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The Divine Feminine




IN EVERY ISSUE Editors Letter 4

Meet the Team 6

LOCAL OPTIONS Meet Juicy Luzy 34

Halfstack Bookshelf 40

Streetwise Chicago 44

Meet CAASE 48

Chicago Books to Women in Prison 52




WTF Stars Moda

Conversations with Bob Weir

Winter Style Edit


The Looks for Less


Culture Spotlights 60

Maven Women 66


78 81

Detroit Happenings 90



FEATURES The Divine Feminine 92

The Power of Choice

Tata Harper 138

Do Good with Starling 140

Estee Lauder 142


Winter Reloaded


Beauty Roundup


The Grooming Guide


Sonia Roselli

The Albinism Foundation The Night Ministry Meet Pat Sullivan Donation Strategies 134





ART & CULTURE Behind the Lens 160

EDITORS LAST LOOK N’Spired Thoughts 164


Welcome to our Annual Giving Issue readers! I want to wish you all love and peace during this season of change and hardship. I also wanted to open this note with a sincere thank you for continuing to support our creative journey. This publication has grown tremendously over the years and in part it is because all of you out there. It has also grown because of the amazing team of people who tirelessly share their passions with all of you through their creative visions that they bring to life on these pages. I am humbled to work beside such a fierce groups of creatives.


These last few months, the election really put us through the ringer. This past year has been tumultuous in Chicago and beyond. We’ve witnessed war, we have seen bigotry and we have seen hate rear it’s ugly head. Despite the fact that we’ve seen some harsh things, we have also witnessed the true spirit of kindness that allows us to put faith back into humanity. So many people around the world are making an impact both large and small and many are continuing to speak out against injustice, fight for the helpless and speak for those who can’t.

As I personally reflect on this last year, I find that life has really been put into perspective for me. I found I have grown the most and found beauty in some of the hardest and most difficult times I have faced over the last 3 years. I have found that I am most grateful and fulfilled when I am doing things that don’t just benefit me, but that benefit others. So, I continue to forge forward and in the spirit of charity/inspiration/empowerment for others, I bring to you my favorite issue each year: The Annual Giving Issue.

Throughout the pages of this release, you will find stories of inspiration, kindness and of communities making an impact to change the


world around them. You will find stories of strength and survival. Our cover story was inspired by the theme of the Divine Feminine. This theme is a testament to the strength of women worldwide. A reminder that is needed more today than we could ever imagine. Our cover features the beautiful Destiny – she is the woman behind Kaiden’s


Day – an event meant to pamper and give mothers who have lost a

child to SIDs some much needed

Remember, we can choose to be affected by the world or we can

TLC. After enduring the loss of her infant Kaiden to

choose to affect the world. Think about what you can do today to

SIDs, Destiny found solace in helping other mother’s

make a positive impact on the world around you.

who have faced the same heartbreak. Her story is a testament of strength and compassion.

Thank you, Jennifer M. Lezan-Veguilla

You will also find stories of amazing organizations that

Editor in Chief

are making a difference in the city of Chicago and beyond. Jen writes about the Streetwise – the Chicago magazine giving homeless men and women across the city a hand up not a hand out. She also spotlights the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Books for Women in Prison and The Power of Choice – an organization working to inspire youth to stay drug and alcohol free.

Jen Oquendo shares a moving feature on The Night Ministry and Hiral highlights an empowering organization working to increase opportunities for those with Albinism.

Jennie Velasco highlights a local small business owned and launched by a Chicago based Latina: Juicy Luzy and Jen Gordon shares her intimate conversation with Bob Weir after his recent show at the House of Blues.

The Beauty team went all out this issue spotlighting great brands that give back and a full round up of seasonal must tries for both men and women. Our fashion team has a great rundown of seasonal trends and the always humorous WTF column from Senior Style Editor: Stella Quimby.

This issue is a culmination of all the things that inspire our team: creating beautiful work and making a difference. We hope it inspires you as you read through it.




jennifer lezan creative director @halfstackmag

LAURA LOPEZ lead photographer


melinda myers

staff photographer @ melindajanemyersphoto

perry fish

staff photographer @alluringchicago

SHIRIN KORIL lead photographer @pickaposephotograpy

pearl shin staff photographer @bigdipper4


meet the

teresa cutrera fashion editor

team 6

& blogger

yaritza ramocki set stylist

carolyn portner west coast correspondant

jennie velasco set stylist/editor

thom olson blogger & online digital editor



Creative & Graphics Designer


Creative & Graphics Designer



Creative & Graphics Designer

Creative & Graphics Designer


Creative & Graphics Designer



Creative & Graphics Intern

STELLA QUIMBY Sr. Fashion Editor


DENISE GUEVARA Staff Blogger/Youtuber


OLIVIA LEMLEY Staff Writer/Blogger


TRACI CICARELLI Staff Blogger/Youtuber




Digital Blogger

Digital Blogger

Staff Writer/Blogger

Catie Coscino Staff Writer/Blogger

JENNIFER OQUENDO Staff Writer/Blogger


Andre Thompson Staff Blogger

KARLI BUTLER Staff Writer/Blogger

JENNIFER GORDON Staff Writer/Blogger

Louis Vasseur Staff Blogger

DWIGHT BEJEC Social Media Director

MICHELLE LANDRIAULT Staff Blogger/Youtuber

DREW POWERS Staff Blogger


EMILY EHARDT Staff Blogger

OLGA IVANIDI Staff Blogger/Youtuber




















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Come on the journey to find the new faces of the Chicago Fashion Industry...the “next� fashion designers, stylists, make-up artists, and much more will be featured along with events, and even the new fashions on the streets!! In Estrella Modas, we keep an eye out for the stars of fashion of tomorrow! READ THE LATEST > 32



Juicy Luzy

a new latina boss and her chicago born sangria Written by: Jennie Velasco


It was a blustery evening in the middle of an industrial park somewhere in the south suburbs of Chicago. As of late, I’ve gone through some lengths to find “mi gente” out there making incredible strides in business, art, and entertainment. Yet, through some friendly connections and a Facebook post, I stumbled upon a GoFundMe page for a woman named Luz.

alcohol. That is how new it was. She told me (and visibly withheld much excitement) about the 4 years it took to finally put this 2 and a half-year-old purchase to use. She told me about the nearly endless discouragement she faced trying to put it all together, but how regardless of the work it took, she was shown many open doors and helpful support from her family and friends.

The page was dedicated to her business, Juicy Luzy. Through a brief description, you had a sense that there was so much going on in the production of this business that there wasn’t much to say, but rather see- there was a need. What I did know was that this was a hardworking Latina, aunt of a former coworker, creating a Sangria label from the ground up. I needed to get to know her.

Luz’s sangria came from much at-home experimentation during family functions. All family members contributed to the many ingredients and ideas that would later turn into the now 5 original flavors that currently make up the Juicy Luzy brand. It wasn’t until members of her family would begin to encourage her to do something with her talent. “I started first with our traditional Ruby Red. My cousin Louie was over and we started to play around with juices and other white wines, and we created a Pear flavor.” Yet, the doubt to start something lingered, “I would say that I just didn’t have the money for it, but

Luz Gavazos gave me a tour of her recently approved (in fact, same day) building to start production. It was clean and without a single stain or aroma of

little by little we started to put it together,” says Luz of the first months of inception. Her other flavors took much time and intoxicated evenings with family, dreaming up other mixes and are now awaiting approval for their Raspberry Lemonade flavor “We went to Loyola University, (after we were on their waiting list) they helped us with our business plan and made sure our paperwork looked good. They made sure all the applications we sent were correct, they certainly made sure the process was going smoothly.” To my surprise several colleges offer this kind of assistance for small businesses, and in congruence it allows hands on opportunities for students on the many details that make up a functioning business. Not only were they helpful with advice and paperwork, they were able to give Luz and her family additional connections such as a lender and a contractor to get the property to standard. “Its crazy because I think about it now, all those sleepless nights, all those times wondering; just trying to get somebody to say ‘okay this is done’.” Luz relays how most of what was

accomplished was learned as she went through the process. From submitting her recipes and getting approval from the government on the ingredients she uses, getting various licenses and permits for both business and alcohol distribution, submitting front and back labels, bonds, insurance, etc. “This is stuff that we learned as we went, we researched a lot. We had no idea what we were doing.” After explaining to me the many governmental and technical categories and licenses of various ingredients, it began to sound overwhelming and maybe even daunting. Yet, the knowledge that was curated and molded ultimately allowed her to grow thicker skin in the process. I asked if she had doubts during this time, “I would say like 100 times or more that I wanted to give up. The worst part was the waiting; running into roadblocks (mostly with men) it was harder, and you had to keep asking questions. Cause some people will try and take advantage of you. After the first quote from a contractor: $67K and my heart sank to the floor.” With the stress on her face she further went into how

several quotes later and prices dropping, she relied heavily on the help from Loyola. Still, her family and her husband gave her strength. During our time together she was accompanied with her husband, brother, sister-in-law, and two nephews. These were all key people to the journey that essentially put her product in motion. They took multiple opportunities to express who much they have given their “love and support” during this journey. Throughout our time, they contributed stories of get togethers, advice they often gave, and how they admired both Luz and her husband for the battles they fought. I asked if during her research she found any other Latina women, doing anything similar to what she had been trying to accomplish, but she had only ever seen it as a male run industry. On that subject, she is mostly right. However, the strides that many Mexican-Americans are making in the winemaking business include running vineyards and many are indeed men. Yet, some of the most successful in the industry are deemed the “Queens of



vino” and are presidents of vineyards in Sonoma and Napa. Relevant in their own right, however this is what makes Luz’s journey quite unique. Not having access to her own garden of fruits, she solely relies on resources within reach and trusting her taste buds to build on creativity in her experiments. Luz can very well be the first self-reliant, sustainable, and resourceful Latina wine-maker in the Midwest. And mentioning that to her stopped her in her tracks, “I don’t know! I know there aren’t many women or Latina women in the liquor industry.” What tie them all together are the basics of the American dream, living a life of passion with a plan to take Juicy Luzy global in 5 years. She plans on utilizing the many connections she has made in the last few years working several tastings and fashion events. This includes keeping it within the Hispanic community with the Little Village Chamber of Commerce, My Habanero and in and around 18th street; all which she has


said have been valuable to her progress.

what tie them all together are the basics of the american dream, living a life of passion with a plan to take juicy luzy global in

5 years.

Luz’s work ethic is not out of the ordinary. She shared a story with me about her hard-working parents (who have been equally supportive in her journey) and the sacrifices they made for their 14 children in some of the rougher neighborhoods of Chicago including Humboldt Park and 26th and California; nonstop movement both north and south. Her and her brother touched on the realities of living in reputably tougher neighborhoods with gangs and gunfire. Yet, the hard work was essentially for their welfare attending Catholic School while their parents worked and cared for the children in shifts. Her life comprised of multiple family functions and attending church starting in the early AM both daily and weekly, and the tradition keeps on while the family gets smaller and separates. After sampling her magical brews, it is evident what separates Juicy Luzy from all the rest. There are distinctive flavors with multiple citrus notes and lingering light and sweet tastes. Hers in particu-


lar contain 14% alcohol, which is more than the average, but is not overly evident upon tasting. It’s that type of alcohol that hits you much later and keeps the party going. Thankfully, there were many to try to keep the evening lengthy and full of great conversation, shared stories and allowed me to be invited to future family functions. When Luz mentions how much “heart and soul” went into the creation of Juicy Luzy, it’s right when she begins to get emotional, finally seeing that tonight was the night it finally came to a conclusion. Many things coming to an end while looking forward to a new beginning where the real hard work begins. Just as she says, “it’s like giving birth.” Show your support for Juicy Luzy and donate to her GoFundMe page: share Juicy Luzy website:


HALFSTACK Written By: Jennifer Oquendo Can you believe it? 2016 has come and is nearly gone already. Now that we have approached the holidays, everyone seems to be in the giving spirit. Gift giving mood is on high now and what better way to start the season of giving than with a book? I’ve gathered all types of books around the idea of giving and charities. Reading these have inspired and motivated me, especially during this time of the year. Many of these titles have opened my eyes and encouraged me to help someone even in the most simplistic way. Sharing is caring and ‘tis is the season. So, let me share with you some of my current favorite reads for this time of the year.



“I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children,” by Marian Wright Edelman

“I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children,” is such an inspiring book. The book is filled with stories, poems and songs that encourage and motivate young kids. The book expresses that anyone can make a difference, no matter how old. The stories truly speak volumes and I’m sure helps many kids embrace their qualities and their talents to use for the good of those around them. Grab some hot cocoa and spend time with your little ones with this book. Anyone can make a difference and be an inspiration in today’s world.

“100 Under $100: One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women,” by Betsy Teutsch “100 Under $100: One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women,” is a unique informational book with different solutions to help women who suffer in poverty with a look at finances. The book covers all grounds in terms of finances and how to help people that suffer greatly while looking at budgeting and low-cost solutions. The book goes through 100 proven stories and successes out of poverty through things such as public health, law and finance. The book shows incredible images of empowered women working as health practitioners and entrepreneurs. It was amazing to read!


3 4


“Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success,” by Adam Grant “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success,” is such a helpful book. The book explains how our interactions with other people affect our success. It kind of reminded me of the saying, do to others as you would like them to do to you. In the book you grasp the understanding of why some people rise to the top of the success ladder and why some are drowning in unsuccessfulness. Truly, this book crushes the idea that being greedy gets you to the top.

