Supporter & Staff Spotlight

Womenade appreciates the women that share the love and vision for Womenade!  

What brought you to “daniel” as a staff member?

I started my Daniel Kids journey in 2007 as an undergraduate intern at UNF.  I had a required internship credit for my social welfare class and heard that Daniel was “the place to be” to gain great experience in social services, and that’s really how it all began.  I can honestly say that I fell in love with the mission and the amazing people who work for the organization almost immediately. My first few years were spent working to find children forever homes through adoption or reunification. In 2010 I moved on to licensing foster parents and managing foster care placement and in 2014 I spent some time in administration working to take our clinical operations paperless. I am now working in development to increase community awareness, volunteer participation and special event funding and I still absolutely love what I do because I know that helping our kids succeed paves the way for a bright future for our community.

Tell us about your background.

I was born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine where my mother worked as a physician and helped victims of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. She also helped doctors from the United States conduct research on the effects of the accident on the local population. Unfortunately my mom developed an aggressive type of breast cancer at age 44; she was treated by colleagues in the United States but sadly passed away at age 46 when I was 13 years old.  Her last wish was for me to stay and grow up in America, and it came true. I was adopted as a teenager a few weeks before my 14th birthday by an amazing family in Orlando who took a leap of faith. I have since dedicated my life to serving in the nonprofit sector to give back some of the generosity that was shown to me and my family. I personally experienced the power of community change my life and believe that it is the greatest agent of change in the world.

What projects with “daniel” do you work on – do you have a favorite?

My full time job with Daniel Kids is Director of Resource Development. My favorite project thus far is the Back to School Drive. Watching the generosity of community coming together and bringing supplies for our kids in need was truly amazing. My other favorite project is being a part of the employee relations committee. This is a group of staff members from all levels and programs who come together to plan giveaways, holiday parties and other team building activities for agency staff. Daniel employees are some the most hard working and dedicated people I know and being able to put a smile on their face is awesome!

How did you first learn about Womenade?

I have not had a chance to work directly with Womenade in my previous roles with Daniel Kids. However I have heard about their work in every position I have held. All I knew before I joined the development team is that these ladies go ALL OUT to make sure our kids are smiling and being rewarded for good grades, good behavior and completing their treatment.

Can you tell me your thoughts about Womenade and what Judy and the supporters of Womenade have done for the kids at “Daniel”?

I think that every child needs a “fun aunt”. I have the privilege to be that person to my niece and two nephews and it is a very special relationship. During my first meeting with Judy, Cathy, and Marty I was told that they are the “fun aunts” to Daniel Kids and it really warmed my heart. The kids who are living at Daniel Kids have been through some tough circumstances or trauma and having a group of ladies who  come into their lives to make them smile, forget about the bad stuff and just be kids is truly priceless.

Cathy Turner

Cathy Turner

What brought you to “daniel” as a staff member?  

I am originally from Keene, Kentucky the sixth of seven children. I began my career as a child care worker during the summer of 1989. I worked the night shift for four years, because the turnover rate was almost zero back then. Working with the children and families filled me with such enthusiasm motivating me to excel in training and learning to pursue advancement within Daniel. Through the excellent training of therapists who work with our families, co-workers, and the Program Director, I was able to enhance my expertise and learned how to effectively care for children and families in need. During my tenure at Daniel, I have held numerous positions such as Residential Manager of the Statewide Inpatient Psychiatric Program (SIPP) and Group Homes, House Parent at Sullivan House Group Home, Director of Project Prepare, Journey to Success-Coordinator, Family Fostering Independence –Coordinator, Family Service Counselor and the current position as an Assistant Director of Residential Programs.

You work on many projects with “daniel” – do you have a favorite? (If not specifically what is your focus)?

Trying to name a favorite project at Daniel is like choosing a favorite child-totally impossible. I will share that my focus is the kids and improving the odds for them. I do this by training staff to be the best Residential Counselors and Case Managers they can be. Through mentoring and modeling for staff and encouraging new employees to listen and learn from senior staff as well as senior staff observing and learning from new but experienced staff, I am able to cultivate the energetic, enthusiastic, supportive staff that we have.

Helping children and young adults is my passion which is why I assisted Judy Hicks and Francesca Swierz in facilitating “Finding Your Future” with the Project Prepare Young Adults. This program teaches young adults how to write resumes, dress for an interview, interviewing techniques, creating a portfolio and building confidence to secure a job.

