The Joan Hisaoka “Make a Difference” Gala is held annually in September. Smith Center for Healing and the Arts has been a fortunate recipient of The Joan Hisaoka Gala for the past thirteen years. This event raises funds that support organizations that assist those living with cancer.

Our dedicated board member, Robert Hisaoka, created this event in his sister’s name. Joan Hisaoka attended Smith Center’s Living Well with Cancer Program in 2008 and passed away shortly after. She was so affected by her experience, finding the tools she learned in coping with her cancer so profoundly useful, that she herself wanted to help others. With this wish, Robert created the Gala to carry on her legacy.

We are pleased to announce that the 14th Annual Joan Hisaoka Gala – Assisting those Living with Cancer will be held on September 18, 2021.

Now in its fourteenth year, the gala has raised about $17,500,000 for cancer support services in our area. This black tie event will attract close to 500 philanthropists from the Washington, DC business community and features a four-course dinner, as well as a reception, dancing, and silent and live auctions with exclusive luxurious items.

Over 20,000 people in Washington, DC currently live with cancer. Smith Center for Healing and the Arts is the only independent cancer support organization serving the DC cancer community. As one of two recipients of the evening, Smith Center receives major support for our daily programs that include support groups, stress reduction, nutrition workshops, cancer retreats, individual patient navigation services and other healing resources.

We are honored to be a beneficiary and to continue our life enhancing programs for people with cancer in Joan’s honor.

To learn more about this fabulous annual event, please visit: or contact Selvana Awad,, 202.483.8600 to learn how to become a sponsor or to purchase tickets through Smith Center.

Sponsor Information

Thank you for generously supporting Smith Center through this event! 




An Update from Smith Center

September 28, 2020

Please check out our program calendar for virtual programming.

If you need assistance or support, please call us at 202-483-8600 or

In service,


April 3, 2020

The Smith Center and Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery will remain closed for the continued safety of our community and staff.

Please check out our program calendar for virtual programming for April and May.

If you need assistance or support, please call us at 202-483-8600 or

In service,


March 22, 2020

As we continue to monitor this situation, Smith Center and the Joan Hisaoka Gallery will be closed until April 15 for the continued safety of our community and staff.

Stay tuned for emails about virtual programming!!

Reach out if you need assistance at 202-483-8600 or

In service,

March 12, 2020

To Our Smith Center Family,

In deep consideration of always doing what best serves our beloved community, we are announcing today that the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts will cease all programming and the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery will be closed from Thursday, March 12 through Tuesday, March 31.

The recent announcement made by the World Health Organization made it clear to us that as much as we love having our SC community here with us creating art, soothing their spirit with yoga or visiting the gallery, we could not delay taking the next level of action any longer.  Our true responsibility is to hold sacred the care and well-being of all who come through our doors and it was with that intent that we have made this difficult, yet necessary decision.

These are unprecedented times and we know that Smith Center is a place of respite and calm.  We want to reassure you that we are still here for you and if you need a listening ear or need to talk, please reach out to our patient navigation team or you can reach us at

While our programming in the physical space is on hold, we are exploring ways to continue to convene together via Zoom or other video technology and will update when appropriate.

We will continue to monitor this situation and will update our timeline for resuming programming with the continued focus on the well-being of our community and the Smith Center staff.

We are keeping all of you in our thoughts and prayers and please take gentle care of yourselves.

In service,


Breathing in Wellness: A 4-part Mindfulness & Meditation Educational Series

developed by Matthew Grossman

Developing mindfulness skills can help combat stress, anxiety, and uncertainty in everyday life. This series explores meditation & mindfulness skills and explores four core meditation practices.

Session topics include:

  • Session 1: Sitting Meditation is one of the core practices of Mindfulness Meditation. It combines aspects of physical body positioning, calming breathing practices, and directing the mind’s awareness in order to achieve a balanced and natural sense of relaxation.


  • Session 2: Body Scan involves focused and nonjudgmental awareness and acceptance to specific parts of the body in sequential order (head, neck, chest, abdomen, etc.). This promotes awareness of both positive and negative sensations in the body while keeping the Sitting Meditation component of awareness of thoughts.


  • Session 3: Visual Meditation/Guided Imagery is a practice which involves imagining yourself in a relaxing, healing, stimulating place. This practice can be used to relax the body and mind, improve daily functioning, and facilitate healing through the use of attention and imagination.