“Shock Peace: The Search for Freedom,” by Ciecie Tuyet Nguyen “Shock Peace: The Search for Freedom,” tells the story of a twenty-one year war that brought confusion, chaos, suffering and death to many people. It’s the life story of the survivors in postwar Vietnam. We read the stories of life in Vietnam as the Communist government of North Vietnam begin to take over South Vietnam. We get real life and raw descriptions of day to day life. The story reveals the terrors of the Vietnam War and the hope the survivors had afterwards. After reading the book, I realized that we have so much to be thankful for. We have so much to give and so much to offer. Sometimes we take freedom for granted and we don’t realize how good we have things. If you are interested in post-Vietnam War history and need a book to help bring life into perspective, than this is the book for you. This book helps you realize that you have a lot to offer to our world!

“Charity: The Heroic and Heartbreaking Story of Charity Hospital in Hurricane Katrina,” by Jim Carrier

“Charity: The Heroic and Heartbreaking Story of Charity Hospital in Hurricane Katrina,” is such a powerful story about the doctors, nurses and even patients who fought to survive at Charity Hospital in New Orleans during one of the deadliest hurricanes- Hurricane Katrina. We learn about heroic and selfless acts that people did during a devastating time for the U.S. We see how there can still be a calm within a treacherous storm. During certain instances, within the book, we discover tenderness and support even though the hurricane led to many unfortunate circumstances. Through the chaos and pain that the hurricane left behind, there were many people that encountered heroes in the midst of Hurricane Katrina. This never-before-told book will inspire you to help those around you. You never know what “hurricane” people are facing today! Be a hero and lend a hand.


STREET WISE Empowering through Employment

Written By: Jennifer Lezan-Veguilla

Walking down the streets of Chicago can be sensory overload. The honking cars, the rushing mobs of people on a mission to get somewhere and in the distance you hear drummers drumming and entertainers entertaining. Out of the side of your eye, you are also likely to see homeless individuals and pan handlers. These are people who are struggling, vulnerable and facing what is likely some of the hardest moments of their life. So many people pass them by daily without a single thought or glance in their direction. Often, the site of homeless men, women and youth make people uncomfortable. Sometimes, judgmental comments and shade are thrown. Other times, a few coins are spared in a cup. Yet, more often than not the homeless on the street are ignored.

I met a homeless individual on the streets of Chicago in my youth. My father had given me my allowance and I remember having my dad stop the car and I handed out my money to the woman on the side of the rad, all of it. Her eyes welled up and she could barely get out a quiet thank you before we had to drive away. It was all I could do at 11 and I realized at that moment, no matter how hard the life we experienced was growing up, that I was fortunate to have a roof over my head. That even if we were poor, we could find a way to help others. Of course, my father was a little frustrated at how quickly I turned over that 20 dollar bill and I learned about not giving all of my money away, but finding a way to help others and still be ok myself. This would continue to be guiding force in my life.

Yet, what is important to remember about the homeless is that they are people; people with a beating heart, a soul and who deserve a place on this earth. I can recall the first time

During my early twenties while attending Graduate School at Columbia College in Chicago, I would often find myself encountering numerous homeless men and women on my walks


to and from the train station. As a young mother, funds were always tight, but offering a smile, some change where I could and more often then not – conversation were ways I found to connect. Grabbing a hot dog and getting the double deal to drop off to one man I always encountered off of Michigan Ave. always gave me a reminder that life doesn’t always deal us the best hand, but it is what we make of it that counts. His positive demeanor and kind spirit always struck me. He was always working for the funds he needed to cover the price of the hostel near our campus. He was always working hard in his own way. He wasn’t looking for a handout – he was looking for a hand up. Often, I would also notice homeless men and women selling a paper called Streetwise. I didn’t know it at the time, but what most people put off as panhandling is actually an incredible program working towards solving Chicago’s homeless problem through economic empowerment.



What is it that makes individuals so uncomfortable around homeless men and women? Is it out of guilt? Is it out of misinformation? Or perhaps it is fear of an experience that can easily happen to anyone? The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimates that 125,848 Chicagoans were homeless during the 2014-15 school year. This includes people who live doubled-up in the homes of others due to hardship, usually in overcrowded conditions. Chicago Public Schools identified 18,831 homeless students during the 2015-16 school year. “ According to a 2015 point-intime count by the city of Chicago, the racial demographic of people living in city homeless shelters was 76% African American, 11% white, 10% Latino, and 3% other ethnicities. Racial demographics are no longer included by cities in the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ survey. Chicago Public Schools reports that 98% of its homeless students are children of color.


This is a reality that has to be faced. It can’t be sugarcoated and ignoring it will NOT change it. There are many misconceptions about the homeless, which feeds into the fear and discomfort people may feel when passing them on the street. Not all homeless people are drug addicts; these men and women are not degenerates. It is not just men who face homelessness; in fact families comprise more than 50% of the homeless population. From the Conference of Mayors 2012 Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness, it is estimated that among homeless adults in Chicago, one third are victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence is one of the primary causes of homelessness for women and children. According to, Homelessness can happen to anyone at any given time and, “One out of three people working today are one or two missed paychecks away from being homeless.” The reality is that homelessness

is primarily an economic problem. As the economic gap continues to grow, and the middle class shrinks, there is a direct correlation between the lack of affordable housing and low wages and homelessness. The high cost of living, low-wage jobs and high unemployment rates force individuals to choose between food, housing and other expenses. One of the major misconceptions about homelessness is that homeless people should just get a job. Yet, the reality is that this is much easier said than done. In fact, it is nearly impossible, for homeless people to get employment without a fixed address and access to a telephone. Many potential employers buy into the misconceptions about people without stable housing and won’t offer work. Despite these hard and disheartening facts, organizations such as Streetwise are working to change these misconceptions. As an organization, StreetWise provides Chicagoans

in need with, “a hand up, not a handout.� They focus on the idea that, by giving any person who is willing to work a stable foundation from which they can move themselves out of crisis, no one will find it necessary to beg in order to survive. StreetWise was launched in 1991 by a group of concerned Chicago business people. This group joined the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless to address the growing problem of street homelessness. They wanted to identify a viable pathway for the homeless to move themselves on to personal stability and financial self-sufficiency. The founders recognized that an essential component to a person’s stability was an earned income. They explored a number of workforce options in pursuit of a business model that could provide needy and at-risk individuals with accessible and profitable employment. They

knew that employment could not be the only resource available. The founders realized that to achieve true stability those they served would need social service support as well. In 1992, after much research, StreetWise was born, and with it the StreetWise magazine vendor program. Today, StreetWise is a workforce development agency that has been designed to help the homeless and those at risk of homelessness out of the crisis of poverty. The StreetWise model combines supportive social services, (focused on employment training; housing placement; and financial literacy) with the opportunity for gainful self-employment, in order to assist clients on the road to stability and self-sufficiency. The organization has created a program that builds off the ideals of economic empowerment to begin to tackle the issue of homelessness.

For nearly 20 years, StreetWise has allowed individuals in crisis immediate access to a legitimate earned income. From its inception, StreetWise has been a refuge and resource for men and women seeking a dignified means of addressing the crisis of poverty. The next time you are walking down the magnificent mile in the City of Chicago and you hear a vendor call out Streetwise, take a moment to appreciate the opportunity to see a life being changed right in front of you. Spare the 2 bucks to pick up an issue and make a difference in the life of an individual who is looking for a hand up, not a hand out. If you are interested in donating to StreetWise, you can do so here: https://www.


CAASE – Advocates for Change Fighting for Victims to End Sexual Exploitation WRITTEN BY: JENNIFER LEZAN-VEGUILLA

When many Americans read about Human Trafficking, a stereo-typical idea comes to mind – young women from third world countries being forced into sexual slavery against their will. The idea that human trafficking could happen in American neighborhoods is mind-boggling. The idea that young men and women can become victims right here in the states is a reality that many people are too oblivious to face. Yet, it is a reality. Outside of human trafficking, sexual assault, sexual exploitation and rape are all among the many issues Americans are facing on a daily basis. These issues have been pushed to the forefront as more and more victims have found the strength to speak out. These issues are no longer being swept under the rug. Yet, as a community and as a society we have a long way to go. The Brock Turner/Stanford Rape case is one glaring example of the injustices and stigma that victims of sexual exploitation continue to face. The sexually charged comments made by our President Elect Donald Trump are another example of the realities of


objectification that women face on a day-to-day basis. Where do we start? How do we change things? What can we do to begin to heal? One organization that is working to make a change is CAASE Chicago. CAASE is a non-for profit whose main mission is a community free from all forms of sexual exploitation, including sexual assault and the commercial sex trade. According to every 109 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Every 8 minutes, that victim is a child. Meanwhile, only 6 out over 1000 perpetrators will end up in prison. According to recent stats, 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. About 3% of American men—or 1 in 33—have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. From 2009-2013, Child Protective Services agencies substantiated, or found strong evidence to indicate that, 63,000 children a year were victims of sexual abuse. A majority of child victims are 12-17. From December 7, 2007 to June 30,

2015, 21,434 human trafficking cases nationwide consisting of 42,401 identified victims were reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. UIC’s Human Trafficking in Illinois Fact Sheet highlights that in 2014, an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaway children reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely sex trafficking victims. Of those, 68% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran. A 2008 study, The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City, estimated that approximately 50% of victims of CSEC in the U.S. are boys. These statistics are incredibly disheartening, scary and frustrating to read. Yet, they reveal the very deep-rooted problem that we are witnessing in our communities. CAASE is the only organization in Illinois that focuses on ending sexual exploitation and rape through legal services, policy work, and prevention and education initiatives. One very real way to combat sexual exploita-

tion is through education. Organizations like CAASE teach youth early on about things like consent and prevention. CAASE understands that young men are exposed to a culture that stigmatizes women in prostitution, yet glamorizes pimping and patronizing the sex trade. CAASE has created and implemented the first curriculum in the country specifically designed to

educate young men about the harms of prostitution and to enlist them as allies in the movement to end violence against women and girls. It is also one of only a few organizations in the state, as well as the country, that provides legal help at no cost to victims of sexual assault and sex trafficking, regardless of income. This is vital to the support of victims of sexual exploitation. Often, it is the

victims who are punished in the current system when it comes to cases of prostitution, often facing fines and jail time. The Illinois General Assembly concluded that the sex trade thrives on coercion. While some may argue against this statement, it is well established that many people are often forced into the trade against their will.

Some people are persuaded by lies of legitimate work in a foreign land. Others may enter desperate for money. NO matter how they become involved, most find it difficult to escape. Drug addiction, illegal status, language barriers, and physical abuse often tie them down. Exploited and trafficked people often have little recourse to fight their oppressors. Yet, organizations such as CAASE work through the Predator Accountability Act to change the stigma and give victims a fighting chance. The act

allows survivors of the sex trade to seek civil damages and remedies from individuals and businesses that recruited, harmed, profited from, or maintained them in the sex trade.

tion, policy reform, community engagement, and legal services.

CAASE additionally works on creating a statewide system of specialized services and resources for victims. CAASE’s Mission is to address the culture, institutions, and individuals that perpetrate, profit from, or support sexual exploitation. Their work includes preven-

Not only does CAASE fight for victims on an individual basis. The organization advocates for legislative and policy reforms that will increase legal and social accountability for perpetrators of harm, especially sex traffickers, pimps, people who buy sex, and those who commit sexual assault. They are pushing to promote a wide-range community support system for services



and resources for survivors. CAASE advises law enforcement, policy makers, and other stakeholders on best practices relating to sex trafficking, prostitution, and rape. CAASE is truly a force to be reckoned with. While the issues of sexual exploitation seem like a cumbersome problem to tackle, it is the passion of the organizations leadership and volunteers to help victims overcome. CAASE is making an impact on not only their community, but also working towards changing the stigmas that have been set in society. They are fighting for victim’s rights, educating youth on prevention and working to change the way victim cases are handled on a national level. To learn more about CAASE or to donate visit them online at:


Chicago Books to Women in Prison Empowering Female Prisoners One Book at a Time WRITTEN BY: JENNIFER M. LEZAN-VEGUILLA

According to the Sentencing Project: Over the past quarter century, there has been a profound change in the involvement of women within the criminal justice system. This is the result of more expansive law enforcement efforts, stiffer drug sentencing laws, and post-conviction barriers to reentry that uniquely affect women. Women now comprise a larger proportion of the prison population than ever before; the female prison population stands nearly eight times higher than its population count in 1980. More than 60% of women in state prisons have a child under the age of 18. Although there are many more men in prison than women, the rate of growth for female imprisonment has outpaced men by more than 50% between 1980 and 2014. There are 1.2 million women under the supervision of the criminal justice system. Race and ethnicity, family issues and socioeconomic issues are big factors that play into this. In 2005, black women were more than three times as likely as white women to be incarcerated in prison or jail, and Hispanic women 69% more likely. Nearly half (44%) of women in state prisons


in 1998 had not completed high school. A leading factor towards closing the ever-increasing income inequality gap is education. Educational opportunities and access to meaningful, high quality, sustained higher educational opportunities can transform the lives of individuals in prison, their families and the communities to which they return. Yet, in 1994, Congress eliminated all federal funding for college in prison. By the next year, 350 college programs closed. The reality that the prison system faces is the fact that it is filled with people who have never had access to higher education opportunities.

