Browsing articles in "Meet Your Neighbor"

Jami Artiga

Dec 3, 2013   //   by Meghan Pescio   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

The magic of dance has been felt around the globe for centuries.  Think back to when you were a child or when you took your own children to see their first Nutcracker performance.  The wonder and excitement is relived as the young girl, Clara, experiences the enchanting dance of the Sugarplum Fairy after her beloved Nutcracker toy comes to life. Jami Artiga of 89123 has dedicated her life to recreating the magic of dance by using her own gifts as a dancer, and teaching children about self-expression through the art. Through The Dance Zone, a local school that she founded with fellow dance enthusiast and partner Kaydee Francis, Artiga harnesses her passion to help others in the community with the power of dance.

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The lifelong resident has helped to ensure that The Dance Zone and its students have been associated with several charitable outreach organizations such as Dancer’s Responding to Aids, Golden Rainbow, Josh Steven’s Foundation, Ragtag Entertainment, NYCDA’s College Scholarship Foundation and the Lindsay Bennett Foundation.  They’ve also been involved with the NF Hope’s annual concert and supported drives for Three Square and Toys for Tots.  The Dance Zone also provides practice space to dancer’s performing in benefits.  Recently they’ve begun a partnership with After School All-Stars, a group that provides comprehensive after school programs to keep kids safe and help them to succeed in school and in life.  Artiga and the group have been holding dancewear costume drives and providing other supplies for All-Star after school dance programs. Jami Artiga talks about her love of dance, making a difference and sharing a bit of the magic with others around the community.

How did you begin using dance as a way of helping others?

“I started teaching and performing before I was 18.  I have always loved dance and children.  I worked professionally as a dancer anywhere I could until I had my second child. After he was born I turned to teaching dance as my career choice.  I love sharing all I have learned in dance and in life with my students.  Doing performances and benefits for non-profit organizations always gives me such a thrill. Many parents of our students are invested in an organization and also ask us to be a part.  We love to help whenever we can.”

What do you enjoy most about performing for non-profits?

“It brings dancers and entertainers from all around to get together for a cause.  We try to get involved with organizations as much as possible.  It allows our dancers who have been given this gift to share with people who need something special, or even to help raise money for charities.”

Why do you feel it is so important to give back to the community?

“There is so much more than what is right in front of us.  Being a small business we do not always have the money to give, but we have other resources at times that are valuable to others.”

What do you enjoy when you’re not in dance mode?

“When I am not at a dance competition, convention or fundraising event, you’ll find me at home or a family member’s home.  I’m very lucky to have my sisters and mother here in Vegas as well.  I spend as much free time as I can with my family.  I enjoy sitting and chatting with my kids and husband. My kids don’t always love me invading their space but it makes me re-connect with what is truly important.”

Aside from dance and family, do you have any other passions?

“I’m passionate about children growing up happy and healthy.  Dance is amazing for your mind and body but I’m also passionate about life and making the most of what you have.”

Kaydee Francis

Dec 3, 2013   //   by Meghan Pescio   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

We all have traditions of the season, whether it’s making an annual trip to view holiday lights, sharing special foods with family and friends, or making sure others have the benefit of a memorable holiday. Kaydee Francis of 89052 believes that even the little things make a big impact.  She engages in a year-long tradition of small gestures every day, like smiling and opening a door for others as well as using her given gift of dance to make a difference in the community. 

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Dance has been a passion for Kaydee since she was very young.  Growing up in Utah, it was an everyday part of her family.  She began teaching dance at her mother’s studio as a teenager and, after college and dabbling in a few industries, returned to her first love.  Her career has included working for two national dance competition companies as a Show Director and Adjudicator.  She’s traveled the country teaching master classes and setting choreography for competitions and television.  She finally fulfilled her dream of owning her own dance studio when she met her business partner Jami Artiga. Together, they created The Dance Zone.

