By Sam Elliott
A new Indianapolis-based, nonprofit foundation dedicated to health, wellness and empowerment through, among other things, the use of music, appropriately celebrated its launch with a 1940s-style big band concert that also honored the 75th anniversary of the United Service Organizations June 4 at Fort Harrison State Park.
Dr. Yvonne Allu, a St. Louis native but Indianapolis resident for 25 years, founded the REN (Real Empowerment Now) Foundation as a 501(c)(3) organization last July. The USO show event was part of the foundation’s Jazz for the Health of It initiative — which promotes full body health and wellness through the use of dancing to jazz music — in collaboration with the Indiana Arts Commission’s Art in the Park program and the Dept. of Natural Resources.
“Our mission is to help people live their best life and healthiest life, and we do that through the use or arts, health and humanity. That’s our main mission,” Allu said. “Jazz for the Health of It is all about music and movement therapy. If we can get people moving, we can keep them healthy.”
The REN Foundation takes its name from Allu’s late brother, Kevin Renier “Ren” Murray, who died in 2009 as result of a motorcycle accident. The siblings were very close.
“My brother’s nickname was Ren. He was a 52-year-old who was on a quest for health,” Allu said. “He rode his motorcycle for charities on a regular basis and he was always a giving person. After he passed away, I just wanted to give back and I couldn’t think of a better name for my foundation than Ren. He was my inspiration.”
Allu is a licensed chiropractor and acupuncturist with a background in public health education and health and wellness coaching. She’s also a noted jazz vocalist, and put her skills to use as a performer alongside the Clifford Ratliff Big Band during the June 4 event at Fort Harrison State Park.
“Jazz is as American as we get. It’s played and loved internationally, but its roots are here. I wanted to be able to take this jazz concert and preserve the music from the jazz era and celebrate our soldiers,” Allu said. “I come from a military family … so I have a special place in my heart for the military. What better way to celebrate them than to partner with the USO and celebrate their 75th anniversary at Fort Harrison here? It all came together perfectly.”
Moving forward, in addition to its own programming and fundraisers to support those initiatives, the REN Foundation plans to field teams and be involved in other area fundraisers and charity events, and is planning to address obesity and host its own heart health walk next year in downtown Indianapolis.
The REN Foundation plans to work toward its mission of helping people live empowered, healthier, fuller lives through the use of a trio of signature programs.
Jazz For the Health of It — A dance and movement-centered wellness program, J4HOI promotes full-body health, musical therapy and healing through dancing to jazz music. The program will promote health and wellness as well as educate participants of all ages, from preschoolers to senior citizens, on the history of jazz at dance workshops and public events and performances.
In My Sister’s Kitchen — A comprehensive health and wellness program utilizing healthy eating, nutritional therapy and dietary training, IMSK plans to work with women and their families to help create access, opportunity and training to build healthier communities with individual and group instruction and the use of social media and community gatherings. The initiative will partner with healthy eating advocacy groups, community garden associations, anti-hunger organizations and government agencies who share a mission to end hunger and promote healthy eating.
The Butterfly Effect — “There are over 30 million people in the United States with undiagnosed thyroid issues, so we’re going to keep the information going through our recourse and websites,” REN Foundation founder and executive director Dr. Yvonne Allu said. Taking its name from the basic shape of the thyroid, The Butterfly Effect is devoted to empowering patients to better health and wellness in efforts against thyroid disease. The initiative aims to demystify the causes and effects of thyroid disease to help individuals heal holistically with educational programming at health centers and will seek to work with other health and wellness agencies to advance knowledge and wellness related to the thyroid.
Facebook: TheREN Foundation