A large majority of the men and women incarcerated in the United States are coming from under-resourced communities and communities of color. Thus creating and enforcing the inevitable cycle that causes many of these women to relapse into the system. According to, “Those who go to college while incarcerated are 45% less likely to return to prison than those who do not. The United States currently incarcerates a higher share of its population than any other country in the world. Women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population, and African-American and Native-American women are disproportionately represented in the prison population.�

One organization who may not be solving the direct problem of the lack of educational opportunities in mass incarceration, but who is finding another way to make an educational impact is: Chicago Books to Women in Prison. While we may not have a long-term solution for college in prison, CBWP is working hard to get women the access to books that will empower and educate them. The team took some time to talk with us at Halfstack about their initiatives, what they are doing and how they hope to make an impact. Read on for the full interview. 1. Can you tell us more about CBWP and what inspired the community to launch this program in Chicago? Chicago Books to Women in Prison was founded in 2002 by four women concerned about the prison industrial complex. They wanted to get books in the hands of incarcerated people, who tend to have little or no access to books. That was a while ago, of course, but the need remains. Our all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization continues to offer women behind bars the opportunity for self-empowerment, education and entertainment that reading provides.

2. What do the statistics on literacy look like for women in prison? How does this program help women push forward with reading and the empowerment that connects with that? Only about 40% of people in prison have a high school diploma, so reading levels are often not high and the books we send are critical in improving this vital skill. The educational system that many of the women encountered growing up failed them, and now they see their time behind bars as an opportunity to learn. In fact, many women tell us that they hadn’t cared much about reading before prison, but now love it. Many mothers tell us that they also care more now about encouraging their children to read. 3. What kind of impact has CBWP made over the years? We’ve sent tens of thousands of books to incarcerated women over the years. While we have no hard data on how the service we provide may affect recidivism, for example, the strongest evidence of the value of our work is what we hear from the women we serve, as well as from supporters who work closely with incarcerated women.

Based on years of reports from incarcerated women, typical outcomes of enriching their lives with books include: earning a GED or other educational attainment, improving parenting skills, enhancing self-esteem, overcoming trauma, learning new skills and discovering the pleasures of reading for the first time. Through books we help incarcerated women improve the quality of their lives, understand their rights, and enhance the everyday culture of their institutions. Importantly, it also helps them improve their chances for a successful life after leaving prison. 4. Can you share a story about how your organization has impacted a woman? One woman wrote thanking us for sending her a GED review book. It was the one thing she needed to reach that important educational goal. We get many letters like that every week. 5. Can you tell us more about how your organization connects with incarcerated women and prisons? We receive letters and order forms directly from women in prison. Once or twice a week we meet, and for each request a volunteer selects three books from our inventory of several thousand donat-



ed books. A personal note is included with each package of books. We hear all the time that this little note made someone’s day—especially for women who don’t have family or friends on the outside. 6. Have you faced obstacles as you organized this outreach and attempted to grow the program? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them? Like most nonprofits, we work constantly to make the best use of our limited resources, whether that’s money, space or time. Beyond that, prisons often have restrictions as to what we (and organizations like ours) can send. For example, Federal prisons do not accept obviously used books, presumably as a security precaution to avoid books that have been tampered with. But few new books are donated to us, which makes it harder to fulfill specific requests of women in those institutions. Some subject matter is forbidden; for example, one Federal prison requires that books be “positive in nature” and not include references to “racial issues” or “prison conditions”. And even when we know from experience that certain books

should be accepted by a particular prison mailroom, sometimes they’re returned for no clear reason. It’s frustrating.

10. Finally, where can we learn more about your organization and how to get involved or make a donation?

7. Why do you feel reading/ learning to read/ education is such a powerful tool for incarcerated women?

Visit us at, where you’ll find details on how to get involved and help support our work. One easy way is to buy a much-needed book from our Amazon wish list (or at your favorite bookstore):

Reading and learning are powerful tools for everyone. But because educational programming can be minimal or non-existent in prison, and prison libraries tend to be poorly stocked with limited access, the books we provide are vital.

Also follow us on Twitter @ ChicagoBWP and find us on Facebook.

8. What keeps you and your volunteers motivated? We hear from the women we serve how important the service is that we provide. And it’s a genuine pleasure making that kind of direct, concrete difference in someone’s life. 9. Outside of the book program are there any other ways your organization works to help women? We’re pretty focused on providing books to incarcerated women, but we’re happy to collaborate at times with other like-minded groups.


The Campfire Tour Lights up The Chicago Theater!

The legend lives on, As Bob Weir defines rock and roll. By Jen Gordon

I’m not sure if you have ever had the pleasure to meet a musician, artist or writer that has given their life to the journey of expressing their passion or giftedness for the benefit of others. But if you do, I assure you, your life will never be the same. We ran into the legendary Bob Weir as the band stepped off the bus, guitar cases in hand, energy abounding as the coast to coast Campfire Tour came to a close. Chicago was the last stop, and it’s been one hour since their electric performance at the Chicago Theater. There wasn’t a still body in sight during the two plus hours on stage. The new, well-received, and highly praised country tunes and ‘old 56 school’ Dead jams had everyone rocking out.

The hotel lobby was mostly empty as the band members sauntered in looking quietly satisfied. When we introduced ourselves, Bob invited us to join their celebration as the night was still young for these musicians. We eagerly joined a small gathering of friends, family and band members. Chairs were set-up, the wine was opened and the conversation began. Bob has a kind, gentle demeanor and was hospitable making sure everyone was comfortable. All folks present in the room took his lead with a quiet homage and respect. Chairs were set-up, the wine was opened and the conversation began. Bob has a kind, gentle demeanor and was hospitable making sure everyone was comfortable. All folks present in the room took his lead with a quiet homage and respect. Casual conversation about the upcoming election and the night’s performance is buzzing. Bob’s band primarily consisting of the band, The National, and some of Bob’s handpicked favorites, like the legendary guitarist Steve Kimock, where all chatting amongst themselves. As the night went on, Bob and Steve joined us in a more intimate conversation about music, the legendary songs, and the spirit and passion of being an artist. It was astounding to begin to understand what made someone become as legendary as he has become. Not just the money, and the fame, but the music and the legacy, the fans and the love and respect for their contribution. It takes someone with a desire to be totally honest and authentic in themselves. And a desire to give their energy away night after night, as they receive the support and energy of the crowd. The sharing goes on at a very personal level between themselves and the audience. The music is created out of an energy of inspiration to give of themselves and then in the receiving by the audience the exchange is complete. Bob and Steve hadn’t eaten, they hadn’t slept, they were entirely singularly focused and all because of this desire to share the music. Casual conversation about the upcoming election and the night’s performance is buzzing. Bob’s band primarily consisting of the band, The National, and some of Bob’s handpicked favorites, like the legendary guitarist Steve Kimock, where all chatting amongst themselves.


Bob went on to share stories of how the classic songs were created with some of the great blues artists of his time, and how unexpected and astounding the process was. He said that he knew a saint once, a saint with his hands. Because his fingers created magic through the music. He emphasized that the music being created today is lacking the chaos that it needs to be exceptional. It is the chaos that is missing. It has rock, but not roll. We need to get back to the chaos in our creativity. That as an artist, writer or musician the artist in you must be contributed to all things. You can’t keep this thing that you are confined to in one area of your life.


I challenge you today, to apply this wisdom from Bob Weir. To think of the areas where you know you are holding yourself back from being the creative soul that you are. And begin to ask yourself, how can it get better than this, what can I add to my life to be creative and artistic in all things? Where can I add more chaos? Because we all need the rock as well as the roll in our lives.



Culture Spotlight BY: STELLA QUIMBY

n : Philanthropy & Antonio Stefano Since we are in the season of sharing, giving and LOVE (despite our Presidential election result…nope I won’t go there), we here at Cultural Spotlight will like to focus on two brands that are making a difference in today’s world of chaos and hate. Both brands offer complete different products to our fashion world but both provide more than just clothes to it’s customers and communities. This holiday, purchase from companies such as n : Philanthropy and Antonio Stefano, that not just care about their bottom line (like every other corporation out there) but that also want to make a difference in today’s world and hopefully start a change that will continue to improve our world for future generations to come.


“Fashion that gives a damn” sounds pretty damn cool to me. That statement is what stood out to me about this line from all others. That and the fact that their clothing is so simple but at the same time very fashion forward that you could pull it off at work or at a party Saturday night. Even the company describes their style as “Laxed edge-suitable for the bed and the bar.” Otherwise, the look is pretty California style.



These garments (as you can see) are all hand distressed, deconstructed and have a cutout detailing that creates a unique line of tees, tanks, joggers and yes Vegan Leather!!! So if you are interested in helping not just fellow peeps, but also your furry friends‌ this is a line for you! n : Philanthropy always gives a damn (yep I still am loving that). They give back 10% of ALL net proceeds to the Children’s Hospital LA (fight pediatric cancer), the ASPCA and other local animal charities. So this holiday make sure to check them out at https://www. and not only shop a whole west-coast look but also give back to children and furry friends!! Spread love through shopping.


ANTONIO STEFANO Now don’t think we forgot about all you men out there? Antonio Stefano designs just for you and just like n ; Philanthropy, they also give back! Antonio Stefano offers 100% Italian hand-made ties to fit any man! The sizes range from 58” to 6 inches longer, plus all items are a standard 2.5 inches in width. The neckties are made of the finest silk from Lake Como, Italy (that’s where George Clooney has a villa…see I know my geography). What also makes this line different than other neckwear collections is the fine quality and detail plus the fact that it gives back. One of the main goals with the Antonio Stefano brand is to contribute to a cause. They own a 501-c-3 nonprofit and their goal is to raise $20 million to build a dog hospital to support abused and abandoned dogs. They even recently make their world debut on October 17th in LA with the main focus being that they wanted to raise money for the dog hospital. 49% of every purchase from every single product will be donated to the non-profit to make that dog hospital a reality. WOW! That is the largest percentage I have ever seen donated from the sale of products (which is the max allowed by the IRS). So if you want to buy that special man in your life a high quality tie (the brand


also sells jewelry) that also gives a large amount back to help the furry animals of this world, make sure to visit them at Also if you want to make a donation and help them make the hospital a reality, make sure to donate to ( The brand also invites every to visit their social media sites (twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest) and please share to get the word out there for abused animals everywhere!!! Have a safe and Happy Holiday season and we encourage you to purchase from those that also give back!!!! Have a great one!! ☺

One of the main goals with the Antonio Stefano brand is to contribute to a cause. They own a 501-c-3 nonprofit and their goal is to raise $20 million to build a dog hospital to support abused and abandoned dogs.



A Fight for Fair Trade – Empowering Women Through Economic Development and Sustainable Business Practices. Written By: Jennifer Lezan-Veguilla



he term fast fashion has been thrown about quite a bit over the last few years in the fashion industry. Many consumers have participated in the fast fashion industry without truly understanding the impact that their purchases make. Consumers enjoy purchasing cheap products and the industry has commoditized clothing and the people who make the clothing. The term “fast fashion” refers to the rapid turnover of low-cost garments in the global clothing industry. Today, many stores like Zara, Forever 21 and H&M are receiving new merchandise every week. Essentially these brands have gone against the typical “fashion retail” model that releases collections 2 times a year or seasonally to continual releases every 4-6 weeks. In her book Overdressed, Elizabeth Cline explains that: “In 1930, the average American woman owned an average of nine outfits. Today, we each buy more than 60 pieces of new clothing on average per year.” Retailers in the fast fashion industry want consumers to feel drawn to novelty, to shop recreationally and often – and it seems to be working. Yet, as more and more consumers become aware of the realities behind fast fashion, they’re making a stance.

The documentary, “The True Cost of Fashion” brought light to the atrocities and stark realities workers face in developing nations, often brought about due to the supply chain of fast fashion. The movie showcased the idea that all that glitters isn’t gold. From wreaking havoc on our environment to building multi-billion dollar businesses on the back of slave labor, the fast fashion industry has a lot to answer for and we as consumers have to stop turning a blind eye in return for cheap clothes. The Rana Plaza catastrophe, which is one of the main focuses of the film, truly highlights the worker’s plight in many developing countries. Manufacturers and suppliers outsource labor to developing countries to take advantage of the low costs and unregulated terms of doing business. Activists are now connecting the dots between fashion, consumerism, capitalism and its effects on structural poverty and oppression. Fair trade is one way organizations are ensuring the workers in developing countries are being treated fairly through healthy working conditions and a living wage. Fair Trade is about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers around the world.


It’s about supporting the development of thriving farming and worker communities that have more control over their futures and protecting the environment in which they live and work. Fair Trade is one of the leading sustainable development programs that we as consumers can participate in. Fair Trade practices make an immense impact on environmental and human capital. According to Fair Trade USA, “Around the world, farmers who struggle to make a living are often forced to engage in agricultural practices that compromise their land and surrounding ecosystems, such as deforestation and erosion, use of harmful toxins, and disposal of pollutants into the water supply. Fair Trade Certified environmental standards are some of the strictest in the industry. Fair Trade Certified ensures that farmers follow internationally monitored environmental standards, while empowering farmers and farm workers with financial incentives and resources for organic conversion, reforestation, water conservation and environmental education.�


When it comes to workers, Fair Trade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. The apparel industry has a long and infamous history of labor abuse and unhealthy environments – most notably in factory settings. One of the most ostentatious abuses is abysmally low pay. This low pay is seen across the board from workers to suppliers and resulting in a situation where workers and cotton farmers receive only a tiny fraction of the final cost of a garment, further exacerbating conditions of extreme poverty. This feeds into the cyclical and suffocating poverty that many factory workers fall into. The fashion industry accounts for 2 percent of the world’s GDP, nearly 3 TRILLION dollars. Many of these retailers are PROFITING and yet, they can’t find a way to pay their workers a living wage.

