Posts filed under Charities

The Period Projects

It all started with a tweet:

“Buy an extra box of pads/tampons & donate to a homeless shelter near you. These items are so often overlooked.”

After learning that feminine products are often lacking at homeless shelters, Holly Sanchez was inspired to make a difference. She tweeted about it and caught the attention of U by Kotex. They both joined forces, along with, and the Power to the Period Donation Drive was born.


The Period Projects is a campaign focused on helping homeless women in shelters have consistent access to sanitary supplies.

When I'm on my period, I may get irritable, bloated, and occasionally experience cramps. But thankfully, worrying about feminine products has never been an issue. It's a luxury I rarely ever think about - and sometimes even take it for granted.

Unfortunately, homeless women have to deal with that harsh reality- on top of finding a warm bed to sleep on or worrying where their next meal will come from. It breaks my heart to even think about what these women go through. This is why I've teamed up with U by Kotex to bring awareness to their new campaign, Power to the Period.

Power to the Period marks the second of U by Kotex’s Period Projects, a groundbreaking series of projects—inspired and led by real women—each championed by a woman who shares the passion for creating change.


• Head over to to sign up and to donate period products to people experiencing homelessness. When you sign up, you'll receive tips and tools for running the best collection drive. PLUS, you'll enter for the chance to win a $5,000 scholarship! The U by Kotex® brand will also make product donations on behalf of contest winners.

• Start a Power to the Period donation drive or donate new boxes of period products to a drive in your area from Thursday, July 14 through Friday, September 30.

• Visit U by Kotex to learn more about other Period Projects and to request a U by Kotex® product sample. Join the online conversation with #PeriodProjects.

• Text PERIOD to 38383 to learn how to get involved.

Watch YouTube celebrity Ingrid Nilsen's Power to the Period PSA below to get inspired.

Next time you're buying feminine products, please purchase an extra box of pads or tampons and donate them to a homeless shelter.

Power to the Period is proof that together we can change the way we think about, talk about and support the period needs of the homeless in our communities.

Please sign up and make a difference! <3


This post is sponsored by U by Kotex but the content and opinions expressed are my own.

Posted on July 29, 2016 and filed under Charities.

Chipotle: Eat (Red). Save Lives Avocado Hummus

It's no surprise I am a huge Chipotle fan!

Their fresh ingredients, flavor and involvement with their community, doesn't come close to rivaling any other food chain out there.

Earlier this month, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced a new partnership with (RED) to support the fight against AIDS. This partnership includes teaming up with 11 celebrity chefs and television personalities to create special recipes to support the EAT (RED) DRINK (RED) SAVES LIVES campaign.

The list of participating chefs includes:

  • Chipotle culinary manager Nate Appleman ("Next Iron Chef")
  • Richard Blais ("Top Chef")
  • Rocco DiSpirito (chef and author, Cook Your Butt Off)
  • Graham Elliot (chef, Graham Elliot Bistro, "Masterchef")
  • Jennifer McGrother (author, The Nourished Kitchen)
  • Andrew Zimmern ("Bizzare Foods with Andrew Zimmern")
  • The hosts of "The Chew," Mario Batali, Carla Hall, Daphne Oz, Michael Symon and Clinton Kelly.

Each unique recipe has been inspired by Chipotle's ingredients.

I'm most excited to try Chef Elliot's Avocado Hummus recipe!

I normally purchase my hummus premade, but last week I had the opportunity of making it from scratch at a local Greek restaurant. With a pilón and everything! I was surprised on how easy it was to make and wow, the flavor! 

Now add avocado to it and I think we have ourselves a winner!

INGREDIENTS (Makes about 4 cups)

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and drained 
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling   
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 3 medium ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp allepo (Optional. See note.)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes  
  • Shaved radish, for garnish
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 3 to 4 pita bread wedges 


  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the chickpeas, garlic, jalapeño, olive oil and tahini until nearly smooth.
  2. Add the avocado, lime juice, sumac, allepo (if using), and cumin and process until the hummus is smooth.
  3. Scrape the hummus into a bowl and season to taste with salt. Fold in the chopped cilantro, parsley and red pepper flakes. 
  4. Serve garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and shaved radish, cilantro, and sesame seeds. Serve the pita wedges on the side.

"We are so thrilled to have Chipotle coming to the table for EAT (RED) DRINK (RED) SAVE LIVES in 2015. Not only is the brand loved and enjoyed by young people around the world, it's fantastic to see Chipotle rallying its customers to join the AID fight as part of this campaign," said Deborah Dugan, CEO at (RED). "The impact is huge - Chipotle's contribution alone can provide more than a quarter million days of life-saving HIV/AIDS medication for those who need it most in sub-Saharan Africa."


(RED) was founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver to engage businesses and people in the fight against AIDS. (RED) partners with the world's most iconic brands that contribute up to 50% of profits from (RED)-branded goods and services to the Global Fund. (RED) Proud Partners include: Apple, Starbucks, The Coca-Cola Company, Bank of America, Beats by Dr. Dre, Belvedere, Claro, SAP, Telcel and Live Nation Entertainment.

Posted on June 26, 2015 and filed under Food & Entertaining, Charities.

Freeing Voices, Changing Lives - AIS Gala 2015: Honoring Ed Sheeran

This year I had the honor of attending the American Institute for Stuttering's Freeing Voices, Changing Lives 9th Annual Benefit Gala.

As most of you know, I attended their intensive 3-week program last August in New York. I didn't realize it at the time, but going through the program completely changed my outlook on stuttering and acceptance. 

