Mela Indian Restaurant hosts July 7 fundraiser for Asheville teacher Laurie Joens

MOVING FORWARD: Vance Elementary reading teacher and long-time Mela Indian Restaurant patron Laurie Joens needs help raising money to cover the cost of treating her breast cancer. Mela Indian Restaurant is hosting a July 7 fundraiser, with 20 percent of all profits going towards Joen's treatment.

“Community support helps you get through,” says Laurie Joens, breast cancer survivor, mother of two and a Vance Elementary School reading teacher in Asheville. She’s also a regular patron of Mela Indian Restaurant in downtown Asheville, and on Tuesday, July 7, a portion of its lunch and dinner profits will raise money for Joens’ ongoing treatment.

Mela has long been the “favorite dinner date” on Sundays for Joens and her husband, she explains. And owner Anoop Krishnan’s wife Julie is a seven-year cancer survivor with a daughter at Vance Elementary. “So there’s a certain affinity [and] a connection with the community,” says Joens.

When she launched a GoFundMe campaign, hoping to raise $15,000 for treatment that includes chemotherapy, one of her students cut her own hair off and donated it to Locks of Love, a nonprofit that provides hairpieces to children suffering from long-term medical hair loss, she says. Other children, parents and neighbors have voiced their support in letters, online comments, donations and more. That kind of support and “love gets you through” the hard times, says Joens. Earlier this year, she underwent a double mastectomy as part of her treatment for Grade 2 Invasive Moderately Differentiated Ductal Breast Cancer. Her chemotherapy is now well underway.

Krishnan says he’s “confident in, and looking forward to, the outpouring of love and support, characteristic of this compassionate community, in our efforts to raise money for an important, personal and urgent cause.”

And as Mela celebrates its 10-year anniversary, Krishnan, his wife and staff say they’re honored to help Joens and “hope that the publicity and momentum of celebrating [a decade in business] will draw the attention and support of both our current and potential clientele [and] maximize the benefit that this fundraiser provides to Laurie and her family.”

The benefit covers lunch (11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.) and dinner (5:30-9:30 p.m.) on Tuesday, July 7. For more info, go to Joen’s GoFundMe page here or Mela’s website here. Mela is located at 70 N. Lexington Ave. in downtown Asheville (225-8880).

Here’s the full announcement from Mela:

Mela Indian Restaurant will be hosting a worthwhile benefit to raise money for cancer warrior Laurie Joens, a teacher at Vance Elementary School, and long-time Mela patron and friend.

As Mela continues to flourish, owner Anoop Krishnan continues to recognize and humbly give back to the community that has made his dream a reality. This year, upon learning of her stark cancer diagnosis, Mela regular Laurie Joens approached Anoop with a request to host a benefit in the endless effort to raise money for medical expenses related to her ongoing treatment. Breast cancer is an issue that Anoop holds dear, as his new wife, Julie, is a seven-year survivor, diagnosed in March 2008 but in remission since April of that same year.

In February 2015, Laurie Joens was diagnosed with Grade 2 Invasive Moderately Differentiated Ductal Breast Cancer. Laurie is a 42-year-old mother of two — Zachariah, a soccer player at UNC Asheville, and Samuel, a rising third-grader at Vance Elementary in West Asheville, where Julie’s daughter attends fourth grade.  Laurie is also the dedicated caregiver of her father, who suffers from a number of debilitating medical illnesses.

 Laurie is a Title I Reading Specialist who has procured several grants for eligible Asheville City Schools students in need of assistance and has touched the lives of many through her years of service and commitment.

Laurie endured a bilateral mastectomy on March 16th and continues to undergo expensive treatments and therapies. To date, Laurie’s GoFundMe campaign has reached roughly half of her $15,000 goal.

Anoop and his team are honored to be able to support Laurie in this difficult time, and to offer her family some relief, hope and peace of mind.

“We hope that the publicity and momentum of celebrating 10 years will draw the attention and support of both our current and potential clientele, to maximize the benefit that this fundraiser provides to Laurie and her family,” Julie said.

“We are confident in, and looking forward to, the outpouring of love and support, characteristic of this compassionate community, in our efforts to raise money for an important, personal and urgent cause,” says Anoop.

The Laurie Joens benefit will take place throughout the day on Tuesday, July 7th, between the lunch hours of 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., as well as dinner, from 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m..Twenty percent of all profits earned on July 7th will be donated to Laurie’s fund.

To make a donation to Laurie’s GoFundMe campaign, please visit

Mela Indian Restaurant is located at 70 N. Lexington Ave. in downtown Asheville 828.225.8880.


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About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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One thought on “Mela Indian Restaurant hosts July 7 fundraiser for Asheville teacher Laurie Joens

  1. Lisa Sarasohn

    Thanks so much, Margaret, for highlighting this chance to help a neighbor!

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