These ideals play into the goals behind economic empowerment. Many women use additional premiums to invest in new business opportunities, like starting a small store, to further support their families. Economic empowerment focuses on the capacity of women and men to participate in, contribute to and benefit from growth processes in ways that recognize the value of their contributions, respect their dignity and make it possible to negotiate a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth.

According to Fair Trade USA, “Fair Trade aims to help individuals, specifically at the most labor intensive points in the supply chain, retain more value and improve their lives. In addition to regional wage and price requirements, as covered in the Fair Trade standards, farmers and workers earn an additional Fair Trade financial premium to invest in their communities. This is typically around 5 percent of the manufactured price of a garment. “ This is one way to create opportunities for those people in the most at risk communities. Protecting and creating new opportunities for women is also critical within Fair Trade practices. With equal pay and equal rights at the forefront, Fair Trade mandates specific standards covering maternity leave, healthcare and freedom from harassment (sexual and otherwise).


Economic empowerment has a much broader impact beyond fair wages and treatment, but it also helps to deter human and sex trafficking. Human trafficking is a worldwide problem with incredibly adverse effects on its victims, families and countries. Most of the victims who are lured into leaving their homes and countries to improve their lives fall prey to exploitation as sex and slave labor. Women and Children are the most at risk. Empowering women from within their own societies is just one among the many solutions to this issue and many Fair Trade programs offers an opportunity to create a solution.


Many of the poorest and most unstable countries have the highest incidences of human trafficking. Extreme poverty is a common thread among trafficking victims. In places where economic alternatives do not exist, women and girls are more vulnerable to being tricked and coerced into sexual servitude. Increased unemployment and the loss of job security have undermined women’s incomes and economic position. A consistently stalled gender wage gap, as well as an increase in women’s part-time and informal sector work, push women into poorly-paid jobs and long-term hidden unemployment, which leaves women vulnerable to sex traffickers.

One brand who is putting sustainability and women workers rights at the forefront of its mission is Maven Women. Launched by Rebecca Ballard. After working on human and labor rights issues around the globe, she witnessed how complex and harmful the global garment industry can be. The collapse of Rana Plaza incident propelled her to truly look at the best way to integrate her love of great style and passion for human rights.

All of her friends wanted to build a socially conscious wardrobe, they just didn’t know how. These conversations also shared another common theme: limited options for well-fitting, flattering, and stylish clothing at an affordable price. Rebecca believes that the market hasn’t caught up to consumers desire for something better. It is still far too hard to make clothing purchases that value the people who work in within the supply chain and their communities.

As an activist, she was never one to accept that something can’t be done. Rebecca refused to believe the status quo has to be the future. When she voiced her desire for more socially conscious apparel options, she found she was not alone.

Inspired to take sustainable fashion mainstream, Maven Women was born. Maven Women is a sustainable line of womenswear, focused on transparency within their global supply chain.



By committing to protect worker rights with the 10 Fair Trade Principles, they work with supply chain partners who respect their workers rights, voices and communities. As a brand dedicated to global women’s empowerment, Maven Women only work with supply chain partners who share their commitment to the inherent dignity of all people and demonstrate it by promoting gender equity and women’s empowerment. IThey also focus on incorporating the ideals of restorative justice within their company vision. Restorative justice focuses on providing rehabilitation and reconciliation between victims, offenders, and the community. It is a central value in their work to remedy the market failure and exploitation that has become the industry norm. South Asia in particular has suffered at the hands of irresponsible practices in the garment industry, and for this reason as a company, they prioritize sourcing from socially conscious partners in this region when appropriate materials are available.

The idea of slow fashion has become a notion that isn’t so far fetched. The fashion industry can only improve when we all buy less and buy better. When we have higher expectations and communicate those needs with the brands we do business with, the industry will be forced to respond. Maven Women believes that we all must pay the true cost of production, rather than the cheap prices made possible by cutting corners around sustainability and on the backs of slave labor. As a brand, Maven asks their customers to view clothing as an investment rather than fast fashion. To this effect, they work to produce meticulously and thoughtfully developed, flattering, and timeless clothing in the spirit of slow fashion that pairs well with other items in their client’s wardrobe for a signature, polished look. Founder: Rebecca Ballard hopes that, we as a people will come together to demand better and be a force for change. Shop Maven Women at:

Overall, Maven Women is a brand that is working to create change. Change is never easy, but in an industry ripe with indiscretions, the Fashion Industry is ready for change. The negative aspects of consumerism are slowly coming to light and people are looking for alternative ways to create change with their pocketbooks.


Style and Fashion



2016 CMA AWARDS EDITION By: Stella Quimby

FIRST VICTIM: Rascal Flatts (the men are poorly dressed, ignore the ladies…except one on right) I actually HAVE heard of this band and their music is not bad! But when I saw this picture of them, I actually cringed…I will never think of them the same. As big time country stars, they should at least know how to kind of dress…not have a Walmart employee be your part-time fashion stylist. The couple all the way to the right seriously has a creepy serial Russian killer feel to them. I mean, the man looks like a very old but still scary version of Ivan Drago still trying to kill Rocky. Let’s not mention the dude in the middle; are you country or a country Brit like the Mumford and Sons band? Man on the left, you are NOT a playboy…you’s creepy and old, you are lucky to have that date! Did you pay lots for her??? Anyways, 4 out of 6 can’t dress in this group=FAILURE!


WTF?!? CMA EDITION 2nd Star: Katy Perry (when the hell did she start singing country?) When did the Country music industry become open-minded and start allowing drag queens into their award shows? Actually, most drag queens I’ve seen would rock this better than Miss Perry. Talk about trying too hard…poser. I mean what can you say about someone that married Russell Brand (the Brit who thinks his funny while at the same time impersonating a homeless person) and who dated a walking STD (a.k.a John Mayer)? I would personally return that outfit to whatever blindperson-owned thrift store she bought it from and invest in a psychiatrist. Katy or drag Katy P wannabe, you needs help.

3rd Stars: Florida Georgia Line (is that really their name???) Who are these guys? Seriously??? They are the type of people you can see as extras in the latest Hills Have Eye’s movie. Not to mention their horrendous clothing choices for an awards show? The highest awards you can possibly win in your category of music? This creepy duo, should get their mortician looking bums back into their pickup truck and keep dreaming about picking up ladies looking like that.


WTF?!? CMA EDITION 4th Star: Kacey Musgraves (don’t know her?) When did Country music start accepting poorly worn Avant grade garments? This garment is just hideous (which is sad since it is a Christian Siriano garment) and makes any skeletal looking celebrity look like she ate her feelings. Is she pregnant and feels the need to hide her little belly with tons and tons of chiffon? Or does she want to somehow gain the curveous look she always wanted? If that isn’t bad, her black lipstick is giving her a whole chola look. Maybe she wanted to represent an East LA trying to be fashionable looking at the CMAs (hey it has been mentioned to diversify country music!)

5th star: (A.K.A Hillbilly star): Elle King (she’s Rob Schneider’s daughter…seriously) I thought this was a celebration of toothless Trump supporter’s musical choices? Not a Spanish bull-fight? Elle King made her presence known at this confederate convention with a matador style outfit (which is super hideous, thus the name matador). A very brave clothing choice considering that the majority, if not all, the people in attendance wouldn’t think twice about deporting her “immigrant” garment and her! “MURICA”

all photos: Getty Images


Give Yourself the Gift of Style Written by: Emily Ehardt Layout by: Kandace McVickar

Hello everyone! It is officially the holiday season, which also means gifting season. While you are going from party to party with the perfect gift for everyone on your list, you should give yourself a present too. Why not give yourself the gift of style this year?! Treat yourself to a few great pieces you can wear throughout the entire holiday season for a multitude of events, instead of buying a new look for every event you attend. Be resourceful and follow my tips on switching up how you wear this season’s key pieces. In turn, this idea will save you time and money, as well as keep you stylish. Now, it’s time to give yourself the gift of style!

Piece #1: The Party Dress

This garment is an essential for everyone during the holidays, as it screams festive. Try wearing it in a sophisticated manner with a fitted turtleneck layered underneath, pointy toe heels, and a classic black clutch. Also, why not make it feel super glam by tossing a cape coat over the dress, while adding embellished heels, a gold clutch, and a red lip?!


Piece #2: The Plaid Pant

Plaid is the pattern of the holiday season, as you can find it in so many holiday-inspired colors. These pants are the perfect way to add a little holiday spirt to your work look and beyond. For example, toss on a classic blazer, white shirt, and red pumps for a pop of color that’s appropriate for the office. Then, for afterhours, grab your favorite sparkly top and some metallic heels and wear it out and about.

Piece #3: The Fur Jacket

A fur jacket is an instant statement maker, while it is still practical due to the warmth it provides. When wearing this piece, you don’t need a whole lot of other standouts, as the jacket can do all of the talking for the look. Instead, pair it with sleek black garments. Make it feel more casual with a pair of black, velvet skinnies, ankle boots, and a floppy hat. Then, for nighttime, dress it up by tossing on your favorite little black dress and a pair of sexy booties and you are ready for any holiday party that awaits.

I hope you all take inspiration from these looks and make them your own for the holidays. You are sure to look gorgeous and classy no matter the event. For even more holiday styling tips, be sure to visit! Follow me @emilyehardtblog on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Also, follow @halfstackmag on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

Stay Classy! 79

e l r fo ks oks o L less r less fo s k s k o o L ss 80

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Winter Looks for Less The spring is a time for re-emergence. The summer is a time to soak up the sun and just relax. Then there’s the fall, which is a time for change and transition. And the winter? Well, let’s be honest, the winter gets a bad wrap for being gloomy, cold and dark. Frankly, the winter is that season that everyone just moans and groans about. Not when it comes to the fashion industry though! If there’s one great part about the winter (aside from the holidays, family time, overindulgence of food and parties) it is the shoes. Yes, shoes. Ok maybe, it’s just the shoe lover in me, but boots are the ultimate footwear style! Pumps are classic; heeled sandals are chic but boots? Boots are ultra cool and effortless. This Looks For Less is dedicated to the shoes that reign supreme over the rest. Boot season has arrived and these are the must haves that will make the winter a little less gloomy.

Written by: Teresa Cutrera , Fashion & Style Editor Art Direction/Layout: Kali Koller



OVER THE KNEE BOOTS These boots are very versatile and can be paired with so much. You can make any outfit ultra sexy with the right pair of heeled over the knee boots. On the flipside, you can tone them down by going with a low heel or flat pair. Whichever route you take, these boots are the go to pair for the season.



the combat boot Who doesn’t like to look confident and super cool? There is a badass nature to the combat boot that lets everyone know you’re a force to be reckoned with. Aside from the comfort and style, they are perfect for those freezing temps and can definitely take a winter beating.



V elvet Bootie 84

Velvet is the perfect shoe trend for those cold winter months. The richness and lush nature of the fabric is great for vamping up any outfit. I opt for jewel-toned velvets as their color reads the best with the material. Don’t forget to make the velvet bootie the star of your outfit. It makes a great statement piece.


Western Bootie A country music fan I’m not, but I’m most definitely a fan of the western boot trend this season! There’s a great character and charisma to western inspired boots. The buckles, the fringe, I love it all. Opt for a black boot for a harder edge and more versatile style. I am obsessed with the Steve Madden ‘Prairie’ version.



chelsea boot 86

This boot style is ultra polished and stylish. If you want to go more casual, select a Chelsea boot like the tan Zara version with a rubber sole. Feeling like going a little bit out of the box? Try a cool winter color like the Base London version in a deep burgundy.


SUEDE BOOT Suede boots are a great pairing for any winter outfit.They read sophisticated and fashion savvy. Suede is so versatile you can find it in casual chukka boot styles to more polished Chelsea boot styles. A must have is a black suede as well as a more neutral tone like a gray or taupe.



TWO-TONED BOOT These boots stand out from the rest in your closet. Because let’s face it, there’s not a ton of embellishment in men’s footwear. So, twotone boots offer a great dimension to any men’s outfit. Due to the two-tone nature of the boot, I recommend going more neutral with the rest of the outfit, particularly if the two-tones are of a heavy contrast. Whichever combo you choose, you’ll look fashion forward!



WORKER BOOT The heavy and brawn nature of this boot is what makes it a must have for any man’s closet. It reads more casual than some of the other boot styles, but its perfect for those weekends. A classic tan worker boot is my favorite this winter.


Detroit Happenings Written by: Andre Thompson

For the past few years, Detroit has embarked on a new journey of rebirth. This big city that was once known for their automotive industry is now starting to get into the fashion scene a little more. The young entrepreneurs that have started some of the most popular brands in the city has continued to rep there city with their products. “Detroit .vs. Everybody” has set the bar across the nation having the phrase mimicked in other cities in addition to brands copping its style. They specialize in simple tees, hoodies, and hats with the saying “Detroit vs Everybody” making it known that this city must stick together on the journey of rebirth from a negative reputation. Artists all over such as Keith Urban, Big Sean, Rick Ross, and Eminem, just to name a few, have rocked this brand representing the ethos of the collection. The brand caters to women, men, and kids providing a diverse selection of products! Detroit is the New Black is another local brand that gets their inspiration from the city. They focus on the resilience of the city in addition to its great history. The street style aesthetic fits right into the urban fashion world. They specialize in tees, caps, jackets, and much more! Prices range from $29.99$130.00. 90

The brand caters to women, men, and kids providing a diverse selection of products!




