A Word with Philanthropist
JOAN KELLEY WALKER
In mid-May philanthropist and fashion entrepreneur Joan Kelley Walker teamed up with Operation Ramzieh in support of Abuse Hurts. Together they made 200 care packages to be delivered to those suffering amid COVID-19 in need of both supplies and awareness. As an extension of Mother’s Day, the group packaged up essential items as well as flowers and cookies. What began as an initiative of intention for Operation Ramzieh has turned into a movement, with more than 7000 packages of food and care products delivered to various charities, shelters, neighbourhoods, and organizations to help the vulnerable.
—By Lauren Walker-Lee
Many key profiles in Toronto have come forward without hesitation to support the cause. The recently launched “Influencer Initiative” and social media campaign created opportunities to spread awareness of the cause, as well as start the “feed it forward” drive. This movement allowed for Operation Ramzieh, with media outreach support from Sheek PR, to create this significant initiative and further help Abuse Hurts, a charity that supports those affected by domestic abuse. For this recently launched campaign, Joan Kelley Walker, along with Aristotle Andrulakis, founder and CEO at Electronica AI, worked hard to lend support through their platforms amidst current self -isolation orders, shining a light and spreading awareness for a very worthwhile cause.
For more information on Operation Ramzieh please visit here.
We sat down with Joan Kelley Walker to learn about her philanthropic work and this particular cause.
You are immensely philanthropic. What attracted you to this cause? There are many good causes that deserve awareness and more people are in need right now than ever before. I was drawn to Operation Ramzieh because of how they quickly identified the gaps that needed to be filled at the onset of COVID-19 to establish food security for vulnerable people- primarily our elders. The current global situation was unforeseen. Operation Ramzeih pulled up their sleeves and went to work immediately to provide Canadians with essentials. You can “feel” the genuine care for other people working with their team. I love that. Good people with good intentions looking after one another. The world needs more of this.
What would you like people to take away from hearing of Operation Ramzieh and their support of Abuse Hurts? I hope people recognize that helping others takes on many forms. My philosophy is “Do what you can how you can.”
Operation Ramzieh sent me a box and I decided to pay it forward to Abuse Hurts, a national charitable organization that works with children’s services, shelters, and other agencies to help victims and survivors of abuse. “Paying it forward” is a powerful act of kindness. When we pool our resources, it is clear that we are better and stronger together. We need to support one another at this time and always for that matter. My hope is that people will be inspired to keep this movement and momentum going. There are many ways to get involved to help. I think that everyone that is in a position to help wants to help. They just don’t know how to. By continuing to spread awareness we can change that.
Social media plays a massive role with news and viral community involvement, what can people do digitally to support this cause? Share. Repost. And share some more! Knowledge is power! Talk about it and spread awareness about how Operation Ramzieh sprang up out of necessity and how they are making a huge difference helping so many people! As they grow, they are looking for donors and more support. If you feel really connected or if you know how to help you can use your platform to help – that is another way to giveback- simply by sharing the movement! It’s really beautiful to know that there are options and that someone is there to help you if you need it.
How can people get involved with the Feed it Forward movement or Operation Ramzieh as a whole? The good news is that there are so many ways to get involved. You could volunteer and brands can contribute by product donation. You can simply share the message as mentioned above with all of your friends and family. You never know what can transpire.
People can make donations via our GoFundMe page (gf.me/u/xrh5u8) or make cheques payable to Operation Ramzieh and mailed to 44 Byward Market Square, Suite 260, Ottawa ON K1N 7A2
For in-kind donations please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For individuals in need of their services, sign up online at www.operationramzieh.org or over the phone at 1-800-321-5973.
You send a message of strength and positivity, can you please share a few ways to stay positive during these unprecedented times. These are such uncertain times. Every single person on earth is being challenged right now. One of the most important things, in order to stay positive, is to first acknowledge that this is a difficult situation. Acknowledge what is making you feel scared or uneasy. It is ok to feel these feelings but be gentle and kind to yourself. Practice compassion with yourself. Positivity is a choice, a decision. This is good time to journal, count blessings, be physically active, stay in touch with loved ones and friends through technology. Eat well, sleep well, drink your water, stretch, meditate, clean, purge and be creative or simply rest if you need to. Some days are harder than others and that’s okay. It is a time to really listen to what you need in order to stay healthy and strong. I find volunteering and helping others keeps me in a positive mindset. When I feel helpless I ask – What can I do? Then I find a ways to do it. We are all in this together.
What is next for you? Like so many others I am taking things day by day. I have been keeping really busy helping out by spreading awareness for causes locally, nationally, and internationally to assist people during this time.
The Social Distance Challenge with World Vision Canada is coming up on Saturday May 16th. There is an annual 6k run to raise funds for clean water for communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I was there last year and this cause is close to my heart. Girls in these communities typically walk an average of 6k to fetch water for their families. It is a very real and heartbreaking situation. Something difficult to even comprehend. The World Vision programs keep girls in school and provide safe water wells so that this can stop. This year, because of COVID-19, it will be virtual. I realize many people are in difficult financial situations so we wanted to take that out of the equation. We are inviting all Canadians to join us by moving! You can run, walk, jump, dance – whatever you want. I will donate $4 for every km tracked, for up to $25,000. The idea is to motivate people to get involved, to raise awareness, and to come together. I am thrilled that the Harlem Globetrotters are also on board! They are awesome!
I am still creating new designs and dreaming of when I can jump back into the action of fashion but one thing that has become very clear as a result of this pause is that everything I do will be about how to give back. We all have our own way of doing this but I want to help others find their creative way to also giveback. I believe that out of this difficult situation, we have been shown how interconnected everything is and how important it is to stop and notice what is going on around you and ask yourself how you can make a difference.