Nonprofit Profile: Beautiful Self, empowering survivors of breast cancer

Origin

Breast cancer survivor Jillian Rezo and her best friend, Michele Bonacorte, understand the grueling process of a life impacted by the disease. Through personal experience, they witnessed the devastating effects breast cancer leaves behind, so they set out to make a difference. Since 2015, Beautiful Self has created a space where women impacted by breast cancer can come to be empowered, rediscover and reclaim the beauty and positive self-perception perceived to be lost.

Goals

Our consistent goal is to become a sustainable nonprofit or have our program adopted by a larger organization. Both our founders rely on other sources of income to survive while clocking countless hours developing the services and brand of Beautiful Self. 

Our goal is to have our Beautiful Self Diaries become a recognized series of inspiration shown not just on our social platforms, but syndicated nationally. The episodes are full of relatable content that appeals to anyone overcoming adversity, not just to women who experience breast cancer. 

Mission

“Turning a Survivor into a Thriver!”: There are 3.5 million breast cancer fighters and survivors in the United States today. However, surviving does not mean thriving. The long-term physical, sexual, social and emotional ramifications of breast cancer treatment often wreak havoc on the feminine psyche. As a result, survivors can feel lost and distraught in their own skin, all while longing to feel whole and beautiful in a body they no longer recognize. Beautiful Self believes a woman’s positive self-worth is crucial to long-term recovery.

The Beautiful Self experience removes the doubt breast cancer leaves behind.  Empowering survivors to take back their lives.

Fundraising

Private foundations, hospitals and pharmaceutical grants have been our main source of income, followed by private donations and birthday fundraisers within our community. 

Due to COVID, much of this funding has been pulled back or withdrawn, so we have become creative. 

Beautiful Self also partners with beauty vendors, authors, artists, health and fashion retailers who donate a portion of sales back to our cause. Many also donate to our swag bag that is given to our subjects during sessions.

Achievements

What started as way to ease the suffering of a best friend … five years later, has developed into an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit serving our breast cancer community and beyond. Our physical and virtual touches make a huge difference in the lives of survivors. The Beautiful Self reach is fully represented on our social platforms as forms of entertainment and empowerment while our engagement continues to grow.

Programs

Regular programs include: the Beautiful Self Diaries, a video documentary series featuring breast cancer survivors; the Sexy Survivor Series, beauty segments written by Jillian Rezo; the Beautiful Self Experience, specialized five-hour treatment sessions; and social outreach programs, a primary method of engagement.

Our COVID response is moving into an arm of education and outreach to our tribe. This includes weekly live tutorials and Q&As with specialists, addressing common concerns in beauty, fashion, mental health and the well-being of a breast cancer survivor in the “Now Normal.”

Finally

We created the Beautiful Self Diaries to connect viewers with the unspoken narrative all too familiar in the life of a breast cancer survivor, providing a visions of hope. Unless you or someone close to you is diagnosed with this devastating disease, most are unaware of the unspoken truths and fears. 

The women on our wait list who sign up for our brand of support are forever changed by the experience. They become our “Celebrity Survivors.”

Our challenge is to discover and connect funding and sponsorship to provide our no-cost service to those who need it the most. 

In brief

Location: Studio located in the Art Factory, Paterson.
Serving: New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and beyond.
Key members: Co-founded by Jillian Rezo and Michele Bonacorte.

Conversation Starter

For more information, please contact Beautiful Self at: info@beautifulself.org or beautifulself.org, or call 973-957-1909.