Saturday, February 27, 2010

The 21st Annual Casa Pacifica Angels Ball

This evening I was honored to be the guest speaker at the 21st Annual Angels Ball held at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks California. The Angels Ball is an annual black-tie gala to benefit the children and families of Casa Pacifica (the shelter I use to live at). Being an alumni I was able to share my story with everyone so that the attendees had a deeper understanding of how their contributions truly help the shelter youth. I expressed to the group how important Casa Pacifica is in my life still to this day. And because of the shelter I was able to learn boundaries, obtain my first possessions, and more importantly find a family and a place to call home. At the end of my speech I received a standing ovation, which I can honestly say brought tears to my eyes and will forever be a symbol of why I have chosen the right path.

The Casa Pacifica Angels are a special group of over 300 volunteers that collectively raise millions of dollars each year for Casa Pacifica through fundraising events. The Angels also host four exciting parties each year for the shelter children, assist in various programs, and serve as real-life role models. While speaking with many of the Angel Volunteers that evening, I was able to share my story and the amazing things that the Angels Cloud Nine Program had done for me personally.

During the evening there was a live auction where the attendees bid on many different prize packages. One amazing portion of this live auction was when the attendees had the opportunity to bid on sponsoring a group of Casa Pacifica children to attend the San Diego Sea World Kid's Camp. This particular auction went for $25,000!! I was touched to see people donating so generously to such an important place. A million thanks to all of those individuals who help make Casa Pacifica the place it is... you are the reason I am who I have become today. I thank you with all my heart!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE)

Today I was a speaker at the NARFE Ventura County Chapter meeting. I was treated to a wonderful lunch with the attendees. Shortly after, I was introduced by the President of the chapter, Tony Pizza. During my speech I shared my personal story of being a battered and abused child. I spoke about my struggles and triumphs growing up in the system, about being homeless, and the organization I started in 2008 "Luggage of Love". When I had finished speaking there was a Q&A portion where the attendees had the opportunity to ask questions. Everyone was so intrigued by my story and they had many suggestions for "Luggage of Love", which warmed my heart greatly. The Chapters 2nd V.P., George Ramirez, spoke after I did and shared his story of his adopted daughter who also struggled during her young years. Afterwards, the club generously donated $200 and many of the members made personal donations. All in all "Luggage of Love" raised $650 today thanks to NARFE and its caring and thoughtful members! A special thanks to Judy Farrar, Erika Hamm, Carl & Dolores Bailey, Richard & Muriel Mark, Lupe Morales, and those individuals who made cash donations. Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

CASA Ventura County

Tonight I had the opportunity to speak at CASA of Ventura to an audience consisting of foster parents, young adults in the foster system, and CASA volunteers. For those of you who are not familiar with CASA, it stands for Court Appointed Special Avocates. Each advocate is a sworn officer of the Juvenile Dependency Court. These advocates volunteer their time to act as a voice of their "Casa" child, and help to develop a positive long lasting adult relationship.

After I shared my story with everyone there was a Q & A period where the attendees were able to ask my mom and I questions in order to get both of our perspectives on the events that lead to my adoption and what trials and tribulations we faced during the process. Afterwards all the attendees had the opportunity to talk with me one on one. I was very touched and honored that so many of the teens were open to sharing their own personal stories with me. My heart goes out to them as I truly understand what they are going through.

I want to thank CASA of Ventura County, Andrea and Bernadette for believing in what I do and allowing me to share my story with the group..... but most of all I want to thank all of the young attendees for this opportunity. I hope that you were inspired to not become a statistic, instead I wish and pray that you go on to do great things. Never give up no matter what. You are the ONLY person who decides your fate not anyone else. Embrace your past for a better will only make you stronger. I believe in you and I am only a phone call or email away.

*Due to confidentiality reasons the pictures below are limited and show no faces*

Monday, February 15, 2010

AMAZING people who make me look good!

A special thanks to all of you who have worked your magic this year to make me feel like a true princess. Each one of you holds a special place in my heart! xoxo

Joey Rutherford from Competitive Image, Clay Spann from Clay Spann Photography, and Terri their irreplaceable assistant.

The one and only Eddie Peterson from Peterson Productions, Tiffany Tollet from Crowns & Gowns, her handsome son, and beautiful daughter, Courtney.

Linda Penna from Salon Gallery and the BEST Director ever....Eddie Peterson!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Luggage for Transitional Housing....

Today was the first of the commitments that I will fulfill for those teens leaving shelter care after turning 18 years of age. You see once a teen reaches the age of 18 they are capped out meaning that the state no longer pays for them to live at the shelter and therefore they must leave to start their journey in life. There is just one problem....where do they go? With nothing to their name, and no one to help it seems like a dead end. There has been attempts in the past to transition these teens into society but it has really never worked due to funding. So this is where the shelter where I use to live at, Casa Pacifica, has stepped up to the plate for these teens and is going far beyond their call of duty. They just implemented a transitional housing program and the first two recipients moved out this weekend into an apartment.

When I caught wind of this I knew that "Luggage of Love" had to play a part in this program and I quickly went out and purchased items for their new place and loaded them in the luggage that I would give to them. I was able to purchase a dinnerware, flatware, and glass set, a toaster, 8 pieces pot & pan set, cooking utensils, bath items, and two blankets. Just a little something to get them started and to let them know that I know that they will succeed and I believe in was the least I or anyone could do!

I think it is amazing how people are unaware that there are so many children in our own back yards that are waiting for someone to just give them a chance. Children who just need love and guidance for not a few hours or weeks...but for a lifetime. Please keep these things in mind when you go to sleep tonight in your comfortable bed.....with a refrigerator full of food....there is some child out there wishing they had those things many of us take for granted each and every day.

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