Community involvement was encouraged in our family at a young age by my mom. Flashes of 4H ribbons and patches on my Brownie sash are reminders of her volunteer work, as well as tables at fairs, festivals, and BINGO halls. I vaguely remember attending JayCee planning meetings as a young girl. In college, I volunteered for a water conservation organization, as well as Circle K and a few others. Moving into adulthood I enjoyed various environmental groups and tech meetups. As Las Vegas co-organizer of “Girls in Tech” for over 3 years I won awards for our community service.
Having grown up with poverty, in a home of undiagnosed mental illnesses, my early years were hard. As one of the only Asians in our small community my insecure ego would either shrink or overcompensate for the racism I experienced. It made healthy relationships nearly impossible. I spent my adult life trying (and let’s be honest, most times, failing) to learn newer, healthier coping skills.
The contrast of my childhood vs. the current version of me is significant. And while my hardships are not exactly mimicked in the student essays for Avery Burton Foundation (ABF) Scholarship winners, I can relate to feeling outcast, nerdy, and bullied.
My first mentor, Ms. Betty Chavis, taught me “Experiences are the sum of who we are, but not of what we can become.” She taught me to push boundaries and imagine for greater possibilities, which started me on the journey to become an international speaker, trainer, and brand strategy consultant who has spoken on all seven continents. Thanks, Betty.
The launch of The ABF Resiliency Project holds a special place in my heart as these last few years have tested my own resiliency in unimaginable ways with the loss of my best friend and husband. He had struggled with addiction his entire life and made one final choice to stop struggling June 11th, 2018.
As we approach the 3rd anniversary of Phillip’s death, the grief has not disappeared. My mind has been tormented, divided with conflict, and at times crippled by the loss of a soulmate. Unable to process the guilt and pain surrounding his death on my own, I turned to my community for support. Even throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic I was lucky enough to have access to professional resources for anger management, complex grief, PTSD, neurodivergence, functional medicine, and physical therapy. I fell in love again and with this new relationship came a something I never imagined I’d experience: a daughter and a son who’d lost their birth mom in a fatal car crash. My new family understood grief and loss. They lived it every day with courage and grace. With the help of trained professionals and also through each other, my family and I healed and we continue to heal (after all, repairing a broken heart is not a linear process).
One of my coaches encouraged me to not spend time on clients and friends who were what she called “NYP’s” or “Not Your People.” Joining community groups was always a way for me to find my people. I decided to join the board of directors for The Avery Burton Foundation because the community work that we do is important for giving families proven tools to help them overcome adversity in life:
- $1000 Scholarship Awards
- Participation within Community Gatherings
- Facilitation of Difficult Conversations
- Educational Tools such as ALGEE for assessing our loved ones who may be struggling with mental health issues and encouraging them to get the professional help they need.
I encourage you to take your time when you explore the foundation’s website. Our origin story is not for the faint of heart. The essays from students who have overcome adversity are not light reading. The videos and content from students who participated in The Resiliency Project are some of the most vulnerable, yet uplifting that I have seen. I am proud to be a part of a community organization that focuses on actively engaging families by supporting them with money, events, communication, and tools for mental health success. I invite you to also join our efforts in creating a thriving community that is dedicated to lifting each other up to help others move forward from adversity to create a better future.
Please donate your time, your money, or resources to any of our upcoming events/programs/scholarships if you are able. I look forward to connecting.