The local dance facility not only gives young people an opportunity to learn and express themselves through the art, but also to help others by using their craft. The Dance Zone and its students have been associated with several charitable organizations such as Dancer’s Responding to Aids, Golden Rainbow, Josh Steven’s Foundation, Three Square and Toys for Tots.  They recently partnered with After School All-Stars, a group that provides after school programs to keep kids safe and help them to succeed in school.  Kaydee has been busy holding dancewear costume drives for All-Star after school dance programs.  She tells us more about The Dance Zone, getting crafty and her favorite tradition.

It must have been exciting to start your own dance studio.  How did it come about?

“Jami and I decided to go to breakfast at Blueberry Hill…little did we know that this meal would change the course of our lives.  It was this breakfast where we conceptualized The Dance Zone!” 

Why do you think it’s important to give back—even in little ways?

“My take on it is simple; be considerate and set a shining example.  It’s not always how much time or money you donate to a charity that will give back to your community, but the example you set. Small actions can help grow a sense of community.”

Your efforts through The Dance Zone aren’t always so simple.

“We assist in a variety of ways both big and little from dancing at fundraising events to holding a drive for dance costumes, but I am most proud of watching our dancers grow from young people into passionate, beautiful and caring adults.”

What inspires you?

“I believe that if you want something you’ve never had before, you must DO something you’ve never done before!”

What else are you passionate about?

Spending time with my husband, friends and family, traveling and I love animals. I am mom to a giant dog and two fluffy kitties.  I’ve also been involved with the organization No More Homeless Pets.”

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at the studio?

“I really enjoy getting crafty.  If it’s messy you can count me in! I like painting and usually I’m sewing and adding rhinestones to costumes but I also love reading. I have tons of books lined up on my Kindle.”

Tell us something you think others might not know about you.

“I’m a big Tomboy!  Even though I love my make-up and rhinestones, I love to camp, hike and spend time outdoors with my husband and dog.”

Any holiday traditions you’d like to share?

“It has to be my mom’s homemade lasagna.  It’s our family’s holiday tradition.”

Patricia Lee

Oct 31, 2013   //   by Meghan Pescio   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

The holiday season is here and it is a time to reflect on the blessings around us, give thanks to those that have enriched our lives and commend our neighbors who have blazed new trails to improve our community. Patricia Lee of 89144 is a perfect example of someone worth honoring.  Giving her time and talents to make a difference, it is abundantly evident that Lee’s efforts have allowed us all to reap the rewards.

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Since graduating from the George Washington University Law School in 2002 and moving to Las Vegas immediately thereafter, Lee has made her mark both as an associate and eventually as partner of the Hutchison & Steffen Law Firm.  She has not only expanded the structure of her firm to include programs designed to grant access to legal services for those who might not otherwise be able to afford them, but also continues to pay her blessings forward through her involvement with a variety of charitable organizations.  This includes acting as President of the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association Foundation, as a board member of the Civil Self Help Center, the Las Vegas Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Lili Claire Foundation Living Library, the Nevada Crime Commission as well as on the Advisory Council for the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, which provides legal assistance for those who do not have the financial means to retain an attorney.

The accomplished attorney, wife and mother of two young children provides us with insight into what drives her to continue to lead the way for others to succeed, what she is doing to be an influence in her own children’s lives and why conversing with her just might feel as comfortable as being interviewed by one of your favorite talk show hosts.

Tell us about your role with Hutchison & Steffen and the Legal Aid program the firm has adopted.

“I practice in the areas of commercial litigation, trademarks, copyrights, family law and mechanic’s lien law.  In 2009 I became the first female and the first African American partner of the firm. My promotion allowed me to take a more active role in structuring and expanding our firm’s practice to give access to justice for those who may not otherwise be able to afford it.  I was able to forge a partnership between the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada and the firm to adopt their domestic violence cases.”

Your firm was the first-ever to take on Domestic Violence cases through Legal Aid.

