As you have seen with our rebranding, office makeover, and fresh new faces, this year has been a welcoming year of change at aZul! Just a few years ago, Founder Sandra Raffaelli was taking small steps towards building aZul up as her 1 person team. Now, we are simultaneously: running multiple fashion programs a year, collaborating with up to 3-4 local organizations a month, and still bringing the spotlight and focus onto adults with disabilities.
With the growth of aZul, the organization had evolved from the roots of our old title: aZul For Better Living - a memento carried over from its original birth in Colombia (aZul Por Un Mejor Vivir). As aZul - Fashion, Art & Design, this name rebranding was chosen to better represent the values and mission of bringing inclusive art and design programs to adults with disabilities that can bring lifelong skills and empowerment. Allowing us to present ourselves more clearly and with greater commitment towards this mission to the community and public.
At just a glance, newcomers can gain a better understanding of what aZul is all about, and program participants, volunteers, and guests can feel excited to share that they are a part of aZul - Fashion, Art & Design.
“This change will tell the public about our focus right away. We want our creatives to feel empowered when sharing with others they are part of aZul - Fashion, Art & Design, Inc., words they might have not connected with previously.” - Sandra Raffaelli, Founder & CEO
WHAT ARE AZUL'S GOALS FOR THE FUTURE?
All of our programs aim to bring artistic opportunities to adults with disabilities in inclusive and diverse environments while also trying to keep a focus on empowering each adult. This can be through building confidence, exploring new skillsets and encouraging active mindsets.
ActiveArt Lunch - We are continuing to organize monthly visits t0 community art studios and centers
to create and highlight meaningful experiences with different art mediums. We are so encouraged by how each organization is receptive and inclusive in our local community!
aZul Moves - To continue for the rest of the year. From the excitement and empowering effect of a performance we had with Sea Turtle Adventures, (where participants got dressed up and showed off their dancing skills), we are introducing aZul Moves for Wellness. In addition to normal sessions, once a month participants have a choice to also join in a performance to seniors, we are working on collaborating with assisting living facilities.
FashionAble - Our sessions focused on fashion design. We receive many requests for more fashion shows to join. These have always been only offered for those part of Follow The Thread or in a full fashion course, with the time, effort, and staff behind the scenes needed to run them. In the future, we hope to offer opportunities where Creatives engaging in a selection of these courses can have a chance to participate in a fashion show.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Last of all, aZul is happy to welcome its new board members for the year!
You can learn more about each individual now on our Teams page (also featuring our volunteers).
David Raffaelli, Vice President
One of the original board members since aZul's creation, David is a special education teacher who is active, lively and passionate about working with people with disabilities. His long lasting support behind the scenes is something aZul is always thankful for.
Liz Nassar, Secretary
Liz first joined aZul as a Collaborator with her daughter, Devin, as part of the Follow The Thread program and launched their sustainable fashion brand: "2071 - Redesigned Future Trends". Now as a board member, she provides valuable insight and personal experience as a mother of a daughter with autism, and is a avid advocate for inclusive opportunities.
Durley Meyer, Treasurer
Aside from extensive financial experience and achievements, Durley is an enthusiastic cyclist and loves giving back to the community through volunteering. She supports different charities through fundraising with bike rides organized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Dolphins Cancer Challenge, and loves aZul's mission and to be able to help adult with different abilities.