11.21 | Service Projects & Piña Coladas (Sold Separately)

To set the tone of how I felt at the end of last week… VIDEO CLIP TIME:


Oooooh Hawaii! After a stressful, snowy time back in Boston, a sleepless, cramped time in New York, a fast-paced, cold/flu-battling time in LA and a quick, busy trip to San Diego, Hawaii was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered!

First, on Veterans Day, 11.11.11, the project I was managing in San Diego was a total hit. After the project completing falling apart just the week before things looked grim but somehow we put together a completely new project and it was amazing! We put on a reverse care package project where military members, veterans and military families came out to volunteer with civilian volunteers to put together care packages for homeless communities in San Diego. The event was in Petco Park, home of the Padres and we were joined by Padres outfielder Will Venable, the Pad Squad and The Friar - which by the way is the strangest mascot ever but super fun! What was the biggest and best surprise of the day was we only expected about 50-60 volunteers and 120 showed up! It was insane, incredible, inspiring and definitely one of those moments that reminded me why I do what I do!

And I had another one of those moments in Hawaii. Shocker? Well, although there were a lot of piña coladas and other delicious tropical drinks consumed during my time in Hawaii, it was, to begin with, a work related trip. Our final and largest Veterans Day event was at the Hickam Elementary School in Honolulu. We partnered with American Heart Association Teaching Gardens (which is so cool, so please click on the link and read up about them) to bring a garden to the school and teach the kids about gardening, healthy eating and exercising. It was so fun and um look how adorable the kids are in oversized ServiceNation t-shirts:

Plus, cast members from Hawaii Five-0 were there and they were so fun! Especially Daniel Dae Kim - I was a huge LOST fan so meeting him was kinda, how should I put this, AWESOME.

Ok, before I move on, shameless plug here: go to and read up on all the other amazing signature ServiceNation service projects (11 total) that went on in honor of Veterans Day. And if you didn’t serve this year, think about it for next year! It’s only 355 days away!

After Monday, I finally got some time off! I spent most of my time by the beach or by the pool. The tropical drinks flowed and I felt like I was in paradise. I could recap my whole trip but that sounds like the equivalent of making you all sit on my couch and look at a slide show so here are my vacation highlights:

  • SHAVE ICE - A delicious, signature Hawaiian treat.
  • Learning the word “boondoggle.”
  • Wang Chung’s Karaoke Bar: Which is a literal room and karaoke is not done on a stage but by passing the microphone(s) around the room. And basically if everyone knows the song, it becomes a phenomenal sing-a-long. It was an absolute BLAST!
  • Sushi: All of it, everywhere. I wish I had just eaten sushi every day - it was the best sushi I’ve ever had. Ever. And I had it at two different places! OMG YUM.
  • Playing with my co-worker’s daughter in the sand and in the pool. She’s nearly 2 years old, ADORABLE and super awesome. We became BFFs, no big deal.
  • Discovering the Pink Dimple - it involves macadamia liquor…. um DELICIOUS.
  • Reading an entire book! When was the last time that happened? The answer to that question is sad and embarrassing.
  • Getting my TAN on.
  • Eating frozen yogurt for dinner and falling asleep at 9:30pm.
  • Eggs Benedict and Bloody Mary breakfast.
  • Going to Narnia - for those who don’t know what that means, I surfed and I rode a wave and it was NARLY.
  • Seeing my favorite animal at the ZOO: Giraffes!!!!
  • And THIS guy (HOLY HOTNESS):

And now my traveling days are over for an entire month! Which means it’s back to L.A. based adventures and writing about them all!

Top 10 Highlights of Will and Kate's US visit

To conclude their 11-day tour of North America, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a stop in Los Angeles, California. Not only did they join in on ServiceNation: Mission Serve’s hiring fair, “Hiring Our Heroes,” but they made some other stops as well, including the Inner-City Arts campus. So with all said and done, let’s go through some highlights and fun facts of the very Brit visit!

