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Get Involved Beyond the "Work" and Reap the Rewards

05/31/2012 Adrienne N. Hester

One of my passions in life is helping others reach their personal level of success however they define it for themselves. This past month I've had several rewarding experiences while working with clients and learned more about myself in process.

2012 Race for the Cure Southern Nevada
2012 Race for the Cure Southern Nevada

Experience One: On Saturday, May 5 the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was held in downtown Las Vegas and ended at the Fremont Street Experience. I walked for my friends, those I do not know, those who survive, have lost the fight, and those constantly fighting to find a cure to end the battle against the disease. The past several years, I walked on my sorority's team, the Pink Pearls, as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated Theta Theta Omega chapter, to fulfill the premise of "one sister making a promise to another sister."

Team Downsize Fitness
Team Downsize Fitness

This year was different. I walked on team Downsize Fitness Las Vegas, a new gym helping chronically overweight individuals wanting to lose 50 pounds or more reach and maintain their goals. I researched the causes of obesity by race, gender and age, and how it relates to cancer; I found chronically overweight individuals are more susceptible to 60 types of cancer like endometrial, esophagus, colon, kidney and thyroid according to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. I also learned several other facts I never thought about since I am not an overweight person, however I have many family members in Oklahoma who should be members of the gym. As I walked the quarter mile to meet up with my client and his gym members, I was approached by a mother and her teen daughter who was a bit overweight. The mother started a conversation by complimenting my CamelBak hydration pack then asking what I do as a career. I responded, "I'm a strategic marketer. I'm walking with my fitness client." I then told them the following facts:

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found in a study conducted from 2006 to 2008 "compared with whites, blacks had a 51% higher obesity rate."
  2. The Weight-control and Information Network, an information service of the division of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, found "on average, people who are considered obese pay $1,429 (42 percent) more in health care costs than normal-weight individuals"; Marketdata found the total U.S. weight loss market grew to a $68.7 billion industry in 2010; Nationwide 15.2 percent of youth between 10 and 17 years old are categorized as obese.
  3. A report recently released by Duke University concludes "the severely obese make up at least 9 percent of the nation's yearly health spending, or $150 billion a year." And "severe obesity will double by 2030 and 11 percent of adults will be nearly 100 pounds overweight or more."

As we walked for the cure, I thought about the future, the importance of good health, and how my participation this year went beyond me. I was able to share what I recently learned with others. It felt good.

LVCCLD Scholarship
Jeanne Goodrich Exec. Dir. LVCCLD, Angelina Paez, Manuja Sahan Gunaratne, Juan Gonzalez, Avree Walker, Rocio Hernandez, Tom and Bonnie Lawyer.

Experience Two: My entire life I've been an avid reader and spent many afternoons while growing up at my public library. On Saturday, May 19, I attended an event with my new client, the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Foundation, awards presentation of the Tom and Bonnie Lawyer West Las Vegas Library Academic Scholarship of seven $1,000 gift donations to exceptional students who demonstrated a love for their West Las Vegas community, as well as academic achievement and financial need. These young adults are smart! They kept high scholastic standards (lowest GPA 3.5, high 4.7 GPA) while dealing with immense struggles at home like unemployment, low wages, alcoholism, violence and life changing health issues all while giving back to the community.

Philanthropist Tom Lawyer
Philanthropist Tom Lawyer.

The Tom and Bonnie Lawyer West Las Vegas Library Academic Scholarship was created in 2009 by former Library Foundation president Tom Lawyer in honor of the library's commitment to the community. To be eligible winners met the following criteria: demonstrated success in school, community involvement, a strong connection to the West Las Vegas Library, and a need for financial support to pursue their education goals.

As I stood and listened to philanthropist Tom Lawyer speak about each student, I remembered reading their applications and thinking "I wonder if I would have been as successful academically if I were in their situations?" They taught me that an adverse position is something that happens to a person, but does not make up who we are as individuals. They also reinforced my life motto, "Nothing and no one will determine how successful I will be in this life except for me." *Photos Courtesy of Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Foundation

Asst. Mgr. Capt. Maryann Villareal and Exec. Sous Chef Jason Reynolds
Asst. Mgr. Capt. Maryann Villareal and Exec. Sous Chef Jason Reynolds

Experience Three: I work with a culinary school, the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas (formerly the Culinary Training Academy), the country's leading nonprofit culinary and hospitality training institute. The Academy provides food for the federally funded Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) administered by Nevada's Department of Education. This program provides free, nutritious meals to children in low-income areas during the summer.

Students raise both arms ready to eat
Students raise both arms ready to eat.

On Wednesday, May 23, the Academy hosted the First Grade Food Critics, a movement founded by Benjamin Brown, an elementary school teacher and food journalist to promote nutrition education, career awareness and academic development among children in at-risk schools, to taste-test two new menu items: chicken salad and fresh broccoli florets, in addition to whole wheat crackers, salad, fruit and low-fat one percent milk. After critiquing the SFSP menu they sampled a chocolate chip cookie from the cafe menu.

Chicken salad on a bed of lettuce and fresh broccoli florets, whole wheat crackers, salad, fruit, and a cookie with one percent milkOne thing about kids is their blatant honesty. If they don't understand or like something it will show all over their faces. It was interesting to see them experience a non-microwaved boxed lunch, which is the norm for elementary schools in Las Vegas. The fresh chicken salad was a favorite, but none ate it atop the crackers, and the broccoli was a challenge because it was raw. Although provided with a packet of ranch dressing, the kids did not think to use it as a dipping sauce.

Exploring Fresh BrocoliMore Smiles

Chefs prepare for lunch to begin at Springs CafeEating an orange slice

I learned a life lesson unknowingly taught by a bunch of six-year-old students. To try new things and try them often. If I never attempt anything new how will I grow as a person?

Get involved with your clients beyond the "work" and realize the personal rewards. You just might learn something about yourself.

*Photos Courtesy of the Culinary Training Academy of Las Vegas

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