“Well, the first to adopt a specific practice area as a whole, yes.  Our attorneys have committed to taking at least one domestic violence case free of charge in hopes of contributing to decrease the state’s number of incidents (Nevada currently has the highest rate of deaths associated with domestic violence than any other state in the nation.)”

You’ve also been instrumental in helping small business owners.

“My husband Ronnie is a small business owner and I fully understand the challenges they face.  I was able to charter our firm’s Small Business Program, to provide comprehensive services. For a small fee they have access to a wealth of legal advice.”

Why is giving back so important?

“It’s a means of connecting with the community in ways that I would not otherwise be able to do. Any success I’ve achieved is thanks to various people and outreach programs that saved me from what promised to be an unfortunate fate.”

How are you an influence in your own children’s lives?

“Hopefully my efforts help to set moral standards for my children through example and doing something that has value and meaning.”

You’re so easy to talk with…I’m sure your clients feel the same way…

(Laughs) “If I wasn’t a lawyer I would have loved to have been a TV talk show host… or someone that gets to try out and review day spas around the world (does that job really exist?)”

Maureen Romito

Oct 31, 2013   //   by Meghan Pescio   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

By: Callie Thomas

One of the newest non-profit organizations to be launched in Las Vegas is all about the numbers, that is, strength in numbers. An 89128 resident, Maureen Romito, is at the helm of this new group as the founder of Impact Las Vegas, a membership of 100 women throughout the community who aspire to make a substantial difference by giving vital resources to charitable organizations in need.

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Romito is a thirty-year Las Vegas resident and a “retired” Regional Human Resources Director who had found that while climbing the ladder in reaching her career goals, it didn’t leave a lot of time for developing new friendships or reaching out more in the community.  Although time prevented her from participating and volunteering as much as she would have liked in charitable organizations, she continued to support many through donations such as United Way and the American Heart Association. It was when she decided to “make a career change” by developing Impact Las Vegas that she started the ball rolling and moved her life in a different direction.

Women of all ages and backgrounds are invited to make a difference in the lives of others and participate in this transformational grant making organization. Each year, the goal of Impact Las Vegas is to provide at least one grant of $100,000 to a Southern Nevada non-profit organization that is focused in one of the five criteria areas of culture, education, environment, family or health and wellness.  Romito and current members have scheduled multiple networking events over the next few months to introduce Impact Las Vegas to potential members. She talks with us about her inspiration for developing the organization, what it means to give back and how she’s finally adjusted her pace to not only spend more time with loved ones, but to create lasting friendships as well as an indelible impact on the Las Vegas community.

What was your inspiration in developing Impact Las Vegas?

“It really started as a wish to mean more; to make a bigger difference in the community than just what I could do alone.  I founded the organization just last year after hearing about and meeting with Rebecca Powers, the founder of a similar and highly successful organization, Impact Austin.  There are now more than fifteen Impact organizations in cities throughout the U.S.  They have cumulatively given grants of more than $15 million, improving their communities and empowering and educating women in the process.”

How does Impact Las Vegas work?

“The non-profit giving circle is made up of 100 women who each donate $1,000 each year by December 31. Member donations are pooled to fund an annual $100,000 grant to a local worthy non-profit organization.”

So there really is “strength in numbers?”

“Absolutely! Most of us are not in the financial position to expand a day care program, provide free or low cost services for low-income families or to help a senior community center purchase a new roof and build a larger recreational room. All of us want to make a significant impact in the community and this way we can.”

Each of the members is an integral part of the organization and you’ve made some new friends?

“Yes, each member gets a voice in deciding which cause will be the recipient of the combined grant but we also have an opportunity to connect with other amazing women who are concerned about making this a better place.”

Why is it important for you to give back?

“This community has been my home for more than thirty years and where I have experienced personal and professional success. I want to make our community a better place to live.”

