Sep 18 2013
Spotlight on Goodness – Lisa Rueff
Post by melissa fenlon

spotlight on goodness – lisa rueff on aliceandlois.com

Spotlight on Goodness: Lisa Rueff

There are people you meet in your life who are simply inspiring. Lisa Rueff is one of those people. She has dedicated her life to helping others. Lisa has a heart of gold. Whether she’s leading an international humanitarian trip or helping children in Haiti, Lisa’s positive energy is contagious. We’re honored to feature Lisa Rueff as our first “Spotlight on Goodness.”

Meet Lisa 

Lisa is a 42-year-old living on a houseboat in Sausalito with her husband. She describes herself as someone who loves to hike, dance, see live music, travel, laugh often, eat chocolate chip cookies, hula hoop, hug and have fun. But she also loves to dedicate much of her life to helping others. It’s become her way of life.

This overwhelming urge to help others started a decade ago when a friend she taught yoga with was diagnosed with breast cancer. “She and I were the same age and it struck a deep chord within me. Her diagnosis could have easily been my diagnosis. Her medical bills were exorbitant. I felt compelled to help her and wanted to unify the yoga community to participate,” she explains.

So, she quickly organized a fundraiser for her friend, recruiting friends and businesses to donate time and money to the cause. “The fundraiser was a tremendous success,” she says. “We raised a substantial amount of money, and my friend was so grateful for the outpouring of support and love that happened as a result of the fundraiser. I was hooked. I loved the opportunity to help out a dear friend in need, and ignite a community to give back.”

Spotlight on Goodness – Lisa Rueff on aliceandlois.com

The Jacmel Children Center

Lisa and her husband Philip traveled to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in May 2010. She was immediately blown away by the perseverance, enthusiasm, dedication, and hard-working ethic of the Haitians they met during their stay. It was on this trip that she met Bonite Affriany, a registered nurse who lives in Jacmel. Bonite had worked in New York as a nurse until the late 90s, when she returned to her home of Jacmel. “She was devastated to find the beautiful, lush, tropical community that she was raised in transformed into a place of dire poverty, filth and suffering. After discovering the lack of health care and malnourishment of the Haitian people, she decided to return to Jacmel and help rebuild the community,” explains Lisa.

“Fast forward to present day, and what she accomplishes in one day is astounding: feeding, nourishing, providing education, faith and love to hundreds of people on a daily basis in her community: from newborn babies, to schoolchildren, prisoners to the elderly, she assists everyone in need.”

Bonite’s dream was to build a home for children in Jacmel. She was already feeding over 300 children a nutritious meal each day, sponsoring 55 impoverished children at her school and was operating a free medical clinic every morning. She had the land for a home and a permit to build, but had run out of funds. Every week, children would show up on her doorstop with nowhere to go. She would offer them food and clean clothes, but could not offer them a place to go. “She dreamt of having a children’s home to provide these orphaned children with a nourishing home, a place to feel safe and loved,” Lisa says.

This is where Lisa and Philip stepped in. With the help of Random Acts, their non-profit partner and main fundraising source, the Jacmel Children Center (JCC) is a dream come true for Bonite.

After two years of fundraising, they built a 12,000 square foot home. “A safe haven to sleep, eat, attend classes and be loved,” she explains. “It’s a beautiful structure and the center will become a hub in the Jacmel community for giving children the opportunity for a brighter future, providing education, art, refuge, faith and love.”

Do It For The Love

Lisa’s work doesn’t stop in Haiti. She has recently teamed up with musician Michael Franti and his partner Sara Agah in bringing the Do It For The Love Foundation to life. Franti and Agah had a dream to help gift live concert experiences to people in advanced stages of life threatening illnesses, children with severe disabilities and wounded veterans. Lisa serves as the Foundation’s Director of Operations. “I am honored and delighted to carry out the vision Michael and Sara have to bring hope and healing to people who are suffering, and to their caretakers and loved ones, to provide an unforgettable experience of celebrating life,” Lisa says.