Destiny found out she was going to be a mother in July of 2013. She was 22 and she was nervous. Her pregnancy was not one that was planned and she had the normal anxieties of any young woman becoming a first time mom. "Who will he be?" "Am I ready?" "Will I get it right?" Despite the small fears she faced, there was still a wild excitement and a growing love she had never felt. As many of us do, in anticipation of life changing moments, Destiny frequently used social media to update her circle on her pregnancy as she anxiously awaited the arrival of her son. Everyone had become invested in her journey sending well wishes and sharing in her blessings. Kaiden was born on February 12th, 2014 to Destiny Gonzalez and Greg Cherry, Cherr a Chicago based hip-hop artist known as YP. Kaiden was a healthy baby boy weighing 7lbs 6oz and he immediately became the center of their world. "He looked just like me. He was my little twin. He was always smiling. He was always happy. He was a mama's boy. He was everything." Destiny settled into motherhood naturally and quickly learned how deeply love exex isted and how a child, your child, changes your whole reason to live. Two days before Kaiden would have been 6 months old, Destiny went out to get her nails done. It was August 10th. It was a normal day. She woke up like any other morning. Kaiden was with his dad. There was nothing out of the ordinary. There was no warning, nothing to tell her that she would wake up tomorrow in a different life. She got the phone call from Greg, Kaiden had stopped breathing and he was being rushed to the Emergency Room. Destiny's parents drove her to the hospital and her panic set in. Her intuition, the feeling in the pit of her stomach, told her that something was very, very wrong. When she arrived at the hospital, no one needed to confirm what she already knew. She saw Greg and she


to confirm what she already knew. She saw Greg and she knew that Kaiden was gone. The doctors had assured her that they had done everything they possibly could but their efforts had been unsuccessful. She was given the opportunity to say her goodbyes. As she tenderly wiped the face that had always smiled back at her, her new reality hadn't yet begun to settle in. An autopsy came back the day before the funeral revealing that there was nothing medically wrong with Kaiden. There were no answers. Kaiden died of SIDS. SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. Destiny had lost her son. He wasn't sick, no one did anything wrong, there was no one to blame, she had no time to prepare herself. She tried tirelessly to make sense of the insensible. One day he was there and the next he just wasn't.





The next few days were a blur. She doesn't remember much about the funeral. She said, "I only remember turning around at the service and seeing all these people. There were lines outside. Chicago mourned with us." Just like Destiny had once used her social media as a platform to share in her excitement, she was now using it as a lifeline to help cope with her grief. She writes on August 12th, 2014, "Right now is the first time I've been alone since Kaiden passed and I still can't believe this is my life right now, my reality. I'm struggling with understanding why, struggling with questioning God." She writes about heartbreak and grief and love. She shares about the day she buried her son, the first time she stepped back out in the world, the first time she laughed without him, what would have been Kaiden's first Christmas, and his first birthday. She used her social media as a journal to chronicle her pain, her hope for peace and her gratitude for the outpouring of love. What had started out as a form of therapy for Destiny and a way to communicate with loved ones while she processed her grief, had unknowingly opened a door for people to reach out to her with their own stories of love and loss. She was beginning to see that the honesty in her journey and the willingness to open up her life wasn't just therapy for her, he but it was a catalyst in helping others. She was connecting to people, people she didn't even know. In return for the love and support she received, she was determined to give it back.


“the strongest person in the world is a grieving that wakes up everyday and keeps going.”

Destiny remembers vividly how she felt in the months that followed Kaiden's death, "I felt ugly. I remember how terrible I felt." Destiny had stopped sleeping. Her "What Ifs? And What Now’s haunted her. Her parents worried about her. Her mind went to the darkest places and in moments of overwhelming sadness she had even questioned her own reason for living. She had been a young 23 year old girl, free and embarking on life’s biggest adventure. Now less than 2 years later she was a woman that had lived a whole life since then. She loved and lost and her heart was broken. Grief has this way of making you feel so far from the person you were before your loss. Your life becomes unrecognizable. You become unrecognizable. It can be paralyzing trying to figure out how to move forward when you feel like you can't and on some days don't even want to. Kaiden's Day was meant to be a one-day event that would give mothers that have lost children, a day to be pampered, to feel good, and to feel like themselves. She met with Salons willing to host her event with her intention being to pay for the services herself. What she received was more than she had expected, Salons wanted to be involved. Destiny posted on social media asking for submissions "You deserve it, whoever you are. To help you, helps me. The strongest person in the world is a grieving mother that wakes up and keeps going every morning. I know your pain, I know your struggle, and I salute and respect you for having the courage to keep going." The response was overwhelming. She received over 100 submissions for Kaiden's Day. She describes the selection process as an emotional one. "I cried for days. I felt myself in each of them." Salon Olari on Halsted hosted her first event and graciously offered their salon and their staff free of charge. CBS and daily talk shows got involved in spreading the word on Kaiden's Day and what


Destiny's story. On Feb 12th, 2015 what would have been Kaiden's 1st birthday, -the first ever Kaiden's day became a reality. The moms were treated to manicures, pedicures, makeup application, massages, and facials. Destiny described the feeling as a support group of sorts. There was healing in being around and connecting with other women that share in the same pain. Kaiden's Day has now had it's second annual event. The hope is to continue it yearly on either Kaiden's birthday or the day of his passing in order to keep the event connected to Destiny's son. It is in his name and a celebration of his life that Destiny gives back. "I felt like I was strong before, but I don't think I really knew what it was to be strong until this. I know how I have battled with this. I could have died. When you have a child that is who you are living for. When you lose a child you feel like there is no reason for you to exist, but time does heal you. Your family, your support system, they save you." 100

Destiny is evidence of the fierceness of a mothers unconditional and true love and the healing power of giving. She is still a mother that lives everyday for her son, to make him proud and to be a shining example of light in the world. In the aftermath of the life that she thought would have, she has bravely built a new life and found a purpose. She has found a way to continue moving and being and giving, even in the darkest place. She has created a day of peace and a community of love from tragedy. Although she has been forever changed by her heartbreak and her loss, it is in her strength and her resilience that will continue to be the message that she shares with the world.

“In the aftermath of the life she thought she would have, she has


built a new life and found a purpose.”









The Power of Choice

Breaking the Myths About Teen Drug Use and Alcohol

Written by: Jennifer M. Lezan-Veguilla



ll teenagers experiment with drugs and alcohol, right? It’s a known fact that teens are into risky behavior and more likely to engage in negative decision-making, correct? Well, if you believe these ideas to be true, you are unfortunately misinformed. The reality is that these statements are in fact some of the more prominent myths and misconceptions about teen drug use and alcohol abuse. Although it’s not abnormal for teenagers to experiment with alcohol and pot, most high school students are actually not using regularly and even fewer will go on to develop problematic heavy use or addiction. Furthermore, when family rules about drugs and alcohol are clear, 10th graders are less likely to be current marijuana smokers (15 percent versus 35 percent according to stats). They are also less likely to be current alcohol drinkers (18 percent versus 44 percent), and less likely to binge drink (11 percent versus 31 percent). Often, it is through clear communication and set expectations that parents can actually delay the age at which students may first experiment with substance use. It is from basis of these ideas that the organization, The Power of Choice evolved. The Power of Choice is an arm of the suburban based 360 Youth Services organization. The Power of Choice is a highly effective and proven drug and alcohol abuse prevention campaign for students. The organization currently focuses their time within the school district 203 and district 204. The Power of Choice initiative focuses on correcting misperceptions about the prevalence of substance use and emphasizes that most students are actually making healthy choices regarding tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Through classroom presentations, posters, journals located in school bathroom stalls, and many types of media and communication tools, students gain first hand knowledge on the reality and misconceptions of drug use.


The eye opening reality that the high school based program acknowledges is that when a community consistently supports its students’ healthy choices, showcases the positive and the number of kids making good decisions, substance use actually decreases. The Power of Choice doesn’t only focus on High schools. The program also includes a junior high/ middle school communications campaign for district 203 & 204 students and their parents. The focus of this campaign increases knowledge around risk and harm associated with alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. Rather than break misconception, they focus on highlighting the harm that is associated with illegal substance abuse. It is found that the younger students actually don’t have misconceptions about the drug use in their environment. They know who uses and who

doesn’t. They don’t fall in line with the idea that “everyone is doing it”. Rather, the focus of this program is to highlight that the risk associated with substance abuse and what can come of it. The Power of Choice is an effective, data-driven, outcome-based, ongoing, community collaborative project that recognizes the power youth have to impact the quality of their lives. They do this by making choices that keep all possibilities open for a bright future and that create a positive impact on the community around them. The team at the Power of Choice, took some time to share more about this incredible program that is working hard to keep youth health, engaged and going in a positive direction. HALFSTACK: Can you tell us more about The Power of Choice and how it came to be at 360 Youth Services?


POC: The Power of Choice is a primary substance abuse prevention project that is evidence based, data driven and cost effective. 360 Youth Services began the Power of Choice high school campaign in 2003 in collaboration with local school districts, police departments and other youth serving organizations in our community as a way to reduce youth substance use. The Power of Choice uses Communication Campaigns which are purposeful promotional strategies used to change knowledge, attitudes and behavior or policy in a specific intended audience via marketing and advertising techniques. The focus of this project is to support our youth who are currently making healthy choices so they continue to do so, delay the age of first use and reduce underage drinking and other drug use among those who are in the first stages of use.

HALFSTACK: What kind of impact has The Power of Choice made in the community it serves?What kind of impact has The Power of Choice made in the community it serves? POC: The POC is a social norms marketing campaign that recognizes that most local teens are alcohol, tobacco & other drug- free. This is news worth sharing. Sharing key findings over the last 13yrs with students has helped create a shift in perception. This shift in perception has resulted in a reduction in alcohol, tobacco and other drug-free use by teens: •39% more students have never tried a cigarette in 2016 vs. 2003 •21% more students have not had alcohol in the past year, 2016 vs. 2003 7% more students did not smoke marijuana in the past year, 2016 vs. 2003 HALFSTACK: What does Power of Choice actually do in terms of how it works in the community?

HALFSTACK: Why did the organization decide to go about launching a direct impact campaign in the schools – going out into the community to educate students rather than utilize an informative approach? POC: Research shows that changing environmental norms through communication campaign strategy is an evidence-based strategy which has been proven to reduce youth substance use. Our community has about 15,000 high school students and 11,000 middle school students each year and this strategy is the most effective, cost-effective way to reach them.


POC: 203 and 204 students in 5 community high schools and 12 middle schools in 2016. These data are critical. It is objective evidence that measures their use of alcohol and other drugs over time. At the high schools, Power of Choice works with the following components to ensure its effectiveness: Survey – District 203 and 204 high schools participate in a the Illinois Youth Survey. The survey is conducted every other year. Data from the surveys is used to create materials for The Power of Choice social norms campaign in the high schools. Posters – Five different 12×18 posters are displayed in the high schools throughout the school year that recognize the healthy choices that a majority of students are making about being alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD)-free. Stall Street Journal – Like the posters, Stall Street Journals are displayed in the schools (bathrooms,

drinking fountains, etc.) and provide a more indepth look at the data collected from the surveys, while also recognizing that a majority of students are making healthy choices regarding ATOD.

parents in an effort to educate parents about the campaign and provide helpful information about connecting with their children in order to help pave the way for a bright future.

I-Teams – Three times during the school year, The Power of Choice visits the high school cafeterias to help educate students on the campaign and reinforce the true behavioral norms of their peers.

Website – This website includes information for both parents and students. Access newsletters, substance abuse prevention resources, FAQ’s, posters, Stall Streets, data and statistics from The Power of Choice campaign. Please visit often as we are always updating the site with useful information for both parents and their teens.

Classroom Presentations – Each semester, The Power of Choice visits District 203 freshman classes and District 204 health classes to explain the annual survey and address students’ perceptions about the behaviors of their peers by conducting a mini-survey during class. This presentation gives students an opportunity to see how the survey and campaign work on a smaller scale. Parent Newsletters – A monthly electronic newsletter is distributed to high school

At the middle schools, Power of Choice works with the following components to ensure its effectiveness for 6th-8th graders: Illinois Youth Survey –District 203 and 204 8th grade students participate in the Illinois Youth surveyeveryotheryear.Information from the survey helps to guide the development of the campaign.


Posters – Five different 12×18 posters are displayed in the schools throughout the school year. Posters are designed with messages intended to build those protective factors that will guide students as they develop and begin making decisions that will lead them to a healthy future. Power Surge –newsletters displayed in key areas to give students a little more information about important topics and themes connected to those protective factors highlighted in the posters. Each issues will present a Power Surge Challenge to encourage the students to “do something powerful” with the information they learn.


The Power of Choice visits the middle school/ junior high school cafeterias to help educate students on the campaign and reinforce the topics covered by the campaign. Parent Newsletters – A monthly electronic newsletter is distributed to parents in an effort to educate them about the campaign and provide helpful information about connecting with their children in order to help pave the way for a bright future.

PowerTalk for Families – activities are designed to give families tools to have important conversations that reinforce skills that help young people build resilience and health.

Website – This website includes information for both parents and students. Access newsletters, substance abuse prevention resources, FAQ’s, posters, Power Surges, data and statistics from The Power of Choice campaign. Please visit often as we are always updating the site with useful information for both parents and students

I-Teams – two times during the school year,

Data have shown that by far the majority of the

203 and 204 student population who are living normal, healthy teenage lives substance-free. We reach out to each and every student all year long, by having students help create posters and newsletters, which keeps it real. Healthy is normal. That’s why it works. That’s how our Power of Choice social norms campaign works in the community!

