Rachel (Schaeffer) Wolfe, M.A., was born on July 28, 1967 in Hartford, CT to a writer mom and psychologist dad. Her first real job was at one of the only restaurants in her hometown of Mansfield in a stationary railroad caboose. After her first day as a waitress, she and her boss mutually agreed it should be her last. Without looking back, she took the train to Lancaster, PA where she attended Franklin &Marshall College and then graduate school in Counseling at Montclair State University.
Rachel is the author of Yoga for Your Spiritual Muscles (Quest Books, 1998) which won the Benjamin Franklin Gold Seal for Excellence in Psychology. She was chosen as Quest Books’ featured author to appear at the American Booksellers Association convention. Rachel taught popular courses at Montclair State University and Caldwell College in both the Physical Education, Recreation and Leisure Studies and Psychology departments.
Rachel is on the faculty at the Omega Institute and Kripalu Center where she teaches Story Alchemy® workshops to help participants rewrite their life story. She also counsels individual clients through the Story Alchemy® process and has presented in a variety of venues from hospitals to women’s centers to the Smithsonian Institute.
The former yoga editor for Natural Health magazine and columnist for Positive Impact Magazine on celebrity activists, Rachel freelances for print and online magazines/websites. She has written for and been featured in dozens of magazines including Self, Prevention, Family Circle, Yoga Journal, Parenting, Parents, Baby Talk, Child, Cooking Light, and New Age Journal.
Rachel is the host/executive producer of The Red Couch, an internet, television and radio talk show in which nearly a hundred guests have shared transformational stories covering topics such as the arts, women’s issues and human rights. The Red Couch won the Positive Impact Multimedia award in Arts & Entertainment in 2014. Guests have included King of the High Wire Nik Wallenda, author Sharon Robinson (daughter of Jackie Robinson), and three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish.
Rachel is the founder of “The Power of Love,” Sarasota’s annual event to help end violence against women and girls. The revolutionary program has featured keynote speakers such as Golden Globe winner Dylan McDermott.
In 2012, I was delighted to participate in “Break the Chain”—a dance choreographed by Debbie Allen to raise awareness about violence against women and girls—to be danced all over the world on the same day. I was inspired by the movements, but overwhelmed by the magnitude and severity of the issue. I had read the book Half the Sky, and had the honor of interviewing one of the authors, Sheryl WuDunn, who along with her husband Nicholas Kristof, won the Pulitzer Prize. In the back of their book was a section called “What you can do in 10 minutes.” I can do 10 minutes, I thought.
I knew there were a lot of other people in my Sarasota community who want to help, but like me, didn’t know how. I imagined a gathering of individuals with a desire to make a difference and local organizations who were already doing great work. This became the catalyst for The Power of Love. I presented the idea to Arlene Sweeting, founder of the Peace Education and Action Center, and a wonderful partnership began.
The Power of Love is Sarasota’s One Billion Rising and V-Day event. One Billion Rising is the biggest mass action to end violence against women in human history. The campaign, launched on Valentine’s Day 2012, began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, that adds up to more than one billion women and girls.
But violence against women is not only a women’s issue. It’s a human issue. The Power of Love addresses violence against women while acknowledging the intersection of its relationship to all inequities—including racial and economic injustice. We believe that to create true change, these movements must join forces. To generate positive, measurable outcomes in our society, we must mobilize both women and men to use their true strength to create a culture that is free from violence.
Since its inception, survivors of rape, domestic violence and human trafficking have shared their stories at The Power of Love. The event has facilitated local girls’ and women’s organizations to work together and share resources. The energy and momentum created has given rise to increased funding and multiple levels of contributing and volunteering for these community organizations.
Each year, we showcase art, theater, dance, and music such as Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, Fuzion Dance Artists, and The Rhythm Inlet. Both professional and other skilled actors have performed excerpts from A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and a Prayer—a groundbreaking collection of monologues by world-renowned authors and playwrights, edited by Eve Ensler and Mollie Doyle, as well as the Obie Award-winning The Vagina Monologues. In 2016, The Power of Love featured Golden Globe winner and V-day activist Dylan McDermott.
Another highlight is the annual presentation of The Red Couch Local Heroes Award, given to extraordinary people who have exemplified a life of positivity, compassion, generosity and action. Past recipients include Sarasota Chief of Police Bernadette DiPino, advocate for improving the criminal justice system’s response to violence against women, and retired New York State Supreme Court Justice, Judge Laura Safer Espinoza, Director of the Fair Foods Standards Council for ensuring human rights and helping to create one of the best working environments in U.S. agriculture.
The Power of Love concludes with the community coming together to perform the international V-Day dance/anthem, “Break the Chain.”