Since the organization launched six weeks ago, seven people with life-threatening illnesses have been given the opportunity to attend Franti’s concerts and spend one on one time with the artist. “It has been so enriching, inspiring and touching for everyone involved,” she says.

Finding a cause

So how can you get involved in your community, whether it’s local or global? Lisa recommends that people focus first on what breaks their heart. “What are you individually most passionate about? If you are passionate about marine life, go and check out the Marine Mammal Center or Surf Aid. If you are passionate about helping out the elderly, seek out nursing homes in your area that would like volunteers. The more enthusiastic you are about the cause, the more authentic it will feel to get involved,” she says.

“My advice is, listen to your heart. Focus on what you are most drawn to and find ways to get involved in that cause.”

Lisa lives her life through example. She leads international humanitarian trips to destinations all over the world. “I love to bring volunteers of all ages and walks of life on my trips, and awaken in these volunteers the opportunity to truly be of service and make a tangible, sustainable difference in the lives of others,” she explains.

Every day she is grateful she has the chance to give back. “I have discovered that the more I give, the more I receive. I know it sounds cliché, but I am living my life with purpose and I feel so grateful and blessed to be living my life dedicated to service and helping others, and celebrate the opportunity to help awaken that potential in others.”

 

For more information on the organizations Lisa is involved with, please visit:

www.jacmelchildren.org

www.doitforthelove.org

www.yogaventures.org

 

Lisa can be reached at [email protected] All photos are courtesy Lisa Rueff, copyright 2013

Leave a Reply

    3 Comments

  • Judith deRancourtSeptember 19, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    Dear Alice and Lois, thank you for all that you do, and for your vision.

    I want to thank you for acknowledging Lisa Rueff. I’ve been wondering about
    Doitforthelove.org. On September 12, my daughter-in-law, Charlotte Dennis, of Enosburg Falls, VT not only attended a Michael Franti and Spearhead concert in Burlington, VT, but also talked with him and shared a wonderful half
    hour with him. She is grappling with life-threatening metastasized melanoma.
    Charlotte was brought to the show (90 min each way) with her closest friend by Sue Zeineth-Collins and her husband, Bill. They had contacted Lisa and through doitforthelove, and worked out each and every detail of this remarkable evening. Charlotte came home visibly energized, excited and fully
    empowered and remains that way a week later. Michael’s hugging her seems to have had its own unique effect! Charlotte is married to my son, Matt Crowley and they have a 3-year old daughter, Annie. While this is an intensely difficult time for Mom and Dad, Annie only sees and feels the love of her parents and that of our amazing and supportive community. All of us are blessed to live in this community in northernmost Vermont, and the work that Sue Zeineth-Collins and Lisa Rueff did together shows yet another example of what a community Charlotte, Matt, Annie and I live in! A Facebook group was begun for Charlotte Dennis, called Positive Vibes for Charlee! Here, over 450 friends, family and community members communicate directly with Charlee, plan the meals that will be brought in, organize play dates for Annie and a lot of other great things. You’d be welcome to look in on it!

    I think your vision of loving and caring and putting it into action is simply awesome. Thank you again and again. Many blessings, Judith deRancourt (on fB)

  • Jacqueline MasterJanuary 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Sara,
    We used to work together at Old Navy, remember me? What a wonderful blog and business you and your sister created! So happy to see that you are so happy and living your dream. Cristina and I are still great friends, she told me about your run in together this week so I wanted to check out your website. So great you guys reconnected.

    What a small world! Lisa Reuff is a dear friend of mine, a former yoga teacher of mine, who helped me put together a fundraiser for my friend who had a brain aneurysm. She is such an amazing person, it’s nice to see that you recognized her on your blog. She’s an inspiration to all who have the chance to meet and work with her. It’s been amazing to watch her journey and year after year see her philanthropy grow in so many different directions.

    Happy New Year! Wishing you a happy and healthy year ahead.

    Best,
    Jacque

    • sara albersJanuary 23, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      Hi Jacque!
      Yes, I remember you! What a small world indeed!
      Thanks for checking out our blog. I loved seeing Cristina yesterday.
      Hope you are well!
      Sara