Kelly Woyan, Hollywood filmmaker, successful cookbook author and blogger, did something unexpected, and she says it saved her life. After going through a divorce and suddenly becoming a single mother of five, Woyan was at her lowest. She felt worthless and that she had nothing to offer.
She was invited to volunteer and help others but didn’t know it would save her too.
From childhood, Woyan always wanted to be a foreign correspondent. She married young and had her first daughter shortly thereafter. Her dreams in becoming a writer and telling other’s stories was postponed as she embraced her new role as mother, Woyan’s voice was again “sparked” when her son was diagnosed with life threatening food allergies at age 1. She became a food allergy advocate and started her own blog, even though she believed no one would really listen to her.
A million followers later, in the role thrust upon her as food allergy advocate, Woyan felt her need to protect other children, just like she protected her son.
With the support of her followers, Woyan went on to write successful cookbooks, “The Food Allergy Momma’s Baking Book” and “Vegan Baking Classics”, even though she says she can’t really cook.
Woyan had gone from being a preschool advocate to having an online, national presence with a voice that was being heard.
Kelly Woyan has appeared on the Today Show and Martha Stewart, and written for several national publications including Women’s Day and Wall Street journal, yet she says none of this was planned. Her roles were all accidental.
Even with a successful career as blogger and cookbook author, Woyan explains she still felt something was missing. She wasn’t “using her voice in the way she should anymore”.
A self-described endless learner, Woyan decided to move to Los Angeles so she could attend USC grad school. She wanted to pursue her dream in journalism and documentary filmmaking. This move proved to be life changing.
In grad school, she felt her “creativity just burst open”.
Although Woyan was living her dream as a filmmaker in Los Angeles, her personal life began to crash. Her marriage of nearly 2 decades was crumbling. Woyan says she wasn’t prepared to handle this life trauma and loss.
She found herself a single mom of five with a demanding Hollywood career. But in this, her darkest time she found her light.
Through a close friend, Woyan was introduced to Global Family Philanthropy, an organization committed to helping the children, the sick and the elderly of Haiti and Arizona living in extreme poverty. She was invited to go with them to Haiti as a volunteer.
It was in Haiti that Woyan found herself. She also found her meaning in life.
“So for me, the idea to go there, to remember who I really was which is, I was just like them. The people I was helping all of a sudden I felt, Oh my gosh, they’re helping me.”
By volunteering with Global Family Philanthropy, going to another country and giving to others, she was able find a new meaning, a new purpose.
This moment made Woyan a lifelong volunteer.
It took the people of Haiti to remind Woyan that “she is a woman who is stronger than she gave herself credit to be.”
Kelly Woyan believes that giving to others not only saved her, it changed her life in every possible way.