Friday, June 25, 2010

VC Reperter - "Against All Odds"

Please take the time to read this article below. Not only does it tell my story but gives you an understanding of the problems and statistics that face not only the children in the foster and shelter care system but those agencies that work with them. The article touches on what I have been talking about for quite some time...the transitional period for those young adults capping out of the system that have not been adopted. Every year a high percentage of those emancipated youth become incarcerated, homeless, turn to drugs & alcohol, and find themselves back in the system they wanted so much to get away from. PLEASE HELP STOP THIS CYCLE!!!

I can not tell you how my heart aches for all of these children. I was one of them and I most certainly would have had a horrible outcome if it was not for a counselor at the shelter who gave me a chance. Not one of the foster homes gave me a shot, they returned me like I was a puppy from the pound. I think that people have got to understand that "we" (the children in the system) are broken. Not by choice but by the circumstances. Our fate is decided by others from the time we were born. The scares we have and the burdens we carry are huge and sometimes we just need people to be patient with us. Trust is not in our vocabulary and words are just noise we block out. Our survival instincts are built on our experiences. To help "us" you have to understand that we are programed differently. We need stability and consistency. Sure we are going to fight it every step of the way but we need to know you won't quit on us!

Please click on the link below to see the article.

Ventura County Reporter - Against all odds

Thank you Carla Iacovetti and the VC Reporter for doing this piece and bringing awareness on these very important issues that are affecting not only this county but the State of California and the entire United States as a whole!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I received an email the other day that touched my heart. It validates why I continue to push forward with Luggage of Love. I am so happy that what I am doing is making a difference and for that I will continue till every child in these situations has a piece of luggage to call their own. I want to thank Marilyn for sharing her story and allowing me to post it on my blog.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Alice's House

Today I attended the launching of Alice's House along with the opening of California Lutheran University's new Community Counseling and Parent Child Center. I was invited by David Friedlander the Executive Director of Kids & Families Together. The event was held at the President of the university, Chris Kimball, residence. Another former foster youth who is now 22 years old and myself were asked to speak about the challenges facing young women who have been in the foster care system and how important it is to have a supportive and stabilizing influence beyond the system.
I believe in programs such as this and will continue to support them along my journey in life. It saddens me to see young adults capping out of the system with nothing but the clothes on their backs and being forced to survive on their own. This is why so many of them turn to drugs, gangs, and crime to find a way in life. Many follow in the footsteps of their parents and commit the same acts, they live off the system, and for that the system has failed them! We all have got to step up to the plate and help. Please look into transitional housing programs in your area and please choose to support them. These young adults deserve the right to a future just like everyone else.

Alice McGrath was a celebrated, internationally known social justice and human rights activist who recently passed away at the age of 92. Alice's daughter, Laura D'Auri, is keeping Alice's spirit with us by offering Alice's last residence in Ventura as a home for young women who have aged out of the foster care system. Alice's not-for-profit neighbor, Kids & Families Together, will provide project management and oversight.

The vision of Alice's House is to be a safe and stable boarding style home that will provide individualized services and supports to maximize the opportunities for young women from the foster care system to grow, thrive and become self sufficient.
Alice's House will accommodate three young women and a live-in Resident Advisor who will provide case management and mentoring.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

1st Annual Custom Car & Motorcycle Show to benefit Luggage of Love raised $5,165.00 !!

I am glad this day has finally come. I need to thank so many people for all their hard work and devotion. As all of you know this event could not have been what it was without each and every one of you. From all the volunteers to the vendors, and the attendees I owe you all a huge THANK YOU!!! I am so grateful to have an amazing following and for people to embrace Luggage of Love with open arms.

Today was an early one....6am to be exact. I am so amazed that we all made it on time because I graduated yesterday and my parents had a graduation party for me last night that went until midnight. For my first car show the attendance was good. We had amazing raffle prizes from NASCAR tickets donated by Leon's Transmission to a flat screen TV...and some very impressive vehicles. The Lions Club was on hand cooking their delicious hamburgers, Leon's Transmission & The Murphy Auto Museum had bikes that all the children could ride, and Girl Scout Troop #60711 provided games, tattoos, and face painting, MB2 Indoor Go-Cart Racing brought a go-cart out for the event as well. I want to thank all the other vendors who participated....Native American Warrior Clothing, Bones Fab, JB Custom Interiors, California Custom Paint, Playtime RV, DJ Chancla, The American Veterans, Brutal Beauty Industries, and Hello Gorgeous Couture. Thank you to The Palms for allowing me to have this event at your location and Cafe Amri for giving us the idea to have it there.

The total money raised for Luggage of Love on this event was $5,165.00 !!! WOW !!! I am so happy. Because of the support of people like you children all over California will not have to carry their personal belongings in trash bags any longer. Thank you so much for understanding how important this is and how simple this is to change. It just takes a dream to become reality by setting a plan in motion. Next...providing luggage to each and every foster and shelter youth in the entire United States. Please join me on this adventure it will be well worth it, I PROMISE!