How did you first learn about Womenade?

I learned of Womenade through a wonderful friend and realtor. I met Judy Hicks at Daniel about 15 years ago, who introduced me to the remarkable women of Womenade.

Is there anything in particular that inspires you about this group?

While there are many positive aspects to working with Womenade, the most glorifying aspect for me is working with a group of women who share a common focus in cultivating better odds for women. This is through unlimited time; compassion, care, and commitment in helping young ladies find their inner strength, value their worth to enhance their success in the future.

Can you tell me your thoughts about Womenade and what Judy and the supporters of Womenade have done for the kids at “Daniel”?

Womenade is a phenomenal organization that has changed the lives of many children in the Statewide Inpatient Psychiatric Program (SIPP) and young adults in the Project Prepare/Independent Living Program. Judy and the Womenade supporters have been instrumental in providing Christmas gifts for Daniel children, creating libraries within the (SIPP) units, and facilitate a Finding Your Future Curriculum in the Project Prepare Program every summer for the past seven years as well as facilitated an Honors Row program in the SIPP Program. I am humble and thankful to stand along side a phenomenal group of women who support our agency philosophy of improving the odds for kids.

 

Rebecca Whitfield

Rebecca Whitfield

What brought you to “daniel” as a staff member?

I started at daniel 8 years ago as a therapist in the Family Based Treatment Program. I worked with kids in therapeutic foster care homes, doing therapy 1-2x each week at the home. I came to daniel because I was working as a therapist and wanted to work for an agency where I would be able to help kids.

You work on many projects with “daniel” – do you have a favorite? (If specific project please describe)

There are so many wonderful things I am involved in at daniel with the Ladies from Womenade. But I would have to say my favorite is the Holiday Party.  Seeing the kids participate in and enjoy a “typical” youth event is so much fun. I get to see these kids who are going through so much spend a few hours smiling, laughing and playing. It is always amazing to just watch them experience this event.

How did you first learn about Womenade?

I learned about Womenade when I started in the SIPP program and began to experience all of what this group does for our kids. I began to be introduced to Judy Hicks and the members of Womenade.

Is there anything in particular that inspires you about this group?

I love the compassion and care this group has for our kids. You do nothing small and it is inspiring to know how many women are willing to give so much. One of the kids shared that they were so impressed that these women who didn’t even know them all that well would do so much and give such nice gift. That child was surprised and grateful that someone cared so much. That is the greatest part that inspires me about Womenade. It is not just a group of women raising and donating money, it is a group of women who truly cares about these kids.

Can you tell me your thoughts about Womenade and what Judy and the supporters of Womenade have done for the kids at “Daniel”?

This group gives so much to our kids. Some of them are truly touched by your contributions and I know will never forget what they have learned from you. I have had kids who have left come and visit and talk about how much they appreciated Womenade. I don’t think I could ever adequately describe what Womenade does for our kids, unless you know what Womenade does and have seen it for yourself.

Naomi Lumley

Naomi Lumley – 15 year supporter and hostess!

How did you first learn about Womenade?

I don’t remember when I heard about Womenade.  Because Judy is one of my best-est friends, I must have heard about it from her.

You have been serving as a hostess since the very beginning.  Everyone enjoys attending when it is your turn to see the beautiful Rose garden surrounding your home.

Womenade has provided me the opportunity to meet several ladies who I didn’t know.   Many of them have become lifelong friends.  Together we have shared history, made lots of interesting memories.  Yes we have laughed and also cried together.  I remember when I was going through a down time in my life.  It was my turn to host Womenade.  I was emotional that night, didn’t intend to be, however the sweet notes of encouragement were like the best medicine in the world.    Naturally, stealing UGA made us all have a good laugh.

Can you tell me your thoughts about Womenade and what Judy and the supporters of Womenade have done for the kids at “Daniel”?

Judy, Marty, Katrina and Kathy with the ladies of Womenade have created something very special not only for the Daniel kids but also the community.  Think about the “giving back” awareness created by all of you.  The years and years of non-stop work, making Christmas happen, Easter baskets, reading programs, remodeling buildings, and training for young adults who don’t know how to dress or apply for a real job.  And for providing the “Going Home Gifts”.    Most important is setting a standard for being a role model for the kids and all of us who are touched by Womenade through the years.

How have the kid’s stories impacted you?