HALFSTACK: Can you tell us a bit about the Podcast you recently launched and how it aims to connect with parents? POC: An intriguing thought hit us in 2016: what if not all parents get information in same format? So we developed the podcast as a different channel to share information with parents! It’s Parenting Strong ( Our first podcast is just out! It was shared with more than 53,819 people from our schools and throughout our extended community. The feedback from parents was immediate and is ongoing. They have lots of ideas for future podcasts. Connecting with parents is all about addressing what’s on their minds. Highly interesting discussions are happening now, as we are about to record our next podcast. HALFSTACK: Have you faced obstacles as you organized this outreach and attempted to grow the program, if so what and how did you overcome? POC: One obstacle is the rapidly changing way in which people like to receive information. We’ve had to be creative and adapt such as creating a podcast to meet those needs. We are continuously looking for fresh outlets, going where our audience goes. Growth is one problem we don’t have. Not only are we adding staff and programs at the farm (360 Youth Services is situated in an old farmhouse) but we are reaching farther than ever before, well beyond our target population with media, partners, and groundswell of support from students involved. Parents and the community thank us all the time. We thank them right back for their role in modeling health in their homes and neighborhoods.


HALFSTACK: Do you think the media, surge in social media outlets and internet in general have had any type of impact on teen drug use? If so, how and why? POC: Yes, the media gives the false impression that most teens use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. It also makes access to unhealthy substances easier. The anonymous and impersonal nature of the internet too often does not foster healthy coping and interpersonal skills. HALFSTACK: Can you share any recent successes of the program and any resources for parents who may be in need of your services? POC: We have seen an increase of 21% in high school students who are alcohol-free in the past year (from 2003 to 2016, according to IYS data) (Also see question #3) is an excellent resource for parents who may be in need of information and resources. The Power of Choice has seen a 6% improvement in the already-low past year use of alcohol rate for our middle school students as well. Since our campaign focuses on building protective factors that build resilience, we also track data regarding interpersonal conflict, violence and mental health. Since our campaign began, we have seen a 10% improvement in the number of students who have reported being bullied and a 5% improvement in those who report being involved in a physical fight. Parent communication and monitoring are also important protective factors and we have seen a 6% increase in the number of parent who are talking to their 8th graders about alcohol use and an 11% increase in the number of students who report that their parents always know where they are and who they are with.


HALFSTACK: Outside of the Power of Choice are there any other ways your organization works to help youth? POC: Our agency has 3 departments. The Power of Choice is part of the PREVENTION department which also includes Naperville Snowball and the Community Alliance for Prevention. Snowball is a fun, engaging and popular youth leadership development program. 360 Youth Services partners with Districts 203 & 204 to coordinate this teen-led and adult supported program for area high school students. The Community Alliance for Prevention is a coalition of community leaders whose mission is to strengthen our community in order to reduce youth substance use. Our HOUSING department provides support for youth who are moving from homelessness to independence. Our COUNSELING department offers support and intervention skills training to youth (and their families) who are struggling with stresses of life. HALFSTACK: Finally, where can we learn more about your organization and how to get involved?


A Gift of Opportunity: The Dr. Choksey Albinism Foundation Written by: Hiral Lloyd-Jones Layout by: Kandace McVickar


Meet Dr. Prabha Choksey the founder of Dr. Choksey Albinism Foundation who is changing the lives of children born with albinism in Kenya. In Africa, for generations, children born with this genetic condition have suffered in silence and fear as society stigmatized them. They are considered a curse to their family and to some as beings whose body parts, if offered to the spirits using witchcraft, would bring them luck. Dr. Choksey studied Ophthalmology in India where she was born and raised. She has won numerous accolades such as the Bharat Jyoti Award by India International Friendship Society and the Honor of Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear (M.B.S.) for her outstanding service in the field of ophthalmology and for her commitment to helping and changing the lives of children with albinism in Kenya.

In Africa the issue was and still is in some places about the skin, a white child in a black family and the real challenge of the sensitivity of their eyes and skin is overlooked. The myth that is still prevalent to this day, is that most children with albinism are blind and so they are sent off to study in schools for the visually challenged where many are taught in Braille even when that child could read and write. The charity was quick to recognize, through their work that 95% of the children they see with albinism do not fit into the category of being legally blind, and can attend any school without special needs. With all the misunderstandings of the condition she saw in her 40-year career as an eye specialist and working with these children, Dr. Choksey decided to provide assistance and education to children with albinism and their families. Since 2008, Dr. Choksey has been offering free ophthalmic services to those with albinism and has helped over 800 people, mostly children.


Through the foundation’s initiative to “Help Ever Hurt Never”, they are transforming the lives of albino children. They provide free ophthalmic services through which prescription photo chromatic eyewear is provided. It is important for people with this condition to have this form of eye wear in order to improve vision and reduce photophobia. Photophobia is when bright light causes discomfort or pain to the eyes when exposed to light. It is not fear of light, as some may perceive it to be. People with albinism have skin that is extremely sensitive to UV rays from the sun and prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can be dangerous as they are more likely to develop skin cancer. Not only do they provide eye care at the albinism foundation, but they also provide easy access to sun protection such as sunscreens, which would otherwise be very expensive for these children and their families to provide for themselves. Children with albinism, who come from poor families, orphans, single parent homes or ones who are looked after by their elderly relatives are helped through an education sponsorship program to enable them to attend school. The foundation has supported over


150 children and so far, 2016 alone has seen 84 of these beautiful children be sponsored to achieve a brighter future. Further aid in the form of finance for higher education as well as business setup is provided for those who need it, they also help the youth develop specialized skills such as music, art and tailoring to name a few. Kenya recently held the world’s first albinism beauty contest, to bring awareness to the condition and to show that people with this condition are no different from the rest of us. This was possible thanks to people like Dr. Choksey and her foundation as well as Isaac Mwaura, Kenya’s first and only albino MP who wants to change the attitude of the nation and its neighbors towards albinos. Since the year 2000, Kenya’s neighbor Tanzania has had at least 75 children and adults mutilated for their body parts for witchcraft purposes. In 2015, 35 albinos were evacuated from towns near the Kenya-Tanzania border after an increase in ritual killings. The winners of the beauty pageant Mr. Albinism 2016, Jarius Ongata and Miss. Albinism 2016 Loise Lihanda Musimbi are both beneficiaries of Dr. Choksey Albinism Foundation.

Dr. Choksey’s Albinism Foundation has designed visual acuity testing charts, which it aims to provide to all schools in Kenya with. These charts can be used by children as young as 12 years old to record the visual sight of every child in their school. They aim to establish a Visual Acuity test for Children by Children project to help children, teachers and the rest of us understand the difference between legal blindness and low vision. This, the foundation believes will help the children with albinism who have good sight be readmitted to regular mainstream education. The foundation aspires to give life of “Honor and Dignity” to people with albinism. They strive to build characters through education in human values and to mold these children with albinism to become peace ambassadors of Kenya. The vision of the Dr. Choksey Albinism Foundation is to create a society where people with albinism are fully integrated, empowered and appreciated to realize their full potential.

Dr. Prabha Choksey continues to raise awareness for this condition by engaging the Media at large, she has been called upon many times to give talks on local Kenyan T.V. shows on the matter. She is truly an angel from God sent to protect these children. She believes that all the awards she wins are challenges for her, reminders that she must carry on with her work and strive to do even greater things. No good words are enough to describe this lady, her perspective on life is truly uplifting. To give and expect nothing in return, from the bottom of your heart is something many of us are not readily able to do every day, like this “Super Woman” does regardless of it being Hanukkah, Christmas, Eid or Diwali. She finds happiness in others, and lives through the legacy left behind by her parents Sarla and Dr. Chimandas Garusahani , who taught her that “holding the ladder for others to climb up gives you more happiness than climbing it yourself”.


Apart from the Foundation Dr. Choksey has written books on numerology and parenting whose sales will benefit the foundation as well. Her most recent book “the Beautiful Art of Parenting� was launched on 12th November 2016.


The appreciation and the impact that this foundation and Dr. Choksey have had on these children with albinism in Kenya is evident in the poem that has been written by Doreen Gakii. Doreen expresses how much she is thankful and how much her life has changed by the kindness shown to her by Dr. Choksey who she considers a mother and an angel.

Dr. Choksey Albinism Foundation Our Vision is a Society in which Persons with Albinism are fully Integrated, Appreciated and Empowered to realize their Full Potential.

Dedicated to Mother Mother of good hope, many have seen light shine Through you we have way to follow, From the darkness you brought us, And in the light you let us shine, Brave Mother !!.. reward awaits you Children of different background we are, Children of different mothers we came Together you brought us and made us one your love you divided among us Brave Mother!!.. rewards awaits you. In the society of discrimination and hatred, You brought equality and love among us, In world of darkness you became our light, Hopeless we were, but you became our hope, Sweet Mother we salute you. With tears full in our eyes, You wiped us with care, With a hug, balanced we became You opened your hands wide and received us, Kind hearted Mother reward awaits you. Expensive glasses you gave us, With no charges Mother, You made our world beautiful, For an albino child to live, Smiles we can afford Because of you Mother In heaven, reward awaits you .. Mum. What reward can we give in return? What gift can we give in return? From deep our hearts Mother we say Thanks An albino person can acknowledge that You have made world beautiful to live May God see you through and bless your work Bravo Mother Bravo! By Doreen Gakii

This Poem is written by Doreen Gakii A person living with Albinism to Dr. Prabha V. Choksey to express love and appreciation from the bottom of her heart.


Chicago’s Night Ministry: Taking Back the Night & Changing Lives 120

Interview by: Jennifer Oquendo



s the holiday season is fast approaching, we can sometimes get caught up with the hustle and bustle of making sure all the wanted gifts are bought. Unfortunately, we tend to forget about the simple things. We forget about families and the desire to give and not just receive. We forget that there are many people that don’t have loved ones to spend the holidays with. There are many people that are lonely, homeless and depressed during the holidays. Thankfully, there are many organizations and programs that help people from different age groups that are in different situations get back on their feet. Sometimes, people just need to know that someone is there and is willing to help in any form. Usually around these times people tend to donate more to organizations that help people in need in our community and away in other countries. One organization that helps many people in unfortunate situations is called The Night Ministry. Halfstack had the opportunity to learn more about the organization and the desire to help the community and serve people that are in need. Halfstack: Can you give us a little history of The Night Ministry? The Night Ministry: The Night Ministry began in 1976 with one staff member, Rev. Tom Behrens, who was hired by 18 diverse congregations to identify the problems facing the Lakeview and Lincoln Park neighborhoods of Chicago. Rev. Behrens’ mission involved reaching out to homeless and disenfranchised individuals in these communities at night, when they are at their most vulnerable. He walked the streets of Lakeview and Lincoln Park by himself from 9pm to 5am for 10 years to ascertain the needs of the community. He met people in all-night -


“The Night Ministry has over 100 employees and diverse programs that serve people experiencing homelessness throughout Chicago.”

laundromats, cafes, bars, and street corners. He

The Night Ministry’s Programs fall under two

a consoling presence and helping them directly

What follows is a brief summary of each program

listened to the needs of those he met, offering

when he could. What struck Rev. Behrens most profoundly was the struggle of at-risk and homeless youth. Soon he began to develop programs from what he learned about the life circumstances and needs of those he was serving. With his guidance, The Night Ministry emerged from being a one-man operation touching hundreds of lives, to a diverse and inclusive organization serving thousands of

individuals each year. Today, The Night Ministry has over 100 employees and diverse programs that serve people experiencing homelessness throughout Chicago. The Night Ministry is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. Our mission is to compassionately provide housing, health care, and human connection to adults and youth that struggle with homelessness and poverty. We accept individuals as they are and offer support as they seek to improve their lives. We invite others to join this hope-filled work. Halfstack: What programs and services does The Night Ministry offer?

The Night Ministry: Our programs are nondenominational, and we are known for supporting people without concern for race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation. The Night Ministry is uniquely effective in assisting homeless and vulnerable youth and adults in reaching safety and stability. Our programs focus on building relationships with those who are the hardest to reach, and assisting them on all stages of their journey, from the streets or unsafe circumstances to stability and improved health and wellness.

categories: Youth Services and Health Outreach. of The Night Ministry.

The Youth Outreach Team (YOT) operates in areas frequented by homeless youth, including street corners, drop-in centers, and coffee shops. In addition, the Youth Outreach Van visits the intersection of Belmont and Halsted streets and other venues where homeless youth congregate where our staff and volunteers provide a welcome and affirming environment by offering food, basic need items, and street counseling. The program provides unique enrichment opportunities for vulnerable and at-risk youth, such as Adventure Club (which offers free, outdoor retreats for homeless youth). Staff also provide confidential HIV/STI testing services. The Crib is our overnight youth shelter in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Located in the basement of Lakeview Lutheran Church, The Crib seeks to provide point-of-entry support services to youth who would otherwise not be served. What makes The Crib unique is that as many as 70-80% of our guests identify as LGBTQ, and as many as 30% identify as transgender or gender non-conforming. The Crib prides itself on offering non-judgmental, affirming, safe, and hospitable services for all clients who enter the program. When it opened in 2011, The Crib was the only overnight shelter for homeless youth ages 18-24 in Chicago, and the only program of its kind in the Midwest. Today, there are three other Chicago agencies modeled after The Crib, also providing homeless teens with a network of comprehensive services.


Awareness for homeless youth shelters in Chicago is increasing, but The Crib still remains

one of the few places that a young person can experience homeless relief. Throughout the year, The Crib will provide over 6,000 shelter bed nights, as well as meals, life skills counseling, referrals, and enrichment opportunities to approximately 300 youth.