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

“The love of my life, my husband of 38 years, and I have a regular “date” with another couple we have been good friends with for years. We rotate weekly who chooses where we go but the rule used to be that it had to be someplace we’ve not been to, but we actually stopped that so we could go back to the places we really liked!”

For information about joining Impact Las Vegas visit www.impact-lv.org.

Dr. Michael D. Richards

Oct 31, 2013   //   by Meghan Pescio   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

By: Callie Thomas

Why is it that when you want time to pass it moves slowly and yet, when you’re doing something that you’re passionate about and has significant meaning to you, it passes with the blink of an eye?  For 30 years, area resident Dr. Michael Richards has been an educator and mentor and it seems that it was just yesterday he began a long and deeply satisfying career as President of the College of Southern Nevada (CSN).  After completing his bachelor’s degree at Weber State University in Utah in the early 1970’s, Richards decided to enter the Air Force, where he served from 1972 – 1979.  He joined the ROTC and completed his Masters in English at Utah State University, where he got his first taste of teaching.  While stationed in Alabama, he was able to teach English at night and enjoyed working with the students.  It was then that he first thought of higher education as a career.

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After completing his Ph.D. at the University of Denver, Colorado he transitioned into his current career in colleges and universities. Since moving to Las Vegas eight years ago, he’s been the President and CEO of CSN. He is committed to improving pathways into higher education for people in the diverse community of Las Vegas and in strengthening the college’s role in serving our residents in addition to giving students the tools to accomplish their educational, career, and personal goals.  As such, he is dedicated to supporting the work of the CSN Foundation, an organization made up of community supporters to raise millions of dollars in cash and equipment for student scholarships and academic programs. Dr. Richards talks about the program, why giving back to the community is so important and what is behind his most treasured accomplishments.

Tell us about the CSN Foundation.

“The Foundation is made up of 28 wonderful community supporters that continue to work tirelessly to make it possible for the organization to develop scholarships and academic programs. Over the last 10 years the Foundation has expanded in the area of scholarships and the impact of this aid on individual students is both moving and gratifying.  The scholarship awards change lives on a personal level.”

What experiences through the Foundation can you share with us?

“A great example is the Engelstad Family Foundation gift totaling $8.2 million dollars.  This generous donation helped CSN build a state-of-the-art cardiorespiratory education center and provided a $1 million scholarship endowment for health sciences students.

What does giving back to the community mean to you?

“I believe each of us, regardless of our circumstances can give back to our community to advance and improve the lives of people.  Some of us can do it through money, others can commit time and talents.  I am still in awe at the way the community comes out to support charitable events. People do it repeatedly and they care about what’s going on here.”

Are there any other organizations in which you’re involved?

“I am also involved with the Las Vegas South Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It is important as I also get involved with many volunteer events, sports and activities that serve the community.”

What do you think makes you successful?

“I am blessed to work with colleagues who work hard on behalf of education, workforce development, and community advancement.  Also, my family—I have five daughters and seven grandchildren and they all give me a great perspective on life.”

How do you relax after a busy day?

“I’ll be honest, often I don’t. This is a great job with a lot of responsibility and it does not come with a set number of hours.  But this is the best job, helping students achieve a college education.”

What life inspirations would you give to others?

“Our most important work, as working adults and parents, is in the walls of our homes with our families.”

Debbie Roxarzade

Oct 31, 2013   //   by Meghan Pescio   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  1 Comment

By: Callie Thomas

Restaurateur and Las Vegas neighbor Debbie Roxarzade has the recipe for success.  The 89135 resident is the founder and developer of the popular Rachel’s Kitchen franchise, which has grown to five locations in Las Vegas with another slated to open in the McCarran Airport D Gates at the end of this year.  Not only has she set a trend in fresh, wholesome food with a gourmet twist, she’s used her success to support a variety of non-profit organizations that impact our community.