Meeting the kids and listening to their stories always touch me.  I will never forget the young girl who was sent to live with grandparents and never had Christmas.  I suspect there is a lot more unpleasantness to her story.  However, she had the biggest smile, great attitude.  She found books and the thrill of reading.  This reminded me of myself.   I remember taking 2 teens home after a Womenade one night.  They were so funny, cutting up with each other.  I’m sure they had a rough background but they were thrilled Judy had them to an event.    I felt they appreciated Womenade and maybe this memory will serve a purpose in their future.

I want to thank Kathy, Judy, Marty, Katrina and all of the ladies who give over and over to help these kids have a better life.  Thank you also for opportunity to be a part of something very special.

PS  As of July 1 Naomi Lumley will be retired.  Given that I live closest to Daniel I hope to be more involved in the future.  For a few months you will find me in the garden!!!!   Remember “Bloom Where You Are Planted”

Thank you for this opportunity; you are all a Class Act!!  Love all of you.

I have worked with a lot of staff and volunteer coordinators over the years at Daniel and I’ve loved working with each one……..Ashleigh INSPIRES ME!  We just had to share what makes her tick and why she loves working at Daniel with you!  Here’s her Q & A…..

Ashleigh Photo for Womenade  Tell us about your background and what brought you to “daniel” as a staff member

I started with Daniel Kids a little over a year ago. I have lived in Jacksonville my whole life and began working in the nonprofit field immediately out of college. Originally, I planned to go to school to become a counseling psychologist, but while in college, I got involved in volunteering with a few different kids organizations and my path changed. I had the realization that I wanted spend my life helping and serving others. I have worked at a few other agencies, serving new moms, senior citizens, and the uninsured, but serving kids has always been my passion and I am thrilled that I get to work at such a fantastic organization that has such an incredible history of helping kids.

You work on many projects with “daniel” – do you have a favorite?

My favorite thing to do is just to interact with the kids! I love to be able to walk on campus and know the kids and they know me! My two favorite opportunities with the kids are #1- Volunteer Play Days, I coordinate all of Daniel’s volunteer groups and I love the chance to sneak over to campus in the afternoon to play with the kids and the volunteers! #2- Womenade’s Christmas for the kids is definitely a highlight of my year! I love the holidays and it makes me so happy to see the kids’ faces when they get their gifts. I only play a small part, but it is really special for me to be apart of it!

How did you first learn about Womenade?

My first opportunity to work with Womenade was actually for Christmas. I started at Daniel on December 1st and just 2 weeks and MANY, MANY Christmas Presents later, I attended my first Womenade Christmas Party. It was the best possible introduction that I could have had! I also got to have lunch with Judy, where she told me all about how Womenade came to be all that the ladies do for Daniel kids- It was inspiring to hear and convinced me that I was where I was meant to be.

You have always been so gracious to help us with our events since you came on board. Is there anything in particular that inspires you about this group?

I do what I do because I want to help kids- it’s not for the paycheck or because I needed to have a job or because I love to put on special events- those things help, but the heart of it is the want to give back. Womenade is a group of like-minded women that inspire me because they are in it for the same reason! Helping Daniel kids is the motivation behind everything they do and every member truly goes above and beyond to carry out that goal! It is a rare thing indeed- and I am so lucky to work with you, and helping out at your events is my privilege.

Can you tell me your thoughts about Womenade and what Judy and the supporters of Womenade have done for the kids at “Daniel”?

Womenade meets a beautiful need for Daniel and our kids. Daniel’s staff work to meet our kids’ therapeutic and physical needs- we teach them discipline and coping skills, we help them learn teamwork and encourage their self-esteem and self-expression in order to help them to find their way and their place in the world- Womenade are like their Fairy Godmothers- showing them love and caring, celebrating their successes, recognizing their worth, and making their wishes come true.

Womenade is an invaluable part of the work we do to Improve the Odds for Kids!

Michelle Goolsby – Relative newcomer to Womenade and huge supporter

Michelle Goolsby photo for Member Spotlight

How did you first learn about Womenade?

I first learned about Womenade through the Daniel website. I was volunteering at various non-profits and was looking for one agency to devote my time, talents, and treasures to. I came upon Womenade and immediately contacted Judy Hicks. She was very warm and welcoming. She conveyed the goals of Womenade with such conviction and passion that one could do nothing but want to become a part of such a wonderful group.

Tell us about your role with Finding Your Future?

