Friday, August 26, 2011

Tahoe Safe Alliance, Stopping Abuse for EVERYONE

Today I met with Liz Soto, a Residential Program Manager, for Tahoe Safe Alliance. Tahoe Safe Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the incidence and trauma of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. It is currently the only agency providing assistance to victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault in the North Lake Tahoe/Truckee region of California and Nevada and owns/operates the only safe house in the community.

The Mountain Rose Safe House is a comforting and welcoming home where women and children come to find a refuge. It is an empowering program which offers a wide variety of services to those who want to start a life free of violence. The safe house is a place where clients can collect themselves, look at their lives, assess their needs and plan for the future. It is a 60-day program that can shelter up to three families. Tahoe SAFE Alliance provides shelter, food, and day to day living essentials, allowing the families to save money towards independent living. This program also offers peer counseling, licensed therapy, intimate partner violence and sexual assault education, pattern-changing techniques, therapy-like art projects, financial literacy, advocacy and accompaniment to different appointments, transportation, children’s program services and legal assistance.

I am happy to say that Luggage of Love will be providing luggage to the families within this program.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Day at the Ballet for local foster children...

This afternoon I attended the 2nd Annual Day at the Ballet as their special guest. Last years event was so special to me that I could not miss it this year. The Ventura County Ballet Company along with The Angel Heart Foundation hosted this wonderful event that benefits the foster, shelter & kinship children in Ventura County. The children had the opportunity to decorate a point shoe, create ballet crafts, get their faces painted, decorate and eat a yummy cookie, and of course perform a small portion of the Nutcracker to an audience of foster parents, kinship parents, CASA's, and the ballet company. After the performance I read a short story to the group and told them about how much we all had in common. I shared with them my dream of becoming a princess and how my dreams came true because I believed. Several of the girls shared their dreams and I encouraged them to make them reality. I signed autographs and took pictures but most of all I hugged and listened to the girls. I let them know that I am proud of them and I believe that they can do anything as long as they believe in themselves.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Toast Our K-9 Heroes Fundraiser

This evening I had the pleasure of supporting the Ventura Sheriffs K-9 Foundation. Tom and Jane Rozanski opened up their beautiful home in support of this amazing cause. Who knew that an untrained patrol canine cost approximately $8,000 - $9,000, and the average cost of a fully trained sheriff K-9 is approximately $30,000. This foundation was set up to help maintain training, equipment, and care for the police dogs since 1986. Solely through community support, the foundation is able to continue it's commitment of protecting the safety of the residents of Ventura County. It was nice to see so many familiar faces who support this much needed foundation. And a pleasure to meet many new people who shared a common interest. Many of the dogs were on site, and at a couple times during the fundraiser they performed different demonstrations. It is amazing the bond that each officer has with his dog, not to mention the handling & training that goes into having one of these K-9's.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

9th Annual Teen Summit

My travels took me south to Los Alamitos where I was privileged to have a Luggage of Love table during the 9th Annual Teen Summit. Over 180 young men and women, ages 12 and over, attended the conference that focused on educating the attendees on violence prevention, teen dating violence, drugs & alcohol, provide alternatives and empower the youth to build safe and healthy relationships with others. Although Luggage of
Love was not the main topic of my discussions, it gave the attendees validation to the path I have chosen. My main focus was on letting them know that anything is possible as long as you put your mind to it. I talked to groups of teens throughout the day and shared with them my story of being born a drug baby, having been sexually and physically abused, homeless, in foster & shelter care, and having to struggle to fit in. More importantly I talked with them about making a choice to be something rather than a statistic. I look forward to attending next year and being one of their speakers. Thank you Maribel Contreras for inviting me and putting on such a valuable informative conference for the youth in your area.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Grace's Giraffe Club Project from the state of Washington

Thank you Grace for picking Luggage of Love as your 2nd Grade school Giraffe Club community service project. You definitely showed that you are a true leader and aren't afraid to "stick out your neck". I am so impressed with your community service efforts and love your donation to Luggage of Love of luggage and luggage tags. You will be happy to know that your luggage has already been distributed to Northern California to some very grateful children in a foster & shelter care. Thank you again for bringing awareness and helping to break this cycle; you are an amazing young lady and I love what you are doing. Keep up the good work! You, Grace, have made a difference in a life of a child by your kind act.