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1.  “This is the last event on our tour of North America, and in my mind it was one of the seriously most important. This is because it is about men and women who, of their own free will, choose to put their life on the line for their country.” - Prince William, in a speech at “Hiring Our Heroes”

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2.  William jokingly called Harry, who is jointly part of The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry, his “very low-flying, very Apache, very average brother” in his speech.

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3.  Prince William recognized that it is not just those actually in the military that are of importance, but the spouses play a significant role as well. He said, “It is about our other halves. The half that makes the loved one’s duty and sacrifice possible and worthwhile. It is about you.”

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4.  The Mission Serve job fair took place on the same historic stage where The Wizard of Oz was filmed, called Stage 15.

5.  It turns out Kate wanted to know what it was like to be a military spouse. She said she couldn’t imagine a long deployment and said “the last time Will was gone for four weeks she missed him a lot” (insert “aww” here). Conversing with veteran wives. she asked a lot of questions about being a military spouse and said she was looking forward to starting service programs for military families.

6.  Will and Kate helped to create 1,000 care packages for the sons and daughters of soon-to-be-deployed servicemen and women.

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7.  There seemed to be a lot of promise for the job-seeking veterans. Officer Julian Canales of the Los Angeles Police Department said veterans, in particular, are a perfect fit for his line of work. “Military personnel have the easiest time fitting into a paramilitary organization; they understand rank structure, how to take orders and work different hours and shifts,” he said.

8.  Will and Kate were very hands-on, making crafts with children from the Inner-City Arts campus, Will pictured here creating a giant tortoise. Inner-City Arts provides arts education to help children achieve academic and personal outcomes, especially those in poverty.

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And it turns out, the Duchess of Cambridge can paint quite the red snail.

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9.  Will and Kate attended a private reception for the launch of the US Patrons Circle of Tusk, the African wildlife conservation charity, of which Will has been a patron since 2006.

10.  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and J. Lo all in the same photo (sorry, just had to do it). At the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) “Brits to Watch” event. Prince William is the president of BAFTA, which promotes and honors excellence in television, film, and Internet and multimedia technologies.

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Remember: you can make like Will and Kate and support Mission Serve’s efforts and text MISSION to 85944 to make a $10 donation. Brilliant.

Honoring our Veterans with Will and Kate

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With all of the media hype leading up to the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, it seemed more like the next big celebrity wedding, doomed to be failed and every action caught by the paparazzi. After the big day, it seemed as though we just could not stop talking about it (myImpact has to admit that we did liken NCVS to the royal wedding of national conferences). Alas, Will and Kate have proved us wrong, actively involving themselves in philanthropies, recently touring Canada for the 2011 Calgary Stampede, and doing their part as Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Next Stop: Los Angeles, California.

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Will and Kate will be present at the Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California this Sunday, July 10. No, it is not just another photo opportunity where everyone can analyze William’s receding hairline or one of Kate’s big hats, but rather they will be supporting ServiceNation: Mission Serve as it hosts Hiring our Heroes Los Angeles, a veteran and military spouses hiring fair. Mission Serve is teaming up with the Chamber of Commerce, USO and other organizations to bring 155 employers and 20 non-profits providing services, along with more than 1500 job seekers. The royal couple will also join a service project to create 1,000 care packages for military children, as well as attend a reception for supporters and champions of the cause.

Mission Serve, ServiceNation’s civilian-military initiative, is a network of organizations dedicated to bringing together civilian and military communities through service and volunteerism. It is looking for donations of any amount to these veterans and their military families. With over 100,000 veterans unemployed in California alone, donations would really benefit these families and thank them for their service.

Donations can be made online or texting MISSION to 85944 to donate $10. Checks can also be sent via snail mail made out to Be the Change Inc. to:

Be the Change Inc., 2 Canal Park, Cambridge, MA 02141

Easy and simple. And Kate would approve.

Follow Mission Serve on Twitter and Facebook to get full updates on the royal couple’s whereabouts when they land in sunny LA.