In fact, I'm more open than ever about my disfluency. My mission is to hopefully educate others on what stuttering really is and how it affects millions around the world.

For that same reason, I applaud when celebrities use their influence to bring awareness for charity events such as this one.

This year, world-renowned singer/songwriter, Ed Sheeran was honored with the Annual Leadership Award, in recognition for his achievements and inspiration to those who stutter.

Actress Emily Blunt served as the mistress of ceremonies, a role she gladly takes on every year for AIS.

Many may be surprised to learn both Ed Sheeran and Emily Blunt struggled with stuttering early in their childhood. Even I wasn't aware until a few months ago. This just goes to show that no matter what difficulty or setback one may face, we have the power to rise above it and not let the disorder dictate our future.

This message was reinforced by everyone who graced the stage during the ceremony.

Gala co-chair Arthur Blank (founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons) talked about the positive impact AIS has for people, like himself, who stutter.

A video message from Vice President Joe Biden was played for the audience. Mr. Biden expressed his support for AIS and shared about his struggles with stuttering growing up, which resulted in him becoming a more compassionate person and gave him that determination to succeed in life.

"Our stutter doesn't define us, we define ourselves." - Joe Biden.

Past AIS clients, Jack age 11, Molly, age 10 and Rahima Dosani, took the stage to share about their experiences and the help received in their intensive programs. AIS Director, Heather Grossman, introduced these speakers and shared how inspiring it was to see people who stutter turn “I can’t” into “I can” and “I will.”

The most touching part of the night, besides Rahima's incredible speech, were the three words she said to me before going on stage.

You see, when I found out she was going to be the next speaker, I turned to her and said, "Wow, I'm so proud of you! I don't think I could ever get up there in front of all these important people and give a speech!"

She looked at me, smiled and simply said, "Yes, you can!"

And you know what? She's absolutely right! 

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” - Christian D. Larson

The man of the hour, Ed Sheeran, gave an inspirational acceptance speech for his Leadership Award. He actually didn't know he was receiving the award up until that evening. He thought he was just there to support the cause.

His humble down to earth personality mixed with his courageous words, made me an even bigger fan of his.

"I wanted to not necessarily shed light on stuttering or make it a thing, but stress to kids in general to just be yourself, even if you have quirks and weirdness, embrace them because there's no one in the world that can be a better you than you."

"And from a stuttering point of view, don’t treat it as an issue—work through it and get the treatment that you want to get, but don’t ever treat it as an issue, don’t see it as a plight on your life, and carry on pushing forward."

During the auction portion of the evening, a surprise item was offered: a C. F. Martin & Co. Ed Sheeran X Signature Edition guitar, signed by Ed Sheeran.

The money raised during the auction goes directly to fund the scholarships for the AIS intensive programs.  If you would like to make a donation to the American Institute for Stuttering, please click here.

The gala concluded with AIS Chairman, Nolan Russo giving thanks to everyone who helped make that night come into fruition.

Ed Sheeran then showcased why he's one of the biggest artist in the world.

Ed played his hit songs, “Thinking Out Loud", a mash up of  “Don't/No Diggity” and a traditional Irish pub song, “The Parting Glass."

To listen to more of Ed Sheeran's songs, click here.

The evening was filled with so many special and unforgettable moments. I left feeling inspired and motivated to continue on my journey of acceptance.

The AIS past client speakers, Board of Directors, Ed Sheeran, Emily Blunt, the sponsors, and everyone involved in making this gala a success, earned my respect and admiration that night.

This event helps bring hope and resources to those who live in fear or embarrassment of the way they speak and for people as myself, that have attended the intensive program, a sense of reassurance in the belief that we are capable and deserving of greatness.

A special thank you to my AIS family for believing in me every step of the way. Even living hundreds miles away, I still continue to feel their love and support. Without their guidance, I wouldn't be the person I am today.

Photo Credits: AIS

Posted on June 26, 2015 and filed under Charities.

A Walk To Remember


It's always a good day when you can make your mother feel special. Last Sunday, was that day for me. We participated in the Miles for Hope- Brain Tumor Foundation 5K. This was the first time we've ever taken part of something dedicated to the research of brain tumors. It actually had me wondering why we've never done it before. It would make sense for us to do these type of events every year right?

Well you see, my mom is the type of person that has never let having a brain tumor take away from living her life. She's never wanted to act like a victim or be treated like one. When meeting her, you would never imagine all the struggles she's had to endure. When she sets her mind to something, she never allows anything or anyone to hinder her from achieving those goals. Perhaps that is why we never really acknowledge that she's had a brain tumor, let alone three.

She may be petite, but let me tell you, she is one strong woman!


After the 5K, my mom commented that several people gave her a thumbs up during the walk. She was puzzled as to why. I told her, "Look at your shirt." She looked down and realized that it had the word Survivor on it. She looked back at me and just smiled.


I don't think she realizes how amazing she really is. I am the same age she was when she first received news that she had a brain tumor. I couldn't fathom facing everything she's gone through at this point in my life- or at any age for that matter- but especially being so young. Despite having every reason in the world to be depressed, she never once felt sorry for herself. She prevailed with such grace and determination that it makes me so proud to call her my mom.


Even though we registered last minute for this event, I was overwhelmed by the amount of support received. From the sharing of my Facebook post, to the donations, and to those who joined us in the walk. You guys are the true definition of great friends!


I look forward to honoring my mom and making the Miles for Hope 5K our new yearly tradition.

"It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving"- Mother Teresa.

Posted on February 5, 2014 and filed under Charities.