Monday, August 15, 2011

KooDooZ Interview

For those who do not know, KooDooZ is a social network designed to empower youth by challenging them to make a difference. I was contacted by Brandi Milloy, and asked if I would be willing to share my personal story as well as the story about my organization Luggage of Love during an interview on Skype. I have done many interviews but never one over Skype, so of course I agreed. Check out their website for more details.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

California International Pageant Summer Orientation

Today was the Summer Orientation for the California International Pageant to be held in September in Downey. It was so nice to see so many familiar faces. Eddie Peterson, the Executive Director, and Dennis Cook, the Executive Producer, both shared valuable information about the upcoming pageant. The reigning titleholders shared a little bit about their journeys thus far and all of the amazing opportunities that they have been blessed with because of the crown. During the orientation, each of the delegates had the opportunity to give a brief description of the platform they are championing. I was so impressed with all of the delegates and how inspirational all of these young ladies and women are. Each one is making a difference in their community and it warms my heart to see such passion and commitment.

For those of you who are not familiar with the International Pageant System, it is one that is very near to my heart. In fact, this system created the path for me to start my own non-profit 501(c)3 organization, Luggage of Love. The International Pageant System prides itself on showcasing the achievements of women within their communities. It is much more than a beauty pageant; it is a foundation to learn and be inspired. I can tell you first hand that competing side by side with these ladies is very empowering and I am honored to be a part of this pageant system.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

$200 Donation to Courtney's Toy Clean Up Project

My dear friend Courtney Critz is the reigning Jr. Miss California International 2011. She uses her title to champion her cause, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. For those who do not know, St. Judes is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never have to pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family's inability to pay. To help raise funds for St. Judes, Courtney started Toy Clean-Up Project. Through this, Courtney collects new or gently used toys. She then holds garage sales and donates all of the proceeds to her cause. I am very inspired by Courtney's dedication and perseverance. So, I could not think of a better way to support her efforts than by collecting toys in my area and holding a garage sale of my own. Through this one sale we were able to raise $200! All of the proceeds from the sale went to Courtney and her project. I am so proud of you Courtney and all of your efforts with your cause. Keep up the great work girly!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

American Cancer Society Bugatti Ball Evening of Hope Gala

The Bugatti Ball Evening of Hope is a fundraising event to benefit the American Cancer Society. Last year the gala alone raised over $220,000. This year the event was held at The Mullin Automotive Museum. Attendees were offered guided tours by the curator, Andrew Reilly, and the formal dinner was catered by celebrity caterer, the Kitchen for Exploring Foods. The Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic (1936), valued at nearly $40 million, was the showpiece at the Evening of Hope Bugatti Ball. I along with three other beautiful ladies were asked to model jewelry for Fox, George Thompson, and Diamond Design jewelery that would be auctioned off to help raise monies for the fight against cancer. I am proud to say that we sold ALL of the tickets allocated for the jewelery auction and I was able to donate a "Princess Party" as a silent auction item to benefit the cause. Any amount of effort and volunteerism helps, and I truly hope that, along with my friends, we were able to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Foreign Exchange Program

I had the pleasure of being the special guest for a group of children visiting from China. I learned so much about their culture and I was very inspired by there dedication to their education. All of them were from Beijing and attended the Experimental High School attached to BNU (Beijing Normal University). Their culture is very different from ours. They were very interested in our families and how we all interact. They asked many questions about the beauty pageant. I learned that much of their time is spent focused on school work. Many of them attend school 10 hours a day. They eat lunch at the school, come home for dinner, and return to school in the evening. It was an honor to meet you Jerry, Scott, Rose, Sherry, Ivy, Elaine, and everyone else. I wish you all safe travels and all the success in your future endeavors.