Joyful LA Fundraising Event

Friday, 21 January 2011
Los Angeles, CA

On a warm January evening, a group of Joyful Heart supporters gathered at a private home in Bel-Air to celebrate the work of the Foundation as well as the birthday of Joyful Heart’s founder and president, Mariska Hargitay. Over 120 guests were in attendance including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Hilary Swank, Debra Messing, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Maria Bello, Blair Underwood, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Christa Miller, Camryn Manheim, Colleen and Bradley Bell, Kathy and Rick Hilton, Kristen Chan, Patricia and Dario De Luca, Tara Lynda Guber, Suzanne Lerner and Michael Cohen, Crystal and Blaine Lourd, Bridgette and Aaron Lubin, and Roberta Mariani. Tom Nunan, Stanley Schneider, Jill Eisenstadt-Chayet, Ashley McDermott, Neal Baer, Kalei Kanuha and Heather Mnuchin represented Joyful Heart's Board of Directors.

The event was organized by Joyful Heart's Los Angeles Committee. The Committee is made up of a group of dedicated individuals who believe in and have an affinity for JHF's mission and a shared vision for our community.

Los Angeles Committee

  • Jill Eisenstadt-Chayet, Co-Chair
  • Bridget Gless Keller, Co-Chair
  • Shelli Azoff
  • Jenny Belushi
  • Maryam Lieberman
  • Pati Miller
  • Heather Mnuchin
  • Julie Moran
  • Cheryl Nakao-Miller
  • Lisa Paulsen
  • Julie Rowen
  • Molly Smith
  • Laura Wasserman
  • Elizabeth Wiatt
After a cocktail reception on a terrace with panoramic views of Los Angeles, guests moved downstairs for a plated dinner and presentation of Joyful Heart's accomplishments from the last year both in LA and beyond. Joyful Heart Board member, Heather Mnuchin, kicked off the program:

When we moved to LA from NY, I was hoping to find a meaningful cause to become involved with. One that had substantive benefits to its recipients and an active, hands-on board. So I called an old friend and colleague, Jill Chayet, and we had lunch. She brought up the Joyful Heart Foundation, and I was immediately intrigued by its mission: to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds those issues.

The next meeting we had was with Maile Zambuto, Joyful Heart's Executive Director. What I thought would be a 20-minute meeting turned into an afternoon of conversation. I had never heard of the rape kit backlog or the profound and obvious 'heal the healers' retreats. This led to lunch with Mariska, and every time she spoke of the letters she received viewers disclosing their stories of abuse to her, or a case she'd heard of, her eyes welled up with tears and I knew this was the real-deal. Grateful is a big word at the foundation and I am so grateful to be involved.

For those of you who attended our Joyful Heart event here in LA last February, a lot has happened since then, all because of your generosity.

Among the accomplishments Heather shared were:

  • The expansion of our mPower Program, which delivers state-of-the-art healing and wellness practices to survivors and their children in domestic violence shelters across LA.
  • Delivery of JHF's Heal the Healers Program to over 700 professionals at thirty-five agencies in Los Angeles and across the state of California, including the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Peace Over Violence, the Children's Institute, The Village Family Services, the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center, Venice Family Clinic, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, and the LAPD.
  • Raising the volume on the conversation about the backlog of untested rape kits in US: on the web, on television, in the press, and before Congress.

Heather also announced the creation of the AZIAM "I AM PURE JOY" wife-lover tank. She thanked her partner, Alanna Zabel, for supporting the Foundation and proudly displayed the tank emblazoned with the boldly joyful message and heart-shaped mandala in gold." Our company stands for health and wellness and the utmost essence of being," she said.

After dinner had been served, JHF Board member, Kalei Kanuha, introduced an updated version of the spoken word piece "Voices of the Revolution."

One of the challenges of the anti-violence movement, and one of the aspects of Joyful Heart's work, is the issue of language. How do we revolutionize the way we talk about the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse? And, on a much simpler level, how do we talk about them tonight?

These are the words of the emails we receive, the calls we field and the headlines we confront everyday. We believe these are the sounds of a revolution. And we hope you know that as you hear these voices, you are part of that revolution, because you are engaged in that most revolutionary act of all, which is to listen. Here are the Voices of the Revolution.

Voices first debuted during Joyful Heart's 3rd Annual Gala in May 2010. Directed by, Peter Hermann, the updated script highlighted many of the accomplishments Joyful Heart and program partners had seen over the last year. Voices featured the fearless Katie Hnida, Irma Seilicovich and Helena Lazaro, who gave voice to their encounters with sexual and domestic violence, both as survivors or healers. Actors Shohreh Aghdashloo, Maria Bello, Debra Messing, Hilary Swank and Blaire Underwood also lent their voices, sharing words from survivors, healers, journalists and others, compiled to produce a verbal patchwork of the revolution.

Mariska then took to the stage to thank the guests for their continued support of the Foundation.

Thank you all so much. It means the world to me that you're here, not only because I'm so grateful for your support, which I am, deeply, but also because I'm so grateful for the chance to come together specifically in LA. I want to say just a little bit about what it means to get together here, but I'll be brief because I think it's probably best to give you a chance to sit with the powerful Voices you just heard.

I'm obviously from here, so coming home is always nice. But it's a homecoming for Joyful Heart as well. The survivors who came on our very first retreat over six years ago were a group of women from Los Angeles. They were referred by Peace Over Violence, based here, and it was that kind of belief in what we were doing that helped create the kinds of programs that would let Katie Hnida, years later, find us when she googled 'retreat for sexual assault survivors.'

And maybe most significantly, it was here in LA that we first heard about the rape kit backlog, about two years ago now, and experienced survivors, like Helena, putting out this brave cry for help that would serve as the catalyst for bringing attention to the national scope of the issue.

So I can't tell you how gratifying it is to look around this room and see how strong Joyful Heart's heartbeat is here in LA, probably because just as I grew up here, a significant part of Joyful Heart grew up here as well. I am deeply grateful that you are so committed to the Joyful Heart's continued growth, and for your willingness to bring your conviction, your influence and-most importantly-the power and reach of your voice to this revolutionary way of engaging with these issues. Thank you so much.

After her remarks, Mariska was presented with a cake in honor of her birthday. Along with their dessert, guests enjoyed treats from Fran's Chocolates before departing with a special gift bag from Michael Stars which had among its contents the new "I AM PURE JOY" tank from AZIAM.

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