A peek over a wooden fence along a pleasant neighborhood on East Ridge Street in Lansford reveals a serene garden, its lush greenery set off by natural stone. Beyond the garden lies a building that is the heart and soul of Holistic Therapeutic Outreach Services, a center for the nurture of body, mind and spirit.

Founded by Executive Director Jonathan M. Rodgers, MSW; Director of Outreach Vicky Benack, MSW, LSW and Director of Therapeutic Services Natalie Bojko, HTOS, at 255 East Ridge Street/266 East Snyder Avenue, provides a safe place for families to strengthen their ties and seek confidential help in resolving issues.

For Rodgers, who studied music and education before earning a Master's degree in social work at Kutztown University, building his business in the spacious rooms is like coming home. As a youngster, he studied voice and dance in the building when it was The Studio, owned by Joel and Janet Sager.

"Everyone keeps saying there's not a lot to do in Lansford. So we're offering dances, music, community events, concerts, opportunities for neighbors to come together and do things regardless of age, race, gender or religion, all here in town," Rodgers said.

Benack, who earned degrees in Social work at Kutztown University and Bible at Philadelphia Biblical University, is getting the word out about the Healing Opportuunities Together programs offered by HTOS. The programs will be offered once a month, on a Saturday, and will provide avenues for families to enjoy outings and activities together.

"My heart is people," she said. "Mind, body and spirit of the person the whole being. That's what we want to do here, reach the whole being of each person."

At the same time, the center offers an array of recreational activities for all ages, including dance, Zumba, Pilates, musical entertainment by local performers and community events all at little or no cost.

"It's integrating the arts into a family lifestyle and into the community," Rodgers said. "That's something that's different."

The aim of offering multiple services is to maintain privacy for those who seek help for personal matters.

"It's not a negative thing to need help. Everybody at some point in time does," he said. "So that's what our program is offering is those avenues and those alternatives in a positive way, that you won't know if they are here for dance, you won't know if they're here for those sessions."

On Saturday, the center will hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with free dance classes for children, taught by staff member Megan Rodgers, who is also a Kutztown graduate.

"I love to dance, I love to teach dance, I do it for fun, not for competition. I feel like it should be for the love of it, and that's what I hope to bring to everybody," she said.

A free preview of classes for adults will happen on Wednesday, Sept. 7, beginning at 5 p.m. with Jazz class, for those age 13 and up; beginning Tap for ages 13 and up at 5:30 and Pilates by "Progressive Pilates - Jennifer Behan" at 6 p.m. Zumba Fitness with Danielle will happen at 7 p.m.

Day Retreats for couples, families, grief, depression and spiritual journeys are also being planned.

On-site child care will also be provided at nominal cost. Parking is available on both East Ridge Street and East Snyder Avenue. For more information, call HTOS at (570) 805-4711, visit their website at www.htoservices.org [1]