My role with Finding Your Future was initially to be a coach but that quickly changed. I was asked to facilitate a reading group focusing on our book selection, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Corey. At first I was a little reluctant but the coaches, students and staff were so supportive that the initial fear I had was replaced with a major sense of thankfulness. I was thankful to have students, coaches, and staff who worked together so that everyone involved in Finding Your Future felt valued, respected, and appreciated.

It also helped that I was asked to present a section on budgeting and shopping. The presentation was to provide the students with skills needed to effectively use the incentive money they earned. They were instructed to purchase clothing to build a professional wardrobe. I look forward to being a presenter again this year.

What inspires you about this group?

It is really hard to pinpoint one thing that inspires me about this group. Should I talk about the genuine spirit of giving that starts with the founder Judy and runs throughout the whole group? Should I discuss the leading by example quality of group members that is constantly present to guide and inspire the students? Maybe I should mention the tender balance between being professional and personable the members utilize to bring out the best in every student. With such a powerful and passionate group of women, it is hard to know where to start.

Can you tell me your thoughts about Womenade and what Judy and the supporters of Womenade have done for the kids at “Daniel”?

My thoughts of Womenade are ones of gratitude. I am grateful to be a part of a group that supports my life motto by Mahatma Gandhi which is, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. Whether it be the going home baskets, daniel honors, holiday happenings, reading nights, or Finding Your Future, Womenade upholds Daniel’s core values of commitment, respect, empowerment, and passion. Because Womenade lives the Daniel motto, ” Improving the odds for kids”, all I can say is ,”BRAVO!”

 

 

1st_ImageTerriJones

Terri Jones – Long-time supporter and “Literacy Library Reader

How did you  first learn about Womenade?  I was looking in the newspaper and saw an ad that Judy was going to have a Womenade event that would help the kids at the Daniel Center. Since I have been heavily involved with teaching youth in the community from the age of 13, I wanted to support the event.

Tell us about the reading program you are involved in?  Once a month, I read to the girls at Daniel.  I enjoy doing this because of the impact it has on them.  They look forwarding to our reading time, they volunteer to read along and they anticipate our next visit to continuing reading.

What inspires you about this group?  They are engaged with the story, appreciate my time with them and make me feel good inside because of their desire to be a reader too.

Can you tell me your thoughts about Womenade and what Judy and the supporters of Womenade have done for the kids at “Daniel”?  Womenade is a great community outreach program that is passionate about making a difference in the lives of our youth.  I love the dedication and love of Judy Hicks and each woman of Womenade that we use as the base to brainstorm ideas and programs to continuously be a blessing to the kids at Daniel.  Over the years, we have strategically raised thousands of dollars to ensure the kids have a great library of books, adequate school supplies, an up-to-date game room, personal items needed for themselves and their sleeping area, special gifts for accomplishments in school, outings etc. during the holiday season and so much more!  I recommend others, men and women to partner with Womenade so we can continue to demonstrate love to the youth at Daniel.

Cynthia Montello

How did you first learn about Womenade? 

Judy Hicks contacted me about starting Womenade.  I served on the original Board of Directors, designed the logo and collateral materials and continue to create the marketing pieces for Womenade.

What inspires you about this group? 

Any time you step beyond yourself and make others’ needs your focus, you will be blessed.  I love seeing women come together for a cause as important as improving the lives of the children at daniel.  When we do, we learn from each other and inspire one another on ways to serve and love.

Can you tell me your thoughts about Womenade and what Judy and the supporters of Womenade have done for the kids at “daniel”? 

Judy is one of those women who serve from the heart.  She never thinks of what’s in it for her.  Her heart and mind are solely focused on helping the children at daniel.  She is a compelling force and has drawn together women from all over to fulfill this need.  This is a vision that she has followed through on and her efforts and the efforts of all the women continue to bear fruit.

Tell us about your business and what we can do to help your business?

I own an advertising and marketing firm; The Montello Agency.  We partner with our clients to provide expert web design, brochures, media campaigns, ads, graphic design and more.  A good referral is a new start up business or a business that is unhappy with their current marketing company

 

Franchesca Swierz

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How did you first learn about Womenade?

I learned about Womenade through Judy Hicks, when I first bought the Northeast Florida Franchise of Homes & Land Magazine in 2004. Judy was already a client and I met with her and as we the meeting progressed and Judy’s passion and enthusiasm of helping the kid, I was pulled in deep 🙂

Tell us about the renovation project that you recently participated in?

