¡Imagínate!: A Picture Perfect event for our LIFT-LA Members
Did you know ¡Imagínate! is the Spanish word for “imagine or picture this”?
On March 22nd, 2014, I couldn’t have pictured a better name for our member appreciation event. It was indeed a very special day for LIFT-Los Angeles and to me. It was our one year anniversary since we first opened doors here in LA and we wanted to celebrate it with the people that matter to us most: our members.
As our Executive Director, Michelle Rhone-Collins, best put it: “The event was designed to illuminate the hope that we have for our members achieving the goals, hopes and dreams that they have for themselves, their families and their communities.” What a perfect event to bring our members and their families together as we celebrated their hard work, dedication and accomplishments.
Upon arriving, members and their families beamed with excitement hearing what they had in store for them. They were about to enjoy a variety of activities at the event such as face painting, story time with Potter the Otter, family portraits, a free lunch, and much more!
One of the first activities that families participated in was the resource fair. We invited 13 partner organizations including one of our sponsors, Southern California Gas Co. Many of them found the resource fair useful, learning about things that they thought they never had access to. In fact, Ms. O., a member whom I worked with commented, “I didn’t know that the Southern California Gas Co. offered a program to lower my gas utility bill. I am struggling to pay my bills so this program will be of great assistance!”
After checking out the resource fair, families walked over to our member service room, which was transformed into our very own LIFT Closet! Stocked with generous donations from board members and a clothing store that receives clothing items from movie and television studios, members chose from suits, casuals, shoes, accessories, and even brand new books and toys. Nvard, an advocate who helped out as a personal shopper with the closet was in awe. “The members were happy because the clothes were in good condition. They found brand name clothing items and accessories. The children were also content with the variety of toys and books they could choose from.”
Members then walked over to the family portrait station. Four professional photographers volunteered their time and equipment to take photos of families. What a precious sight to witness families come together to take professional photographs, a luxury many families are unable to afford.
They then had the opportunity to make their voices heard through the LA2050 initiative, an organization that aims to create a shared vision for the future of LA by engaging community members to voice their concerns and hopes for the future of their communities. The concerns were access to better education, cleaner and safer neighborhoods and affordable housing which the LA2050 initiative will take back for further planning. What a great tool for our members to not only voice what they want for their community, but also to get them thinking of ways to be more actively engaged in making those changes in their communities.
Our very own Program Director’s younger sister gave five facials that were raffled off throughout the day. Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority sisters also lent their talents and set up a nail salon. One very thankful member, Ms. A, commented: “I was not expecting to get my nails done and win a free facial! It’s not every day that I have the time or money to get pampered.”
After a day of shopping, photographs, and other activities, members and their families enjoyed lunch out in the patio catered by Chipotle, donated by Tobey Maguire! (Yes, the actor who played the original Spiderman himself!) Arby’s also graciously donated kid’s meals.
During lunch, we honored three members for accomplishing their goals. We decided to do this for a few reasons:
- To highlight their hard work and empower them to continue moving forward in accomplishing other goals that they might have.
- To give testament to other members that LIFT’s model works when members dedicate time and effort into accomplishing their goals.
- And lastly, to celebrate!
One of the awardees, Mr. Mateo commented, “LIFT is good for the community—everyone needs a push and boost of confidenceto close the event, Ballet Folklorico Monarca showcased a traditional Mexican dance where the colorful skirts and handsome charro suits were quite a sight to see!
Throughout the event, so many emotions were felt and expressed among members, advocates and staff. I will never forget the sweet moment when I witnessed an advocate reconnect with a member they hadn’t seen in a while. To see the joy of some of our neediest families when they stepped out of the LIFT Closet with a big bag filled with clothes and toys was indescribable. We definitely had our work cut out for us when preparing for this event, but it was all worth it and we would do it again for our members in a heartbeat. And lastly, I have not forgotten those individuals who are the heaviest LIFTers of them all who spent countless hours with us preparing and making sure the event ran smoothly. These individuals are our super advocates and volunteers!
I feel so honored to be part of such a great team who put on a great event. I could only picture something even better next year for our members—in true LA fashion: bigger, better, and more glamorous! And I am beyond excited for to celebrate it.
‘Til next year!
P.S. Check out more photos from the event by clicking here!
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