50 Beautiful mothers: Joella

50 Beautiful Mothers was a yearly campaign by Beauty Revived to showcase women who were doing amazing things in their communities. Fifty photographers were chosen from around the country, who were then responsible for finding and photographing the mothers. Each wrote a short biography of their subject, which was published along with their images in a magazine.

Joella is not the type of person to sit around and watch the world pass her by. She holds a Master’s of Social Work and after her two children were born, she became a stay at home mom. But she realized that she felt unbalanced, focusing only on her children. So Joella began finding ways to be involved in her community and to develop her own self work. In her own words, “We’ve got to be the best versions of ourselves because we owe it not only to ourselves, but to our children as well.”

Once her sons were in school, she began using her days to volunteer with different non-profits serving the community. She says, “I want to help if I can, in any way that I can.” And she truly lives up to that!  She’s worked with the Montavilla Food Co-Op; Raphael House, which helps domestic violence victims; and Write Around Portland, which helps everyday people write their stories. Last year on a whim, she decided to hold a fundraiser for Girls Build, whose mission is to teach young girls the basics of building, including carpentry, plumbing, electricity and more. The evening raised over a thousand dollars, which is enough to send four girls to their camp on full scholarship.

In addition to the plentiful non-profit work, she regularly volunteers at her sons’ school. She has been on the school’s Site Council, helped lead the Amigos Group (which honors and celebrates Latino traditions and holidays), and helps tend the school garden.

Joella has always felt a calling to art on a personal level. Since she is not one to let her creative passions fall by the wayside, a few years ago she began creating her own line of jewelry and clothing! She somehow has time to work on that in addition to her various volunteer commitments. She’s even been able to get her designs into some of the small boutiques around Portland.

Joella does not forgo her own needs, either. She has a vibrant social life and loves spending time with friends. In fact, at a recent birthday party, almost one hundred people were there to celebrate—all of whom who had a genuine connection and closeness with her! In addition, Joella says, “If I need a pick me up, I go to nature. That’s always my biggest “treat”. I spend as much time as I can hiking and camping with my family and friends and we love to travel. A good example of that is last July, for our 11th year anniversary, my husband and I rode our motorcycles to Canada, through Glacier Park and Banff, and camped along the way. Adventures like that are my ultimate “treat!” Oh, yeah, did I mention she’s a badass motorcycle rider?!

Her husband, who nominated Joella, says, “What makes her so special and beautiful inside and out is how she is able to individually bring positive and joyful feeling into the lives of everyone around her.” And I can attest that she is warm, friendly, genuine, and yes, very joyful! She is truly beautiful inside and out.

Here’s what Joella has to say about what she does, and why. (This also tells you a lot about who she is.) “As far as inner and outer beauty, we live in a culture that favors the latter. We have to find ways, especially as women, to stay connected to the real definition of beautiful. And that definition is and should always be defined by character, what’s on the inside…heart, soul, inner strength, love. The ‘outside’ is just the package, what really matters is how we live in the world and how we treat ourselves and others. We have to create community and give back to our community when we can. It takes one person at any moment to change someone’s life trajectory. Even if that brief moment created a smile or resulted in a hug, we’re giving back. 

“Volunteering keeps me connected to the fact that we can make a difference in each other’s lives, for the better. And that we should be helping each other when we are able to. Maybe it’s my small town upbringing or my mother’s giant heart, I guess a combination of the two, but I was raised to extend a helping hand when I can. And in a small town, community is everything. You just have to dig a little deeper living in a big city!”