Photo by Collin Richie

The Creatives: Nonprofit organizer and artist Chelsea Borruano

Chelsea Borruano

Hometown: Brusly

Age: 34

Artistry: Nonprofit communications, marketing and event organizing

@alongthegravelroad on Instagram

When functionality, productivity and logistical decision-making dominate the daily grind, mental health awareness, much like creative expression, is never discussed as much as it could be.

“There’s still a stigma and a lot of misinformation about mental health in some circles,” says creative professional and nonprofit leader Chelsea Borruano.

As a marketing specialist who focuses on communications and branding for nonprofits, as well as the leader of her own—the You Aren’t Alone Project—Borruano is keenly aware of the elephant in the room, always knowing when core issues are not being addressed or  explored to their fullest potential.

2022 saw the Brusly native and New York University graduate refocus herself and push her work to new heights. She relaunched her marketing company Along the Gravel Road and committed the You Aren’t Alone Project and its eight-member board to a more refined mission for better community engagement.

“It’s been a lesson in letting go of what it’s supposed to look like, and giving into what everyone around me is telling me it needs to be,” she says of the mental health nonprofit embracing its connection to creativity. “I kept trying to make it what it wasn’t. And it’s been this weight lifted off my shoulders. It didn’t make sense before, and now it does.”

As seen at the group’s day-long Creative Relief Wellness Retreat held at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in December, You Aren’t Alone uses artistic expression as a catalyst for mental health and wellness.

Photo by Collin Richie

Borruano says she and her team work hard to keep these events open and inviting for all, not just artists. Her next project is developing interactive multi-media wellness tool kits to be distributed to local schools.

In her spare time, Borruano writes and paints, mostly self-portraits, and is always inspired directly by her mood. Whether it’s bright colors and gentle curves or scratches and ripped papers, painting is an outlet for processing her own emotions. Inspired by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Borruano intentionally makes time to create something every day.

“People can talk more about their struggles through art or writing,” Borruano says. “So many of these intersections our nonprofit explores a lot, and it’s been a really great way for people to feel safe when sharing. That safety creates a sense of hope, and people can really grow from that place.”