Monmouth County-based yoga enthusiast Vanessa Van Noy is committed to giving back to her community, so much so that each year, she organizes a Headstands for Hunger campaign to raise funds and collect donations for local nonprofits. Her annual event began in 2013 and has helped contribute thousands of dollars to the Monmouth County SPCA and Fulfill, formerly The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
“In 2013, I was thinking about this being a one-off event honestly,” she said. “I really wasn’t thinking about doing it past that year, but then it went so well, and everyone started asking, ‘What are we doing next year?’ I thought, ‘Next year?’”
Headstands for Hunger was born out of Van Noy’s desire to unite the ever-growing yoga community. She wanted to organize an event that promoted wellness, gave competing studios a reason to collaborate and ultimately benefited her neighbors. The inaugural event took place in a Long Branch school gymnasium. The following year, Headstands for Hunger moved to the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School cafeteria, but Van Noy said it was “busting at the gills.” For the next few years, participants gathered at Convention Hall in Asbury Park until this fall when that venue became unavailable for events. Bell Works in Holmdel became the event’s new home, and Van Noy said she is excited to welcome all levels of yogis on Sunday, Nov. 13.
Now a recognized 401(c)3 nonprofit, Headstands for Hunger will kick off its 2022 event at 9 am and feature an hour-and-a-half class suited to all levels of fitness, followed by other activities, kids’ games, vendors and music.
“This year’s theme is ‘Taking Our Power Back,’” Van Noy said. “We’re post-COVID-19, and Headstands is a metaphor for conquering fear and getting back out there. We’re taking our power back as an event, as a community, as individuals.”
To participate, there is a suggested donation of $10 and a bag of pet food.
“Fulfill has been really wonderful since the start of the event and has always supported me,” Van Noy said. “They’re the big one, so to help stock smaller food banks, we go to them, and then there’s a trickle-down effect. The SPCA has a pet food pantry now, and I didn’t know this until I started working with them, that a lot of people surrender their pets because they can’t afford to feed them. The year the SPCA opened the pet food pantry is the first year Headstands for Yoga took place, so we have supported them every year they have been open.”
To learn more and get involved, visit HeadstandsForHunger.org.