With over six years experience in non-profit fundraising, corporate philanthropy and building strategic partnerships, Joanna comes to Joyful Heart from Capital One, where she oversaw community engagement, associate volunteerism and grant programs as one half of Capital One's Community Relations team in NY, NJ and CT. Prior to Capital One, Joanna was the Corporate Development Manager at Safe Horizon, where she managed corporate relations and cause-related marketing campaigns addressing domestic violence and child abuse. Joanna began her career in artist management and marketing in the music industry, and holds a BA and MA in American Studies.
Posts by Joanna
Today, we have a guest post from country singer Buffy Lawson. Buffy arrived in Nashville, the Music City, by way of Lexington, Kentucky, where she grew up singing from an early age. Somewhere along the way, she met “Steve.”
Today, on the eve of NO MORE Day, she shares her story about awakening, surviving, healing and sharing her journey through her art.
I do not claim to be formally educated on the issue of abuse, but as a songwriter, one of my primary jobs is to pay attention to life. It has always been exceedingly important to me to inspire people through my music humorously, as well as addressing important issues.
That being said, sadly, I have had many friends and fans share stories of horrific instances of abuse. While never being physically struck myself, I have been in situations of emotional abuse and know firsthand how complicated the issue can be. Some of the strongest women I have ever met have found themselves broken down so far by their abusers that they were not able to control things from happening that they could have never imagined prior to that relationship. I was one of them.
“Steve” comes to mind. He was very kind and wonderful in the beginning. Our relationship seemed blissful but, over time, he began to become very critical of me. He did not like me to wear white t-shirts as he felt that they showed too much of my breasts. He discouraged me from wearing makeup or curling my hair. His explanation was that I looked “cheap” and not “intellectual.” Steve laughed at me if I couldn’t figure out the exact amount of a 20% tip in my head and was condescending if I couldn’t remember the lead actor name in a film we had recently seen.
But it was so gradual that I didn’t see it happening. Until my sisters came to dinner with us one evening. He belittled me in front of them and they were outraged.
I defended him, of course.
Steve cheated on me with a woman that he brought to our home, claiming they were friends. By the time I was aware of his affair, my confidence was gone. I actually recall begging him to leave her.
Much time and many tears later, I realized that Steve was threatened by me. He did everything possible to dim my beautiful light and tried his best to prevent me from shining. I later realized that Steve was trying to compensate for his own well of insecurities by breaking me down, which is often the case.
I have known many others, both male and female, who were physically assaulted by their partners, as well as a precious friend who was murdered by her husband.
It became critically important for me to write a song that would address this horrible epidemic and offer promise and hope to people that so deserve it. “I’m Leaving You For Me” is a story about a very specific moment of clarity in a person’s life when they say: NO MORE. This will not continue to be my life. It’s about the instant when fuzziness, confusion and the feeling of brokenness are replaced with confidence, strength and respect.
It is my hope that “I’m Leaving You For Me” will give wings to those who have been emotionally and or physically caged. It is my prayer that every man and woman in the world will feel the freedom to fly and shine.
Alanna Zabel, incredible supporter of the Joyful Heart Foundation and the creative genius and yoga expert behind the AZIAM clothing line, recently spent some time answering our questions about her clothing line, her collaboration with Joyful Heart and AZIAM’s latest piece to benefit the Joyful Heart Foundation, the perfectly-fitting, perfectly-named Victory Short, available now from the Heartshop.
Joyful Heart Foundation: Thank you so much for taking the time to share a bit about yourself and AZIAM with us! Tell us, what inspired you to start the AZIAM line?
Alanna Zabel: AZIAM began in 2003, as my one-page website listing my yoga classes and retreats. It stood for “Alanna Zabel I AM”. In 2007, consultants for Ashtanga Yoga guru, Pattabhi Jois, asked me to create a sample active wear line for an upcoming new studio they were planning in Key West. Having been a dedicated Ashtanga practitioner, I set out to create the most amazing sample collection as my gift to Pattabhi Jois. His system of Yoga had such a positive effect on my life; his was my way of saying “thank you.” The pieces that I presented were well received and the plan was to call the line “PJ’s.” I felt my job was done and I was pleased. But Pattahbi Jois—in his early 90s—grew ill shortly afterwards. The Key West studio plans was placed on hold. He passed away within a year afterwards. I was left with the gift I intended for my “guru,” and it became one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive.
JHF: How did your involvement with the Joyful Heart Foundation first begin?
AZ: I was teaching yoga to Heather Mnuchin, a board member of the Joyful Heart Foundation. She felt the AZIAM Wife Lover was a perfect fit with Joyful Heart and made an introduction. The social intention of our Wife Lover is to assist and empower women who have been victims of abusers, or Wife Beaters, to use the negative apparel slang. The Joyful Heart Foundation couldn’t be a more perfectly fitting partner—I am continuously amazed at what a phenomenal, heart-centered and significantly helpful organization the Joyful Heart Foundation is.
JHF: What does Joyful Heart’s cause mean to you?
