Hi Everyone! Did you miss me?
Days get busy and it seems as though there is never enough time to do it all in a day, week.....or even month! Get my drift? The answer is NO, I could never forget about contributing to my blog. Especially Bella Piccolina, this alter-ego character I created that has taken on such an entrepreneur spirit in me and life of its own, filled of purpose, pasta-making and passion to share with other my fond appreciation for my deep Italian heritage and roots.
I feel like I owe an explanation to my readers and followers as to why I have been MIA on the Wordpress site these past few months, although I have not been writing, I have not forgotten about you all, Bella Piccolina, or even my unconditional love for Pasta-making and Italy.
For the season of LENT (although it is over, it is lon-lasting) I gave up something that I have been wanting to do for some time. I dedicated "my time." I did not "give up" my time but rather "dedicated" my time. With hopes of inspiring the community and those especially close around me, I dedicated the past TEN weeks of my life to focus my efforts in strengthening my community which I believe would make me a better, stronger and more compassionate person filled with purpose. I wanted to find a deeper meaning to "time" and spending my own "time" dedicated to helping those around me that are in need, by leading by example and servicing my community doing something I truly believe in.
I am honored and humbled to have been nominated as a candidate for this year's Leukemia and Lymphoma Society RI Chapter Man/Woman of the Year (MWOY) Campaign. Each year the LLS organization nominates a small group in the community in which they feel can bring about awareness of blood cancer research. LLS is a very special organization here in RI that looks to improve the quality of life not only for patients but also their families and research here in RI to help find a cure to blood cancer. For each dollar raised a point is given to the candidate, wrapping up the campaign this Friday, April 24th. The way it works is just like this - the Male with the highest dollars (donation $'s / points) and Female with the highest dollars (donation $'s /points) brings home the title as Man or Woman of the Year. Let me be very honest, although I am flattered and honored to have been nominated, I kindly admit this has NOTHING to do with me and EVERYTHING to do with my community. I have met some of the most incredible people, both families, adults, siblings and children along this quest and I am blessed to have met every one of them! Myself along with my dedicated and tirelessly working team and my stellar (and AMAZING best friend, Brooke!) have teamed up to host events within the past TEN weeks to help raise awareness and funds for blood cancer and this organization. We have hosted an Silent Art Auction at EUNOIA (a fine art gallery located in Chapel View Cranston RI) on March 19th where children and their siblings affected by blood cancer had the opportunity to paint their stories on magical 11x14 canvases. These pieces of artwork were spectacular, they lit up the entire gallery with so much inspiration, brightness and magic! These kids are the future of our world, their painting showed that when cancer hits a home it not only affects that one individual but their entire family and friends, so their siblings eagerly and enthusiastically participated in creating their own artwork. Not only did the community come out and support this event, and donate to raise funds for LLS....they each came with their hearts of gold! The Mayor of Cranston made a kind appearance as well and my team and I were highlighted on the 5, 6 and 11pm local news station's News along with a local radio station plug! EUNOIA, the fine art gallery and it's AMAZING co-founders, opened their gallery doors to make this event possible with so much support, dedication and hard work towards my LLS campaign. Friends and local businesses donated items for the raffle tickets, cheese and crackers were plentiful throughout the night and so many smiles shined bright from ear to ear. The most memorable part of the evening was having many of the children in attendance with their families to display and talk about their artwork with the community. From artwork created and titled, "YOU CAN-CER VIVE" by this year's LLS Girl of the Year, Emma to artwork created and titled, "STOMP OUT CANCER" by LLS Boy of the Year, KJ this event was filled with meaning not only during the preparation of the silent art auction when we collected the artwork from the children and their siblings but also the silent art auction itself. How special it was to be surrounded by artwork representing compassion, hope, inspiration and courage and lot of "HEart" at the art gallery that evening.
From Karate "kick-a-thon Tournaments including six Mastery Martial Arts schools across RI with dedicated instructors and their students donating funds to LLS and my campaign all the way to my team reaching out to as many people as possible to help raise funds for blood cancers to improve the lives of others and truly make a difference to one day make cancer a thing of the past !
