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Author Archives: WSS News

Ronald McDonald House Charities of SoCal Celebrates Three Young Leaders for Black History Month

(from left to right) Lashyra Nolen, Thomas Watkins, and Lorissa Payne

(from left to right) Lashyra Nolen, Thomas Watkins, and Lorissa Payne

LOS ANGELES, CA- What does it take to be a leader? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great orator, Muhammad Ali was a fighter in and out of the ring, and aviator Bessie Coleman was as determined as they come. One thing they had in common was their affinity for leadership which was apparent at an early age.  Today, three stellar scholars from Ronald McDonald House Charities®/African American Future Achievers (RMHC/AAFA) scholarship program are emerging as young leaders in their communities and on their college campuses as well. The scholarship program is hosted locally by Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Southern California (RMHCSC) and supported by the fundraising efforts of local McDonald’s owner/operators and corporate staff.  Each of these students have drawn inspiration from leaders of the past, while they start to build their own ideas of what it takes to become a leader today.

Lashyra Nolen

Lashyra Nolen

LaShyra Nolen, a sophomore Health and Human Science major at Loyola Marymont University (LMU), believes being a leader means being bold and being prepared to act so the voices you serve are heard. She plans to do just that as a Clinton Global Initiative Student innovator, a program that provides support for undergraduate students who are developing new solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. Her plan is to create a five-week health program in the Riverside and San Bernardino communities that help families set healthy trends.

Nolen says the RMHC/AAFA program gave her confidence. “The fact that such an organization saw me fit to represent them showed me that I have people who believe in me,” says Nolen. “I asked myself, why can’t I be successful and do well in college too?” Doing “well” is an understatement for Nolen who serves her campus as a student senator, resident hall advisor, and member of LMU’s Belles Service Organization.

The aspiring doctor, who is from Rancho Cucamonga, says her drive and passion for her community was inspired by her mother. She received two college degrees while taking care of Nolen and her little brother as a single mother. “Everything I am doing all goes back to giving back and using my strength to help others.”

Thomas Watkins

Thomas Watkins

Thomas Watkins was selected as a RMHC/AAFA recipient in 2013 and has since partnered with RMHCSC to talk with students about reaching their goals and the importance of pursuing college. A Corona native majoring in Hotel and Restaurant Management at California Polytechnic State University in Pomona, Watkins believes a leader has to know how to command attention through communication. “A leader could be anyone, from any walk of life,” says Watkins. “They could talk to the CEO of a company, and also connect with a kindergartener with no problem.”

As an aspiring restauranteur, Watkins hopes to continue connecting with his community. He believes food is the one thing that can put a smile on anyone’s face. “I want to help my community by creating programs that teach kids how to cook as an outlet for them,” he says.

Lorissa Payne

Lorissa Payne

Biola University student, Lorissa Payne, began thinking of ways she could become a leader in high school. The freshman English major noticed she had the gift of writing and challenged herself by taking advanced placement classes which led her to be selected to the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola. The institute spurs students to take a deeper dive into Western literature and aims to build strong, Christian leaders.

“Writing is a primary form of communication and if students can’t express themselves through writing, it is a detriment to one’s future,” says Payne. She aspires to work in education and believes leadership is all about leading by example. “When others see a living example of a leader, it allows them to think they can succeed too,” she says.  She calls former United States Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice her living example. “Reading her biography in high school made me realize we were raised similarly, says Payne. “Her story showed me when people utilize their gifts to help others; they can go much further in life.”

Nolen, Watkins, and Payne are just a few of the 109 students identified each year through the RMHCSC scholarship program. Since 1990, RMHCSC has awarded more than $4.5 million in scholarship funds to local students. It allows students the opportunity to think about their future, makes college attainable and helps students inspire others.  Scholarships are awarded through four programs, including: RMHC /AAFA, RMHC/Asian Pacific American Students Increasing Achievement (ASIA), RMHC/Hispanic American Commitment to Educational Resources (HACER) and RMHC/Scholars.

For more than 35 years, RMHCSC has been committed to providing comfort, care and support to children and families in Southern California.  RMHCSC is dedicated to creating a community where children and their families embrace life and healing with a sense of hope, enthusiasm, courage and joy by operating six Ronald McDonald Houses, Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, two Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and a Community Grants Board. This year, another 109 student scholars and future leaders from across Southern California will be celebrated during the annual RMHCSC scholarship luncheon that will take place in May.

Valentine’s Day Contest: True Love Story Contest for Military Couples Heats Up!

Four Prong Diamond studs 14k white goldLos Angeles-based online jewelry company nu day jewelry co. is hosting their 1st Annual True Love Valentine’s Day Contest this year that exclusively benefits military couples! Couples can enter to win a piece of jewelry (of their choice) for their loved one worth up to $500!!! 

The submission theme this year is exclusively for military couples (serving and retired) and their love stories, which have demonstrated how their love has conquered all. nu day jewelry co. founder Jess Nepstad will select the winning entry, and the winner will receive the fine jewelry piece of their choice (worth up to $500) just in time for Valentine’s Day.  A runner-up entry will also be chosen with a prize worth up to $250.

Entries may be submitted by the couple themselves or a friend or family member can submit a story about a deserving couple they know who should win. To enter, submit the story in less than 1,000 words to admin@nd-jc.com.