AZ: The Joyful Heart Foundation impresses me on so many levels, particularly in their focus on healing and empowering victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. I have been a victim of domestic violence and I know that it is a difficult, elusive struggle that most people do not understand. There is no set formula or protocol that will heal every victim and many victims are left feeling unheard and unloved as a result, thus perpetuating the abuse cycle. The Joyful Heart Foundation exemplifies and proves to me every time that it is present-moment kindness, attentive understanding, true compassion, out-of-the-box healing techniques and raw education that will not only help a higher percentage of victims to move on to living a healthier, happier life, but will also continue making a global difference in violence prevention.
JHF: The Wife Lover tank, which as you said, was AZIAM’s first product to support Joyful Heart, says “I AM PURE JOY” across the side. What is pure joy to you?
AZ: To me, Pure Joy, is our natural state of existence. Our world has skewed away from its pure, honest, void-of-motive origin. I try my best not to be saddened by the state of the world, but instead hold in my heart how I know we are meant to live—sharing, loving, creating—without fear. That essence of Pure Joy is my personal dream and hope for a more organic, non-violent world.
JHF: AZIAM is launching a new item that is also be benefiting the Joyful Heart Foundation! Can you tell us about it?
AZ: AZIAM is thrilled to launch our new Victory Short! This is truly the most perfect fitting, flattering short. It has a wide, double layer V-waistband that offers support and style of equal measure. I’m not typically a “shorts” person, but I can’t stop wearing these! Because the fit is so strong and confident, I decided to name it Victory. This goes hand-in-hand with the Joyful Heart Foundation’s mission—offering hope for the journey of a survivor of violence. It’s also the perfect compliment to the Wife Lover tank.
JHF: At Joyful Heart, we encourage ourselves and our supporters to practice self-care. Is yoga your daily practice of self-care?
AZ: Yoga is definitely one of the many ways I practice self-care. I have been teaching yoga for fifteen years and the benefits are truly as holistic as any other fitness modality I have yet to come across. The body is a web and when we bring positive awareness and proper alignment to one or more areas of our selves, the impact is exponential throughout our physical, mental and emotional systems.
JHF: With your busy schedule, how do you find the time in the day take to take care of yourself?
AZ: There was a day when I was the yoga instructor who sipped tea and coconut water with my friends in between yoga classes and massages. Now my days are filled with activities of an apparel designer, manufacturer, social activist, writer and brand manager—while still teaching, leading workshops and retreats. What I find helps my busy schedule is minimizing. Adding more “doings” can still be stressful because it is still an activity that needs to be completed. My lifestyle is incredibly clean and yogic already, but by maintaining a life that is void of chaos and toxicity, I find that I am have more capacity to get more accomplished. I do not eat processed foods, drink alcohol or smoke and I stay clear of toxic relationships—all of these can be incredibly draining and therefore require more self-care to counter their effects.
Personally, I find it is most about balance.
Be sure to visit the Heartshop to pick up your new AZIAM Victory Shorts today. Be sure to match it with an “I AM PURE JOY” Wife Lover tank, too! A generous 10% of all net proceeds from each sale of these items are donated to the Joyful Heart Foundation.
I hope everyone had a restful Thanksgiving holiday, filled with gratitude and appreciation.
Here on the Joyful Heart Heartshop front, we’re keeping very busy with new products launching just in time for holiday shopping. I’m sure many of you have seen that Michael Stars has re-launched its Joyful Heart Tee (brought back by popular demand–thanks to your voices) and over the next few weeks, we’ll be keeping you posted with new products that are being added to our growing Heartshop collection.
Today, I’m excited and proud to announce a brand new Joyful Heart partnership. Recently, we teamed up with the extraordinary Susan White, President of White + Warren, a New York-based cashmere company. A woman-run company, White + Warren has long supported causes that affect women and women’s health. In our partnership together, White + Warren is offering exclusive editions of their signature Cashmere Travel Wrap and Cashmere Fingerless Gloves. The products, both in a beautiful deep purple, exude comfort and style, reminding all of us to share warmth and compassion for each other during our healing journeys.
What’s more? White + Warren is generously donating 50% of all net proceeds from each sale to support Joyful Heart’s programs!
Our corporate partners are among the many things we have to be thankful for this holiday season. It is in part because of their support that we can continue to provide the programs that we do–and that we can offer our wonderful community of supporters these beautiful and inspiring products every few months.
I hope that you’ll join me in gifting a new White + Warren product to a loved one this holiday season. Please be sure to visit the Joyful Heart blog over the next few weeks. Something tells me that we’re not quite done with these joyful announcements!
Hello Joyful Hearts,
I wanted to share a quick update with all of you on our corporate relations front. On October 27th, in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we were proud to partner with our friends at Bank of America and the Verizon Foundation on a powerful screening of Telling Amy’s Story–the first screening of this film by a major financial corporation.
Bank of America’s internal women’s group called LEAD spearheads initiatives, events and programs that may be particularly relevant to their female employees. With LEAD’s internal support, the event was held at Bank of America’s headquarters in New York City. It drew a crowd of nearly 75 men and women from commercial banking, private banking, retail, risk, compliance, human resources and other lines of business.
