Forever Free . . .

Meet my beautiful friend Joanne Wright.  We’ve been friends since Grade 3.  This is a long time to know someone.  You know what it’s like with a true friend, you kind of float in an out of each other’s lives as the years pass by but somehow you always reconnect – as though your last conversation was only yesterday.

Sometimes life can change a person, not Joanne, she is still the kind, compassionate lovely girl she was all those years ago.

Growing up with Joanne has been a blessing.  She is a friend who is always there to lend a helping hand.  In my case it’s been, meeting me for school so we could ride our bikes together, lending me her brother’s roller skates so I could be Kira (Xanadu) for Halloween, keeping secrets, showing up for parties and just recently surprising me on my birthday with flowers, wine and chocolate from her and all of school clan (The Woodside Wonder Women, as we call ourselves).  The reason my friend Joanne is so beautiful is because everything she does in life is led by her big glowing heart.

A true Wonder Woman to her core!

Earlier this year Joanne asked me if I could be a part of a passion project that she was working on.  When she shared her story with me, without hesitation, I was IN.

Now I want to share it with you –

Recently Joanne adopted 2 Cuban dogs after learning about how awful the situation is there for strays. People barely have enough for themselves, let alone for pets.

Joanne learned that animals are rarely spayed/neutered and are regularly abandoned, leading to uncontrolled breeding. With no animal protection laws in place, street animals face starvation, abuse, being hit by cars, disease, and being used as bait for dog fighting.

The biggest risk, however, is a government program called Zoonosis: cats and dogs are regularly rounded up and face a slow, torturous death by strychnine poisoning or strangulation.

Once Joanne learned about this, she couldn’t sleep.

Joanne explained that rescuing dogs is just a band-aid solution: spaying and neutering is the only way to effect any long term change.

One of the worst places to be a stray animal is in the area around Cayo Coco – it receives so little support compared to the bigger cities like Havana. At the moment, a few vets volunteer their services, traveling to the area and spaying and neutering animals on kitchen tables and in back gardens.

Joanne has a friend, Paula Batista.  She has been working tirelessly for the past 5 years to support these vets. Her dream is to raise enough money to build a proper clinic to provide:

  •  a sterile environment for surgery
  •  a safe place for animals to recover
  •  an opportunity to house these animals for good
  •  and to reduce the amount of unwanted animals roaming the streets

Paula has an opportunity to create a clinic and we are trying to raise $14 000 CDN in order to make it happen.

Joanne, being a creative person herself, worked with me to design a fundraising bracelet. With 100% of the profits going towards the clinic.  Joanne’s vision for the bracelets was that they would remind her of the beautiful beaches in Cuba.

Joanne named the bracelets “Forever Free”

They are made with –

  • turquoise aventurine (said to be the stone of prosperity and promotes compassion and empathy)
  • white quartz (thought to promote healing)
  • Czech crystals
  • hypoallergenic rhodium beads & an optional paw charm

Strung on an 8″ elastic they will fit all wrist sizes.

What an honour it is to be a part of this project.  I love working with powerful women like Joanne who see an opportunity to help and make it happen!

Joanne is so inspiring.  She shows us that we all have the power to be Wonder Women and make this world a better place.

Monica XO

If you are interested in supporting this cause.  Here are some extra details –

PRICES ( before tax )

  • With paw charm: $35 CDN
  • Without paw charm: $30 CDN
  • Stack ( one of each ) $60 CDN



  1. Email your order to:

  1. Indicate how many bracelets you’d like, with or without the paw.
  2. Include your address to determine shipping charges:

Local Burlington, ON – pick up – FREE

Within Canada: $5 CDN

To the US: $10 CDN

To UK: $15 CDN

To EU: Will advise

(Please note: orders of more than 4 bracelets may require a higher shipping fee)

  1. Once your order is placed you will receive information on how to submit payment.


Joanne Wright

Moni – thank you SO much for everything you’ve done to help make this happen: from talking out the idea, helping me come up with the design, taking care of all the details and for sharing my passion project with this beautiful blog. So grateful for you and for our friendship … 43 years and going strong!! Love you!

Monica Graves

Jo!! Now you’re making me cry!! You are so awesome and this project makes me so happy! Boink and I are both sending our love to you and all the animals who need help in Cuba!! This is going to be a huge success! I just know it XO


Love this and it’s so beautifully written! A selfless and wonderful thing my big sister is doing! And who better to do it with then her partner in crime for 40+ years! Can’t wait for my bracelet!


I absolutely LOVE the work you are doing are doing Joanne, Monica and Paula. Thank you for being a voice for the voiceless and an inspiration to so many.


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