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Blackbird Studio in Ithaca Raises $2,500 for American Red Cross

My first thought was, ‘What can we here in Ithaca do to help the victims?

Victoria Jenis is the owner of Blackbird Studio Pilates and Yoga in Ithaca. When Superstorm Sandy struck with overwhelming force in late October, she wanted to find a way to aid the victims of the disaster.

“It just looked awful to me,” Jenis said. “My first thought was, ‘What can we here in Ithaca do to help the victims?’ ”

Blackbird Studios employs a number of Pilates and yoga instructors who are also students at Cornell University.

“My yoga instructor encourages us to involve community and think on scales that are big,” said Jenis. “And it was then that I decided that as small as Blackbird Studio is, we could make a difference if we tried!”

Hoping to raise $500 to aid the Red Cross’ Disaster Relief Fund, Victoria asked all of her instructors if they would be willing to help out by donating a week’s pay. The staff didn’t think twice and agreed to do just that.

Responding to Jenis’ request was her daughter and instructor, Cassie Jenis, and instructors Dianne Shepherd, Zainab Zakari, Julie Spalding, Anne Seiverding and Jen Baker. In addition to donating her instructors’ proceeds to the Red Cross, Victoria Jenis posted notices about the fundraiser on the Blackbird website and Facebook page.

“Many of the students at Cornell are residents of the areas in downstate New York, New Jersey and Long Island where Superstorm Sandy’s destruction was unparalleled,” Jenis said. “They and other residents of Ithaca answered the call, and through their patronage of the studio during the week we were able to raise $2,500. Our clients came through by taking extra classes that made the difference in the amount we were able to raise.”

The American Red Cross’ Disaster Relief Fund responds annually to more than 70,000 natural and man-made disasters such as Superstorm Sandy, fires, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous material spills, transportation accidents and explosions. It’s through donors such as Victoria Jenis, the staff of Blackbird Studios and the community of Ithaca that enables the Red Cross to carry out its humanitarian mission.