I don't quite remember when I fell in love with tea but I do remember the most special moments of me drinking tea. I was eighteen years old and I went to live with my biological mother for four months. I had just met her months earlier and it was awkward for both of us. She and her ex-husband lived a very quiet life in Boulder, Colorado. He was a professor at one of the universities and she was a housewife. After years of drug addiction and being in and out of jail, she deserved the break. I was homeless so she and her husband agreed to let me come live with them. Each evening my mother and I would find a spot in the living room with a cup of tea and a book.

Now, years later, I'm a self proclaimed tea expert. I start each day with a wonderful English Breakfast tea to get me going. As the day progresses, who knows what wonderful tea I will crown queen. But for sure, I have at least three cups of tea a day. And yes, when I can, I have tea everyday at about 3:00 P. M. I love to invite my friends over for tea and cupcakes and so far everyone thinks it’s a delightful experience. I am always in search of the best blend of tea. Yes, I’m a tea snob, I prefer loose tea but I do like some bags also. I have learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. Some bags can be quite nice. And yes again, any Diva knows, what you drink your tea out of is very important.

Tea for me is a way of life. It's wellness for the mind body and spirit. Here, I will explore every expect of tea possible, with a high concentration on wellness. I will review the best teas, the best places to have tea, the best ways to brew tea, the best tea accessories, what tea goes best with what foods, and the list goes on and on. I plan to share my passion for tea with you. And I've been told, nothing I do is ever boring so be prepared to go on this tea journey with me.

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

Until recently I had never drank Peppermint Tea made with loose leaves. And Honestly, I will probably never go back. The freshness of loose Peppermint Tea cannot be denied. When I open the can of Mint Medley, From The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, I feel as if I stepped into a garden of peppermint leaves. It is a perfect blend of organic peppermint and spearmint leaves grown in the US.

Mint Medley has become a favorite and I find myself reaching for this tea tin almost everyday. It is great for on-going nausea. The health benefits and endless. It relieves muscle aches, headaches, migraines, stress. And now that it feels like someone is sitting on my chest and I have a mean cough, I'm sure it will help to relieve some of this congestion in my chest. Mint Medley has been in my tea cup more than any tea as of late. It has really helped with my winter cough, congestion related to this bout of pneumonia. You can read my full review on The Persimmon Tree Tea Company Mint Teas.

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

Welcome to my world of books! As an pre-teen books changed my world. I fell in love with the writers of the Harlem Renaissance period and the more I read the more I wanted to read. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It spoke to my own degradation and gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

I love to read! Inside a book I escape into someone else's life. There is something wonderful about turning to the next page of a wonderful story. Something intoxicating about the smell of the book and the story it brings to life. Reading brings me joy, and these days with my health in the balance, I find solace in my books.

I spent hours in my bedroom sequestered with the door closed reading the classics from the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes, Larsen, Hurston, Wright and Baldwin. Books became my escape and my salvation. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

Reading is the one thing that the pain of my life could never take away from me. It was the thing that helped to make it better. And even today, living with AIDS, books continue to be the safest place for me. It’s the one thing that belongs to me that AIDS cannot take away from me.The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS.

The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS. I have read hundreds of books from many different genres and I will pick the best of my reads over the years. I warn you, it will not be exclusively white or black, male or female, fiction or non fiction, it will be all of them.

I’m so excited and I’m grateful to everyone who wants to be a part of this venture. We already have 110 Book Club Members. You can email me @ RLTReads@raelewisthornton.com. The Twitter hashtag is #RLTReads. We can make this book club as wonderful as we want to make it. Who says that Oprah has to have the only ownership to a wonderful book club?

This Month We are Reading In My Fathers House by E Lynn Harris

Read along and join our discussion July 19th at 7 pm CST

For more Tea with Rae "Vlogs" Click here to visit her youtube channel

Healing Hands: Art Wellness With Rae Lewis-Thornton

Through crating, Healing Hands Studio will provide a space of wellness that nurtures the human spirit, and overall health and well being. Research continues to show that knitting, as well as, other crafts can be used as a tool for wellness. A ground breaking study published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy concluded, "Engaging in frequent knitting has the potential to induce feelings of calm and relaxation and to raise ones mood." When we consider the mind/body connection to wellness, reducing stress is important to help maintain ones overall health.

Often times, women are the care givers of their family and friends,
and her health becomes secondary. Additionally, peoples lack of understanding of chronic and even short-term health issues, can leave the support system handicapped, leaving one to mange their health in isolation.

Managing one health can take a  toll on ones  mind, body and spirit. Combine these issues with shame around ones health, especially health issues where there is stigma, such as HIV, Depression and Breast Cancer, a woman can become pretty isolated. Healing Hands Studio, will create a community where there is no shame whether the crises is a bump in the road or long term. Even those with support systems need a support system of like minded people.

Research has shown that knitting can help one to develop positive social engagements, whereas having a sense of belonging to something larger than ones self. Also, the finish product that comes from knitting can increase one's sense of worth and accomplishment.

