remote learning.”  The spring semester ended in a whimper.

For many teachers not too far from retirement the new technologies have been a sign from above to follow the exit signs.  But not Michelle.  From the moment of the shutdown (and through the summer) she has dedicated herself to raising her game, becoming the best online teacher possible, then teaching her students how to be the best remote learners possible. Sitting in front of twin computers in our Newport Heights “virtual classroom” she broadcasts five times a day for 40 minutes at a time right into the living quarters of 170 Anaheim high schoolers, somehow getting them to wake up, sign on, solve their IT issues and learn about literature and grammar and parts of speech and how to express thoughts creatively.  

When the Zoom-teaching day is done, she remains at her station late into the night (and into the weekend as well), mastering the dozen different software systems this online scheme requires and building out lesson plans for the following day. It is exhausting, endless and often frustrating work but it’s what it takes to make a difference in young lives.  I have to salute Michelle and all the other teachers like her who have made it their loving mission to make this horrible situation a little bit better for the kids who are desperate to interact in a group and get their education back on track. 

If there’s a woman who really deserves a massage or a facial or just a “thumbs up,” it’s Michelle.

Sarah Jay:

I’d like to nominate my co-worker for the “gift of a treatment” promotion at Spa Gregorie’s. 

I have worked with Sarah Jay for 4 years and have gotten to know her as a friend as well. Less than a week before the COVID quarantine shut everything down in March and mandated everyone stay at home, Sarah accepted the placement of an 11-year-old foster daughter in her home. Sarah had been preparing to be a foster mom, and hopefully adopt the right placement, for several years. Who would have predicted the intensity in which this chapter of her life would play out! Sarah is single, faithful, and knew that her fate included welcoming a daughter into her life, though she expected to ease into the process with time to adjust while she was at work, the daughter at school…not all day every day together from day one. 

Sarah went from working in our Santa Ana based office–where we serve low-income and foster kids like the one now living with Sarah(–to working remotely from home indefinitely, with 24-7 parenting on her plate. 

Sarah has stepped into her new role with respect and humility, caring for a pre-teen girl who comes with a hefty amount of emotional needs, and it’s been rewarding but also demanding in ways she couldn’t have imagined. The girl Sarah had met a handful of times leading up to March has been in foster care for years because her birth mother is an addict and in prison. The girl’s father is out of the picture and also in and out of prison.

Sarah is committed to bringing light to the girl’s mostly dark world, and this has resulted in plenty of days weighted down by intense conversations, occasional arguments, and all the rest that comes along with raising a pre-teen girl. She has done an amazing job of balancing the young girl’s unique needs, supporting monitored visits with the birth mom who is for the time being out of prison, and trying to remember her own well being during the minimal time she has when her foster daughter is at church under another adult’s supervision. 

I would be moved to know that Spa Gregorie’s would give Sarah a little TLC to recharge her body and mind with some well-deserved indulgence. 

Thanks for taking the time to read my request, 

Darcie Dodds Schott