Renovating the dorm style rooms at Independent Living Village has been a desire for many years….since I first starting working the older kids that resided there in Finding Your Future (about 7 years ago). The rooms needed help 7 years ago and year after year have gotten in more desperate need of TLC. I was fortunate to appointed the vice chair to the NEFAR Community Affairs Task Force (charitable arm of NEFAR) by president Linda McMorrow who is also a very loyal Womenade & Daniel supporter. Due to the message of “homelessness” being a very large crusade for Florida Realtors, this project fell right in line with this year’s message of helping with homelessness in Florida.

With the generous support of NEFAR EO, Glenn East, NEFAR President Linda McMorrow, Community Affairs Task Force co-chair Don Mullinax and all of the NEFAR Members that volunteered their time and money(we raised over $25K) to help us renovate the 10 room. All 10 rooms received new beds, cabinets, fridge, microwave, paint, plumbing and bedding. The rooms are now a place I am happy to have the homeless teens live in!

What inspires you about this group?

Womenade is a collective of the most beautiful souls I have ever seen. The generosity, friendships, love and inspiration that emerges at every event is priceless! I ALWAYS leave a Womenade event feeling better than I arrived, have reconnected with at least one other woman I admire, and if I’m lucky I will win a FAB door prize….seriously we know how to do door prizes at our events like nobody else!

Can you tell me your thoughts about Womenade and what Judy and the supporters of Womenade have done for the kids at “Daniel”?

I can write a book on this question but will give you instead a short and sweet answer or answers: Victoria, Keeley, Jordan, Tomelisha, Natalie, Arianna, Kelvin….I can go on and on about the lives Womenade and Judy have touched in a positive manner. Womenade efforts and Judy’s hard work make a difference in the lives of many troubled young adults in the programs at Daniel….they are at a fork in the road of lives: go the road to trouble, jail, unemployment, crime,…etc. or go the road of education, a safe place to live, a job, and love. At the end of each day and each event and each project the MOST important reason is to help these kids feel LOVE and in turn they will love themselves to be better.

 

Denise Patricolo

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How did you first learn about Womenade?

I first heard about Womenade through Judy Hicks. She was very passionate about the organization and that sparked my interest.

The company you work for – David Weekley Homes has been a great supporter of our efforts. Tell us about their committment.

The most important aspect of David Weekley Homes isn’t home building, it’s Our Purpose of Building Dreams, Enhancing Lives. As a company, we want to make a positive impact in the lives of everyone we touch and in all the communities we build. Our commitment to focusing on what’s really important sets us apart as a company, as an employer and as a neighbor.

David Weekley has contributed quite a bit financially to Womenade. Most recently we funded and assisted with the Daniel Room Renovation at the Independent Living Village. Last year we donated to the younger children’s Recreation Room Renovation. Each year we host one of the quarterly charitable dinners. We also sponsor some of the children during Daniel’s Christmas. Basically we are here whenever called upon and look forward to partnering with Womenade in the future.

You assist with many Womenade activities: Do you have a favorite?

I enjoy interacting with the youth at Daniel. They are inspiring to me. They have overcome many challenges and remain positive and optimistic about their future.

What inspires you about this group?

Womenade is composed of a powerful group of women. It’s inspiring what they have accomplished with what are really grass roots efforts. Lives have been impacted and changed forever because of the efforts these amazing women have put forth.

Can you tell me your thoughts about Womenade and what Judy and the supporters of Womenade have done for the kids at “Daniel”?

One of the many things I love about Womenade if every dollar goes to the kids. There are so many charities that you donate a dollar and only 50 cent actually goes back to the cause. So you know you’re making a good investment when you donate. I have also seen them stretch their dollars and the impact it has made on the lives of many kids. One example is the Daniel Christmas sponsored by Womenade annually. I take a child and every year it amazes me the basic things they ask for that mean so much to them. One year I had a girl ask for Tupperware another year a boy asked for shoes it’s usually items we take for granted.

Marty White

How did you first learn about Womenade?

Three years ago after I had just moved back to Jacksonville from the Sarasota area, Judy was helping us with a real estate transaction and  talked to us about Womenade.  We decided to attend one of the events and to help out with registration or whatever needed to be done.  I enjoyed the event and decided to join.  It was then I decided to volunteer to help at the events because I am a person who is shy in big gatherings.  I have always done better, if I was given a job to do…..so I volunteered to help out with registration.  And I guess the rest is history. And  in my mind, I now have become “Ms. Registration”.  Hope no one wants the job anytime soon.

