NJ Karma Yoga
Yoga teacher, mother, writer, speaker, philanthropist, friend, student, caregiver, earth lover, soul seeker, deep thinker.
These are the titles and terms we heard when we asked how those closest to the founder of One World, One Love, might describe Sally Bruno. Bruno is the founder of One World, One Love, a group of volunteers who act as a rapid response team for refugees resettling in NJ. From immediate assistance to long term resettlement efforts, One World, One Love is on the ground doing everything possible to help those seeking a safe home in the state of NJ to feel welcomed, safe, respected and supported.
doing everything possible to help those seeking a safe home in the state of NJ to feel welcomed, safe, respected and supported.
All it takes is one click of the remote or turn of the radio dial to understand how people are suffering. Bruno was inspired to start this project last winter, during the most pivotal, polarizing political moments in recent history. She recalls watching a video on Facebook, showing “babies being pulled from the rubble in Syria, covered in dust and blood, cradled dead in their parents arms or sitting alone on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance.”
Bruno cradled her own almost one-year-old child and felt her heart “almost break.”
It wasn’t the first time she saw the brutal reality of war, poverty and national disasters; Bruno’s prior career focused on international relief. But her earlier efforts had no desensitized her; rather, Bruno felt driven to step up, raise her voice and change the world. She remembered a call-to-action from a friend, seeking donations for Syrian refugees resettling in NJ. Bruno felt in her bones – that was how she could help. She began simply, with collection efforts at local yoga studios and religious institutions in Monmouth County. From there, it was the power of socialmedia that illuminated how transformational her intentions and efforts could truly be. Bruno told us, “a post I shared on Facebook went viral and we were inundated with amazing generous donations, not only of items but of TIME. People wanting to spend time tutoring, befriending and letting the survivors who were lucky enough to make it to our land know that they are welcomed and loved and help them start their lives anew amongst us.”
The NJ Yoga Collective sat down with Sally to learn more about One World, One Love, what’s next for her 501c3 organization and, most importantly, how we all can help.
What was your personal background? Did that influence the leap of faith you took to start this incredible project?
I am the only child of Egyptian immigrants. My mother came here to pursue her doctorate in Aeronautical Engineer. My father followed soon after. A year later I was born. I grew up with a wide eyed view of the world, living between Monmouth County, NJ, Cairo, Egypt, with conferences and meetings in far flung corners of the world sprinkled in between. There were years when I spent more time overseas than I did at home. My childhood afforded me the opportunity to see both the beauty and the harsh realities of our world. History, architecture and art or one hand, poverty and devastation on the other. Neither can be understated or ignored.
My formative years absolutely led me to higher education at Princeton University, where I studied International and Public Affairs, and law school at new York University. Since leaving the classroom setting, I’ve produced social documentaries, worked in international development, taught yoga, started a standup paddleboarding and adventure business and developed a yoga, health and wellness practice. I’m also currently training as holistic herbal healer in training.
All of that is truly awe inspiring. And let’s not forget to mention that you are an awesome mom to Sophia too! And now we just want you to keep blowing us away; so tell us, what events and programs do you have planned in the next year for One World, One Love?
Right now we are set for a Halloween party for the families we serve, an expansion of our Children’s Music program to include after school enrichment (tutoring, yoga, arts, meditation), a holiday gathering for the One World, One Love staff and volunteers and a springtime fundraiser. We are also collecting donations to provide school uniforms for children and running a laptop drive so the children can do their school work and parents can apply for jobs. We had a beach day for the families on October 8th, just one week prior to the NJ Yoga Collective launch, and I’m grateful to say it was a huge success. For some of them it was their first time out of Elizabeth since they arrived. For others it was their first time to see the open ocean. The joy and glee of the kids especially was so touching.
What can our NJ yoga family do to help?
EVERYTHING! But in all seriousness, we are always seeking and accepting financial contributions and donations. Now that we have 501(c)3 status (just awarded in October 2017!) we will start applying for grants as well. Our intention is to utilize the monies received to help in (1) training volunteers to serve families navigating the transition to our country, making sure they establish roots here and build a real future; (2) creating and implementing real training programs and job placement; (3) broadening our after school enrichment programs with music, yoga, arts, meditation and tutoring, as well as programs for adults, including ESL and vocational training; and (4) assist in resettling families in our local communities, covering housing, basic needs, social services and counseling.
Beyond that, we need man and woman power. We are currently looking to enhance our team by engaging volunteers who can work on social media, grant writing, non-profit administration, job development, accounting, finance, event and project coordination and fundraising. Together I know we can make a difference if we collectively channel our energy towards positive, lasting change.
Last but not least, what are your most soul satisfying and heart filling successes thus far?
There are so many. My team is truly amazing; I am grateful for them and their efforts, and especially how we handle the highs and lows together. A few highlights would be:
We have assisted over 25 families with apartment clean ups and set ups, providing them with necessities including bedding, clothing, groceries, bicycles for transportation, sanitary items.
We actively work with 18 families on an ongoing basis to enhance their quality of life and ensure they establish lasting roots here.
We have assisted with legal and local government issues, from landlord tenant concerns to school enrollment.
We have provided meals for holidays and celebrations.
We have raised almost $9000 for summer camps and we are currently raising money for school uniforms for close to 70 children.
We have leveraged over $50,000 worth of donations and volunteer hours to assist these families
We ran a summer Music together program that served 20 children, providing them with age appropriate developmental activities and play. We watched our students transform from shy and withdrawn to exuberant and rambunctious.
We’ve seen beneficiaries become benefactors. One of our fathers is now helping other incoming families transition and succeed. He served as one of the main organizers of our Halloween party!
To learn more about One World, One Love; you can follow along with them one Facebook!
[box] Sally S Bruno is a Mother, Yoga Teacher and Herbalist in training. She loves the feel of cool earth between her toes, sun on her skin and wind in her hair. Earth is our Mother and Healer and Sally delights in exploring and sharing practices that help us all find that connection. She teaches at local yoga studios throughout Monmouth County, privately for schools, businesses, individuals and athletic teams, and owns and leads the inspirational team of outdoorsmen and women at Flow Paddle Yoga, a standup paddle board, sup yoga, kayak and outdoor adventure community. You can join Sally for international yoga retreats (Costa Rica in February 2018, Thailand in April 2018), group or private instruction and teacher trainings. For schedules, products, online yoga flows and meditations, delicious recipes and in depth explorations of the subjects of her articles visit sallysbruno.com and flowpaddleyoga.com . Contact Salle at: firstname.lastname@example.org[/box]
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