Saturday, April 28, 2012

Princess Serena's Birthday

Happy Birthday to the beautiful Little Miss Serena! Today my team and I helped Serena celebrate her birthday in style. The theme of the party was American Girl and fairy, so each of Serena's guest had an American Girl doll as well as a beautiful fairy headpiece. After a fun-filled day, we ate yummy cupcakes and the young ladies were elated to open their goodie bags that I had brought for each one of them. Thank you so much Princess Serena for spending the day with me, I had such a fun time! May your tiara shine and all your dreams come true. **And thank you, Paula Miller, for your generous donation to Luggage of Love**

Friday, April 27, 2012

Talk of the Desert

Today my adventures as Miss California International 2012 lead me to the City of Palm Dessert to film a segment on the show "Talk of the Desert." I was interviewed by the host and executive producer of the show, Melinda Read, who also
happens to be Mrs. California International 1996. It has been 2 years since I was last on the show as Miss Teen California International 2010 and I quickly brought Melinda up to date with what I have been doing the past two years. 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
youth in the system, bringing awareness to the huge population of foster and shelter children who just need a chance. I also talked about of getting involved with other organizations to make a difference in our communities. I explained 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 once again having me on your show. And thank you to the Time Warner Cable studios for your warm welcome, my visit was amazing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thousand Oaks Girl Scout Troop

Girl Scouts...girls changing the world one community at a time. These young ladies aspire to be someone, to do more with their lives within their community. This in itself is so heartwarming. After introducing myself I shared with the group why I founded Luggage of Love and why it is so important to me. To my surprise at the end of the meeting each girl generously donated some very cute pieces of luggage to the shelter and foster children in our community. I had a great time meeting with the Thousand Oaks Girl Scouts, sharing my story and decorating luggage tags. I look forward to your trip out to the Luggage of Love office to pack a pallet of luggage for shipment.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Teenage California

Happy Birthday Mom...were going to watch a pageant! Not exactly the words my mom wanted to hear but over the course of these last few years she has definitely grown to love my "sport" of pageantry. Actually, I can say that it is days like this that are so special. Having the opportunity to drive an hour and have that mother/daughter bonding is priceless. More importantly we were in route to watch my "little" (Claire
Wright) compete for Miss Teenage California, and we would not miss it for the world! The pageant was huge and we enjoyed watching all the girls compete. It was so nice to see so many familiar faces from the International Pageant system on the stage competing. (Taylor Kandris **TOP 10**, Andrea Barrett,
Paige Knight, and Jayne Geist **3rd Runner Up**....great job ladies!) It was a pleasure to also see one of my sponsors, Tiffany Tollett from Crowns & Gowns, as well as Courtney Critz (Miss Teen Nevada International 2012), Shalyn
Stanfield & Kara Knudsen (Crowning Moments), Karen Wright (Claire's mama), Christian Pelay & Kristen Bradford (Crown Diva), and last but not least my sister titleholder Amanda Jenkins (Miss Teen California International 2012). I am so proud of all of the ladies who competed and congratulations to Cassandra Kunze for being crowned Miss Teenage California 2012 and to my "Little" for her 2nd Runner Up placement, so proud of you!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dining with the Dogs

This evening I attended the 2nd Annual Dining with the Dogs Fundraiser with my Luggage of Love Board members. All proceeds from this event went to supporting the National Police Dog Foundation, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department's K-9 Search and Rescue
Team and the Sheriff Department's K-9 unit, all of which depend on private funding in order to operate. The event was at the beautiful Camarillo Ranch and was complete with booths, live music, and both live and silent auctions. Most of my day was spent walking Magnum, a young german shepherd who will soon begin training to become a police dog. All of the attendees had the opportunity to play and interact with the dogs one-on-one and there were several live demonstrations held throughout the evening. The highlight
of the night for many was when our Sheriff of Ventura County, Geoff Dean, threw on the body suit and jumped in the "rink" for a few rounds with one of the Ventura PD K-9 dogs. What an amazing event for a worthwhile organization.

Friday, April 13, 2012

3rd Annual Toy Clean Up Project Golf Tournament

I believe with all of my heart that people must choose to take whatever hardships and challenges life hands them and make the best out of it. I am honored to say that one of my very good friends has done just that. Courtney Critz (aka Cha Cha) was born with a life threatening illness that required her to have an emergency tracheotomy at the age of 3 months old. This posed as a struggle for her and her loving family everyday who lived day to day not knowing what the certainty of Courtney's life would be. Now, Courtney is 16 years old, she is
Miss Teen Nevada International 2012, and has raised thousands of dollars for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. St. Jude 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. Courtney has not only made giant strides for St. Jude, but in her own life as an intelligent, caring, beautiful young lady she has inspired
others to persevere in any given circumstance. She has also founded her own organization called the Toy Clean Up Project, which raises funds for St. Jude through the collection of new or gently used toys. She then holds garage sales and donates all of the proceeds to St Jude.
This past Saturday Courtney held her 3rd Annual Toy Clean Up Project Golf Tournament at Empire Ranch Golf Club in Folsom California. Rain or shine (and boy did it rain!), these golfers were out on the course, eager to play and support such a worthy cause. Courtney invited several familiar faces from the International Pageant family to help with her event, including my sister titleholders Chelsea Vuong (Jr. Miss California International 2012) and Amanda Jenkins (Miss Teen California International 2012),
Taylor Kandris, Caitlin Ross, and Katie Cryder. After a rainy day of golf the attendees were treated to an amazing dinner while us ladies sold raffle tickets and Courtney auctioned off live auction items. I would like to personally thank Ken Daurio (the writer of such movies as "Horton Hears A Who", "Despicable Me", "Hop", and many more) for donating autographed copies of all those movies as well as a signed movie poster of "The Lorax" for the live auction. Keep up the great work you're doing Cha Cha. You are a true blessing, I love you!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Camarillo High School National Honor Society's Acoustic Fundraiser for Casa Pacifica

I really enjoyed this evenings benefit held at the Camarillo Ranch House. So many talented musicians graced the stage, and best of all the proceeds from the event went to the shelter that I use to live at. Attendees had the opportunity to donate school supplies, books, and toys upon entry. As well as participate in the 50/50 raffle and silent action during the event. Overall that evening they raise over $1,000 for Casa Pacifica. Also 220 books, 167 new school supplies and 90 toys were donated to the shelter that gave me a fresh start in life. So glad I was asked to speak at this event and a huge thank you to Christine Vu, Monica Choudhury, and Susan Lucas for putting on such a successful event. Click here to view the Ventura County Star article