The Response-Ability Pregnant and Parenting Program (RAPPP) helps homeless pregnant and parenting girls ages 14-21 gain the resources and support necessary to reach safety, stability, and improved health for themselves and their children. Located in Lakeview, the program offers young women a supportive environment in which they receive encouragement from peers undergoing similar circumstances. These youth receive assistance from a Case Manager to pursue educational and employment opportunities; additionally, they are required to attend on-site support groups focused on mental health and healthy relationships. What distinguishes The Night Ministry’s RAPPP shelter is that ours is the only program in the City of Chicago that reserves beds for homeless pregnant and parenting girls who are minors (ages 14-17). RAPPP serves minor-aged pregnant girls who otherwise may not have had a safe place to be. RAPPP provides as many as 65 youth, as well their infants/young children, with safe shelter and support services each year. The Interim Program is located at our Open Door Youth Shelter in West Town and welcomes any non-ward youth ages 14-21 who arrives at the door, as long as space is available. Youth are eligible to participate in the Interim Program for up to 120 days, but the length of stay varies depending on each youth’s situation.


In addition to offering safe shelter, the main

goal of the program is to provide youth with comprehensive case management, referrals, and special programming to assist them in efforts to pursue stable housing and educational/ employment opportunities. A unique aspect of The Night Ministry’s programs is that youth at RAPPP, Interim and STEPS who have a job are

required to put a percentage of that income into savings. Staff focuses on helping youth develop the skills necessary to live independently. The

Interim Program also serves infants and toddlers of residents, ensuring that this is a safe and welcoming program for parenting homeless youth. Each year, the program strives to serve approximately 120 youth and their children.

The Transitional Living Program – STEPS (Successful Transitions Effectively Preparing for Self-Sufficiency), is also located at our Open Door Youth Shelter in West Town and serves non-ward youth, ages 16-23, and their children. The shelter program has two four-bedroom apartments, one for young men and one for young women, and has cribs and toddler beds for the children of residents. Youth can reside in this ‘next stage’ housing program for up to two years; the program is equipped to provide services for eight youth at a time (referred from another program at The Night Ministry) and their children. All youth in STEPS are required to have a high school diploma or GED, or be working toward one. If they do have one, they have to be employed or looking for a job. The primary goal of the program is to help young people achieve independent living skills, and acquire permanent housing and stable circumstances.

The Outreach and Health Ministry Program provides point-of-entry health care to youth and adults experiencing homelessness throughout Chicago and operates seven days per week. Our mobile approach allows us to focus services in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty and homelessness, and limited available health care services. The program brings basic health care services to these neighborhoods via a custom-designed 38-foot Health Outreach Bus. The Bus serves individuals five nights per week in diverse underserved areas of Chicago, including: Pilsen, Humboldt Park, Uptown, Back of the Yards, and South Shore. In addition, due to recent expansion, the program now operates during the day as well to deliver health services in partnership with soup kitchens, drop-in services, and shelter programs. In total, the program provides services at 22 locations throughout Chicago.

The Night Ministry also recently added rapid testing for syphilis to its services. We are the only provider in the country using the test in a mobile setting. Halfstack: Who and what age group does The Night Ministry serve (also see above for the age groups that the youth shelters serve)? The Night Ministry: Our programs serve individuals of all ages, including infants, youth, adults, and the elderly. The great majority of adults and youth served by The Night Ministry’s programs are of low or extremely low income. Individuals served by the programs come from a wide variety of backgrounds; however many individuals are of minority racial backgrounds. Through the Outreach and Health Ministry Program, approximately 50% of clients are African-American, 125

33% are Hispanic/Latino, 16% are White/ Caucasian, and 1% are Other/Multi-racial (70% of clients are male and 30% are female). Through our Youth Housing Programs, approximately 80% of clients are African-American, 8% are Hispanic/Latino, 7% are White/Caucasian, and 5% are Other/Multi-racial. Approximately 54% of clients are female, 45% are male, and 1% are transgender, with the exception of The Crib overnight youth shelter where 30% or

•Serve breakfast or dinner to residents at

The Crib in Lakeview, our overnight shelter for homeless youth ages 18-24. We need 1-2 volunteers for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays from 7-9am, and 2-4 volunteers for dinner on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 8:30-10:30pm.

more identify as transgender. Our clients are predominantly homeless or precariously housed,

•Serve hot meals alongside the Health Outreach Bus in one of six different Chicago neighborhoods. We need volunteers Sunday through Thursday evenings.

Halfstack: What area does The Night Ministry serve?

•Create a party for 8 teen moms and their kids at our Response-Ability Pregnant and Parenting Program in our Lakeview homeless shelter. This is for female volunteers only. Some ideas include hosting a party around Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Fourth of July or other holidays.

at-risk and represent some of the most vulnerable communities in Chicago. Each year, The Night Ministry serves over 5,000 individuals through our vital health care, shelter and outreach programs.

The Night Ministry: We serve adults, youth and families throughout the City of Chicago, with a focus on the neighborhoods of Humboldt Park, Pilsen, Uptown, South Shore, Back of the Yards, Lakeview, and West Town. The Night Ministry’s Outreach & Health Ministry Program serves people at 22 sites around the city. Additionally, the youth housing programs serve many youth coming from the far west and south side neighborhoods of Chicago. Halfstack: Is there any way Halfstack readers can help? The Night Ministry: Volunteer opportunities: The Night Ministry welcomes involvement from members of our community. Some examples of volunteer opportunities for individuals or groups are126 listed below:

•Volunteer on Service Saturdays to help sort and organize donations to pack safer sex kits and hygiene kits. This is ideal for a group of 5-7 volunteers, and takes place one Saturday per month in our Ravenswood office. •Host a donation drive at the office for Hygiene

Kits, Welcome Home Baby Kits, Cookies, or Trail Mix/Chex Mix. We distribute these care packages nightly on our Health Outreach Bus and in our youth shelter network. •Donate items that are most in need: adult socks, CTA/Ventra passes, disposable diapers, gift cards, lounge wear or scrubs, towels and linens, T-shirts, underwear, coffee, snacks and cereal, laundry detergent.

Nonmonetary donations needed: The Night Ministry continuously seeks the following donated items: new white tube socks, neutral-colored (black, grey, brown) hats and gloves, men’s and women’s underwear, travelsized hygiene items (especially deodorant),

and gift certificates in $5 and $10 amounts from Walgreens, CVS, Target, Marshall’s, Subway,

or any other store which is easily accessed by homeless individuals (to be used as incentives, particularly for our Youth Leadership Programs). The Night Ministry also appreciates holiday stockings for our Annual Holiday Celebrations.

Halfstack: Would you like to include anything for Halfstack readers to know? The Night Ministry: In response to the growing needs of homeless youth and adults in Chicago, The Night Ministry is working on the following:

-North Lawndale Housing Initiative: The Night Ministry is the lead agency working

collaboratively on a pilot project to provide safe, stable housing for homeless high school students from North Lawndale College Prep in an effort to increase their education outcomes. We hope to have this program open by the Spring of 2017. -Street Medicine: The Night Ministry’s Street

Medicine team sets out with backpacks of medical and survival supplies into parks and forest preserves, under viaducts, and behind commercial areas where the hardest-to-reach

populations often gather or set up encampments. Team members first address immediate health needs, then link individuals to case management and medical homes. We began the initiative in December of 2015. We are almost fully funded for the first year of programming for the pilot phase of programming.


Pat Sullivan: Impacting a Generation of New Leaders Written by: Louis Vasseur Photography by: Melinda Jane Myers Layout by: Kandace McVickar

Throughout his over four-decade career as a collegiate and high school coach and educator, Pat Sullivan has touched thousands of lives and impacted a new generation of leaders. Many of who, today succeed in a wide range of business and civic capacities throughout the country. The former basketball coach of the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL considers himself truly blessed to have had a career he truly loved. Along the way he collected over 500 victories and multiple awards/titles, including several Coach of the Year Awards. At last count, Sullivan has been inducted into six separate halls of fame. But the one statistic Sullivan takes the most pride in, is that 172 of the 176 basketball-playing seniors who played for him graduated with their degrees. “I don’t necessarily remember every name of the 172 student athletes who graduated,” said Sullivan, “but I will never forget the 4 players who did not.” Described by many as the perfect gentleman, Sullivan is affable and easy to be around. Whenever you talk with him, he makes you feel like you are the most important person in his circle. However, in every conversation with Sullivan, it is clear which part of the title “student athlete” he feels is the most important.


“Coach Sullivan was truly the best mentor I have ever had,” said Randy Stelter, one of Sullivan’s former players and now Athletic Director at Wheeler High School in Valparaiso, IN. “Everything I’ve done in the classroom or in my administrative duties I have tried to emulate him.” When Sullivan retired from USF in 2010, he knew there were still many ideas he wanted to share. In particular, he wanted to share his philosophy on leadership, the type that he, himself had exhibited for nearly 50 years as a coach, athletic director, administrator and mentor. As a coach, Sullivan presented basketball and coach’s clinics throughout the United States, as well as in Belgium, Austria, Ireland, and Greece. He decided to expand the public speaking and presentations he had given while still coaching. Sullivan decided to try his hand as an inspirational speaker. Soon, he was booking local and national speaking engagements at schools, professional groups and business organizations through the United States, including companies such as Nike, Notre Dame, and IBM. As his speaking career developed, one of Sullivan’s former athletes, Tom Kennedy, suggested he write a book about his thoughts and experiences. Kennedy explains, “He is such a great coach and mentor. It just seemed like a logical opportunity for Pat to share his knowledge and philosophy with even more people.” Sullivan pursued the opportunity to self-publish his book, Attitude: The Cornerstone of Leadership in 2013. “I really believe attitude is everything,” says Sullivan. “The most important thing an athlete brings to the athletic arena, the most important thing a student brings to the academic arena, and the most important thing a leader brings to his or her leadership position is their daily attitude.” In the book, Sullivan uses the word “attitude” as an acronym, giving each letter a characteristic that might make a quality leader. He illustrates these points using examples from personal experience and from leaders he has met in his lifetime. The book has garnered a 5-star customer review rating on Amazon.

“Coach Sullivan was truly the best mentor I have ever had” 129


As he continued speaking around the country and promoting his book, Sullivan realized that, while successful, he was having difficulty reaching certain audiences. Much of the publicity he received was garnered via word of mouth. Many of the students and athletes he interacted with during his long coaching career as well as the wider USF community, shared his story. While he was communicating with hundreds of people, he was having a hard time reaching younger potential leaders as well as people outside of his immediate sphere of influence. Sullivan felt he had a valuable message that would benefit millennials, but what was the best way to reach them? To solve this dilemma, Sullivan implemented strategies directly from his book. He admitted he did not know the answer and therefore sought out advice from someone who knew more about this important demographic. “I have worked with leaders who believed they “knew” but no one else “knew”. They were convinced they were experts, and they rarely

listened to their constituents. These leaders were impossible to work with. I have also worked with leaders who were not afraid to say ‘I don’t know’. Not only did they listen to their co-workers, they actively sought out their opinions. I felt these men and women were the strongest and most secure leaders that I worked with, and I truly enjoyed my time with them.” Sullivan thought to himself, who better to ask about how to best reach this demographic than a group of millennials themselves? Sullivan approached Rich Vaughan in the USF College of Business & Health Administration for help. Vaughan used Sullivan’s request as a class project, assigning four teams to research the project and make recommendations for improvement. Unlike many leaders, Sullivan was open to seeking “wisdom” from a group of students who were two generations younger than he was. He maintained his positive attitude while the student teams “ripped apart” Sullivan’s promotion methodology and developed new plans which included the use of social media to help him reach a new demographic.


Sullivan was excited about many of the suggestions the student teams came up with but he had no idea how to even begin the process of initiating these new processes. Quite frankly, while they made sense, they were not processes he was used to. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” says a laughing Sullivan. Enter Jeffry Nichols, a senior marketing major at USF. Comfortable in the digital world of social media, Nichols was able to help Sullivan transfer his leadership wisdom into a new social media frequented by the audiencethat Sullivan sought to reach. “Jeffry has been a perfect addition,” explains Sullivan. “Tom Kennedy continues to help with the newsletter I publish and Jeffry can speak to Tom in a way I can’t. I am really lucky to have both their help.” Sullivan and his team have begun implementing the suggested changes and are looking forward to the results.


“I have looked up to Pat as a mentor and role model from the time I played ball for him back at USF,” said Kennedy. “Here is someone who has accomplished so much but doesn’t worry about his ego. Rather he is willing to reach out to anyone who can help him solve a problem, even if that persons is years younger.” It takes a strong leader to admit he didn’t know and then seek out answers from a group of students with significantly less experience than this hall of fame coaching legend. Despite being “retired”, Sullivan is eager to continue learning. An avid reader and questioner, the Father of 5 and Grandfather of 13 is eager to learn by talking with others. To learn more about Pat Sullivan, schedule him to speak, or purchase his book, visit his website at







Advanced Strategies for Charitable Giving Written by: Drew Powers Layout by: Kandace McVickar

Giving to Charity is truly a “Win-Win Situation.� By giving, we receive a possible tax deduction and certain happy feelings and good karma, while those in need receive the funds and services they may not find elsewhere. In honor of the annual Halfstack Giving Issue, this article will present ways to give to Charities ranging from the most simple to very complex, as well as a few easy, but often overlooked opportunities.