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Roxarzade’s been in the restaurant industry for nearly 20 years, turning her passion for cooking into owning and operating multiple dining venues both in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.  What started with a small coffee shop in L.A. has grown into a popular franchise now in Las Vegas featuring sandwiches, salads, pastas and more to please every palate.

Debbie has always felt it was important to give back for the successes she has attained, and it has been a priority in her hometown since moving to the community seven years ago.  She is a Board member of the Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASA Foundation, which identifies and funds the needs of abused and neglected children in foster care.  She’s also donated to several organizations including Three Square, Smiles for Survivors, Communities in Schools, Baby’s Bounty and St. Balderick’s Foundation. Roxarzade and the Rachel’s Kitchen franchise owners have also come together to create a website that offers information to online guests about the various organizations they support throughout the year and to educate visitors about the impact of these non-profits in the community at www.friendsofrachels.com. Debbie Roxarzade gives us an inside look at Rachel’s Kitchen and tells us why she feels giving back is so important.

How did the concept of Rachel’s Kitchen come about?

“It is actually named for my daughter Rachel.  Rachel’s Kitchen has many of the same menu items from my restaurants in Los Angeles.  I had a vision that this café would be warm and inviting where people would feel comfortable and want to return.”

What do you think makes it so special? 

“It’s where people can eat regularly and find something different to try.  We pride ourselves on wholesome food and delicious recipes that are easy to enjoy.”

What are the challenges (and rewards) of developing a franchise compared to a stand-alone restaurant?

“The challenges are that I need to relinquish some control, while the rewards are watching something that I created grow and expand in the hands of others.”

Is opening a restaurant at McCarran Airport different then a neighborhood franchise?

“It’s been a learning experience. It’s definitely more challenging and different than a regular storefront. I am proud to say I am now an official airport badge holder.  I am still finalizing the menu as a grab & go location but we will have many of the same smoothies and juices, salads and sandwiches.”

Why are you so passionate about giving back?

“For me and my family, giving back means being thankful for all the things we have in life and remembering those who are less fortunate- especially children.  I am trying to teach my children daily to be grateful for what they have, and to understand the challenges that some children face. I try to include my children in some of the events that I do so they can see how they can personally make in impact in the lives of others. It’s heartbreaking for me when I meet these children who don’t have a stable home life.  I want to do whatever I can to help them.”

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

“My strong marriage to my husband Jon and raising my two children Rachel and Ryan while building my business.”

How do you unplug after a busy day?

“Dinner with my family and a glass of Pinot Noir.  We talk about our favorite and least favorite parts of our day.”

Meet the Neighbor: Sonia McTaggart-Anderson

Oct 1, 2013   //   by Meghan Pescio   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  3 Comments

By: Callie Thomas

From an early age, resident Sonia McTaggart-Anderson has upheld the belief passed on from her mother that “to whom much is given, much is expected.”  Those words of wisdom do not come from a woman who has led a privileged life but rather, one that has overcome much–some would say more than one could possibly endure—to give her children a good life.  Sonia is the sixth child of eight who were all raised in British Guiana, now Guyana South America. She grew up in a village with no running water or electricity. Everyone in the family worked in the farms and rice fields to put food on the table.  Her father was relentlessly abusive to her mother as well as the children. One by one, her brothers and sisters were sent off to live with other members of the family so that they could go to school and escape the horrors of their daily life.

Sonia recalls her mother scrimping and saving enough to buy school supplies, books, uniforms and bus fare so that they could get an education. Even with extreme challenges, Sonia excelled at school and got her first job at 16 with the Royal Bank of Canada.  With the help of relatives she came to the United States at the age of 17, finding work in the garment district, and in the years following married, had a son and obtained scholarships to enroll in a college in New York. She graduated with honors and embarked on a career in finance which she enjoyed for nearly twenty years. For over two decades, inspired by her own struggles and triumphs, Sonia has been donating her time and resources to help improve the lives of children in addition to working and raising her family. She founded the Andson Foundation, which currently assists thousands of children and youths at organizations throughout the valley to give them a better life.  Sonia talks of her extraordinary story and why ensuring others are afforded a good life means everything.

