Non-Platform Volunteer Work

Erick’s Hope Foundation

Erick's Hope is a non profit organization that provides emotional, physical and educational support through a variety of programs. My only maternal cousin, Erick, was a miracle child not expected to live past his first birthday. Erick passed away of heart disease at the age of 12. He spent his short life a very compassionate child, encouraging others around him to help those that are less fortunate. Erick was older than his years and cared more about his friends and those around him than himself. He won the “Christian Character Award” at his school two years in a row and the “Daniel Award” which acknowledged both superior academics and a compassionate, serving attitude the year he passed away. After his death, my family knew we could not let his spirit die so Erick’s Hope was created to carry on his legacy. Since its birth last summer, Erick’s Hope has raised a collective $25,000+ to serve underprivileged children.
Each year over 12 million American children and 2 billion children worldwide go hungry. Erick’s Hope has partnered with Manna Food Bank for the “Smart Sacks for Kids” program which collects and boxes nutritional, kid friendly food for children who receive subsidized meals at school so that they can have healthy food on the weekend when there is no school breakfast or lunch. As the Ambassador for “Erick’s Hope”, I personally conducted two food drives which raised over 2,500 lbs. of food for the Smart Sacks Program, as well as substantial monetary donations, and helped box and pack 730+ Smart Sacks.

Though I did get fulfillment from the Smart Sacks Program, I have realized that my true passion is interacting with the children who I am helping. Since the beginning of June, 2009, I have personally begun expanding Erick’s Hope by creating a book drive and distribution initiative. I aim to deliver and read children’s books to children in the struggling schools, shelters, and hospitals in our nation’s capital. I am also personally expanding Erick's Hope to educate children about heart disease and heart health which has touched my life so closely through Erick and to teach children that establishing a healthy lifestyle while they are still young is key in avoiding heart disease and stroke as adults, an opportunity that Erick never had.

I have found that after reading books to the children is a very convenient time to discuss this topic because I have their full attention and their minds are already awake from the story. I discuss with them heart health and fun things they can do to stay active to benefit their hearts. We also discuss eating habits, talking about the foods that are bad for you and can hurt your health and heart for the future and which healthy, beneficial foods they can be replaced with. I am always amazed at how much fun the kids have seeing who can come up with the most healthy snack ideas!  www.erickshope.org

March of Dimes

As a member of the March of Dimes Collegiate Council at the University of Maryland and as someone who has seen firsthand the impact that premature births has on families, I am a proud supporter of the March of Dimes! My cousin, Erick, was born premature and was in the NICU for 12 weeks of his first 12 months of life. Many of my other close family friends have also been affected by premature births and I have witnessed how premature births put financial and emotional stress on them. So far, I have participated in one march and plan to participate in at least 2 more this year. Together, we can end premature births forever!

AFTD

The Association for Frontotemporal Dementias provides accurate information, compassion and hope when lives are touched by Frontotemporal dementias, a cluster of progressive diseases that affect the regions of the brain that control personality, behavior, language, and decision-making. I lost my grandmother, Mimi, to Pick’s Disease, one of the diseases in this cluster. I recently spoke before 1,000 people at a fundraiser, “Scoot for Scooter” about how the disease affected my family and encouraged people to donate to fund research for these diseases (over $25,000 was raised at this event to help cure the disease!) I never expected that I would lose the person that my grandmother really was before any of the other 16 younger grandchildren and cousins got to know her, but I also never expected so many of my memories of her to be memories of a shadow of who she really was. I lost my “Mimi” long before she left this world.

Check out my "Appearances" page for even more!