An excerpt of the winning story will be posted on the nu day jewelry co. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. No purchase is necessary and all participants must be at least 18 years old.  All entries must be submitted by February 10th. Once they are notified, winners will then have 24 hours to respond with their jewelry choice and claim their prize or their win will be voided and another winner will be chosen. The chosen jewelry piece will be shipped out to arrive in time for Valentine’s Day at no extra charge to the winner.

For additional information about nu day jewelry co. please contact us at press@nd-jc.com.  To connect through our social media, follow nu day jewelry co. on Facebook: nudayjewelry Twitter: @nudayjewelryco and Instagram: @nudayjewelryco.

Afro-Brazilian Dance Group DanceBrazil Debuts Gueto and Buzios Performances in Los Angeles

dancebrasil

Artistic Director Jelon Vieira infuses Afro-Brazilian movement, contemporary dance and Capoiera

Three performances only!  February 6-7, 2015

BEVERLY HILLS, CA- Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (“The Wallis”) will bring DanceBrazil (Jelon Vieira, Artistic Director), an Afro-Brazilian dance group, to the Greater Los Angeles Area for three performances only, February 6-7, 2015, in the Bram Goldsmith Theater. The program includes the West Coast premieres of Gueto, choreographed by Vieira to music of Marcos Carvalho, and Búzios, choreographed by Guilherme Durarte to music of Leo Jesus.  The program also features Viera’s 2013 Fé do Sertão, also set to music by Carvalho.  The company will also conduct masterclasses in Afro-Brazilian movement (February 5) and Capoeira (February 7).

For over 30 years, New York City-based DanceBrazil has thrilled audiences across the United States and throughout the world with its dazzling artistry, which is inspired by the cultural tapestry of Brazil. Whether in the streets or on stage in the most prestigious theaters, the dancers of DanceBrazil never fail to enthrall audiences with the company’s unique fusion of Afro-Brazilian movement, contemporary dance and Capoeira, the traditional dance form that had its origins from African slaves from Angola and Mozambique and evolved in colonial Brazil. Afro-Brazilians represent the largest ethnic group in Brazil, approximately 49.6%, and are the largest Black population outside of Africa.

DanceBrazil will premiere two pieces new to Los Angeles audiences: Gueto (“Ghetto”), a testimony to the abiding vitality and humanity that sustain the people living in the many marginalized, disenfranchised communities in Brazil and around the world, and Búzios, which explores the role that “jogo de búzios,” an enigmatic and mystical game of divination, plays in everyday life in Brazil.

The company will round out its program with its 2013 dance Fé do Sertão. Sertão, a largely rural area of Northeastern Brazil is known for its extremely arid climate and brief growing season, which has also helped foster its strong faith and the close-knit communities that support one another through many lean months of the year. Viera’s piece honors that community with a dance that fetes the esteemed Festival of São João, which celebrates the end of the rainy season and the annual corn harvest.

Artistic Director Jelon Vieira – one of the staunchest proponents of Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music – founded DanceBrazil in 1977. Initially formed from grassroots workshops at the Clark Center for the Arts in New York City, Vieira and Loremil Machado were among the first artists to bring traditional Afro-Brazilian dance to the United States. Alvin Ailey, who would join his board of directors in 1980, was the one who suggested the name and in its early days helped focus the objectives of the company.

For 38 years, Vieira has led the company in breathtaking performances for audiences in Europe, Asia and the United States, as well as in his home country of Brazil. In 2008, he was awarded one of 11 National Heritage Fellowships, the United States’ highest honor for those in the folk and traditional arts.

The New York Times said, “the performers of DanceBrazil exist in a ravishing, hard-working paradise … what matters here above all is the gorgeously full physicality of movement, allied to music.  The beauty and style of these dancers is already a treat to the senses.  Legs maintain powerful extensions like searchlights.  The pliancy of those torsos is often breathtaking — not just in the way backs tip so powerfully and freely this way and that, but also in the ways that shoulders or stomach muscles contract and pulsate rhythmically.  The dancers glow enthusiastically as they let rip at highest energy.”

DanceBrazil is also offering student masterclasses with a limited number of places held for the public.   On February 5 at 6pm, an Afro-Brazilian Class (all ages welcome) is based on the traditional and contemporary dances developed in the northeastern state of Bahia. The movements are based on the gesture of the Orixás dance, the energetic Maculele and the beautiful samba de roda and other influences from the folkloric dances in the region of Bahia. The class will be accompanied by live drumming.

On February 7 at 11 am, a Capoeira class (all ages welcome) will concentrate on the Afro-Brazilian art form which combines fight, dance, rhythm and movement.  Capoeira was originally developed by Africans brought to Brazil as slaves in the 1500s. The class will introduce basic movements (ginga) with emphasis on the roda (circular formation) – where the dialogue between players takes place and becomes a conversation through movement which can take on many shades of meaning.  Students will be introduced to the instruments used in Capoeira (berimbaus, pandeiros and atabaque) and songs that are sung in the roda. For more information that celebrates the Afro-Brazilian culture, visit afro-brazilian.com.

Tickets are available at www.thewallis.org or by calling 310-746-4000 or in person at The Wallis Ticket Services located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.