A favorite hobby of mine is curating recipes. I’m a self-taught cook (more Rachel Ray, than Wolfgang Puck). I find solace in ingredients, and joy in family gatherings around the table. When designing a menu for a recent dinner party, I headed directly to my Pinterest recipe boards and started perusing the deliciousness I have parked for such an occasion.
For dinner with friends, I was looking for a chicken recipe that would be unexpected, along with a creative pasta that would accompany the happy bird.
Get ready to lose your face, because this menu was beyond expectation…
In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight two amazing organizations I have the pleasure of serving. Last year, I realized I was missing the “giving back” piece to my business, so I set out to engage in the community with organizations that would allow me to truly get entrenched with their mission, and service to others. It has been life changing to be involved with both Voices for Children as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and the San Diego Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team.
As a CASA, I have been assigned a sibling group of four dynamic young women who have been in and out of the foster care system. My role as the CASA is to interact with these girls and to advocate on their behalf to the judge and attorneys assigned to their case. So often, when kids enter the foster care system, adults make all of the decisions, but little attention is paid to what is best or the true desire of the child. CASA’s are solely focused on the children. I have had the pleasure of getting to know these four girls and to help them to navigate the foster and court system. Far too many children become lost in the foster care system, due to their parents inability to truly parent. It’s a system that is very broken and often impersonal due to heavy case loads for the social workers and the attorneys. As the “grown ups” spend hours trying to come to a settlement in the case, I have the fortune of engaging with the girls on a very personal level. I visit with them monthly, and check in on them frequently. In our outings we enjoy lunch, shopping or even a visit to the dog park. The outings don’t have to be fancy; they just have to be interactive so I can get to really know the girls. When children are showered with love, they bloom in very dynamic and wonderful ways. To learn more about Voices for Children, please visit www.SpeakUpNow.org.
As a Crisis Interventionist with the San Diego Police Department, I have been exposed to a wonderful community of dedicated volunteers who are the silent heroes in our neighborhoods. A Crisis Interventionist is requested by a police officer when he or she arrives on a scene and finds a trauma. Most often this is due to a death, missing child or natural disaster. The officer will ask the family or victims if they could benefit from additional support and resources in the midst of the crisis. An Interventionist is dispatched and we arrive on scene to provide resources and emotional support to the victims. We often encounter the deceased on scene, and help the family to navigate the process of selecting a mortuary, notifying other relatives, and offering resources. The work can be very emotional because you are meeting people in their most vulnerable moments, but it is also incredibly rewarding because you are bringing sanity to a situation that makes no sense. The SDPD pioneered that CI program over 20 years ago, and it is now recognized as a model across the country. Research shows that victims are able to heal quicker when they receive immediate support from an interventionist.
I often get asked “how can you see so many dead bodies and not get bothered?” and the answer is quite simple. The deceased is not our focus; instead we are there to support the family and to help them with the overwhelming logistics that ensue when a loved one dies. I leave every scene grateful for my own family, and for the privilege of being welcomed into the home of strangers in their weakest moments. To learn more about the SDPD Crisis Interventionist program, please visit…https://www.sandiego.gov/police/recruiting/volunteer.shtml#crisis and watch: https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Volunteers-Sought-for-San-Diego-Police-Department-Crisis-Intervention-Team-SDPD-288609021.html
Where are you volunteering? Drop your comment below!
If you are one of the 26% of couples to get engaged over the holidays, two things are happening:
You can’t stop flashing your diamond (“Oh what, this new thing?”) and telling your engagement story to anyone who will listen. And…
You’re now back to work and you aren’t doing anything at your desk this week besides building your wedding board on Pinterest!
I get that you are totally excited, and you want to start your venue tours, cake tastings and dress shopping, stat! I get it; you’ve probably thought about this moment your entire life. Not to burst your bubble, princess…but first thing you should be doing is booking your planner! I know, it doesn’t seem as fun to think about your wedding planner as it is to dream about lace, bridesmaids and honeymoon destinations, but your planner is going to set you up for success so all those dreams come true!
Here’s 5 things you should consider when selecting your planner…
Understand the difference between a “Day-of Coordinator” and a “Full Service Planner.” In the industry, the “day-of coordinator” doesn’t really exist. Any of us true professionals will tell you that we would never show up at a wedding the day-of and just wing it. “Day-of” really is “month-of” coordination because it’s important we reach out to all of your vendors and to create a timeline and production schedule so that the day runs smoothly. Realize of course that “day-of” coordinators are not full service planners, so PLEASE do not think you are paying for day-of and expecting full-service. In contrast, a full-service planner is going to be your partner in your planning. We work with clients to create a vision, budget, design and coordinate the affair.
Does the planner have insurance, a business license and a legit business? Is your planner a member of a professional event industry association and/or certified? If you can answer no to any of these questions, you need to sprint away from the planner. They are not a professional…move on!
You get what you pay for…see #2. If you find a planner that is offering to charge you an insanely small amount to coordinate, you should be hesitant of their professionalism. The average day-of coordinator should be charging at least $1500 given the amount of time they put in month-of and on the wedding day. The cost will be more if they have an assistant (given the size of your wedding). A professional planner is bringing their experience, resources and vendor team to the table. This comes with a cost.
Be realistic with your budget! Trying to dodge the budget question with your planner is just going to end in tears. Your Pinterest wedding board probably will cost you $10 million. If you don’t have that in your budget, let your planner help you to prioritize your resources. Planners are not in the business of spending every penny you’ve ever made in your life. Tell us what you have in the budget, and we will tell you the best way to spend it to gain value.
The relationship between the planner and the couple is paramount. You have to like each other! Be sure the planner you select feels like a partner, a confidant and your cheerleader. You should not be afraid of your planner!
Nicole R. Matthews, CSEP, is Founder & Lifestyle Architect of The Henley Company, LLC. a global event, travel and lifestyle concierge firm. With the belief that life should be experienced in a big way, Nicole set out to create a company focused on helping clients to live the life they want and to produce the experiences they want to remember!
The Henley Company offers comprehensive event production, as well as manages the busy lives of executives and their families. Her recent international projects include the 2012 London Olympics, the 2013 Super Bowl & FIFA Confederation Cup in Brazil, and most recently the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Nicole’s first book, Permission – Stop Competing & Start Creating The Life You Want to Live is now available on Amazon. Follow her antics on Twitter at @henleyco.