In 2012 The Raise-an-Artist Project partnered with Dr.Carmen Logie to provide Photovoice workshops for youth in Haiti. Before arrival, we established Donate to Educate, an education fund for girls and youth who were devastated by the earthquake. Carmen saw first-hand the circumstances that these youth face daily. In an effort to make real change, we decided to sponsor a young woman who lived in a tent with her mother and her eight siblings. These bright and deserving young women had to drop out of school as they could not afford the school fees. School offers safety and security as well as daily meals. Without school the girls were at risk of falling victim to sexual violence and each day they had to choose between them who ate and who went hungry. We believed that the best way to help was to offer education; that education can really change young people’s lives, particularly those of young Haitian women. Donate to Educate raised $3,900 - enough funds to send five girls through to graduation including uniforms, books and meals. Success! We were very grateful for the opportunity to be involved in empowering these young women by initiating change first-hand and privileged to represent our collective goal.
More about Carmen:
Carmen and Jenny first met and worked together thirty years ago at a camp for girls sponsored by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. From there, Carmen went to complete a doctorate in Social Work and is a leader in her field. She has worked in five continents, published over 200 research articles, is co-chair of the Annual Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS Research and has been awarded over $10 million in grants. Her current research focuses on HIV/STI prevention, testing and care cascades in Canada, Uganda and Jamaica with people living with HIV, refugee and other displaced youth, LGBTQ+ communities, Indigenous youth, sex workers, and persons at the intersection of these identities. Carmen is unique in that she actively combines theoretical research with practical field research. She makes connections between people. Carmen seeks to help empower and educate and she perseveres until she achieves this goal.
Carmen Logie, M.S.W., Ph.D.
Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellow Women and HIV Research Program
Women’s College Research Institute, Women’s College Hospital University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
In 2013, after trying to adopt for 3 years through the Children's Aid Society, Jenny went into a fertility clinic to do IUI and from initial bloodwork was diagnosed with CML. The next month involved a bone marrow biopsy, IVF, x-rays, ultrasounds, daily bloodwork, an egg retrieval and chemo. In November 2014 we launched Go Rocco to help Jenny become a Mum, find her surrogate and to raise awareness about Cancer and Fertility. An Indiegogo Campaign that brought together a community of artists, educators and health practitioners passionately working toward the goal, continued into 2015 and 2016 with Go Fund Me, an online gallery and many art shows and festivals. Together we sold a lot of art and raised a lot of awareness about Cancer, Parenting, Fertility and Oncofertility. Jenny had the honour of being interviewed on CTV's Canada AM, The Motts Radio Show and was a guest speaker at Fertile Future's An Evening of Hope. Canadian Fertility Consultants and Flowerday Law stood up to generously donate their services. Together we raised $60,000 total. What a success!
Once Go Rocco met its initial goal in 2016, Jenny continued to help others with Cancer make families through the sale of her art and arts education services. Proceeds were donated to the Fertile Future Power of Hope Program. This is a remarkable non-profit organization that aspires to ensure every young Canadian diagnosed with Cancer will have the opportunity and means to have a child. Their mission is to inform, educate and support Cancer patients who are facing fertility-risking medical treatment. Oncofertility is a growing field, bridging oncology and reproductive endocrinology to increase the reproductive potential in cancer patients and survivors. The more the discussion is opened up, the more people will benefit by preserving their fertility once diagnosed with Cancer.
This story is remarkable because Jenny's friends, students, family and clients - the Go Rocco community - believed in her ability as an educator and mentor and stood up to help her fight to become a Mum. In doing so, they demonstrated their faith in hers and Rocco's ability to not only survive, but to thrive. More odds were beaten in finding a remarkable surrogate and Rocco was born in 2017. This long shot, underdog fighter had a 20% chance of survival. He was born because so many people fought with love to make this miracle happen.
Something Jenny has learned from all of this -adoption, cancer, IVF, fundraising, surrogacy and parenthood, is to: prepare as if all you wish for is on the way, assemble a kickass team, work really really hard, and wield the power of positivity- be brave - be proud - be grateful.
Today Jenny + Rocco still support Fertile Future Power of Hope Program to help strong cancer survivors become strong parents.