The last two months were pure insanity to say the least… I finally came home after almost 4 months of traveling on October 2nd and flew out that same day on a spontaneous trip to New York for a two night stay. I went to Las Vegas the following weekend, San Diego the weekend after that, moved everything out of my apartment in Hollywood back to my parents house, spent Halloween weekend in Las Vegas, and then went to New York AGAIN the next week!
The past two months taught me a lot about myself. Getting home I realized that the world keeps moving, whether I am there or not, and that the experiences I had abroad really did help me return to my “life” with a new perspective and a new purpose. I was ready for a new adventure and this time I was getting EVERYONE involved.
So what’s next for The Blonde Abroad? PERU! After my friend Lindsay joined me for two weeks of my trip this summer while in Thailand and Cambodia, we decided to collaborate on a “for-purpose” adventure benefiting a non-profit organization called Peruvian Hearts. We had 4 weeks with a goal of raising $10,000 and we were seriously winging it! Fundraising on this level is something I’ve never done before. I’ve fundraised a few hundred dollars for my volunteer effort with Global Water Brigades in Honduras, but this was a whole new animal. Lindsay owns her own event management and staffing company, and I have worked in the promotions and spokes-modeling industry for over 5 years, so we made the perfect team. Between both of our contacts in the promotional and event space we made huge successes in a short amount of time and were able to organize FIVE fundraisers!
So why Peruvian Hearts? I have always been passionate about supporting non-profit organizations that are already established, doing amazing things, but are simply underfunded. And even more specifically, I am very passionate about organizations founded by young persons, organizations that support the empowerment of young girls and women, and organizations that promote literacy.
Peruvian Hearts was founded by a girl named Ana Dodson who was adopted from Cusco, Peru at four years old. On her first visit back to Cusco at only 11 years old she felt such compassion for the orphan girls that she decided to establish Peruvian Hearts. Peruvian Hearts works with adolescent girls to empower them to become strong women who have the capacity to transform their own lives and become leaders in their families, communities, and country. We couldn’t have found a more perfect cause to support!
Now back to our fundraising…
The first step in beginning our fundraising was incorporating www.StayClassy.org. We were able to create a fundraising website to raise money for Peruvian Hearts. StayClassy revolutionizes fundraising because it allows donors to use credit cards via online payment and the funds go DIRECTLY to the organization with only a small administrative fee. http://www.stayclassy.org/charity/peruvian-hearts/c6987… Check!
Our first event was during San Diego Beer Week, so we asked for help from Lindsay’s friend, Eddie, who just opened up a craft beer bar in North Park called The Foundry. (It already has 4 stars and 114 Yelp reviews!) He helped us put together a special event with a custom Beer Flight and Beer Pairing Menu and donated 25% of sales which resulted in $300 raised by the end of the day. One down… four to go!
Next we did a “Black Friday Charity Bikini Fashion Show” the day after Thanksgiving. We got help from La Isla Bikinis to donate bikinis for the models and a new (and very fabulous) downtown salon called Inga Bezio Salon to pretty us all up for the event. Some of Lindsay’s amazing and beautiful LMH Promotions models donated their hot bods as well and helped us raise over $400 in a single night! Two down… three to go!
Our third event was tackled by Lindsay and she did an amazing job raising awareness for Peruvian Hearts. Our “Paz Y Amor” Pink Party benefiting Peruvian Hearts was held at the Ivy Hotel in San Diego in honor of Lindsay’s close friend, Michel Rose David, and her generous spirit and love for South America. A close friend of mine from college, Paul, helped establish Pura Vida Bracelets and donated bracelets to help raise funds at the event. Pura Vida Bracelets is another amazing company that helps provide full-time jobs for local artisans in Costa Rica from sales of their super trendy bracelets. Between bracelet sales and the donations made at the Pink Party, we raised over $350! Three down… two to go!
The next event was my baby. As a former bartender at Drai’s Hollywood at the W Hotel I was able to lock in a formal holiday mixer at the nightclub. Drai’s donated the club to us at no cost and it turned out to be a classy, intimate, & fun event with amazing guests & incredible sponsors. I sought help from all of my peers and contacts in LA, including a local non-profit TKO Helping Hands, and was able to create a raffle with some unbelievable auction items including an Equinox gym membership, a USC Dream Football Package, an LA Kings autographed hockey stick and game tickets, Disney on Ice tickets, Astor & Black custom neckties, a gorgeous custom designed prayer bead necklace, a luxurious spa package for Los Angeles Nail Garden, and bottle service at Drai’s following our party. Lindsay helped put the icing on the cake by getting two pairs of stylish sunglasses and gift bags donated by LMH Promotion’s client, GUESS.
I was even fortunate enough to find a Peruvian liquor company, Pisco Porton, who not only donated their delicious product, but purchased 100 drinks to offer complimentary Peruvian cocktails for all of our guests. It really was beyond any of our expectations! We raised over $1,000 in just a few short hours and the feeling of accomplishment we left with was worth even more. It was definitely a successful Fun”Drai’s”er! Four down… and still ONE more!
Our final event was held the day before our departure at a fantastic Downtown San Diego restaurant, Searsucker. We organized a Sunday Champagne Brunch with 20% of our guests’ brunch sales donated to Peruvian Hearts. It was an amazing brunch with $10 bottomless mimosas, delicious food, and our closest friends. Lindsay helped with another raffle with prizes like Atelier Aucoin Salon services, 2 FreeRide Skateboards, The Foundry Gift Certificates, Livebattle Lazertag, a month membership to Undispiuted MMA gym, and more Pura Vida bracelets for sale. Our last and final donor was Model Citizen Fund that creates emergency survival backpack kits for disaster relief. They kindly donated 30 backpacks to Peruvian Hearts and had them shipped down to the orphanage. We ended up raising over $500 from the Searsucker Charity Brunch!
After all of our hard work, we raised over $5,500 for Peruvian Hearts! We didn’t hit our goal of $10,000 but we were nowhere near disappointed. $400 will provide an opportunity for one Peruvian Promise scholar to attend private school for an entire year. That means our efforts will provide a years worth of education for 13 girls and there will still be some money to spare. Damn that feels good!
So you see? If we could do it, so can you! Get creative, inspire your friends to join your team, and get out there and make a difference!
“I want to show other young people how easy it is to get involved and inspire them to reach out and help others less fortunate than themselves. I believe that every person has the ability to help make the world a better place.” -Ana Dodson, Founder of Peruvian Hearts