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104.7 Rico & Mambo Morning Show

Yesterday I was on Q104.7 The 805's Hip Hop and R&B station to promote my 1st Annual Custom Car & Motorcycle Show to benefit Luggage of Love. I had such a great time. Rico and Nancy were so nice and we laughed a lot. I want to thank them for always supporting what I do and showing an interest in the welfare of children in our community. After our segment was over I was asked to stay on for the next segment with Dave Coulier (Uncle Joey on Full House). I watched Full House when I was younger so it was a real treat to share the mic with Dave. I also got the opportunity to step into the booth with none other than KIDD SPIN. He showed me how to use the turn tables and I have to be honest....I sucked, but it was fun! Once again I want to thank Rico for giving me the opportunity to promote my fundraiser, share my story & the story of Luggage of Love, and talk about the International Pageant's always a blast in your studio!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Luggage A Big Deal For Abused, Neglected Kids kcal9 News -

Today was a whirlwind I must admit...this morning I went to graduation practice. No sooner did I get there and I was called away to return home. Apparently Amy Johnson from KCAL 9 News had called my mom asking to do a piece on me in 30 minutes. Holy moly was I excited! I met Amy out at Casa Pacifica, the shelter I use to live at, and we toured the facility and filmed a portion of the segment in my old room. I really love going back there. It brings back so many memories, and it inspires me to keep doing what I am doing with Luggage of Love. I feel so blessed that I was taken to this shelter and that I was given a second chance on life. We finished the segment at my office where I was able to show Amy all of my luggage. I was so impressed with how fast this piece was put together. No sooner was it was edited an on the news in 20 minutes! Wow, talk about FAST!!! Thanks Amy for sharing my story with the world. I enjoyed spending the day with you and look forward to visiting with you again.

Please click the links below to see the piece.

Luggage A Big Deal For Abused, Neglected Kids -

Video Library -

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Luggage from Courtney Critz

While in Anaheim today meeting with my director, Eddie Peterson, and my lovely fun fashion designer & sponsor, Tiffany Tollett, I was treated to a wonderful surprise. Tiffany's daughter Courtney donated 5 new pieces of luggage to my organization Luggage of Love. The thoughtfulness shined in Courtney's eyes as they lit up when she told me how she hand picked each one of the pieces. I could see how meaningful it was for her being she paid for them with her own money which makes the process even more rewarding. I am delighted that she sees the impact a single piece of luggage has on a child's life. Courtney, I want to thank you so very much and let you know that your selfless act of kindness will brighten the life of a child in some shelter or foster home. You are a sweet girl with a heart of gold. Keep on paying it back and the world will be a better place. I am proud of all your accomplishments and I look forward to watching you grow....I see many great opportunities in your future. And thank you for the cutest crown bracelet a girl could every want! Now go conquer the world little lady!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

17th Annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine & Food Festival

This past Sunday June 6th was the 17th Annual Casa Pacifica Angels Wine & Food Festival at California State University Channel Islands. I was so excited to attend this event being that it benefits the shelter that I use to live at. My boyfriend, Andy, and I worked the VIP entry section in the beginning of the day. Then we were able to venture out into the venue to taste all the yummy food. We were so impressed with the booths, and the way all the food was presented. There were silent auctions under 4 tents, 2 live band areas, a main DJ stage, a VIP lounge and my favorite....DESSERTS!!!! I was so excited to see so many familiar faces, and to meet new people who share in the importance of the shelter that gave me a second chance at life. I am so fortunate to now have so many amazing opportunities and it warms my heart seeing all of these incredible people opening their hearts to help children in such difficult situations.Thank you to my family who always supports me in everything I do. I love you with all my heart. And I am glad that you are a part of my life each and every day. A HUGE thank you to Vicki & Carrie for always including me in the shelters events. You two ladies are a true blessing to Casa Pacifica and the children who find their way to you in hopes to have a brighter future. A special thank you to the Dean family for always lending a hand and bringing awareness to children such as myself who just need to find their way on a path that has always been rocky and unstable. I can not express how happy I am that your family is a part of my life. And last but certainly not least... to Andy for embracing where I came from and understanding my past and more importantly believing in my future. I am honored to have you not only as my boyfriend but as a friend.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Jalopy Joes 4th Annual Pin-Up Car Show

This was the last car and motorcycle show I will attend before my own car show this coming Saturday. I had so much fun because this particular show had a theme behind it. Everyone dressed the part and the turn out was amazing. I handed out about 230 flyers and was able to share my story with quite a few people. Mostly I enjoyed my conversation with a homeless gentleman in a wheel chair who shared his own personal story with me. I feel very fortunate to have spoke with him and feel as though he has touched my life. I understand his misfortunes and love his positive outlook on everything. I wish him well in all his journeys yet to come.

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Santa Paula Cruise Night

I was back at it tonight. I know what many of you are thinking, another car show!!! Is that all this girl does? Well as a matter of fact...YES!!! This beautiful Friday evening was spent in the city of Santa Paula. I hit the crowd early with my Aunt Danielle and started passing out flyers for my car show. I spent the majority of my time talking with the car owners and explaining how 100% of the proceeds from my event on June 12th will go directly to the purchasing and shipping of luggage all over the state of California. Along the way I came across the cutest little boy in his cool ride. He even offered me his shoe as a token of his love. What a cutie pie! I met a lot of adults who had similar stories as mine. You think this would come as a surprise to me by now but it is becoming a continuous thing...sad enough to say. Below is an email I received after the show that touched my heart and I wanted to share with all of you.I want to thank the author for giving me permission to share his letter with the world. He has truly touched my life and I am glad to have met him.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Talk of the Desert with Melinda Reed

Today my adventures as Miss Teen California International 2010 lead me to the City of Palm Dessert to film a segment on the "Talk of the Desert." Both my mom and I were interviewed by the host and executive producer of the show, Melinda Read, who also happens to be the former Mrs. California International 1996. I shared my perspectives on my early childhood and what it has been like growing up since being adopted. We also discussed how I now use the tragedy of my past as a positive influence to do good things like starting Luggage of Love, speaking to teens in the system, bring awareness to the huge population of foster and shelter children who just need a chance, and working with other organizations to make a difference in our communities. We also talked about the importance of the International Pageant System in the success of my endeavors with Luggage of Love. During the interview Melinda surprised me on set with a new 3 piece set of luggage. The entire crew was beyond nice and I had a wonderful time. Thank you Melinda for having me on your show and being so gracious. You are an inspiration and I would love the opportunity to talk with you again!