Barbara Meislin, widely and affectionately known as “The Purple Lady,” is an award-winning author (No One Can Ever Steal Your Rainbow), singer/songwriter (“Carvings in the Canyon,” an album endorsed by Elizabeth Kubler Ross and Virginia Satir), a teacher of French, and a healer through music (Threshold Choir, bringing bedside music to the terminally ill). But the focal point of her life has been her proactive philanthropy.
Barbara has filled her life with purple, from her clothing to her garden. She strongly believes that color has a profound effect on the body and psyche. “For me, purple is the color of joy. It’s a way to connect deeply with other people. Having it close energizes me to live and to share life at its fullest.”
And live fully she does, despite great tragedy. Years ago, music and the color purple helped her through the sudden loss of her seven-year-old daughter, Lori, to a rare illness. Through incalculable grief, Barbara’s extraordinary strength of spirit led her to see experiences in her life — both good and bad — as “assignments.” One of her most meaningful assignments has been the creation of Little Lady Lori’s Purple Playground of Friendship in the village of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam (Oasis of Peace), a settlement of Jews and Palestinians between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The playground features a seven-foot rainbow arch — a symbol of harmony, hope and love for all children.
Barbara’s philosophy of life and generosity of heart came from her mother, Vivienn, whom she calls, the “original Purple Lady.” As a single parent, she raised Barbara and her brother Allen with minimal physical comforts, but an abundance of shared love. Following her mother’s example, Barbara worked hard from a very early age, contributing to the family’s finances. Despite their own hardships, Barbara’ s mother instilled in her children a sense of compassion. “We were taught to always put aside a little money to help others and that no matter how little you have, there is always someone who has less.”
The work of Compassion & Choices is something Barbara understands in the deepest way. Inspiration for The Purple Lady Joy of Giving Challenge comes from her brother Allen’s painful journey and death from cancer. After watching his wife suffer a prolonged and painful death, Allen’s greatest fear was to suffer the same fate. Sadly, at that time, terminal patients did not have access to medical aid in dying and Allen’s death was a difficult one. Barbara made a promise to herself: “No one, if I can help in any way, will experience such suffering. That experience led me directly to this journey with Compassion & Choices.”
Barbara is determined to see that the California End of Life Option Act becomes a permanent law, and that the tens of thousands of eligible, terminally-ill Californians who want this option do not face unreasonable barriers to a compassionate death. To help raise the $1.1 million needed to accomplish this goal, Barbara established The Purple Lady Joy of Giving Challenge. For every gift to the campaign of $10,000 or more, Barbara will match it 1-to-1 up to $250,000 to support our efforts to keep and improve the law! With this public challenge, she hopes to inspire others to feel the purple joy of giving. These gifts will offer many more Californians the option of a peaceful death and provide the deep satisfaction of having contributed to making this possible.
*Gifts of $10,000 or more to either Compassion & Choices or Compassion & Choices Action Network will be matched with equal gifts to Compassion & Choices Action Network, thanks to The Purple Lady Joy of Giving Challenge! A total of $100,000 has already been raised but there is still $150,000 left in the Challenge to unlock. Thank you for helping us to reach this important goal.