Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm Going to EGYPT!

If you follow me on Twitter you've probably read a tweet or two about my planned vacation to Egypt. It's been in the works for nearly a year, can't believe the time is finally here. I've been abroad before but this is my first time visiting the continent of Africa.

I love traveling! I've made it my goal to take at least one international trip every year, even if just to the islands.

Something tells me that this is going to be a life-changing experience. I'm so glad that I have this opportunity to go at this time in my life. A few years ago, I might have said no to going, not because I didn't want to go but because I wasn't making enough money to be able to afford such a trip (not that I'm making money like that now) I've just learned the value of making short term sacrifices to get what I want in the long term. I also found it to be a great time because I'm single with no children so there's nothing holding me back.

When I first learned of the trip, I tried to get some of my friends to come but none of them ended up working out for one reason or another. So this vacation will be spent with my parents (Dad & Step-mom), Aunt, my Step-brother and a few of my parent's friends. My Aunt is going to be my roommate. Don't get me wrong I love her, but someone please pray for me because that little woman can snore. You'd never imagine someone so petite could snore the way she does, it's crazy. Apparently she has sleep apnea, so it makes her to snoring worse. But I'm not going to think about that.

Can't wait to take pictures in front of the Sphinx, at the Temple at Karnak, on the boat while cruising down the Nile, and on our planned camel ride. It's always something I studied in school or watched programs about on TV. I'm excited at the thought that this dream is going to soon become reality. With that said, I won't be blogging for the next 2 weeks. I'll make sure to post some photos when I return. Please pray (if that's something you do) for our safe travel and return!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

March of Dimes - Signature Chefs Auction

Another very worthy charity I enjoy supporting is the March of Dimes. I'm sure anyone and everyone has heard of the March of Dimes, but most don't know how the organization came about. The March of Dimes began in the 1930s as charity to raise money to end polio. Then President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, initiated a campaign asking all US citizens to donate 10 cents (a dime) to fund research to end polio, hence the name. Once polio was eradicated, the March of Dimes focus shifted to the prevention of birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Just a little history, that I've found interesting since I first got involved with the charity.

As far as my involvement with the March of Dimes, this is my second year sitting on the Silent Auction committee for their Annual Signature Chefs Auction. This year's Silent & Live Auction event will be held on Monday, November 2, 2009 at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, DC (22nd Street location).

A little bit about the event...Signature Chefs Auction of D.C. features more than 30 of Washington, D.C.,'s top chefs during an evening of culinary tastings, fine wine and entertainment. The evening will include silent and live auctions of unique dining packages, hotel stays and weekend getaways.

To purchase tickets, click here. For more information, please visit the Event Web page or contact Nicole Vagnerini with the March of Dimes - National Capital Area Chapter at (703) 824-0111, ext. 19, or Volunteers are still needed, contact Nicole for more information.

Signature Chefs Auction
Monday, November 2, 2009

6:30 Sampling & Silent Auction
8:15 Live Auction Begins

The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, DC
1150 22nd Street NW
Washington, DC 20037
Phone: (703) 824-0111, ext. 19 (March of Dimes)
(202) 835-0500 (The Ritz-Carlton)


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Key To The Cure & Friends&Family

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a philanthropist-in-training. I may not have millions of dollars to give away but I support as many charities as I can. One of the events I like to support is Saks Fifth Avenue's Key To The Cure (KTTC). In preparation for this annual event, Saks has a world-renown designer develop a unique shirt for the event. The shirt this year was designed by Michael Kors and retails for $40, with $30 of the proceeds going to various charities.

Unfortunately, I'll be away for work to attend this year's KTTC Kick-Off, but I've already purchased my t-shirt to show my support, for more information or to buy one click here.

If you're
in the Washington, DC area, the KTTC Kick-Off event held on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at Saks Fifth Avenue located at 5555 Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase, MD. To purchase tickets for the DC/MD Kick-Off, click here. For those else where, this event is also hosted at Saks Fifth Avenue stores around the country, visit to find a location near you.

Saks Friends & Family discount event coincides with KTTC and is also this week October 15-18. Friends & Family is available in stores and online. ***FRIENDS & FAMILY Enjoy 25% Off with code: FRIENDS2***

Don't forget, if you can't make it to the store to attend the event or to shop, you can purchase the cute, long sleeved 2009 KTTC shirt shown on Heidi Klum above by clicking here. Note: Since the proceeds raised from the sale of this shirt go to charity, the Friends & Family discount does not apply. Saks is also donating 2% of sales up to $250,000 over the shopping weekend (10/15/09-10/18/09) to local and national women's cancer charity partners.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, October 5, 2009

DC Public Schools

Over the last few weeks, Chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Michelle Rhee has been putting teachers on the chopping block AGAIN. For more on her latest actions, click here. I'm not a product of the DCPS system nor do I work for it but I can't help but feel for these teachers and the students who've been affected by these latest lay-offs.

My Aunt is an educator in the DCPS system. When Michelle Rhee first came in under Mayor Adrian Fenty she announced the closing of several under-performing schools. My Aunt's school was one of them. Fortunately, she was just relocated to another school. Other teachers have not been so lucky.

I can understand that DCPS is experiencing a budget shortfall as are many other school systems throughout the country, but what I can't understand is why you're going to lay-off teachers from an already under-performing school system? What sense does that make? These students need as much help as they can get, laying off teachers only means you're increasing class sizes. In turn the teachers who are left will have to deal with a larger workload than they already have and that's not going to help anyone.

I'm so proud of the students who have been staging protests in hopes of making a difference at their schools. Their hope is to show Chancellor Rhee that what she's doing is not helping them but hurting them. I truly feel that Chancellor Rhee isn't looking at the bigger picture, but then again how could she? I really want to know how someone who was never even a school principal is even qualified to run an entire school system, something's just not right about that. She's obviously failed to realize fewer teachers means fewer opportunities for students to be able to learn. These students are already at a disadvantage, these lay-off are just continuing to damage an already broken school system.

Recently, I began my second year of volunteering with a program called College Bound, a program that provides weekly one-on-one mentoring to students attending schools mainly in the District, with a handful of students from Prince George's County (MD) and some who reside in the District but attend schools in Fairfax County (VA). Last week, the Director of College Bound, who was an educator in the DCPS before taking his current position with the program, spoke about what was happening in the schools.

This year, College Bound announced an initiative called College's Bounds 11 Campaign. The significance of the number 11 being in the Nation’s Capital, an estimated 11 public school students drop out of the system each school day. Eleven may not sound like a lot, but that equals over 4,000 students each year who drop out and I don't know about you but that's unacceptable. Donations are being accepted on College Bounds website, if you are interested in helping.

Going back to the actions of last week, I couldn't even imagine coming to my classroom on a Friday to end up being escorted out by the Police. And to make the situation worse these teachers will only be receiving a severance package of 1 month of pay. That is outrageous. Imagine teaching in the school system for 20 years to be told you've been laid-off and will only have ONE month of living wages, that's a complete slap in the face. Something has to be done, because I feel like the DCPS is in a constant downward spiral. If Chancellor Rhee is going to continue with her cuts she needs to at least give the students of the District some options, namely providing additional vouchers so more students can attend private schools. The students of DCPS are not a lost cause and I hope something happens soon to let them know otherwise.