By Kenneth Barilari
#HipNJ spoke with Karen Arakelian, founder of The Gloria Foundation, about the foundation and its recent “Taste Of Italy” event.
The Gloria Foundation, founded in 2013, is a non-profit initiative helping victims of domestic violence. Their mission is to help provide resources to local safe houses and domestic violence organizations.
Arakelian told us that she founded the foundation in memory of her mother Gloria, who was a domestic violence victim. “I thought about what really formed me into who I am. Watching what she went through made me not ever want to depend on anyone,” she said.
Her mother went through a divorce in the 1970’s, a period during which divorce was highly stigmatized. Her mother had not worked and did not drive. After the divorce, she had to get her own job, learn to drive, and learn to be self-sufficient. This inspired Arakelian, and caused her to realize that she wanted to start something to give back.
The 3rd annual “Taste of Italy” event was held on September 28, 2016 at Design Consign in Fairfield. It was an evening of tasting delicious Italian specialties from the area’s finest restaurants, sampling wine from the beautiful countryside of Italy, and listening to live music under the stars. The event featured caviar by Calvisius Caviar and vodka by Claremont Distillery.
What inspired the event? “First of all, I’m Italian,” Arakelian jokes. “I love to entertain.” This event was not just for fun. It also supported a great cause. Proceeds went to Partners for Women and Justice, a non-profit organization that provides free legal help in New Jersey to low income, abused victims of domestic violence.
They managed to raise around $15,000. About 100 people were in attendance, not including volunteers. “It’s a beautiful thing when the whole community chips in. It really is a team effort,” Arakelian said.
Every seven minutes, someone reports a domestic violence issue in New Jersey. For more information, head over to The Gloria Foundation’s website.