I had a marvelous opportunity to “pitch” my memoir proposal and career vision to several entertainment industry executives. The CAAN (Columbia Alumni Association Network) Los Angeles arm of Columbia College Chicago was gracious enough to host and coordinate this over at CBS Radford. Sarah Schoeder, Director of West Coast Alumni at Columbia College Chicago and P.A. Cadichon, President of the L.A. chapter, did a bang up job of putting it all together! It was a tremendous boost to my flagging creative ego, and a great chance to connect with transplanted Chicago-alumni.
Executives and alumni responded well to my pitch, and my book proposal was received into a few hands who could get it to the right places–so keep your fingers crossed! However, the real highlight of the evening had nothing to do with having an arena in which to spotlight my talent, but two encounters with incredible people who reminded me what a blessing it is to born an American, and how I, and most native-born citizens, too often take this privilege for granted.
Jenny is a beautiful Vietnamese actress/writer, and a fellow Columbia alum. If you saw her name on paper, you would automatically assume she was of Polish descent, as her last name has that consonant pronunciation thing going on. While we waited to be called to our five-minute pitch sessions, she told me her story. She was adopted from Vietnam when she was a young girl, and her parents brought her to America and a better life. She lamented that she would be out of the country during the fourth of July holiday, and said it would feel strange. “Every 4th of July I have celebrated here–it’s a privilege to be in this country, and I’m so blessed that I was adopted.”
I encountered another person in the form of one of the catering crew. He was of Hispanic descent, and I regret that I did not find out his name. In another of those “waiting to present” times, we started a conversation where he talked about his long hours and days of catering, and how he got started in it. He loved it, and it was how he acquired his green card, and then his citizenship. He beamed with pride as he talked about how his son had enlisted in the Marines and would be going on his first tour of duty. “There is no place like this country. My son wants to give back, and I encouraged him. We owe our lives to this place.”
How I wish both of these people could be juxtaposed next to our nation’s President while he is apologizing for all that is wrong with America and how it needs to be fixed. These naturalized citizens expressed nothing short of pride and joy to be a part of this country, and blessed by all the opportunities given them because of it. I was humbled and encouraged, because people are ridiculously deluded that one leader or another in office, or certain policies in place are what make America great. But it is the PEOPLE, like Jenny, and our caterer and his son, who make this country great–and having come from other lands to here, they understand and appreciate the privilege of being called American, where I constantly have to be reminded!
On this July 4th, let us remember that our freedoms are a gift paid for with the sacrifice and dedication of our Founding Fathers, and fighting men from the 1775 to modern day. Happy Independence Day, God Bless our Troops, and God Bless America!
The AVON Walk training continues, unabated, and I’ve pretty much been in a groove of four days walking, and one day of cross-training with Yoga. I have increased my distance to 12 miles, continuing my walk from Griffith Park, and heading south on Los Feliz Boulevard. So far I am up to Vermont, which is approximately 12 miles. So I’m getting there–twenty miles, here I come!
Another AVON walker recently contacted me, and we decided to do a training walk together. Tana hails from the great state of Illinois, so she knows what it means to grow up Midwest! She works around Burbank/Toluca Lake, so we explored a short trail by Johnny Carson Park in Burbank that slopes along the L.A. River. It wasn’t much distance, but worked well for an initial meet. She’s cool peeps, and we made plans to walk again, and maybe make it a weekly thing. She has a full-time office job, so I flipped my Wednesday training to the evening in order to accommodate her schedule.
Tana is early in her fundraising, so she’s hosting an event at Howl at the Moon in Universal City on July 25. Come on out for drinks and to support a fellow AVON walker with a donation!
Speaking of fundraising, I am now at 53%, having now raised $1,315. A generous gift from Richard and Jolene of Northridge helped to really boost my numbers. Richard and Jolene are new members of my church, and they lost their beloved wife and mother, Elaine to cancer earlier this year. Richard wrote, “please accept this donation in memory of my wife who passed away on 4-18-09 after a 15 month battle with cancer. ‘Elaine’ will always be in my heart.”
I was humbled and honored, and will hold Elaine in my heart, along with Rebecca and Liz, as I walk in Service to the Cause.