Blog Updates

“Changing the World, One Conversation at a Time”

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Operation Big Sister is deeply grateful to Corporate Visions and their Larkspur Landing office, for recently donating a two-day Power Messaging workshop [June 2-3, 2016] to help members of the core team working behind the scenes on Operation Big Sister to create winning conversations with donors, and to tell the story about human trafficking in a way that will be a win for the world.

Learning about the terrible global issue of human sex trafficking forever changed the lives of a small group of delegates of UN Peace Messenger Organization “Pathways To Peace,” based here in Larkspur, California. While in attendance at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, they not only learned how pervasive sexual exploitation of innocents is (and shockingly local to Marin- California is one of the top four destination states for purchasers of sexually exploited humans*), but they also met a unique group of individuals who are doing something surprisingly effective to stop it.

“Operation Big Sister” is a true story – soon to be a feature film, documentary and digital education platform initiated by these local UN delegates- on what we can do to stop human trafficking. It is inspired by the 85 anonymous Icelandic women they encountered at the UN, who instigated a successful sting operation to deter human trafficking in Iceland and modeled what we here in far away Marin can also do to end this scourge President Jimmy Carter has called the “greatest human rights violation in the history of humankind.”

Fyera Foundation Workshop June 2-3-2016 at Larkspur Office
[Above photo on the far end, left to right is: Sheila Ryan in black and white top, Nicci Hammerel with red blouse, Sheva Carr, Executive Director of Fyera Foundation, and Cheryl Geoffrion of CVI]

If you are interested in joining with a synergy of social change agents, United Nations Delegates, educators, Hollywood filmmakers, tech wizards, cyber hackers, law enforcement, trafficked survivors, ex-human traffickers, and average everyday citizens who want to make this world work better for all, by helping the efforts to end human trafficking- then contact

Sheva - student becomes the master June 2-3-2016
[Above photo is Sheva Carr leading the group]

Thank you to Sheila Ryan and Nicci Hammerel, who led the two-day workshop with their excellent consulting skills, Evan O’Donnell for his masterful writing ability, and Cheryl Geoffrion for partnering with Charlotte Kobayashi and Fabiana LaBauve of CVI to make this all happen.

[By Sheva Carr, Executive Director of Fyera Foundation]

Doylestown Helps Knock out Hunger

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On June 17th, ten employees from the CVI Doylestown office volunteered at the 4th annual Bucks Knocks Out Hunger sponsored by United Way. Hundreds of volunteers from a variety of business sponsors, churches, and other area organizations assembled nutritious meals that will go to 27 area food pantries and 6 senior centers. One in ten residents and 16% of all children in Bucks County are considered food insecure.

The CVI team suited up with gloves, hair nets, and even beard nets and quickly got to work at their table packing meals. Mary Pacell started the line by setting up bags and monitoring all the ingredients for each packet. The assembly line included Justin Bowers, Cassie Galster, Tim Brooks, and Brent Alwood. Each bag was filled with a nutrition supplement, vegetables, pasta, beans, and rice.

2nd Quarter Doylestown Knocks out Hunger June 17-2016 (2)

2nd Quarter Doylestown Knocks out Hunger June 17-2016 (1)

After the bags were filled, each was weighed carefully by Leslie Morgan and Jim Jordan to make sure the amount of food was accurate. Next, Evan O’Donnell and Michelina Jones sealed each bag, and finally, Eric Nitschke managed the packing of the meals in boxes. The CVI team completed 11 boxes and packaged 1,650 individual meals in under two hours! Collectively, all volunteers packed 110,000 meals throughout the day.
Everybody worked fast and efficiently and had a great time. The room was full of energy as the DJ played tunes to cheer us on. Our own Brent got a shout out on Twitter from United Way to celebrate his birthday. Everyone at United Way was extremely supportive and helpful.
Through partnerships with Delaware Valley University’s, Hope of the Harvest, and Rolling Hill Harvest Food Rescue, fresh, local produce will also be delivered to area food pantries. Funds raised from BKO Hunger are also dispersed to pantries to purchase perishable items, such as milk, eggs, and meats.
While this year’s campaign has gotten off to a solid start by raising $60,000, United Way is still short of its BKO 2016 fundraising goal of $70,000. To make a donation, visit Bucks Knocks Out Hunger.

[By Cassie Galster]

Second Bicycle Give-Away at Bahia Elementary School in San Rafael, California

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[Photo above: Far left Teresa Kwan representing Joe Terry, and Francisco Ramirez representing himself 5 bicycles and, Charlotte Kobayashi for one bicycle]

On April 22, 2016, through our combined efforts of San Rafael Elks Lodge, private donors — Joe Terry, Wendy Brache, Charlotte Kobayashi , Francisco Ramirez and Bob Gordon, entertainment attorney in Mill Valley, 16 additional bicycles, helmets and locks were awarded to the 4th graders who wrote letters of why they deserved to receive a bicycle.