Meet the Neighbor Zip Code Magazines Sonia McTaggert Anderson

You led an incredibly challenging life as a youth—what do you think helped you through it all?

“My drive and self-confidence that was bestowed upon me by my mother, (without whom I would not have survived) and caring strangers who saw the potential in me [helped me through it all].  I believe that I am here today for a purpose. There were so many reasons and situations that I should not have survived, but here I am. I utilize each day to achieve something new and touch another life.”

What does giving back mean to you?

“My mother (who did not have a first grade education) was instrumental in making sure I had an education.  Looking back, I realize I was given an opportunity for a tremendously blessed life that I now so proudly enjoy, and to which much has been given. I joyfully give back as much as I can to my siblings, my extended family, staff and to thousands of non-related kids on a daily basis.”

You’ve assisted many charitable organizations but tell us about the Andson Foundation.

“My happiness comes from changing the lives of anyone in need.  What I enjoy most is making a difference in the lives of children and helping them excel.  Along with my son and my husband, we do just that on a daily basis through the Andson Foundation.  Our belief is that by delivering both financial and educational support to students, we will aid not only in their academic careers, but also in their personal development. Our programs develop and empower students to achieve sound and promising futures.

Our goal is to install a lifelong love of learning in every child through academic assistance and to provide social mobility by way of financial education. We’ve provided tens of thousands of hours of lessons and tutoring through partnerships with the Boys and Girls Clubs, St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, Communities in Schools, Bracken Elementary School and Bridger Middle School, Chaparral High School and Desert Oasis High School. Several other centers and elementary schools are scheduled to launch in the coming weeks. It is so important to change attitudes and behaviors and instill a lifelong love of learning.  Education will end the cycle of poverty and lack of confidence for the disadvantaged.  It did for me.”

Do you have any inspiration to give others?

“Success doesn’t come without hard work. Opportunities only knock once so seize them eagerly.  Always remember the people that helped you along the way, and a sibling will always be the best friend you will ever have.”

Meet the Neighbor: Elizabeth Trosper

Oct 1, 2013   //   by Meghan Pescio   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

By: Callie Thomas

There’s a saying, “If you want to make God laugh, make plans.”  Even when you think you’ve got your destiny mapped out, life throws curve balls.  Sometimes, it works out to be a blessing in disguise, leading you to a different course with new adventures, new people, new skills and even a new lifelong passion.  89074 resident Elizabeth Trosper moved to town from Burbank, California in 1995.  Although she had dreams of becoming a film actress after graduating from high school, attending Valley College where she was a theatre major and eventually studying at the Films Actors Workshop, it was a temp job that would open the door to an entirely new obsession.

Like many “starving artists” Trosper took a position to make ends meet as a receptionist at a public relations firm and she was hooked.  She went back to school and began her new career as an account coordinator at Manning Selvedge & Lee in Los Angeles. There she worked with some of the best talent in the industry as well as  national accounts including Sega, Mattel Toys and Blockbuster Entertainment. She continued to hone her skills here, becoming the partner of a Las Vegas public relations agency and has since opened her own company, Trosper Communications, LLC. in 2010.

Trosper has immersed herself within the community and is a current trustee, and past president, of the Board of Trustees of the Henderson Development Association and an alumnus of Leadership Henderson. She is a member of the national and Southern Nevada chapter of the Public Relations Society. She is also involved in a number of charitable organizations, providing her services on a pro-bono basis.  Trosper talks about her work, her family and her inspiration for a life well led.

Meet the Neighbor Zip Code Magazines Elizabeth Trosper

What was it like discovering a new career path?

“At Manning Selvedge & Lee in LA I discovered I liked being behind the camera more, and became skilled at providing direction for those who liked being in front of it.  My mom told me when I was growing up that I could do anything in the world that I wanted to do. I still believe that today.”

