Mariska Hargitay was in town for a series of private appearances, including a dinner at Neiman Marcus’s Mariposa restaurant Sept. 1, to raise awareness and funds for the Joyful Heart Foundation, which she founded out of a desire to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.
Hawaii is where she conceived the idea, and the organization’s field office has been housed in Kona for five years.
She serves as president of the organization she founded in 2004, in part due to overwhelming response to the character she plays on NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” New York City detective Olivia Benson.
Hargitay said many who have endured abuse relate to the Olivia’s strenth and compassion.
On the show, Hargitay wears a “Fearlessness” necklace, as well as a lotus necklace, both created by Robin Renzi, designer and CEO of Me&Ro. Both carry significance for Hargitay, as well as the foundation, the lotus symbolizing beauty that rises out of mud, reaching for the sun.
Hargitay hadn’t met Renzi before starting to wear her jewelry, but the two became fast friends in a shared mission, and Me&Ro offers a line of Joyful Heart jewelry, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the foundation.
Renzi was also in town simultaneously to show the Joyful Heart and other collections in Neiman Marcus’s Designer Jewelry department. The Joyful Heart collection, including a Wing & Heart pendant created to commemorate the foundation’s 5th anniversary, will be on view at the store through Sept. 4, and Me&Ro will donate 10 percent of the net proceeds from the sale of Me&Ro jewelry to the Joyful Heart Foundation.
Read the whole story in Sunday’s Today section.