The awards assembly held at the school’s multi-purpose room included all three fourth grade classes, staff and some parents . All the donors from the respective organizations and individual donors were present to award each child his or her bicycle, helmet and lock, along with certificates.

Mary Christian represented Wendy Brache, Charlotte Kobayashi represented herself and Francisco Ramirez represented himself to award 5 of the bicycle, helmets, and locks.

[Below photo Molly Schmidt of CVNL, Bob Gordon in the middle with glasses, a private donor second time around; Mary Christian representing Wendy Brache of Colorado; behind Mary is Sarah Gaidano Program Coordinator and Joe Tato of San Rafael Elks – blue shirt] 2nd Quarter 2016 Private Donors - Bob Gordon donor in center with glasses

[Below photo: left to right: San Rafael Elks’  individual donors, Officers and Trustees with the 4th grade recipients. San Rafael Elks provided about half of the 26 bicycles] 2nd Quarter 2016 San Rafael Elks Lodge Partners and donors

And, below is Francisco handing out awards to the 5 recipients who received his generous prize money for outstanding work at CVI] 2nd Quarter 2016 Francisco handing out award certificate-Sarah Gaidano and Molly Schmidt in photo

We would also like to thank the following individuals for making sixteen 4th grader students very happy: Sarah Gaidano, Program Coordinator for Bahia Elementary arranged all the logistics at the school working with teachers; Principal – Cecelia Perez; and the 4 grade teachers and students; Tony Tom of Bicycle Odyssey of Sausalito, who purchased and assembled all the bicycles and San Rafael Elks’ Team -Dennis McNell, Monica McMillan, Joe Tato, Tad Inouye, Travis Jones, Itamar Bikszer, Elks Trustees & Officers for their continuous support in getting the logistical details completed.

We look forward to our continued partnership in serving our communities in Marin!
[By Charlotte Kobayashi]

Tahoe’s Connection for Families

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Nicci Hammerel and family spent a full day, on May 22, 2016, volunteering to support a fundraiser for Tahoe’s Connection for Families. This non-profit organization offers parenting education and early childhood development programs. The three Hammerel family members supported their annual Teddy Bear Picnic event at Aspen Grove in Incline. Attached are a few photos showing how much fun they had!

Ayla Elizabeth Hammerel -oh so much fun!

Picnic grounds

[By Nicci Hammerel]

Colorado Advocates for Children 2016

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Jeanie Clidence and Wendy Brache ran the Boulder 10k Race on Memorial Day in support of Scott Smith’s favorite Denver Charity, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates).
2nd Quarter 2016 Jeannie and guess who

This organization is dedicated to helping children live and thrive in a safe, permanent, and nurturing home.
The four of them- Scott, Wendy, Jeannie and Jill raised $2000!
[By Wendy Brache]

Oregon Humane Society

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On June 2, 2016 Fabiana LaBauve volunteered at the Oregon Humane Society socializing the cats and dogs awaiting adoption. Fabiana spent the morning playing fetch, teaching commands and lavishing the dogs with belly rubs and “you’re a good boy” affirmations. After an active morning with the dogs, it was time to visit the cat sanctuary where balls, strings and treats made for an interactive playroom for cats ranging in age from 7months to 3 years. The OHS socializing volunteer program is so important for these animals, here’s why:

In 2015 OHS had 11,620 adoptions, that’s a 98% adoption rate!
• 5,178 dogs (99% adoption rate)
• 5,581 cats (97% adoption rate)
• 861 small animals (93% adoption rate)

Their adoption rate is consistently 3-4 times above the national average and is one of the highest in the nation. That’s because animals who are better socialized are more likely to get adopted. This program consistently exposes the animals to people, which makes them better prepared for when they meet their forever home family.

This was such wonderful and rewarding experience that Fabiana has signed up to become a “regular volunteer” – I mean, who can resist play time with the fur babies?! OHS has 140 full time employees and almost 2,000 volunteers! They couldn’t do all the amazing things they do for these animals without the help of volunteers and donations
[By Fabiana LaBauve]

Hope in Motion Walk & Run

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On Sunday morning, June 5th, 2016, Diane Frate, Lisa Slen, and Sabina Frison joined the “Benjamin’s and Beyond” team for the Hope in Motion cancer walk & run in Stamford, CT. This is a year-round fundraising initiative for the Bennett Cancer Center at Stamford Hospital.

