One Local Woman’s Lighthearted Fundraiser
Story by Michael Seguin
During these dark times, one Windsorite is determined to provide some sunshine. Josie LoPorto Freeborn is a 44-year-old Essential Oil Educator, a Holistic Healthcare Lifestyle Promoter and a Certified Reflexology Practitioner. For Josie, health and wellness is more than a calling. It’s a passion that dominates her entire being, radiating outwards.
“My background is in sales,” Josie states. “I was 15 when I started working at the McDonalds in Leamington. I spent most of my working years up until my late twenties working in sales—and I was getting burnt out! Then my sister, who is a Holistic
Nutritionist, recommended that I learn about Reflexology, because it’s great for stress management.”
From there, Josie was hooked. Over the last 16 years, she’s obtained countless certifications and learned about multiple different holistic modalities, including Chakra Healing and Energy Work.
“Some people call me the Hippie Mom,” Josie laughs.
However, Josie, like many others, has had to put her consulting and hands-on treatment business on hold thanks to the pandemic.
“Thanks to COVID-19, most of my time is now spent homeschooling my two kids,” Josie states. “And trying maintain an online presence to keep people informed about living a healthy lifestyle.”
This time of quiet and reflection didn’t last long. Earlier this year, Josie was approached by Brooke Meloche from the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation.
“Brooke asked me if I would do a charity event for their May women’s fundraising month,” Josie explains. “I said yes immediately, because that’s a cause that means a lot to me. So many friends and family have been affected by cancer.”
Initially, Josie was planning on hosting a large tea party and spa to collect donations. However, the current pandemic caused her to reevaluate her plans.
“When the quarantine began, Brooke emailed me and said that she understood if I wasn’t able to do anything for them,” Josie explains. “But, she said if I had any other ideas that I should let her know.”
However, rather than throw in the towel, Josie remembered a previous instance where she’d used a sweeping gesture to raise money for cancer.
“Back in 2007, I shaved my head for charity,” Josie states. “It was for Transition To Betterness. A family friend, Mary, had lost her mother to cancer. Mary is a good friend of my Mom and Dad. She had actually shaved her head to raise money. I was very, very inspired by what she did. I
decided I wanted to do something similar to support her.”
In February of 2007, Josie signed up for T2B’s Mane Event, raising over $2,500. “It was a very humbling experience,” Josie recalls. “I was working at Coral Medical Health Spa at the time, and they were very supportive of my decision. Although they did think it was a little strange that one of their employees didn’t have any hair! But it was my first time doing something way beyond me. That was what inspired me to want to learn more about other modalities and other ways to help people.”
Buoyed by her past success, Josie returned to Brooke with her solution.
On May 1st, Josie began collecting donations using a milestone system. For every monetary threshold that is passed, Josie will reward donors by broadcasting a fun event on Facebook.
“At each level of fundraising, I’ll do something crazy or silly,” Josie states. “That way people know me as the Crazy, Silly Hippie Mom, right?”
Josie’s milestones truly unify the spirit of generosity and levity. After reaching her first milestone—$100—Josie let her 6 and 7-year-old children style her hair and do her makeup before hosting a live meeting on her essential oil education Facebook group.
“We did it outside,” Josie laughs. “I let my kids do my hair, do my makeup. And I wore that fun look for the whole day. The kids had a great time doing it. I had a ton of hairspray on my head. I ended up with crunchy Pippi Longstocking hair!”
Josie’s second milestone—$500—involved her taking a dip in a cold kiddie pool while getting a pie thrown in her face.
“The kids were insistent on the pie in the face,” Josie admits. “I didn’t come up with these on my own. I decided that if this was going to be for the community, then I wanted my friends and family to come up with the milestones. I just choose from the list what I thought was appropriate for each level.”
Josie has currently collected $750 in her online campaign—reaching her third milestone. On May 15th, Josie mowed her lawn while dressed up like a clown and singing “Baby Shark.”
For her next milestone—$1,000—Josie’s husband will color her hair pink and let her children paint her face with glitter glue.
“I have to include the kids or else they get bored,” Josie laughs. “And I don’t know if you’ve ever had glitter on your face, but it does not wash off easily!”
At the top of her list—over $2,500—Josie will shave her head.
So far, the community has embraced Josie’s efforts with open arms.
“We’ve had a great response from the individuals who are supportive of the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation,” Josie states. “My friends and family have been sharing everything on their personal social media channels. My neighbors think it’s hilarious!”
Perhaps what’s most exceptional about Josie’s efforts is how they’re bringing people together during these isolated times.
“Right now, we can’t be socially in-touch with people,” Josie explains. “Normally, I’d invite people to come to different events through personal contact—at my kid’s school or the classes I teach.
But because I can’t do that, these social media platforms are a great way to bring the community together during these stressful times. It’s a lighthearted alternative to these constant updates we’re getting.”
More information about Josie’s campaign is available on her Facebook page (facebook.com/Josolopo) and her Instagram (@oilyfreeborn).
Josie, a true wellness expert, encourages everyone to stay positive and breathe through this crisis.
“The first thing that I recommend people do is breathe,” Josie states. “We are such shallow breathers. In our everyday busy life, we forget what a diaphragmic breath really is. Just breathe. Stop. Take a deep breath in. Feel it through your lungs. Expand your belly. Then, on the exhale, pull your belly inwards, towards your spine. Be mindful, be grateful, and look at how we can get through these times. Shift your perspective. Ask yourself what you need to do to get through this. Breathe.”
Or, failing that, laugh.