by Carole Verona
Since ancient times, people have practiced yoga to improve their mental and physical health and their spiritual well-being. Fast forward to 2013, and you’ll find a dedicated team of yoga practitioners working hard to combine all of those good outcomes with one more —raising much-needed funds for Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC).
Janet Meenehan Point, a Chestnut Hill resident, is … a case in Point!
In what she refers to as “six degrees of Kevin Bacon-ness,” Point was introduced to yoga in 2006 through a class for parents at Our Mother of Consolation School. She later signed up for outdoor yoga classes led by Chestnut Hill native Jennifer Schelter at Morris Arboretum.
Schelter, the founder of Yoga Schelter in East Falls, created and leads Yoga on the Steps, a fundraiser for LBBC. At this event, over 1,200 people gather on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to participate in a one-hour yoga class designed for all skill levels and body types. (This year’s event will be held on Sunday, May 20).
Point decided to continue her yoga classes at Twisters, a wellness center with studios in Erdenheim and Ambler, where she became involved with a team that participates in Yoga on the Steps.
“Last year we had 70 people on the team, and we actually had our own school bus to take us to the art museum. It’s an amazing event. You’re standing on the Rocky steps doing a yoga class. It’s a little silly in some ways, but it’s a great event because you are with survivors along with those who have been recently diagnosed.”
Although Point has never had breast cancer, she believes that every woman knows someone who has. Her aunt is a survivor, and both she and her sister have lost friends to the disease. Each year, 230,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer.
LBBC provides information and support to those whose lives have been affected by it, including those who are living with the disease, their families and friends, and the medical professionals who take care of them.
Twisters became the number one fundraising team for Yoga on the Steps in 2011 and 2012, raising over $27,000 each year for LBBC. Twisters then went on to expand its fundraising efforts for LBBC by adding The Barefoot Ball. “Barefoot … because it’s also a yoga class and there are no shoes involved,” Point quipped. This year’s Barefoot Ball will be held on Sunday, Feb. 10, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., at the Mercedes-Benz dealership on the corner of Bethlehem Pike and Pennsylvania Avenue in Fort Washington. All levels of yoga students and their families and friends are invited. The yoga class will be followed by a performance by opera singer and yoga instructor Natalia Levin. There is a suggested donation of $25 per person. Register at twistersyoga.com.
“Last year, we raised $7,000 from this event for LBBC. In addition to the yoga class, representatives from LBBC are on hand to share information. What’s so nice about it is that so many people from the community are involved. There’s a lot of overlap. You’ll see the people from yoga class at Weavers Way or at other places in the neighborhood,” she said.
Although she’s quick to give credit to all of the other members of the Twisters team — especially Twisters team captain Jill Miller — Point has been able to bring her extensive background and leadership skills as an investor relations and communications professional to the team’s fundraising efforts.
Her impressive resume includes positions of increasing responsibility with InterDigital, Inc. (Executive Vice President, Investor Relations, 2000-2012); Corporate Office Properties Trust, (Vice President, Investor Relations, 1998-1999); Advanta Corporation (Vice President, Investor Relations, 1993-1998); Fannie Mae, Director of Investor Relations (1985-1993); Rail Company (Financial Analyst, 1984-1985); and Sallie Mae (Customer Service Analyst, 1983-1984). She received an M.B.A. with a concentration in Policy and Control from the University of Michigan in 1983, and a B.A. in English and Economics from the University of Virginia in 1981. She is a past president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Investor Relations Institute and has also served on the Finance Council and as Treasurer of the Home & School Association at Our Mother of Consolation.
Point agreed that sometimes it’s difficult for women to talk about money or to ask for it. “In the world of investor relations, you’re dealing with a lot of high profile financial people. It can be frightening for some people to meet with those who are very powerful and connected, or to step out and say what they believe,” she explained. Over the years, she had learned to be at ease and comfortable in her own skin doing just that.
“A former co-worker once gave me a book called ‘Women Don’t Ask.’ It was eye-opening. As women, we are really good at negotiating for other people in our lives — for our children and friends — or for a cause. But when it comes to advocating for ourselves, we’re very shy. It’s easier for us to enable others to take the limelight.
“At a company where I used to work, I was the only female on the executive team, so I had to get used to being the only woman in there,” she said. What prepared her for the experience was her very first job — working at her dad’s hardware store. “I was definitely the only female in that world.”
A key to Point’s fundraising success is her ability to see and honor connections among people. “When you can connect like-minded people, one and one becomes three,” she said. “This is how an effort can expand quickly.”
Point’s contribution to Team Twisters involves reaching out to local publications to ensure that they know about the event. Her job is to make sure that everyone in the community knows about and is invited to The Barefoot Ball and Yoga on the Steps. “I’m helping to create awareness because we’re raising all of this money for LBBC. It’s a naturally interesting story and it affects so many people in the neighborhood,” she said.
A Washington, D.C., native, Point, 54, moved to Chestnut Hill in 1993 to accept a job with Advanta. She finds Philadelphia more livable that D.C., smaller in scale and less competitive. “Chestnut Hill is so beautiful, and there’s such a sense of community here.” She lives with her husband Steve, who is working on a start-up investment firm, and her sons Edward, a senior at Penn Charter, and John, a sophomore at PA Virtual Charter School.
For more information about the Barefoot Ball, visit twistersyoga.com