Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ventura Downtown Lions Club's Crab Feast to benefit Interface Children & Family Services

I have grown up loving and being highly involved with the Lions Club in my area but this past Saturday I had the pleasure of volunteering with the Ventura Downtown Lions as they held their 2nd Annual Crab Fest. There was over 400 attendees that enjoyed all you can eat crab, fabulous door prizes, a
spectacular silent auction, as well as a live auction. The Lions Club chose Interface Children & Family Services as this year's organization to receive the net earnings from the event. Interface Children Family Services is an independent nonprofit agency dedicated to advancing the well-being of children and families by providing an array of social services to strengthen family life and by promoting community commitment to the needs of children and families. I was asked to attend the event and model a Green Bay Packers NFL signed jersey as well as a gorgeous
diamond necklace from Nerces Fine Jewelry for the live auction. I was beyond happy to find that my Ventura County Ballet Nutcracker buddies, Sequoia, Tenaya, and of course radio celebrity Bo Jaxon from B 95.1 were also at the event to support the Ventura Downtown Lions & Interface. Thank you so much Norm McDaniel from the Ventura Downtown Lions Club for asking me to be a part if this wonderful event. I had an amazing time and it was a huge success! If you would like more information about the Ventura Downtown Lions & Interface please click on the links below:
Ventura Downtown Lions Club

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Speaking to Triton Academy

Today I spoke to Triton Academy. This speaking engagement was somewhat unique in that we started off the with each student telling me about who they are, what struggles they face with autism and how they persevere. I was beyond surprised to find that the "issues' that these youth face due to their autism are exactly the same as the issues that I face due to my background of abuse and due to me being a drug baby. Not only did we share that, but our coping techniques were the same as well. The teachers also took the students to the store before our arrival, where they let the kids pick out our meal for lunch. With the food, the students prepared a salad bar and strawberry shortcake for me. The entire morning and afternoon I laughed and had more fun than I have in a long time....these students taught me so much more today that I could have ever taught them. Thank you so much to Lisa Davis for contacting me to speak today, I can not wait to have you all visit Luggage of Love and pack a pallet for shipment!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Camarillo Library Compassion in Action Panel Event

Tonight I was at the Camarillo Library to participate on a panel lead by Celeste Fremon, author of G-Dog and the Homeboy. This speaking engagement was a part of a reading series based on Compassion in Action. Before the panel discussion started, the attendees watched “Cared Straight” and explored the behind the scenes work done by Father Gregory Boyle and the Homeboys. I was honored to be asked to participate on the panel along with Celeste Fremon, Mark Storer, and Samantha Pinsak. Mark Storer is a English teacher and journalist. I knew Mark from the article he did on Luggage of Love for the VC Star recently. Mark's story is unique in that he was called to service when the Katrina hurricane devastated New Orleans. He has continued helping them for the past 6 years and in that time has been able to secure 35,000 prepackaged meals for hurricane victims among many other heroic deeds. Samantha Pinsak just received the title of 2012 Youth of the Year for Camarillo for her volunteer work including Hospice and the Friends of the Library Bookstore. Samantha is a very bright young lady with a true heart of gold. It was a very inspiring evening and I am so glad to have been a part of it. Thank you Barbara Wolfe for this opportunity to share my story with the attendees, I had a really great time.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Princess Jillian's Birthday

Happy Birthday to Princess Jillian!! Jillian's grandmother, Paula Miller, won this Princess Party at the silent auction for a Girl Scout Fundraiser. What an exciting day for a very special little girl. My Princess Party Team had such a fun time doing Jillian's friends hair and makeup on her big day. The girls and I danced and played all sorts of games from Pin the Tail on the Donkey to Hot Potato. Near the end of the party we had delicious purple cupcakes and watched Jillian open her presents. Thank you so much Jillian for letting us spend this fantastic day with you! You were truly the princess of the party!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Jaden!

Happy 9th Birthday to my little sister, Jaden!! We celebrated her "birth week" in Disneyland for 3 straight days, and boy was it a blast. Jaden was the Princess of Disneyland and I proudly represented our beautiful golden state by wearing my Miss California International 2012 sash in both amusement parks. The whole family had a wonderful time and I'm looking forward to the next time we "take over" Disneyland!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tori's Story: A Voice for Foster Care

I had the privilege to meet two courageous foster parents that in my mind are true angels. They were the special guests at the event I attend this weekend in San Fransisco. Both Kelli and Terry Sedgewick did everything they could to NOT have their foster daughter, Tori, returned to her birth parents. Despite the pleas from everyone, the court ruled that reunification would happen. Two year old Tori died from suspected malnutrition months after being released from foster care to her biological parents. When she died, bruises covered her body, a rib was fractured and blood tests suggested she died thirsty and hungry.

