Kelly Woyan, a successful documentary filmmaker, 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, feeling empty, Kelly decided to volunteer and help others.
From childhood, Kelly always wanted to be a foreign correspondent. She married at the young age of 22 and had her first daughter shortly thereafter. Her dreams in becoming a writer to tell other’s stories were postponed as she embraced her new role as mother, taking care of her daughter. Kelly’s voice was “sparked” when her oldest son was diagnosed at age 1 with life threatening food allergies. She became a food allergy advocate and started her own blog, even when she thought no one would really listen to her. A million followers later. In this accidental role as food allergy advocate, she felt her need to protect children, just like she did her son.
With the support of her followers, Kelly went on to write successful cookbooks, “The Food Allergy Momma’s Baking Book” and “Vegan Baking Classics”, even though she says she can’t even cook. Kelly went from being a preschool advocate to having an online, national presence with a voice that was being heard. Kelly Woyan has since 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.
Successful in her career as blogger and cookbook author, Kelly explains she still felt something was missing and that she wasn’t “using her voice in the way she should anymore”. An endless learner, Kelly moved to Los Angeles to attend USC grad school to pursue her dream in journalism and documentary filmmaking. This was life changing. In grad school, she was happy and says, “my creativity just burst open”. During this time, Kelly explains that although she was living her dream in doing what she loved as a filmmaker in Los Angeles, her marriage began to crumble. She wasn’t prepared for this life trauma and discusses the emptiness she felt.
Through a close friend, Kelly 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. Looking to find a way to fill the emptiness, she traveled with them to Haiti in support of their mission. It was there that Kelly was finally able to focus completely on helping others. She states that while in Haiti she had a realization of how she was finding her own meaning in life. She explains that even though it felt as if her world was coming to an end, traveling to another country and helping others, helped her find this meaning. “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. They’re giving back to me and reminding me of who I am, which is a woman who is stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.’” Kelly Woyan believes giving to others not only saved her, it has changed her life in every possible way.