Marty tell us about the reading program you implemented? 

JR Remington told me that Judy was looking for someone who had experience working with adolescents to help out with the reading program.  We met and I was very interested in becoming involved.  I had just retired from working in the Dallas Probation Department with at risk youth for twenty five years and so this was familiar territory.  And at this point I had become tired of watching soaps and just hanging out.  I needed something more meaningful to do and this was it.  I have since taken over as the volunteer responsible for getting readers and picking out books that I feel will interest the youth.  I have been working with the boys for the past year and I have seen fruition in our efforts to instill an interest in books and reading.  It is a great feeling and I look forward to going each month.  The boys recognize me as someone from Womenade who wants to help them love books.  They always tell me “Readers are Leaders”.

You assist with many Womenade activities – Do you have a favorite?

Of course doing the reading program is very rewarding but I also really enjoy doing Christmas at Daniel.  Although at times it is hectic and hard work, but in the end the rewards are great.  Just to see how grateful the kids are for what Womenade members have done for them is wonderful.

What inspires you about this group?

The dedication of Judy and her tireless efforts to help the Daniel kids is what continues to inspire me.  I am also impressed with the Womenade members who continue to come to event after event to support this worthy cause.

Can you tell me your thoughts about Womenade and what Judy and the supporters of Womenade have done for the kids at “Daniel”?

I think that Womenade is a wonderful way for us to give back to the community by helping the kids at Daniel.  What better way to spend your time, energy,  and money than helping at risk youth.  The children are our future and if we can contribute to showing them a better way by teaching them about giving, then we have accomplished much.

Jessica Versept

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Interview with Womenade member, Jessica Verseput. Many of you know Jessica Verseput. We sat down with her to get her view of Womanade, her involvement, and her feelings about the many areas she is involved in. Here is her Womenade and daniel story.

When did you become part of Womenade and in what capacity?

I started attending the Womenade events about 8 years ago. Once I learned what this group did for daniel I knew I wanted to get more involved. I began organizing projects and events for the kids such as clothing drives, project prepare dorm item donations, daniel honors and the Christmas party. I also helped with the bachelor auction we did many years ago which was a lot of fun. The beauty of Womenade is you can be as involved as you would like to be.

Can you tell me your feelings and thoughts about Womenade and what Judy and the members of Womenade have done for daniel?

Womenade is such an amazing group of Women. They all work really hard but find the time to give back to these kids. Each event is very special. It gives you an opportunity to meet new friends and learn about what we are doing for the kids all while enjoying a great meal together. Judy and the members have done so much for the kids at daniel. The money raised from these events go to buy books for the kids, Christmas presents, summer camps, rewards for good grades, parties, and cooking classes. I could go on and on. Everyone plays an important role and we couldn’t do it without each and every member.

What is “daniel honors” and how have you been involved?

daniel honors is a reward program to encourage the kids to achieve academic success. Success can mean many things so we have several categories which include- straight A’s, AB honor roll, 1 A and no F’s, most improved and good citizen. The program starts with the first quarter of school and runs through the end of summer. During summer the kids will qualify by reading 2 books and writing an essay on one of them. At the end of each quarter we take the kids out to dinne where they receive a small gift and gift cards. The more often they achieve daniel honors in that year the higher the reward will be each time. We have many repeat students, which is wonderful to see. I feel very blessed to be able to plan this event but Judy, Marty and Kathy come to dinner with us to show the kids support, which is so important too.

Can you share your thoughts and involvement with the Annual Christmas Party for daniel kids?

The Christmas party is one of my favorite things to plan every year. Judy takes care of getting the presents donated while I stay busy planning the party. The kids get so excited every year. We have a DJ that plays Christmas music, different activity stations, delicious food by Chef Cheryl and of course a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. This time of year can be very difficult for the kids to be away from their family. I feel blessed to be able to show them a little light and love during the holidays.

Can you tell us about other Womenade projects you are involved in?

Mentoring In the past I mentored several young ladies through daniel. You create a bond with these girls and get more out of the experience then you could ever imagine. My husband and I got our foster license just so one of them could come stay with us whenever she wanted. She became like a little sister to me. All of my girls have now moved on but I still keep in touch with them to this day. If you have been thinking of mentoring, please do it. You will make a difference. Yoga Project In the spring I will be organizing a yoga project for the kids. Yoga is such a great way to connect your mind, body and spirit so look out for some future workshops to help us raise money to fund this project.