On Thursday, October 20, 2011 Ella Burnside, a seventeen year old, Louisville high-school senior put together an amazing event called Taking on Goliath which benefited Joyful Heart Foundation. What started her freshmen year at Christian Academy as a writing assignment has transpired into her passion and mission for Joyful Heart Foundation. The foundation was founded by actress Mariska Hartigay, star of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
Taking on Goliath was held at The Olmsted with a dinner, silent auction, a program and video by Joyful Heart. Joanna Colangelo, Joyful Heart Foundation’s Manager of Corporate, Foundation and Community Relations came to read a message from Mariska to everyone and show their appreciation for all of Burnsides’s hard work. Burnside and volunteers invited guests to sign letters to our president, vice president and attorney general telling our government officials that we want them to pay attention to the rape kit backlog. Joyful Heart announced this movement “End the Backlog” because there are over 200,000 sexual assault kits backlogged in the U.S.
Erika Chavez-Grazaiano owner of Cellar Door Chocolates was in attendance; showing her support as she partnered with Burnside by designing a chocolate box focused on the fundraiser which costs $20.00 per box and $10.00 of each box will go directly to Joyful Heart. It will be available until May 2012 and then will become a seasonal item. WAVE 3’s Scott Reynolds was the gracious emcee for the event and the entertainment was performed by Danny Flanigan.
- How do you feel the event went?
“I feel the evening went incredibly! First of all, I felt no stress, which, knowing me, that is a shocker! The night felt warm, and friendly, and I feel like everyone there was happy and excited to be there, which made me feel at ease. I loved being able to talk to everyone who came to support my team and I, and Joyful Heart. Having Scott Reynolds there was an incredible blessing.”
- What other events do you plan on doing over the next year for Joyful Heart Foundation?
“Right now, I am not quite sure. My parents really want me to focus on school and applying to colleges for now. We have our chocolate box with Cellar Door Chocolates that just came out, and the Christmas season is fast approaching. Hopefully that will really take off. I would love to have figure out a way to create more self sustaining ways to support Joyful Heart, like the chocolate box, because in reality, raising awareness, and raising funds, and changing our communities response to sexual violence is not going to happen on one night. It is going to take a lot more than a fundraiser every year or so. I think a 5-k could be cool. But, it's up to God. I am waiting to hear from him on what the next move should be.”
- Which colleges are you thinking of attending? What Major are you considering?
“I am looking at all of the Kentucky Schools, Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and New York University. I really love Samford because it has a really unique business program called "Social Entrepreneurship." Basically, it is a business degree for people who want to go into Non-Profit work. I also want to get a double major with Journalism. If there is one thing I have learned about non-profit work through these fundraisers, it is that, if you want to gain corporate support, you have to be able to communicate effectively both through language and business. Right now my biggest limitation is my understanding of how business works. I have to constantly turn to Joyful Heart, my parents and other adults for help. I can't wait until I understand it all myself!”
- What else would you like to do in Louisville for the Joyful Heart Foundation?
“I would love to create more awareness. The most effective way to prevent a problem is to first make people aware of the fact that we have a problem! I'd really like to find other exciting ways to create on-going fundraising items like the chocolate box. I'd also like to get the word out more! I want to build our social media presence. I want to build the Taking on Goliath presence online as a way to bring in more young people, to bring more creative minds into the Taking on Goliath community, and most importantly to bring more people to Joyful Heart's larger community.”
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself “working in the non-profit arena; hopefully in New York City. I definitely want to live in New York, at least for awhile; it's been a dream of mine for a longtime. I don't have any plans to change my focus. Combating the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse is my passion. I don't have plans to stop being passionate about these issues. As for where I am actually working, that's up to God and Joyful Heart” she says laughing.
- Is there any message or quote you'd like reader to know about your or Joyful Heart?
“I just want people to look at the issues. I understand that people are impressed by my age, and the things that I have already accomplished, but it's not about me, it is about Joyful Heart and what they are doing. I am simply trying to facilitate, and to connect people in this community with Joyful Heart's mission. The day is going to come where my age is no longer impressive; I am getting older. I just hope that people are still inspired by Joyful Heart and what other organizations similar to Joyful Heart are doing to raise awareness and change the world.”
Photographs Courtesy of Louisville.com photographer Ross Lister.
Special thank you to Sunny Daize Boutique for dressing Bella Portaro for the event.