As part of your PR work, you also give back to many organizations in the community?

“As a PR professional, I do pro-bono work for many organizations to raise awareness of their charitable efforts and further their cause.  I also provide financial donations when I have the means to do so.”

What organizations do you support?

“I’ve been involved in the Henderson Boys & Girls Club, Easter Seals, Hopelink, Marion Residence and Regina Hall.  I’ve also served on the board of S.A.F.E. House.  Right now I am assisting the Henderson Salvation Army and Honor Flight of Southern Nevada.”

That’s quite a list!  Any experiences you’d like to share?
“Any time you work with a non-profit you get a glimpse into the challenges of others and I continuously thank God for his blessings on my family.”

Of all your accomplishments, what makes you most proud?

“Being a mom to my son Jeremy and daughter Brooke.”

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not on the job?

“I enjoy spending time with those that matter the most in my life –my kids, my good friends–whether it’s at an event or at home.  I like to entertain for my family as well as plan events both personally and professionally.”

What life inspiration would you offer to others?

“Be kind to one another.  Be honest in all aspects of your life, especially the difficult ones. Enjoy the journey.”

Meet the Neighbor: Paula Naegle

Oct 1, 2013   //   by Meghan Pescio   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

By: Callie Thomas

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats

The very essence of what a good teacher does is to motivate, inspire and engage children in the excitement and joy of learning.  That passion for education is at the very heart of what motivates Paula Naegle, Principal of Del Webb Middle School. She not only uses her enormous talent and enthusiasm for teaching to make a difference through education, but also to improve the health and welfare of children in the community.  Naegle has played an instrumental role in establishing and implementing an awareness campaign and new procedures and guidelines within her school and beyond to protect children from food allergens.

When Naegle’s own children were young, she began teaching English in high school.  She also served as a faculty advisor for a number of extracurricular activities, which introduced her to community service projects that integrated her students.  Considered an innovator within the industry, Naegle launched an internship program with KLVX Channel 10. Her students at Chaparral High School were exposed to television production and later were some of the first to use that technology to televise morning announcements across campus.  Naegle would be an innovator again after meeting Scott Gordin, a sixth grade student with severe food allergies. As food allergens are a life threatening disease, Gordin’s parents met with Naegle to talk about their son and how best to protect him. It was through her meetings with the Gordins that she first became introduced to and involved with the Food Allergy Research Education (FARE) organization. Paula talks about her support of FARE, her love of teaching and why it will always be a part of life as a native Las Vegan.

Zip Code Magazines Meet the Neighbor

 

As a principal, how do you stay connected with students today?

“Beyond the administrative duties and paperwork I lead monthly book chats, participate in classroom discussions and mentor struggling students.  For example, I try to show students that service to the community and school is fun and rewarding, whether it’s fundraising with our faculty to raise money for Nevada Childhood Cancer Camp Cartwheel or serving on the committee for the Las Vegas FARE Walk for Food Allergy, I try to give back wherever I can.”

You were introduced to FARE through one of your students?

“I met with the Gordins to discuss their son Scott’s life-threatening food allergies in an effort to be pro-active in keeping him safe and ensuring that he was included in the full realm of school activities. Mr. and Mrs. Gordin were so positive and helpful in teaching me and Scott’s teachers what we could do as a school to protect the lives of children with food allergies. They introduced me to FARE, a non-profit organization that ensures the safety and inclusion of individuals with food allergies while seeking a cure.”

You’ve spread the word about food allergies throughout your school.

“At Del Webb Middle School, we began implementing new procedures and guidelines to keep students with food allergies safe. Students and staff have participated in the Las Vegas FARE Walk for the past four years.  This year’s event is on November 2 at the District Green Valley Ranch. Mr. and Mrs. Gordin, Scott and I also met with former School District Superintendent Dwight Jones to discuss the need for district-wide Food Allergy Guidelines so that all schools will adopt safe practices.  That meeting led to a great opportunity:  working together with school district leaders to provide training for every CCSD employee on recognizing the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and emergency procedures to help a student who is having a serious allergic reaction.  These events were made possible, in part, due to the grant, ‘Educate Las Vegas,’ that CCSD received from funds raised at the Las Vegas Food Allergy Walk.” 

