My life was blessed with a shining star, my niece Holly who we all unfortunately lost way too soon. The influence that Holly had on me and so many others can never be fully expressed with words. Although she was quite ill for most of her short life, her passion, dedication and commitment to education and caring for others never faltered. Holly was my greatest teacher and taught me what is most important in life: love, patience, grace, compassion, courage, perseverance, and ultimately acceptance of what life offers. She was also my inspiration to write Alpha Chick and to use my experiences to help others.
Holly’s Gift is a tribute to my lovely niece and aligns with my personal mission to help women live more fulfilling lives by helping them to have higher self-esteem and personal awareness. Holly’s Gift encompasses a school in Kondjila, West Africa and a scholarship fund at Boston College Law School both in Holly’s memory. The funding for Holly’s Gift is through the sale of my book, Alpha Chick. Our current goal is to assist 1-3 women annually through education and helping them to become employable, gain financial independence and by opening the door to the power of choice in their lives.
The School – Kondjila, West Africa
In April 2006, I had the opportunity to attend a “We Are Family Foundation” charity event in NYC. They were honoring Elton John for his humanitarian efforts throughout the world. He happened to be sitting with his partner at the table next to mine. I could reach out and touch him if I wanted to. Of course I didn’t but I did stare a lot. They were going to auction off his watch to raise money for building schools in Africa. I guess I could have bid on the watch, but I decided to be a little bit more discreet and after the event contacted the organization to let them know I was interested in learning how to build a school in memory of my beautiful niece Holly.
The real estate market was still very strong so I felt financially I could absolutely do this and I have never had a moments regret, the school is my most important and rewarding accomplishment. Besides, I also got to take pictures of Elton performing. I am standing about 8 feet away from him during his performance. How thrilling is that?
The school took 18 months to coordinate and build. US students volunteered through Building With Books and traveled to Africa during school breaks to work on the school which is constructed in Kondjila, West Africa. This area is not a politically hostile area so that Americans can safely travel there. The school captures the spirit of my niece Holly and everything she lived for, education, children as well as helping others less fortunate than her. She was studying law and becoming a child advocate when she died.
This picture was taken opening day with the students standing in front of the school which will educate 100 boys and girls annually. Without this school, these children never would have received an education. Holly’s light is shining on these beautiful little faces.
Gratefully Holly lives on, I hear her inspirational voice in my daily meditations and feel her essence of a true Alpha Chick in so many ways, her light will always shine brightly and I know she is smiling at the opportunity to help others by way of Holly’s Gift.