Island group works to build a women’s retreat

Pam Bredouw, left, and Valerie Manusov founded Hestia Retreat. - Courtesy Photo
Pam Bredouw, left, and Valerie Manusov founded Hestia Retreat.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Valerie Manusov remembers the moment 13 years ago when she realized she wanted to create a retreat center for women. A young mother and working professional at the time, she was at a conference when she got a few minutes to herself in the hotel’s sanctuary room.

“I closed my eyes and this idea came to me,” she said. “It’s stayed with me all these years.”

Now, Manusov, a professor of nonverbal communication at the University of Washington, has joined forces with Islander Pam Bredouw and a small group of other Vashon women to try to make her vision a reality.

For the last two years, they’ve been slowly but steadily developing the framework for what they’re calling Hestia Retreat, a place on the Island where women could find both an opportunity for solitude as well as a sense of community with other women. They have a board of directors, a website and three working committees and just recently secured their federal nonprofit status.

On Sunday, they plan to give Island women a glimpse of what Hestia Retreat could offer when they hold what they’re calling “A Women’s Day of Wellness” at Camp Burton. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., women can choose from several yoga and movement classes, attend talks about grief, transformation and the role of dreams in one’s life, share a healthful lunch and participate in a silent auction.

The daylong retreat — Hestia’s biggest event to date — will cost $85 per person and is meant as a fundraiser. All told, Manusov said, they hope to raise $10,000 to $12,000. But more than that, she said, she sees the day as a chance to show women what it is she and others involved with Hestia hope to create.

“It’s not just a fundraiser,” she said. “It’s also outreach.”

The group has a big vision. According to their website, organizers hope to build a retreat center replete with cabins, walking trails, meeting areas, a dining facility, places for naps and healing treatments, an organic garden and a labyrinth. A soaking room or bath house is also part of the plan, as is off-site childcare.

“We want it to be a place that’s always available to women,” Manusov said. “There are a lot of retreat centers, but none dedicated to women.”

To make it a reality, Manusov said, they hope to find a major donor willing to donate land as well as an endowment to build the center. All told, she said, the board thinks it would take about $3 million to get the center built.

“When we’re up and running,” she said, “we’ll be self-sustaining.”

The group has already begun some of the groundwork, Manusov said. They recently hired a land-use consultant who helped them figure out some of the zoning issues involved in a project of this magnitude. And an architect who serves on their board has begun drawing up some plans.

Meanwhile, the group is searching for a donor who could endow the project — “someone with the means and the land ... and the passion for this.”

“It’s a huge leap,” Manusov said. “But we believe that’s how it’s going to happen.”


Hestia’s “A woman’s Day of Wellness” will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Camp Burton. For more information or to sign up, visit



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