There are countless Knitter's stories of how the practice became a tool for wellness, from addiction to cancer. Healing Hands Studio wants to help create more stories of wellness and healing.

Rae Lewis-Thornton will incorporate her seminary training, her knowledge of living with chronic health, both HIV and Depression, her skills in Knitting, Crocheting and Beading to create a space that will nature the human spirit for women living with chronic health issues.

Healing Hands Studio will focus on therapeutic knitting and crocheting that shifts the mind from the end product to the flow of the movement. We will utilize Betsan Corkhill's, (world renowned expert) methodology and research in Therapeutic Knitting.

Healing Hands

  • The Healing Hands program welcomes any women with a chronic health related issues. (minimum time registration fee.)
  • Only staff will be aware of any persons health condition and we will wholeheartedly respect the privacy of each client. 
  • Upon entering the program a Welcome Gift Bag will be provided to each client for the craft of choice 
  • Knit, Crochet and Beading Classes
  • Shared Social Enterprise for the women who complete the classes in her craft of choice and volunteer at the studio 6 hours a week (separate from drop-in)
  • Weekly Knitting and Crochet Circle 
  • Group Projects
  • Weekly Drop-In's for individual Knitting and Crochet
  • Weekly Beading Group and Drop-In's
  • Craft Library
  • Wellness Library
  • Wellness Lectures

Social Media


  • We are seeking volunteers in the discipline of  *Knitting, *Crocheting and *Beading.
  • Support in the day to day operation


  • Knitting Needles and other Knitting Paraphernalia
  • Crochet Hooks and other Crocheting Paraphernalia
  • Beads and Beading Tools
  • Yarn
  • Knitting and Crocheting Magazines and Books
  • Wellness Books
  • Mindfulness Books
  • Furniture
  • Office Supplies
  • House Keeping Supplies

Financial Donations 

  • Can be donated on the front page of this website. Please indicate it is for Healing Hands 
  • Mailed to Rae Lewis-Thornton 47 West Division, Chicago, IL 60610

*Note We are in the process of applying for our 501 (c3) Status

Founder and Managing Director

Rev.  Rae Lewis-Thornton  has been living with HIV for 34 and AIDS for 25. She is an Emmy Award winning AIDS Activist and the first African-American woman to tell her story of living with AIDS on a national magazine cover, Essence, December 1994. She has spent the last 20 plus years lecturing about Living With AIDS. She is an ordained minister with a Master of Divinity (MDiv).

Rae is a 14 year knitter. She is currently working on her certification as a knitting instructor with the National Craft Council. She plans to complete certification prior to opening Healing Hands. She launched RLT Collection, a line of handmade accessories, which include, knit and crochet and beading over 8 years ago. Starting with bracelets, she added other handmade jewelry over the years. In 2016, Rae launched her line of  hand knitted and crochet accessories to RLT Collection.

Rae's work around HIV is well documented. In addition to her cover story in Essence Magazine, she has also been featured in Women's DayO, the Oprah, Heart and SoulEbonyJet, EmergeHIV Plus, Poz, Black Excellence magazines.

As well as, countless newspapers across the country such as the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune  Nightline has featured Rae's life and work numerous time. She has also appeared on the Oprah Winfrey ShowCNN, Huffington Post LiveHLN News, BET News, the Montel Williams Show. She received  an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Feature Series in Hard News," for a series of ongoing first person news reports on her life, "Living With AIDS,"for CBS-Chicago.
Rae is Cum Laude graduate from Northeastern Illinois University and named Alumni of the year in 2011. She is a licensed and ordained minister with a Master of Divinity(MDiv) from McCormick Theological Seminary. She has PhD credits in Church History at the Lutheran School of Theology. Prior to her work in HIV Rae was a national political organizer ( See full bio)

Rae has won numerous awards for her work around HIV/AIDS, such as the National Medical Association Scroll of Merit Award, the National Social Workers Award in Community Service to name a few. She has also received awards for her blog and work around Social Media to address heath and wellness. CBS Blog Award for Health and Living, WeBlog Award for Health and Wellness, Share Cares Award, as the most inflectional in Health snd Wellness in Social Media.

Rae currently blogs on HIV and Wellness for Black Doctors. Org as well as her blog Diva Living With AIDS, which is syndicated on Poz.Com and the Body.Com.

Rae Lewis-Thornton, lives in Chicago where she plans to open Healing Hands. She spends most days, knitting and working on her dream of opening Healing Hands.

While the official date has not been set, we plan to open summer 2017. We our currently looking for space.

If you would like to donate knitting, crochet or beading  supplies to Healing Hands, our mailing address is Rae Lewis-Thornton, 47 West Division, #412, Chicago, Illinois, 60610. You may e-mail me at rae@rlthealinghands.org.  for any questions. Our Instagram account is @healinghands.rlt We will be chronicling this journey on our instastory on Instagram. We welcome your input.

*Note: We are in the process of applying for our 501c3 status. 

Note: This is a temporary web page for Healing Hands. We are currently in web development. 
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