Hands that heal

Rarely is there found a pair of hands with as much talent to heal as those belonging to Joni Darron Kucharski. She uses her hands every day of every week in some way to bring about healing and restoration to those in her care. Joni is a part-time dental hygienist and part-time massage therapist. So whether in the dental chair or outstretched on the massage table, the client is always in capable hands with Joni.

Here`s one woman`s intimate portrait that will have you cheering.

Diane Lewis and

Susan Majette

Rarely is there found a pair of hands with as much talent to heal as those belonging to Joni Darron Kucharski. She uses her hands every day of every week in some way to bring about healing and restoration to those in her care. Joni is a part-time dental hygienist and part-time massage therapist. So whether in the dental chair or outstretched on the massage table, the client is always in capable hands with Joni.

Joni began her career as a hygienist after receiving an associate`s degree from Allegheny College in Cumberland Md., in 1979. She later acquired a bachelor`s degree from Old Dominion University in 1984. Looking back over the years, she sees the many "blessings" that have flowed from her work in the periodontal field.

During her 19-year career, Joni has worked in Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. A few years ago, Joni added another profession to her life - that of massage therapy. This newfound calling came as a result of a tragic circumstance in her own life. One morning while seated at the breakfast table, her husband Bob Darron experienced a fatal heart attack. In a desperate attempt to remain on solid footing - physically, emotionally, and mentally - Joni decided to extend the work and care of her hands past the dental chair. So, in 1994, she enrolled in the Advanced Fuller School of Massage Therapy and, in 1995, she received certification and licensing.

The work of massage helped Joni reconnect with mankind; something that had been threatened during the loss of her husband who had been such a vital part of her life. Massage gave Joni the opportunity to touch and feel and give again. It reopened the window of her soul and allowed the gentle breeze of life to blow again. Joni`s new profession was the perfect answer to her new role as single parent. It helped produce the additional income needed with flexible hours her young children demanded.

In no time at all, Joni converted the spare room of her home into a sanctuary of quiet refuge; a place where the stressed can find relaxation and the hurting can find relief. It made Joni feel like she could once again give and that her giving had met receptive vessels. Joni views message therapy as "filling her hands with love."

Joni sees many similarities between the professions. Both are very personable professions, dealing with intimate care in a client`s life and serving that person with great care. Joni admits that the most important part of her work is her hands and the message they portray. Joni can make a client feel safe and secure or frightened and tense simply by the way she touches and cares for him/her. She starts and finishes each day intent on sharing love.

She says, "Being a dental hygienist has made it easy to enter the profession of massage therapy."

She explains how the many years of dealing with people has taught her how to deal effectively with different personality types. This experience broadened her understanding of nonverbal communication skills and body language. Joni emphasizes how important it is for a client to feel comfortable when receiving services. "A person`s state of mind greatly influences how the body responds and how beneficial treatment will be," she said.

Joni takes both jobs very seriously. She realizes the impact she can have on her clients, and this prompts her to do everything she can to make their experiences positive. Joni enjoys both professions; both jobs give her a great sense of gratification and good physical workout. They both require a great deal of strength and flexibility on her part. She likes to give her all to both jobs; therefore, she usually does not schedule both on the same day. Although Joni performs a variety of massage techniques - including Swedish, sports, shiatsu, reflexology, and Canadian massage - neuromuscular work is her specialty. She feels she is giving more to her clients by working with deep muscles and injury-related illnesses. However, this type of work is most strenuous, so Joni is certain to manage her time and energy wisely.

Joni works diligently at both healing professions and has an even greater vision of how the two can be further intertwined. She understands the tremendous stress and strain on the neck, shoulders, and hands of those in the dental profession and hopes to provide relief to this segment. It is her hope and desire to take massage therapy into the office setting, offering 15-minute sessions to staff members. She currently lectures to study groups and anticipates sharing her in-office idea with other professionals at upcoming conferences and conventions. At present, Joni participates in continuing-education courses, averaging approximately 10 hours annually to keep abreast of changing techniques in her field. The pieces of Joni`s life have now come back together as she allows the healing power of a caring touch to restore her life as well.

Her motto - "Hands that care" - has allowed her to nurture her family and a growing clientele from her home in Virginia Beach, a city that was named one of the top 10 places to operate a home-based business by Home Office magazine in 1997.

For more information, contact Joni Darron Kucharski at massagebyjoni@hotmail.com. Joni speaks at seminars and offers information and treatment for the dental professional regarding job-related stress, especially neck and back, that can be relieved through massage therapy. If you would like to contact her, please do so at (757) 306-9210.

Diane P. Lewis is a freelance writer and public relations consultant. She is an Accredited Business Communicator and has more than 13 years of professional experience. Originally from Jacksonville, Fla., Diane has worked with many organizations, including Barker Campbell Farley & Mansfield Advertising & Public Relations, the Christian Broadcasting Network, GTE Wireless, and Community Hospice of Northeast Florida. She is a graduate of the University of Florida and lives in Virginia Beach with her husband and their son.

Profile of Joan Darron Kucharski

Full Name: Joan Darron Kucharski

Birth date: December 1, 1957

Occupation: Dental Hygienist, Massage Therapist

Hometown: Chambersburg, Pa.

What brought you to the beach?

First time, the Old Dominion University Dental Hygiene program. Second time, Bob`s naval career. (He passed away in 1993.)

Marital Status:

Married to Ronald R. Kucharski (2 years)

Children:

Rebecca M. Darron - age 11, Michael C. Darron - age 9

Hobbies:

Reading, walking, learning new massage techniques

What is your idea of a perfect day off?

A long walk, then sailing with my husband, Ron, and playing in the ocean with my kids at sunset.

Last smart thing you did:

Started working out with weights

Last dumb thing you did:

Let myself get out of shape (see secret vice)

Favorite meal:

Crab meat, steamed vegetables

Favorite movies:

Anything with Tom Hanks

Favorite music:

Christian, Country

Favorite book and author:

Left Behind, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins

If you change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Try to be less concerned about punctuality and the clock

If you could change one thing about your spouse what would it be?

Improve his memory

Secret vice:

Gibbles potato chips

Favorite restaurant:

Plaza Azteca, Mexican cuisine

Favorite TV shows:

Chicago Hope, 7th Heaven

Favorite sport:

Whatever the kids are playing at that time

Last vacation:

San Diego, two years ago to visit relatives

Pets:

Two boxers: Pandora & Annie

Worst job:

Preparing food in a nursing home kitchen

Of what achievements are you most proud? Recovering from my husband`s death and making a loving, fun life afterwards

What would you like as your epitaph? She cared.

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