Encouraging people to give their time, money or support to a cause is often, as we who have been on the receiving end of the encouragement well know, futile. But when for whatever reason people conspire to give, perhaps as a testament to the persuasiveness of the encouragers or perhaps less cynically, as a testament to the merit of the cause, we witness a tremendously uplifting display of humanity.
Los Angeles-based youth entrepreneurial nonprofit In True Fashion announced the launch of a campaign entitled "Gotta Give" for which they hosted a kick-off event on September 20 at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica. The event dually served as a fundraiser for In True Fashion as it enters its sixth semester.
In attendance were many of In True Fashion's esteemed guest speakers including Jason Felts, CEO of Virgin Produced, John Maatta, COO of CWTV, Stephani Victor, Paralympic gold medalist in downhill skiing, Bobby DeLeon, Development Executive for Infinitum Nihil and Shane Hurlbut, ASC, to name a few. In True Fashion prides itself on embracing supporters from all walks of life, each of for whom "giving" means something different. The organization, as with the "Gotta Give" campaign, invites people to "come as you are and give what you can."
A highlight of the evening was the first-ever live auction of In True Fashion's student handbags, the culmination of each semester's entrepreneurial process. The team that accrued the most votes and the highest bid was Team SoPro with their versatile laptop bag tote. Equally memorable was the announcement of In True Fashion's first youth ambassador, the honorable title of which was bestowed upon Cecilia Cassini, widely accepted as the world's youngest fashion designer.
Cassini gave a brief acceptance speech before introducing In True Fashion's student spokesperson, Rigo Estrada. Estrada, the recipient of In True Fashion's first student scholarship, graciously presented the organization's second student scholarship in honor of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel to his former classmate Carlos Baires. A stunned and tearful Baires took the stage to accept the scholarship, realizing his dreams to attend college before an audience of hundreds of supporters.
The event was filmed by two of the campaign's principal sponsors, Hurlbut Visuals and Revolution Cinema Rentals. Footage from the event will be included in a promotional piece being made with the hopes of airing on Virgin Produced's in-flight TV channel. Other sponsors of the event included Veev Spirits and Roozt.com, two of In True Fashion's longest standing supporters and, as always, strategic partner, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
Practicing what they preach about "dreaming big," In True Fashion excitedly announced the expansion of their program into an institute. In conjunction with Environmental Charter Schools, In True Fashion is beginning the process of scaling the program and bringing it to more schools throughout Los Angeles.
In True Fashion Founder Nancy Gale and I deem the evening a tremendous success. In concurrence, we want to express that our goal for the event was for guests to leave more humbled, more inspired, more gracious and more inclined to give, in whatever capacity. Mission accomplished.
Below are a few words from Rigo Estrada, In True Fashion Student Ambassador:
For the first time in quite a while, I was nervous to speak in front of an audience. Something about this particular event seemed to have a profound weight to our vision. Yet upon arrival to the event, the atmosphere inverted this feeling into a grand and uplifting celebration of how far In True Fashion has come in its ever-expanding reach. Seeing all those who support not only In True Fashion, but the students as well, led me to speak for what seemed only a second.
There comes times where I speak or write and don't realize what has been said as my thoughts just flow into the minds of those who listen. The revitalizing reminder that passion will drive you to lands unknown and heights unheard of was present at the event. This reminder can render a young man speechless, with knees shaking and with a conviction of humble gratitude.
This young man, my friend Carlos, was the proud recipient of In True Fashion's second student scholarship. As I handed him the award, I knew this is what we all were working for; inspiring those of all progressions, ages and experiences that we can move even those of a reserved and skeptical mindset. We are real people with tangible dreams that some of us, like Carlos, can create with the right support. The rest of us just need that guidance. And this event, celebrating and expanding In True Fashion's program, was another experience that filled me with great honor, joy, and a sense of peace. I can only be thankful to Nancy Gale and her team of inspirational and generous people for another amazing opportunity.