What do you think makes you successful?

“Knowing that I can make a positive difference in the lives of students is a driving force, but mostly that I was able to raise both of my daughters, Megan and Catherine, send them off to college and watch them create beautiful families of their own, all while working hard at a job that I loved.”

Meet the Neighbor: Scott Gordin

Oct 1, 2013   //   by Meghan Pescio   //   Meet Your Neighbor  //  No Comments

By: Callie Thomas

Speaking up and speaking your mind has its rewards.  Resident Scott Gordin found the courage to stand up and be vocal about his food allergies in front of the school district as well as his friends. In the process, he’s helped save the lives of other youth. Self-advocating has not only helped him deal with his own life-threatening affliction, but has created awareness of potentially life threatening food allergies and established the first-ever Clark County School District Food Allergy Management Guidelines which includes new regulations, policies and procedures through his efforts with non-profit organization Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). The new guidelines are scheduled to be released this fall.

The high school senior has severe allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish.  He’s experienced anaphylaxis (a potentially deadly allergic reaction), which sent him to the emergency room at an early age.  Due to his illness, he and his family did a great deal of research on food allergies and the dangers they pose, subsequently leading them to become involved in FARE.  His parents are volunteers for the annual fundraising Walk for Food Allergy charity as walk directors.  Scott was the youth ambassador for the walk the first year.  Now, he’s a member of the walk committee as the teen recruit chair. He’s also part of the Teen Advisory Group for FARE, which is a merger between Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network and Food Allergy Initiative where Scott is paired with other teens in a mentorship program. The group works on community projects to advocate and educate. He’s proud of the work his volunteer efforts have produced and is always eager to share his experiences.  Scott talks about giving back at an early age, his aspirations and life as a teen in Vegas.

Scott Gordin DS1D8461F

What should others know about food allergies?

“There is currently no cure.  Fifteen million Americans struggle every day from this medical condition.  One in thirteen kids has a food allergy (about three in every classroom).  Kids pass away every year from eating something they thought was safe.”

Why was it important for you to volunteer?

“Other kids feel self-conscious about their food allergies, but I feel different.  It has helped save my life by being vocal.  My school, Coronado High School, is supportive and they are sponsors of our walk.  Many students volunteer and participate in the event.”

Tell us about this year’s walk.

“I want to invite everyone in the community.  You will support those directly or indirectly afflicted by this medical condition.  The walk takes place Saturday morning on November 2 at the District at Green Valley Ranch.  Your support will help raise funds for research to find a cure.”

You’ve been recognized for your efforts?

“Yes, by Governor Sandoval and I received the Hero Award for my charity work, and a Humanitarian Award as Food Allergy Walk Teen Recruitment Chair in Nevada. As the chair, I’ve spoken to local schools and the Art Institute of Las Vegas Culinary School about the walk and participating. I secured local sponsors, volunteers, attend monthly committee meetings, and take part in TV interviews to promote the walk.”

You’ve also done an interview on PBS and your story was featured in Today.com and made MSN.com’s top 5 stories of the day…

“(Smiles) Yes, I’m really proud of that, but also the amazing support of our community and what the Walk enabled in Nevada! Thanks to our community, the 2012 walk raised $110,000 and our walk grants continue to be approved by FARE!  Together, we’ve increased awareness and raised funds to make our community a better place.  It’s also exciting that the Clark County School District and the FARE partnership created a safer place for CCSD students and staff.  I hope to see you at the charity event November 2 –  you could be saving a life!”

For more information about the charity event visit www.foodallergywalk.org/lasvegas.”

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