One of my main goals for my campaign when I agreed to be a candidate for this year's MWOY campaign was to make a commitment to myself to make my campaign all about the community and in my last week campaigning I feel confident in saying I ACCOMPLISHED JUST THAT. I wanted to bring people together, make them aware of LLS's mission and how it is improving the lives of others and that we are striving to find a cure for blood cancer. I want everyone who has ever lost someone to cancer, someone who has battled cancer or someone who has fought and survived cancer to never feel alone, that there is always someone there to help, guide, give a helping hand, a word of encouragement and hope.
Throughout the past two years, I have been showcased in several pasta making demos across RI and I will share with you that this is one of my favorite blog posts to date!
For those of you that know me well and read from my posts, you know how much I love pasta-making and well, Italy. Through my pasta-making Bella Piccolina demos I had the pleasure of not only being on the radio but actually teaming up to demo with one really special kid that I had the opportunity to meet through this LLS journey. At the recent Home Show at the Convention Center, Bella Piccolina was pasta-making at the Rhode Island Kitchen and Bath sponsored demo and I had the opportunity to demo some pasta-making tricks with 13 year old, baker and stellar kid, Grace. Her courage and tenacity to live life to its fullest and her strength is beyond her years, she is stronger than not just most kids her age and is sronger than I'll ever be! She blew me away with her positive attitude, heart of gold and enthusiasm for life. Why is this post so special? Because today, I am highlighting Grace. This blog is highlighting her and her achievements. Here is a young girl who has set her mind and goals to DREAM as big as the sky!
I first learned about Grace's passion for baking when I noticed her 11x14 canvas while she was painting her artwork that would later be donated for the silent art auction event that my team and I were hosting as part of my campaign to raise funds....Grace was painting a perfectly centered bright purple cupcake with a green backdrop, I connected with her right away when my eye went to her masterpiece! Although, I am a home cook and baking is not at all my specialty, I was blown away by this young aspiring entrepreneur. I look up to Grace as a young role model for other kids, she's special because she took her strengths and passion for baking and followed that path and did not let anything get in her way! She is a fighter in ever sense of the word and she represents an positive example for our local community. I will also share with you a story I tell at almost all of my demos, when I was in a pasta making demo with Grace back in October, I was having difficulty getting the food processor lid on, if any of you have ever made dough from scratch in a food processor you know how tricky those lids can be especially when your demo has a time limit and you are given a short amount of time to showcase your pasta-making skills and tips! After I made about 5 attempts to get the lid on, I asked for some help....and without hesitation, Grace jumped right in and saved the day. Sometimes it is okay to make mistakes while in the kitchen and it definitely okay to ask for help with with a food processor or in life.... when it is needed!
So below you can read one of most favorite blog posts to date dedicated to highlighting talented 13 year old, Grace.
People help other people because that is what makes the world a brighter place. It may be help getting a food processor lid on or helping others in life, the journey is so much more worthwhile when we take time to help others.
How did you get into baking?
"I started to help my mom cook and bake when I was about two years old. I would stand on a chair pushed up to the counter and help her mix and add ingredients to the bowl. I always asked to help cook and over time wanted to do more and more on my own. I started with boxed mixes and now everything I do is homemade from scratch."
What is your favorite thing to bake?
"I love making cupcakes and my favorite type is a chocolate cupcake with salted caramel frosting."
What does baking mean to you?
"Baking has become a big part of my life especially after I was diagnosed with leukemia. I had severe neuropathy from the chemotherapy and could barely move my hands. I hated doing my OT exercises but my mom let me cook and bake as much as I wanted. Being in the kitchen and using my hands helped me to regain the use of my hands. It also helps me get through tough days when I am sick from my treatments. I loved baking so much that I started my own home baking business."
"I love seeing the reaction from people when they eat my baked goods. My dream is to own my own bakery someday." - Grace
How can someone purchase your baked goods and learn more about Grace?
"Right now I am so busy baking for friends and family that my mom wont let me set up my own webpage just yet. But, I do post my products on Instagram at @ConfectionCollectionByGrace"
Watch out for Grace, she already is and will be moving more mountains in this young girl's bright and promising future. I am blessed to know her and her beautiful family. Grace is an inspiration to us all.
If you or someone you may know are interested in donating to my LLS MWOY 2015 campaign, please visit www.HUNGRY4ACURE.COM by April 24th, 2015. I thank you in advance.
With a grateful heart,
and as always,
PEACE, LOVE, GELATO