Tara Sanders Returns to Woodstock

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Tara Sanders, a Woodstock based yoga instructor, is the program director in the nonprofit Exhale to Inhale.  Born in Woodstock, Tara has traveled extensively to faraway and exotic places such as Thailand and India.

Now, she’s returning to Woodstock to share her talents with area  residents as she uses her yoga classes at Exhale to Inhale to empower survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault as they heal through yoga.  Exhale to Inhale yoga guides women through postures, breathing and meditation.  Taught in trauma-sensitive style, students  are enabled to ground themselves in

their bodies

their strength

their stillness.

As this happens, the women connect to themselves and work toward empowerment and worthiness.  This practice can be transformative for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence when they shed the cloak of victimhood.

Healers and body workers have long known that when the body is traumatized, the event is stored in the muscles.

Tara teaches yoga without music.  She does not touch the students to correct a posture.  Lights remain on throughout the class.  These sessions offer survivors an opportunity to reclaim their lives through the healing and grounding of yoga.

Tara uses the yoga classes to help her students feel safe, strong, and in the present moment.  As she teaches, she is a conduit for healing and healthful programs in our community.

Tara Sanders is well trained for her position as program director at Exhale to Inhale.  She received her 500 hour certification through YogaWorks in NYC and is trained in Divine Yoga Nidra.  Other trainings include:

Off the Mat

Yoga Gangsters

Karma Kids YTT

Trauma Sensitive YTT.

She studied with David Emerson, Jenn Turner, and Bessel Van der Kolk.

Exhale to Inhale is a New York-based nonprofit offering free weekly yoga classes to survivors of domestic and sexual assault.  Tara will offer free public yoga classes on 4 consecutive Saturdays beginning May 30th.  These classes, held from 11 am to noon at the Center for Creative Education, 15 Railroad Ave., in Kingston, will introduce Exhale to Inhale to our area.

These 4 classes are open to the public.  There is no charge and reservations are not necessary.  The space is large.  There is room for all.

After June 20th, Exhale to Inhale yoga classes will be taught free of charge to women in area shelters, halfway houses, and other venues where women victims of domestic violence will be comfortable.

Exhale to Inhale has partnered with Upstate Films to screen “The Hunting Ground”, a documentary about the huge, yet hidden problem of sexual assault on college campuses throughout our country.

“The Hunting Ground” will screen on Saturday afternoon, May 30th at 1:30 in Woodstock at Upstate Films.  On Sunday, May 31st, “The Hunting Ground” will screen at Upstate Films Rhinebeck.  The cost for the tickets is $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and students.

$1 for each ticket sold will go to Exhale to Inhale.  Funds are needed to support its programs which empower women.

To contact Tara Sanders:  Tara.Sanders@exhaletoinhale.org






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Thurman Greco

art provided by Jennette Nearhood





Woodstock Public Library District

rocks and sand

The 1st thing that happens when I think of the Woodstock Public Library is the aroma of the books.
Paper, print, paste all combine to create the most welcoming, nurturing smell on the planet. Every library I’ve ever visited has this smell:
the San Antonio Public Library,

the St. Mary’s University Library,

the Fairfax County Public Library

the San Francisco Library
the tower at the University of Texas,
and on and on. Even the  library in my father’s office had this smell.

Once I walked into the Department of Commerce building in Washington, DC and this aroma about knocked me over.  It was so beautiful!
When I attended massage school, I learned from my teacher, Kerrith McKechnie that the sense of smell is most important. The sense of smell goes back in time very far…into past lives if you have that belief.
So, whenever I visit the Woodstock Library, that welcoming aroma embraces me as soon as I open the door. Then, immediately, I’m greeted by the people crowded in the place. 6 computers placed right at the entrance are always filled. 2 more computers are off to the left. These are filled also.
If  I walk past the 2 computers on the left, I walk into the children’s area.
Beyond the children’s area is a very important part of the library which nobody seems to ever mention: the public restroom. The Woodstock Library has one bathroom.
This is important. Libraries are havens for the homeless, the cold, the tired, the hungry. They visit the library to read newspapers, get computer time, get inside   someplace, use the public bathroom.
Woodstock is a wonderful place but the public bathrooms are few unless there’s $$$ for a meal in a restaurant. Family has a bathroom. There’s one in a concrete block building outside of the Family building. This one has a men’s room and a women’s room and is open from April 15th to November 30th each year.
Sunflower has one for its customers. That’s it, really.
There’s something else nice about the Woodstock Library. People can take their pets. That’s a nice touch.
The hub of the whole library is the 8 computers at the front of the building. Unless you’re without a computer, you can never know how important these machines are. None of us realizes, I don’t think, how dependent we are on them.
I pass out cards to the hungry in the line at the Reservoir Food Pantry telling people to go to  www.myBenefits.ny.gov.   This website is a wonderful resource…if you have access to a computer.
The homeless are really isolated without a computer.
It’s almost impossible to get a job, get housing, find a food pantry, learn about a bus route without a computer.
The library is the lifeline for a whole category of people who fit into a number of classes:


crazy poor

disabled poor

elderly poor

employed poor

generational poor

hard working poor

home bound


ill poor

infant poor

mentally ill poor

messed-up poor



newly poor

resource poor

situational poor

struggling poor

transient poor

underemployed poor

unemployed poor


Our economy is flying right now. The rich are paying fewer taxes. The poor are getting less and less. Everyone, actually, has a lobbyist in Washington but the poor. The only thing the poor have left, it seems, is the food pantry and the library.

As a fundraising project, the Friends of the Library offer ongoing used book sales.  This is really a Woodstock tradition.  The books are reasonably priced which makes them a real “find”  when it’s time to get a gift for someone.