Thousands of walkers and runners packed together at Columbus Park under banners and signs to honor those who survived cancer and others at the 21st annual Hope in Motion fundraiser. The event is held to coincide with National Cancer Survivor’s Day.
More than 230 teams took part in the 5K walk which followed a route up Atlantic and Bedford streets and down Summer Street back to Columbus Park.
Here we are…
Hope in Motion Lisa, Diane and Sabina June 5, 2016

Through their signature event, the Walk & Run and other events throughout the year, the community comes together to raise funds for cancer patients in the community. For 21 years, the Bennett Cancer Center has provided the highest standard of care in the area to the community’s cancer patients and their families in a warm and supportive environment. 100% of the funds raised through Hope in Motion go directly to programs and services at the Bennett Cancer Center, all provided free of charge to their patients. Support ranges from individual grants to support patients’ living expenses, transportation to and from treatment, nutrition coaching, and family and group counseling.

By Diane Frate

“Tails at Twilight” – Valley Humane Society Pleasanton

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[Photo above, Peggy Budnick, 4th from left, with Valley Human Supporters and Friends at the gala.]

“Tails at Twilight” Gala, benefiting Dogs, Cats, Seniors and Pet Guardians throughout the Bay Area.

On March 4,2016, Peggy Budnick was honored to represent Corporate Visions as a key sponsor for the Valley Humane Society’s “Tails at Twilight”, a Speakeasy-themed gala held at the Ruby Hills Golf Club in Pleasanton, California.

Peggy and Valley Humane Supporters and Friends March 11-2016
[Photo above: Valley Humane Society Supporters]

This second annual event was attended by over 200 animal lovers, and raised over $40,000 for the Society’s programs and services, including the rescue of local dogs and cats, children’s humane education, and community services such as AniMeals pet food pantry and Canine Comfort pet therapy.

Valley Humane Society has been a part of the local community for over 28 years, working to create a brighter future for cats and dogs by strengthening the bond between people and pets. Beyond rescuing and rehabilitating abandoned companion animals, Valley Humane supports and preserves existing pet-guardian relationships through partnerships with groups like Hope Hospice and Bay Area food banks. They work hand in hand with the community to provide a wide array of services including providing necessary supplies to struggling pet guardians, promoting children’s literacy with a canine partner or bringing a friendly furry face to lonely seniors.
Thank you Corporate Visions for your generous support of this successful and fun event!

[by Peggy Budnick]

“Band Together” – Benefitting Willowbrook Corner Youth Learning Program

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Matt and Alyssa March 5-2016

On March 5th, 2016, Alyssa & I co-chaired a fundraiser called Band Together. The event (live music, food, and some auction items) raised over $30,000 for the Willowbrook Corner Youth Learning Program – which provides educational and recreational opportunities to at-risk children residing in the low-income Willowbrook Corner neighborhood. A true highlight of the evening was when our guest speakers, Artelia and her children Amar’e and Ariyanna (pictured below) shared how this program continues to make a huge difference in their lives.

Band Together - more of

Matt Guido and co host

For Artelia, Willowbrook Corner has provided a safe and positive place for her children during non-school hours, allowing her to hold down a full-time job. Artelia’s gratitude for the Staff at Willowbrook Corner and her testimony to what a great source of emotional support they provided for her family during some very difficult times was both encouraging and inspiring. It was so apparent that for Amar’e and Ariyanna, Willowbrook Corner is a community of support both academically and socially. It is also a place for them to practice positive decision-making skills, to make connections with people outside of their neighborhood and have extra-curricular experiences that they would otherwise not have access.

Donations are always accepted for Willowbrook Corner at:

[By Matt Guido]

Heavy Lifting for Habitat for Humanity

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On April 5th, eight members of the CVI Doylestown office volunteered at the Bucks County Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The ReStore sells donated furniture, housewares, home décor, appliances, books and much more, with proceeds helping to fund Habitat’s efforts to provide affordable housing in Bucks County. The ReStore’s goal is that one years’ worth of profits from the store can build one home for the community. In addition to Habitat’s mission of building affordable housing, the ReStore helps to collect items for those projects and promotes reusing and recycling within the community.

Before the team arrived, two large trucks of office furniture had already pulled up to the dock, so we got right to work moving over a dozen large desks, chairs, cabinets and bookcases. After everything was unloaded, we did our best to make room for those items by moving around the current displays. Items are constantly coming and going in the store and the Habitat team tries to feature its best or seasonal items in the front. After lots of heavy lifting, Elise Moores, Leslie Morgan and Cassie Galster put their organizational skills to work arranging countless office, patio and dining room chairs.

1st Quarter 2016 Doylestown Group -moving furniture

Justin Bowers, Evan O’Donnell, Brent Alwood, Tim Brooks and Jim Jordan (who was also celebrating a birthday) separated the furniture into categories and created rows the so customers could browse the store easily. The guys put their strength to work (along with the ladies) as everyone unloaded, moved, rolled and stacked pretty much anything they could find.

It was a tiring day, but the team did a great job and Habitat was grateful for their help and time.

[By Cassie Galster]