When we first began talking to Bank of America about hosting an event to raise awareness of domestic violence, we immediately thought of engaging our partners at Verizon and using Telling Amy’s Story as a platform to ignite discussion. In 2001, Amy Homan McGee, a mother of two, was shot to death by her husband in their home in Pennsylvania. The murder was the final act of violence in a history of cruelty and abuse. Amy was just thirty-three years old.
In 2010, with the help of the Verizon Foundation, Penn State Public Broadcasting created Telling Amy’s Story, a documentary chronicling the events leading up to Amy’s death. We were proud to serve as a partner in this film, with Mariska filming an introduction and Joyful Heart hosting the film’s premiere events in Washington, D.C. and New York City. And on Thursday night, we were proud to help introduce the film to a new audience in the financial sector.
Following the screening, a panel of experts which included Maile Zambuto of Joyful Heart, Melody Brown of the Verizon Foundation, Randi Ingber of Bank of America and Jennifer Decarli of the Brooklyn Family Justice Center led a Q&A session. The audience’s questions echoed resounding themes: what do we do if we suspect a friend or colleague is in an abusive situation? What are the warning signs? How do we break the cycle of violence in teens? What can men do to prevent domestic violence?
We know that these are all complicated questions, but there are resources and ways to learn more. Here are just a few of them:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: www.ndvh.org; 800-799-SAFE
Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence: www.caepv.org
The HopeLine® from Verizon program: http://aboutus.verizonwireless.com/communityservice/hopeLine.html
Liz Clairborne’s Love is Not Abuse Campaign (for teens): www.loveisnotabuse.com
Since 1991 Liz Claiborne Inc. has been working to end domestic violence. Through its Love Is Not Abuse program, the company provides information and tools that men, women, children, teens and corporate executives can use to learn more about the issue and find out how they can help end this epidemic.
A CALL TO MEN: www.ACALLTOMEN.org
The mission of A CALL TO MEN is to galvanize a national movement of men committed to ending violence and discrimination against women and girls.
Telling Amy’s Story was created to serve as a catalyst to bring communities together to talk about domestic violence. If you are interested in holding your own screening of Telling Amy’s Story in your company, school or community, you can request a copy and download a screening event toolkit by visiting the Telling Amy’s Story website here: telling.psu.edu.
Best wishes to all of you,
Hello Joyful Heart Community,
Nice to meet all of you! My name is Joanna Colangelo and I’m the Manager of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Joyful Heart. I spend most of my days here raising money through the support of our generous and brilliantly creative corporate partners and through the dedicated individuals who have a deep understanding of our issues and run private, family and community foundations. I’ll be posting periodic entries on our blog to keep you posted on new corporate products we’re launching (who loves the Me&Ro necklaces and philosophy products?!) and new awareness campaigns that we may be collaborating with companies on (I hope you’ve all watched Telling Amy’s Story from the Verizon Foundation: http://telling.psu.edu).
Today, I’m writing about an exciting new initiative that we’ve embarked on for the month of August. As many of you have probably seen through our Facebook posts, we’ve been accepted into a GlobalGiving Open Challenge from August 2 to August 31. GlobalGiving connects thousands of organizations with individual donors who want to support important causes across the world–many who already know about Joyful Heart–and, thousands of other individuals who are just learning about us for the first time through GlobalGiving.
So, what’s an Open Challenge? Open Challenges give organizations one month to raise $4,000 from at least 50 different donors. If we do this, then we get a permanent spot on GlobalGiving–and we can keep fundraising there throughout the year. Our Open Challenge project for August is to raise funds to help us support our efforts and programs to end the backlog of untested rape kits in the United States (www.endthebacklog.org). There are estimated to be hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits across the country. Each one represents a lost opportunity for healing and justice to a survivor and sends a message to perpetrators that they can get away with their crimes–and that they can continue to rape without penalty or prosecution.
When we first learned of the Open Challenge, a team of us got together here and thought about the feasibility of raising $4,000 in one month–it’s a lot of money in a short time. But then we did a little math…
- We have almost 68,000 supporters on Facebook. That means that if every Facebook supporter donated $10, we’d raise $680,000!
- Or, if half of our supporters donated $5, we’d raise almost $340,000.
- Or, if every supporter donated $1, we’d raise close to $68,000.
- Or, if just 200 supporters of our 68,000 gave $20 each, we would meet our goal!
We understand that it isn’t always possible for our Joyful community to support us financially and we would never want anyone to overextend their resources. The good news is that there are still plenty of ways to support this Open Challenge (and our other fundraising efforts) by helping us to spread the word and raise awareness of our cause. In fact, GlobalGiving offers bonus funds for those projects that are the “most shared” on Facebook (meaning, friends are telling friends; people are reposting to their walls and engaging their social networks). Joyful Heart already has 61 shares and the challenge has only just started.
You’ll be hearing more from the JHF team on this effort throughout the month. In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me in supporting our GlobalGiving Open Challenge by either donating at: www.globalgiving.org/projects/end-the-backlog-of-untested-rape-kits-us/ or sharing this message with others and encouraging them to pass it on.