For 30 years, the library has been offering the Library Forum – the longest-running cultural and public affairs series in the Hudson Valley.  Anyone can walk into the library and book a vacant slot and make a presentation at the library.  And, anyone can attend because the Library Forum is free.
Woodstock has been discussing an upgrade of our library for many years…. at least since 2007. It surely began earlier but I wasn’t aware of it.

My awareness of the expansion saga began when the Library Board asked for $$$  for repairs and upgrades.  It was as if they had lobbed one over the bow.

The town returned the lob  when residents  voted it down…big time.

Word on the street was that residents weren’t going to give not even 1 cent to the library renovation until the librarian who had been working at the Woodstock Free Library for what seemed like her entire adult life retired.

She must’ve heard the gossip because it wasn’t long until she retired.  Just like that.  She did the ladylike thing and put in her papers.

Amy Raff, the beloved assistant librarian was promoted to fill the vacancy.

So, that left the town holding an empty bag.  There were no more excuses.  It was time to fix the library.  Except that now it’s 2015 and we still don’t have an updated library.

If we’d done what we should have back then and voted for the $$$, we’d have an updated, expanded library in place and be happily using it.

But, that’s not how things went.
The hub of the library, any library, is the Librarian. We’ve been very fortunate over the years to enjoy the talents and generosity of our librarians.
Amy Raff was  a special gift for this community. She knows her subject (library management) very well and also knows how to treat people…whether they’re homeless or are billionaires.
People visiting the Woodstock Library are special. She offers respect, honor. She approaches her job as a religious calling.

Amy  is a class act.  She did a very ladylike thing recently.  She resigned.

This whole saga has not been a walk in the park.  It is more akin to a barefoot walk  on a rocky beach.

Thanks for reading this blog.
I hope you found this article helpful. Please leave your comments below and check out the other posts.
Please refer this article to your preferred social media network.
Don’t forget to join the email list.
Good luck to us all.
Thurman Greco


Photograph provided by Jennette Nearhood


Father Nicholas – Woodstock Hero for Hunger


The call came through today about 10 a.m.  I didn’t answer the phone quickly enough so he left a message:

“Good morning, Thurman.  I’m calling to let you know  that we have 5 ice chests full of yogurt and juice.  We also have 4 large boxes filled with juices and teas.  We also have about 6 dozen doughnuts.  They’ll be right outside the pantry in the shade waiting for you.”

This call comes every week.  I can almost set my clock and calendar with these calls.

As soon as I hear this message, I get in the car and drive out to the Holy Ascension Monastery to pick up these wonderful goodies and take them over to Reservoir Food Pantry.  But for Father Nicholas and his generosity, our pantry would not have even 1 serving of yogurt for our shoppers in Boiceville.

I first heard about Father Nicholas several years ago when a Good Neighbor Food Pantry volunteer from St. John’s Roman Catholic Church asked me, almost in a whisper, if we had any extra food for some priests.  Through the grapevine, I heard Heidi Motzkin knew some people (priests?) needing food.

Hmmm.  This sounded weird.  Then, a few days later, I heard another story about a group of priests needing food.  Things were quiet for a week or 2.  I didn’t act very fast because, in this business, it takes a shout to get my attention.  Anyway, I continued to hear little whispers so I got curious.  Who were these guys?  Where were they?


So, Peggy Johnson, the Good Neighbor Food Pantry take out manager, and I got in the car and off we went.  Out on Cold Brook Road we found a very special place – the Holy Ascension Monastery.  We were greeted by a tall, thin man with a full beard and pony tail, wearing a black cassock, a tall black hat, and black combat boots.

The story went that the monastery had, for years, housed 3 priests.  Then, 1 day, several priests in the Brookline, Massachusetts, monastery, loaded up a U-Haul truck and drove to Bearsville.  On the same day, several other priests boarded a bus in Boston and rode it to Woodstock.  In 1 day, the population of the Holy Ascension Monastery increased  to 20.  The monastery needed extra people because they’re constructing a large, beautiful sanctuary on the grounds.

In the expansion preparations, everything had been taken care of except, of course, the extra food needed for these priest/construction workers and volunteers.

Food?  You need food?  Peggy was delighted, excited, enthusiastic.  She was on the job right away.  Within days (hours?) the Holy Ascension Monastery had food.  Peggy learned about their dietary considerations, as well as the people needing food.

Like a Supply Sargent in a Mash unit, Peggy learned that the Food Bank of Northeastern New York had #10 cans of food.  Nothing would do until our pantry showroom had a whole shelf filled with them for Father Nicholas.

Fresh produce?  Father Nicholas came by each week for all the fresh produce the monastery needed..

Well, it wasn’t long until Father Nicholas and the Holy Ascension Monastery had their food needs straightened out and no longer needed pantry food.  As smoothly as greasing a cake pan, Father Nicholas and his fellow monks became part of the volunteer pantry crew.  He delivered  food to home bound households weekly.

And, as if that weren’t enough, Father Nicholas and the Holy Ascension Monastery became a Food Pantry Agency of the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley serving food to hungry dropping by:



struggling area residents

The Holy Ascension Monastery is open 7 days per week.  Shoppers take what they need and return as often as they need.  (None of this 3-day limit stuff for the Holy Ascension Monastery.)

And, of course, while all this was happening, every one of us fell in love with the monks.  Never in a million years would any of us have met these gorgeous men of God if it hadn’t been for the pantry.

The face of God is everywhere.  All you have to do is:

work at a pantry,

open your eyes,

look around.

How cool is that?





Thank you for reading this blog post.

Please refer this article to your preferred social media network.

Please leave a comment.

Good luck to us all.

Thurman Greco


An Open Letter to Amy Raff

Dearest Amy – 


Angel 4




art provided by Jennette Nearhood