  • Session 4: Loving-kindness Meditation begins with generating a feeling of love and acceptance towards yourself and emanates outward to others around you with whom you have positive or negative feelings towards, and even to those whom you do not know. Through the use of a mantra, this practice softens the mind and the heart and builds empathy and wellness.


Session 1: Sitting Meditation

Sitting Meditation Script

Sitting Meditation Handouts/Resources

Session 2: Body Scan

Body Scan Meditation Script

Body Scan Handouts/Resources

Session 3: Visual Meditation/Guided Imagery

Visual Meditation Script

Visual Meditation Handouts/Resources

Session 4: Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-Kindness Meditation Script

Loving-Kindness Meditation Handouts/Resources


Copyright 2018, Matthew Grossman (2018)





Call for Artists, Musicians, Poets, Storytellers

Artists in Residence Program


Smith Center for Healing and the Arts and the Inova Life with Cancer program are pleased to announce the development of the Smith Center Artists in Residence Program as part of the Arts and Integrative Healing Program to be created for the new Inova Schar Cancer Institute scheduled to open in March 2019 in Fairfax, VA.

As an expansion of the already existing Life with Cancer counseling, education and wellness programs, the Artists in Residence Program (AIR) will train and supervise local artists to work directly with patients, caregivers and clinicians to create opportunities for stress reduction, self-awareness and self-expression in the Institute’s outpatient infusion, radiation, and waiting areas. The AIR Program is one component of a comprehensive arts and integrative healing program at the Inova Schar Cancer Institute that will also include a permanent art collection and ongoing exhibitions, performing arts events, culinary arts and other workshops, as well as survivorship resources and wellness education for the public.

Smith Center, in collaboration with Life with Cancer, will recruit, train and supervise visual artists, storytellers, poets and writers, musicians, and dancers to inspire and encourage all those who visit or work at the ISCI to participate in arts-based activities. Through Smith Center’s partnership with the Inova Life with Cancer Program and Inova Schar Cancer Institute, Smith Center artists will have oversight by clinical professionals, including licensed therapists and registered arts therapists, to receive ongoing training and supervision as members of the unique team and culture comprising the Institute.

Interested artists should: 

1. Submit an application to Smith Center – the online AIR Application Guidelines can be found at HERE or contact Scott Stoner (202) 483-8600.

2. Plan to attend an AIR Orientation Session (9:30-11:30am) on one of the following dates: Thursday, September 27 , Saturday, October 6,  Friday, October 19 or Saturday, October 20. [Applicants will be notified of location for the orientation sessions.]

The AIR Program reflects the belief that the creative spirit can be found in all of us and can be especially helpful when the human spirit is in need. For over two decades, Smith Center has worked with professional artists to integrate their creative process as a tool and strategy to help others strengthen and sustain their healing process. Smith Center artists in residence have described their work in cancer institutes and with patients and staff in other clinical settings as one of the most meaningful and rewarding experiences of their lives.


Smith Center for Healing and the Arts is a nonprofit health, education, and arts organization in Washington DC. Our mission is to develop and promote healing practices that explore physical, emotional, and mental resources that lead to life-affirming changes for people affected by cancer. Our programs focus on cultivating each person’s innate ability to heal, helping participants explore meaning and maintain hope—even in the face of life’s challenges. We welcome you to join us for programs, visit us at our U Street Center and Art Gallery, or contact us to learn more: 1632 U Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009 (202) 483-8600.

Inova Life with Cancer’s mission is to enhance the quality of life of those affected by cancer by providing education, information, and support. This includes providing wellness and educational programs to cancer patients (of all ages) and their families both during and after treatment. Inova remains committed to Life with Cancer, ensuring this program delivers care to address the complex needs facing cancer patients, survivors, and their loved ones. Contact us to learn more about programs, services, and groups: 8411 Pennell Street, Fairfax, VA 22031 (703) 206-5433.

Inova Schar Cancer Institute is an international center for advanced cancer care and research. Collaborating with clinical and scientific partners, we conduct genomic and translational research to better understand, predict, prevent, and eliminate cancer. Our personalized health approach enables us to create individualized treatments and preventive analytics to predict illness for every unique individual and family we provide care.