Hearing this story makes me sick to my stomach. Sweet innocent Tori did not have a voice and it is clear that the voice of her foster parents did not count to many. Why must the system fail children? I myself know firsthand that one has to beg and plead for change. It took me 4 full years of awful uncertainty before I was granted my desire to be adopted and to relinquish parental rights and visitation, and then another 2 more years of hell before being legally adopted. Something has to be done within the system to give these children a voice. Tori's life was cut much too short and her fate was in the hands of someone who did not know her and who we can only assume did not care. This has to stop!

Advokids is an amazing resource for foster parents in this position. They give FREE legal advise so cases do not end the way Tori's did. This team of lawyers knows the system from the inside out and they devote their time to giving foster parents a voice through legal interpretation so they can be the voice of the child.

Please click on the links below to view the video of the story on FOX 11 NEWS Los Angeles and visit the Tori's Torch.
Fox 11 Evening Breaking News Coverage on Tori's Story
FOX 11 Morning News LA: Tori's Story
Tori's Torch; Giving Foster Children a Voice

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Advokids Casino de Paris Fundraiser / Fort Mason San Francisco California

I was honored to be invited as a celebrity guest at the Advokids Casino de Paris Fundraiser at the General’s Residence at Fort Mason in San Francisco this past Saturday. The event was a huge success and I met some incredible people who all dedicate their lives to helping children in the foster care system and their advocates. Danny Glover attended as the Honarary Chairman of the event and the special guests were two foster parents, Kelli and Terry Sedgewick, who fought to keep custody of their two year old foster child. The couple begged the courts, the social worker, they wrote letters not to return the child to the birth parents but the courts denied their wishes and ruled exactly the opposite. Once the precious little girl was reunified with her parents it was only a matter of time before she was killed. Had Advokids been introduced to the couple sooner, their little girl could have been saved by the legal advice they could have used during the court proceedings. I highly encourage any foster parents seeking legal guidance to call Advokids at 877-ADV4KID or visit their website link below:

Advokids is the only non-profit legal advocacy organization in California dedicated solely to securing the safety and well-being of infants and children in the foster care system. Advokids’ legal services facilitate critical intervention on behalf of our youngest children in foster care because the system too often fails to meet the critical emotional and developmental needs of infants and toddlers. The early years of life set the stage for all that follows, holding the greatest danger for long-term damage and the greatest potential for successful intervention. When infants and toddlers are placed in care, they have the most to lose.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Broadway Grill located in Burlingame, California

While on my trip to Northern California I had the opportunity visit the most welcoming town of Burlingame. I got to pose in front of a beautiful car in a photo shoot, spend some time going through the shops and found the most amazing place to eat at. The Broadway Grill has the best rolls and their steaks are to die for. What is even more unique is the live Motown music that was played live while you dine. The band itself is located on a balcony that over looks the restaurant, and the singers walk through the establishment serenading the patrons. The music was hopping and the singers were on fire. Even my Papa was passed a mic and joined in on the nights festivities. It seemed like every customer in the building was like family. I felt so at home and met some amazing people. The best thing by far was their cheesecake- never have I had better! Overall this was a magnificent night that I will never forget. The town of Burlingame is one not to miss. Visit their website below:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

League of Creative Minds / Junior High & High School Delegates / Burlingame, California

The League of Creative Minds was created to provide an entry way for all middle school and high school students into public policy, international world affairs, leadership roles, public advocacy, diplomacy, investigative journalism, and the inner workings of governments, international organizations, and the United Nations. The delegates who are a part of the program are in the top 1% of the top 3% in the school system. I was humbled beyond words when I was invited to share my story with the youth of this program. Even more so, I was blown away by the intellect of each individual in the room. It was apparent to me by the questions they asked and the points and opinions they express that these young adults are going somewhere. The League of Creative Minds seeks to raise awareness amongst students about issues of broad influence that currently affect the peoples of the world, and about their cultures and distinctions. It is rare to find a group of students that have clear and direct knowledge of the social service system, unless the youth I am speaking with are a part of the system itself. Having such a young, knowledgeable audience was refreshing and enjoyable. I am quite impressed with all of the students who partake in this program, and intrigued that they showed interest in the social service system that is so flawed. I know one day many of these delegates will be in positions that will make a difference in the world, and I hope that my words touched them enough to change the system which is in a sense a revolving door. I hope that they may never forget to lend a helping hand to those children in need. Thank you Catarina Williams and Simon Olavarria for this opportunity. It was a true pleasure and an honor to have met both of you.

Click on the link below to visit their website:
League of Creative Minds