It’s 1979. Margaret Thatcher is elected prime minister of Great Britain, Skylab re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere, and The National Holistic Institute opens its doors in Oakland, California.

“Despite humble beginnings in a small house, the school had a well integrated program from the start and grew steadily to become the first accredited massage school in California and the first in the state to offer federal financial aid through the U.S. Department of Education,” according to a press release from the school.

NHI moved to its current location in Emeryville in 1989, the same year that the Loma Prieta earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Area. NHI responded by creating the Massage Emergency Response Team (MERT), sending students and graduates into the community to provide free massages to those suffering from acute stress. Since then, the MERT team has offered massage therapy services to firefighters, police officers, and people suffering from the long-term stress of unemployment, and is used nationally by the AMTA to organize volunteer massage on rescue and recovery workers at disaster sites.

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