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The Time Has Come

August 28, 20204 min read

As many of you know, Healwell recently ended its affiliation with Amazon’s “Smile” program. We have heard from some of you and we are deeply sorry that our message did not land as we intended.

We are deeply grateful to every single one of you who designated Healwell as your Smile organization and we have felt your love.

We did not terminate our relationship with Amazon because we weren’t getting enough money from the program. We terminated our relationship (and wrote to Amazon leadership) because the program invites people to feel better about shopping and shopping more when the actual contribution that the billion (with a “b”)-dollar company makes to small non-profits like ours is laughable. Amazon could give 10 times as much as it currently gives through the Smile program and still clear billions of dollars. They simply don’t do that. By continuing to support the program, we are telling Amazon that their sham of a philanthropic effort is ok with us.

It isn’t.

We have known that we needed to do this for a long time, but it felt like the Smile program was “a way to build community,” to “give people an option” to donate who felt like they weren’t able to donate directly or even for those who are donors to augment their existing donations and yes, it made us all feel better about the money we spent through Amazon.

This is the year of getting real for so many people and organizations. Healwell is not immune to the need to stop telling weak, unexamined, untested stories about how to “succeed” and how to “connect” and about how “it’s not that bad.”

Every decision matters.

The bottom line for us is that, when it comes to Healwell, Amazon’s business model and direct actions support systems and beliefs that prevent the world from being a place where equity and fairness thrive. Amazon actively fights unions as their warehouses and employees practices continue to be dangerous and irresponsible. They are not alone in this, but the Amazon culture is one that upholds racist beliefs and systems. They run their warehouse and buildings almost entirely on fossil fuels (“climate neutral by 2040” is not a laudable goal, my friends). They raise wages by cutting into benefits and programs for their employees. They generate an amount of packaging that has actually been dubbed “The Amazon Effect.” And the Prime program privileges people who already have privilege.

We could go on, but these things are enough for us.

We also know that many of you work for and with and just plain love Amazon. We know that people who are affiliated with Amazon as employees or stockholders do meaningful and important things in your communities in the name or Amazon or with earnings from Amazon. Honestly, you are the people who are in the absolute best position to make a real difference in terms of how Amazon conducts its business.

Healwell is making this change to stay in line with our own mission and values. If you agree that Amazon has some work to do, let them know. We’d LOVE to be your organization through Smile again. When Amazon brings some of its practices back into balance, we’ll be right there!

If you’re feeling fired up, tell Amazon that you’re disappointed that one of your favorite organizations no longer affiliates with their Smile program because the program needs to be reengineered so it really matters to small non-profits and the people who support them.

Our deepest and most heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you who, inspired by your love of Healwell and our work (and yes, of shopping, perhaps), has been a part of the Smile program on Healwell’s behalf. If this decision makes our hearts heavy, it is for two reasons. The first is that we live in a world where it’s possible that our comparatively small decision to end our relationship with Amazon is not likely to be felt at all by Amazon itself. The second is that we fear it may make some of you feel that we are not grateful for your partnership with Healwell through Amazon over the years.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

We hope that those of you who have supported our work through Amazon will choose to continue do so by simply becoming direct donors to Healwell. ($5 a month…heck!…even $5/year, is likely to be more than the percentage Amazon donates on your behalf now.)

Even more than that, we hope that you will join us in this and other small, but important decisions toward bringing our world into greater balance.

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Cal Cates

Cal is one of Healwell’s founders and its Executive Director. Cal speaks around the world on a variety of topics related to integrative medicine, emotional self-care for practitioners and the mechanics and politics of introducing massage therapy into clinical settings. They have been participating in research, teaching and developing curriculum for massage therapy courses focused on hospital-based practice, oncology massage and end of life care since 2007. Cal is passionate about elevating the profession of massage therapy and also about broader and more seamless integration of massage therapists into mainstream healthcare.

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