Photo: Deborah Rose /Hearst Connecticut Media
NEW MILFORD — Inspiration and empowerment.
These are two key elements Hamilton “Ham” Brower of New Milford is sharing through his nonprofit organization, Stand Up 4 Health.
Through the sharing of resources, and by offering workshops, events and other activities, Brower said he hopes to “inspire individuals through educational resources on preventative health care and foundational solutions for optimal health.”
“We believe that you don’t know when you don’t know,” Brower said of the organization’s mission statement. “But that we can all learn.”
Brower recently began offering a variety of workshops and events at The Henderson Center for Excellence for Youth Empowerment at The Silo on Upland Road in the Northville section of New Milford, where he was invited by Alessandro Piovezahn, chairman of the board at Hunt Hill Farm nonprofit organization, to set up a health and wellness sanctuary at the site.
Resident Jeanne Street, a local spiritual medium, healer and author, learned of Stand Up 4 Health’s mission and the opportunity to build a holistic type of hub at The Silo and felt moved to participate.
“He’s selfless,” Street said of Brower. “Everything he’s doing is for love, it’s on the vibration of love. It’s giving back and sharing. It’s humanitarian.”
Street is offering a meditations series and has offered health workshops at The Silo already. She also interviewed Brower for her “Angels Don’t Lie” podcast.
Sheree Sudram, a licensed hypnotherapist and former manager of the wellness department at Mountainside Treatment Center in Canaan, learned of Brower’s efforts at The Silo and is now helping tend the herb garden, formerly cared for by the late Ruth Henderson, who with her husband Skip purchased the property on which The Silo is situated in 1968.
“I felt like we’re all kindred spirits,” Sudram said of Brower and others she has met who are involved with Stand Up 4 Health and The Silo.
A drum circle is also being coordinated.
Having the opportunity to help Piovezahn create a health and wellness sanctuary at The Silo is important to Brower.
“When Alessandro and I started talking about this, I just wept,” Brower said of the instant connection and vision he and Piovezahn shared when they spoke of a health and wellness sanctuary. “This (opportunity) is pure, unadulterated joy and bliss.”
Brower has long felt called to share a message about the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle that can optimize one’s physical body and spiritual self.
“Once I stepped in to Stand Up 4 Health, I knew it was the commitment I had made in 1995 — to find the health, energy and strength to become the light, so that I can walk in the darkness and illuminate the path for others, so they don’t have to live in fear,” Brower related.
Brower said he masked the pain and fear he had after being diagnosed with HIV in 1989.
“I was trying to project an image of health (as a body builder), but I was hiding my illness from everybody,” Brower admit. “What I really managed to do was, not just hide it from everyone else, but hide it from myself.”
By the mid-1990s, Brower had developed full-blown AIDS. He was adamant that his life — his story — was not going to be like the one portrayed in the movie “Philadelphia.”
“The movie wasn’t going to be my Troy,” he said, citing how the realization was the turning point of his life, when he committed to educate himself so he could survive his health issues.
“Survival mode is necessary, but it’s fight or flight, and that’s inflammatory and fear based,” said Brower, who over the years developed recognition for his walks downtown with his late dog, Buddy.
Now, as he immerses himself into Stand Up 4 Health, Brower claims he is finally thriving.
“To thrive, that’s a huge leap,” he said. “That’s when you release your life from fear and you turn it into something, when you dedicate your energy and your spirit and knowledge to help other people thrive. It’s when you quit focusing on yourself. When you start thriving, you become selfless.”
Stand Up 4 Health’s logo — a small heart whose line extends out in ripples into the shape of an apple — designed by Brower’s friend, illustrates that message.
“It’s loving each other from the inside out, living authentically, living from survivor to thriver,” Brower said.
From surviving to thriving
Brower said in the late 1990s, when he was in his late 20s, he was in survival mode and participated as an activist to fight to get breakthrough medications released sooner than later.
“Everyone around me was dying,” he said.
After hearing Mathilde Krim, who was a medical researcher and founding chairwoman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, relay to the world that it isn’t any one medicine to help patients with HIV/AIDS, but rather a cocktail, he began to understand health in a new way.
Brower was part of a study with David Ho, who introduced a number of scientific contributions to the understanding and treatment of HIV infection. “It really helped people, including me,” he said.
“Our bodies are designed to heal themselves,” Brower explained. “They want to survive, they just have to be given the right ingredients so they can do what they can do. Those ingredients aren’t Twinkies and Big Macs.”
In 2009, after doing well on medicine, Brower suffered a major heart attack that led him to a visit to Dr. Tamara Sachs, an integrative medicine doctor in town.
It was then Brower realized he was neglecting the root cause of why his body wasn’t functioning at peak — because he wasn’t “giving it proper levels of nutrition to aid the body in healing itself.”
Brower emphasized the importance of healthy food choices, many of which are plant based and rich in nutrients.
He made lifestyle changes, most importantly eating healthier. He also learned about Juice Plus+ products, which are made from juice powder concentrates and oils from more than 40 different fruits, and grains, and tower gardens, which enable individuals to grow fresh, nutrient-rich food without soil.
In recent years, Brower has donated more than 20 towers to various sites, including schools, The Silo and other locations.
He is exploring making donations of fresh produce grown on the towers through a collaboration with the town’s food bank.
“I want to educate people how our bodies function and how to optimize our physiology, too, so we can all thrive,” Brower related.
As a non-profit, Brower is committed to donate 100 percent of what he makes from the sale of the book he co-wrote with Annette Parker Martin, “Magnificent Words to Live By,” Juice Plus+ and Tower Gardens — and anything else he does — to fund the Stand Up 4 Health mission.
Sudram described herself as a “strong” proponent of wellness and who, like Brower, believes that humans are multi-faceted beings who need the mind, body and spirit to all be working well to be functionally at its best.
“If the body is showing symptoms of something, that’s a symptom of a larger issue,” said Sudram, who plans to offer workshops for Stand Up 4 Health.
The collaboration between Stand U 4 Health and The Silo is a positive thing for the community, Sudram said.
“It’s a real nurturing environment to serve everyone in the community from all walks of life,” she said.
Street agreed, adding, “It’s amazing what (Hamilton) is doing to feed the community.”