First Things First: Check your Charity When you give a dollar to your favorite Charity, do you know how much of that dollar actually goes to the intended cause? In other words, how much of each dollar goes to those in need, and how much of that dollar goes to office space, CEO pay, or fundraising galas? Certainly some amount of internal expense is acceptable, but how much? There are two ways to check on this. First, my favorite website for “grading” charities is www.charitynavigator. org. They have a very simple, but informative system to allow you to quickly assess if your charity of choice is using your dollars appropriately. Unfortunately, they do not issue a rating on any charity that has not provided 7 years of documentation, which leaves out younger charities. Second, there are charitable organizations that do nothing but raise money, research local charities, and give to those charities that qualify based on the vetting process. I am a member of one of these organizations, The Naperville Jaycees, and it allows me to give and raise money for smaller, local charities that may not have the historical record required to be rated by online services.

The Easiest Way to Give By far, the easiest way to give to Charity is to simply send money. You write a check, swipe your card, go through any number of online services, and voila! You have given to Charity. This is the best in terms of ultimate ease, ultimate efficiency, and instant gratification. And it shouldn’t be discounted or frowned upon. Charities need money, you gave some. Case closed. But for those of you earning higher amounts, and possibly subject to AMT (alternative minimum tax) or reaching your PEP and PEASE phase-outs, you may be surprised to learn that you cannot deduct your donation. Furthermore, taxpayers in every tax bracket may be surprised to learn that $1 donated does not always equate to a $1 deduction. Best to work directly with your tax advisor for your individual situation, but bottom line is this: most donations are not fully deductible and higher income earners may not get a tax deduction at all. Advanced and Easy, but Often Overlooked Strategies There are a two advanced strategies that are quite easy to execute, but sometimes overlooked. I like these strategies because they will create favorable tax situations for all income levels.

Gifting Appreciated Securities Let’s say that in the depths of the “Great Recession” you had the nerve to open an online trading account and buy a stock that was trading at 50 cents. And now it’s worth $40. Great trade! Good for you! But as you know, selling that stock now might trigger a Capital Gains Tax, and nobody likes that. Furthermore, you want to donate $200 to your favorite charity, but you know that may not result in a dollar-for-dollar tax deduction, as mentioned above. What to do? What to do… Instead of writing a $200 check you could simply gift 5 shares of your appreciated stock. This works really nicely in three ways. First, you and the charity completely avoid the capital gains tax. Second, you can deduct the full value of the stock; the whole $200! Third, and maybe most importantly, you could take the $200 from your checking that you were going to give, and immediately buy back the stock on the open market, receiving the new cost basis of $40 per share! The result is powerful: You gave $200, realized a full dollar-for-dollar deduction, avoided capital gains taxes, and the charity still gets $200 in stock they can manage for the future or liquidate for immediate needs. (There is a limit to how much in securities you can donate each year, please consult your tax advisor for your individual situation.)

Qualified Charitable Distributions I am mentioning Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) as both an opportunity and a warning. As an opportunity, it is a way for individuals aged 70 ½ and older to avoid the taxes on their IRA Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). Simply take the amount you are required to distribute, and have your IRA custodian write the check directly to the charity. Your RMD is satisfied, and it does not count as income on your tax return. Here’s where the warning comes. The original IRA owner does not have a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) until they are 70 ½, but those who have inherited an IRA from anyone but their spouse may also have an annual RMD, regardless of their age. And this can cause some confusion under the QCD rules. You may be a younger reader who has inherited an IRA from parents or grandparents. You have an RMD to take every year, but you do not qualify for a QCD until you are 70 ½ or older. Do not make a mistake here. Even if your IRA custodian writes a check directly to a charity, that distribution is still taxable to you, and must be reported accordingly. QCDs are only available to those IRA holders 70 ½ and older!


Final Thoughts There are many other strategies for those who are charitably inclined, including but not limited to Donor-Advised Funds, Private Foundations, Charitable Lead Trusts, Charitable Remainder Trusts, and Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts, to name a few. The list goes on and on, and these are simply outside the scope of this article. For all of these strategies, it is vital to work with competent financial advisors, as well as specialized accountants and attorneys. The explanations above should be considered a starting point, not a comprehensive discussion. Look for more specifics to follow on the blog.


Disclosures: All securities products and services of this Representative are offered through AOS, Inc. doing business as MoneyBlock member FINRA/SIPC, and a Registered Investment Advisor, Information provided by AOS, Inc. or their Representatives is informational in nature, and should not be considered tax or legal advice. Should you require tax or legal advice, please consult your tax advisor or attorney. Services offered by this Registered Representative are available only in states where currently registered. Securities offered in: AR, AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, ME, MI, MO, NC, NH, NJ, OH, OK, PA, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WV; Investment Advisory Services available in: CO, IL, IN; Life Licensed in: AR, AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, IL, IN, KY, MD, ME, MI, MO, NC, NH, NJ, OH, OK, PA, TX, VA, WV; CA License #0H94400 Residents of any state not listed can receive these services only after such time that the Registered Representative becomes registered in that state.



Tata harper X Maiyet: Kiss me I’m nontoxic Campaign WRITTEN BY: MICHELLE LAARABI In the spirit of giving, one of my all time favorite cosmetic/ skincare brands teamed up with an awesome clothing store to create something super special for the holidays. Tata Harper’s newest collab with Maiyet is a luxurious 100% organic cotton “Kiss me I’m non toxic t-shirt.” Its super soft, neutral toned, with a scooped back & boat neck for an easy silhouette.


This shirt lets you wear your support for a future of non-toxic skincare. With each purchase of this exclusive limited edition t-shirt Tata Harper will donate $30.00 to the Breast Cancer Fund’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. It also raises awareness about harmful ingredients in personal care products, and advocates for legislation that protects everyone’s health. That’s not all... Now, through August 31st they are also going to donate an additional $1.00 for every post on social media featuring your new t-shirt, or your favorite Tata Harper Skincare Product using the hashtag #kissmeimnontoxic. While you’re tweeting and talking about your favorite skincare make sure to check out the multi-tasking collection. This awesome trio of masks from Tata Harper’s new holiday release has something for everyone. The multi-tasker has all your “multi-masking” needs. Follow the 3-step routine for skin that’s left looking healthy and hydrated. What else could you ask for this holiday? Learn more here: link



WHY STARLING? If you have ever witnessed a flock of Starlings in flight, you likely stood in awe. Gathering, rising, spinning, pulsing and forever changing, Starlings represent the transformative power and energy each of us has when we come together. . The Starling Project was founded in 2015 with the mission of providing solar energy to communities in need around the world. That’s the best news; the better news is they smell amazing! These candles have some serious aroma action going on, which makes them perfect for any area of the house. You can help so many people in need while making your house smell amazing. It is a win-win situation. The World Energy Outlook Report 2014, shows that nearly 1.3 billion people are without access to electricity, and more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (two-thirds of the population) live without electricity. That’s


a lot of people in the world living without the simplest necessity, which is light. Starling works with amazing organizations like UNICEF and provides the development of solar systems in countries, through their sale of hand-poured candles made in Brooklyn, NY. Right now in CHAD they’ve raised over 100,000 dollars, and helped over 5,000 people get electricity. I would say that’s a pretty remarkable change for the world. Some of my personal faves include the Orange flower + Amber, and the Currant + Rosewood candles. They touch my nose no matter where I have them in my apartment, and EVERYONE loves them. If you want to tantalize your guest with an aroma that is different from all those other scents out there, I highly suggest including this brand that gives back in your home stash. Learn more here: https://

light the world 141

Fights cancer



The Estée Lauder Companies’ BCA Campaign was founded in 1992 by the late Evelyn H. Lauder with the launch of the Pink Ribbon, the universal symbol for breast health. She was a mentor to many and an extraordinary woman in the cosmetic industry. Fifteen of

the Estee Lauder Companies’ Beauty Brands will join together to support the BCA Campaign’s mission and raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation this year. This incredible foundation has sparked a global move-

ment, raising awareness, and over $65 million dollars to help support global research. They assist with education and medical services, and are one of the most powerful movements in Breast Cancer Awareness. For 24 years this amazing foundation has

They assist with education and medical services, and are one of the most powerful movements in Breast Cancer Awareness.

been changing the lives of so many, and is one of the most powerful companies of our time. All of these participating products have special packaging for #BCA and donate a portion of sales to the life changing fund. Some of my all time faves are in here! From Bumble and Bumble, to Aveda, they have some real heavy hitters here. Clinique’s number one selling moisturizer is donating $10.00 per purchase, and Estee Lauder’s number one Serum on the market are donating 20% of the retail price to the fund.

Just by shopping your favorite products from this list, you can help save a life, or make someone’s life just that much easier. It’s amazing how much you can do with a simple dollar.

Here is a complete listing of the #PinkRibbonProducts


WINTER RELOAD WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHED BY: MICHELLE LAARABI Winter can be really harsh and incredibly tough on the skin. The cold, the cracking, the dryness... I can already feel uncomfortable-ness. Everyone knows I am the queen of Skincare. I feel like I’ve cocktailed every little thing together to create some real power couples when it comes to my face. I hope this winter; my little ailments help you with your skincare needs. I’ve put together some of my seasonal go-to products to cure any problem on your list. Prevage. I’ve recently been introduced to this brand, and I LOVE IT. The Prevage Anti-aging + Intensive Repair Daily Serum is not only cost effective, but magical. It comes in a super chic dropper packaging that is specially formulated so you never use too much. I still like to use a moisturizer after this, because the serum won’t give you the moisture that you need, but these items together make a trio that’s unstoppable. I like to call this my “Power Trio,” The Elizabeth Arden Skin illuminating pads works some serious magic resurfacing your skin. These are similar to others on the market of course, but I do notice a huge difference in how illuminating my skin looks after using this. The makeup removing Cleansing Oil from Caudalie is THE BEST way to clean your skin, especially in the cold dry winter. Its a super moisturizing oil that cleans your skin in the most gentle way possible. Last but not least



TOGO SPA My next suggestions are going to baffle you. So, make sure you take down some notes. Clarins made these little shots for your skincare needs. I know, isn’t that awesome!? It’s like a power shot in your smoothie, but for your face! They have one for energy, another for detox, and the final for repair, which is awesome for winter. Make sure you don’t just put these on your face without a mix-in. They are meant to be mixed with your lotions or serums etc. You can read a lot more about the boosters here http://www. which helped me a ton when I was trying to pick the best one for me.

To Go Spa has these awesome little patches for your lips and under the eyes. Each pack has a few sets and they


are super cheap! Which makes this product even better! The lip treatment is packed with Collagen, Amino Acids and Vitamins, which make this the perfect winter essential. The under eye masks are known for turning you into a new woman/or man. These are also jam packed with vitamins, and have 3 treatments in a pack! All of these super benefits for just $12.50? You cannot go wrong. TATA HARPER All these brands have me twisted for sure; between Caudalie, Clinique, and others.... I never know what to go for first. I also feel like I’m cheating on my brands when I try others, but I have to tell you, Tata Harper has stolen my heart. The illuminating moisturizer, the restorative eye cream, and the Honey blossom Mask are my personal favorites. But, they have many amazing treats that do seriously incredible things for your face. I suggest you take a little time to peruse down Tata lane, and read up on some of the items online. They have a ton of products to choose from. Some are a little on the pricey side, so choose wisely, but well worth the investment. I’m sure you’ll love anything you chose.


The illuminating moisturizer, the restorative eye cream, and the Honey blossom Mask are my personal favorites!



Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Oil

Beachwaver S.75


I never thought I would love an oil so much! I usually don’t use oil on my face, but this is one I love to use especially at night allowing it to really penetrate deep down into my skin. It is also fabulous for use during the day under my makeup, as it leaves the skin glowing. Plus, it has a ton of antioxidants that leaves the skin nice and smooth and it protects your skin from free radical damage. // $75.00

I own many curling irons but this is by far the best thing I have ever used. With my hair being fairly long as well as thick, I have a lot of trouble keeping a curl in my hair. That was until I started using this wand. It is amazing how I can curl my hair before bed, spray it with my extra hold hair spray, sleep on it and wake up with perfect wavy hair that will last me all day or until I wash it. What I love most is that you can adjust the temperature based on the type of hair you have. I also love that the barrel is evenly heated. This is absolutely what makes a difference when it comes to hot tool styling. I will say, I have also tried this on some of my friends with different hair types and lengths and they all ended up with the same results I did. It is also very easy to use and I can do my hair in about 30 minutes thanks to the rotation button. I cannot rave enough about this tool and would recommend investing in one. // $129v

Matrix Volume Fixer Hairspray This hairspray is heaven sent! I had my hair styled for a friend’s wedding over the summer and the stylist used this hairspray. My hair remained styled for almost 3 whole days! I am just grateful that I picked up the bottle from the salon and now use it every time I style my hair, even if I am just wearing it in a high ponytail. // $18

Borghese Acqua Ristorativo Occhi Eye Treatment This is unlike any other eye product that I have tried and I swear by it. It is thicker than most eye treatments or creams that I have used in the past. This is one of the main reasons I like it! It absorbs quickly into the skin and doesn’t make your under eye look greasy. It also leaves the delicate skin under the eye nice and smooth. // $70


Borghese fango Essenziali Sheet Sheet masks always frustrate me because I feel like I can never get them on right. Luckily, with this I actually didn’t have too much trouble. I actually feel that out of all the sheet masks that I have tried, the Borghese mask has been the easiest for me to use. It left my skin plump and soft after application. // $24

EOS Extra Dry Vanilla Orchid Body Lotion I usually only use lotion on my hands. Lotion is such

a vital step for me now, as I am a newer mom and I am always washing my hands. This product added moisture and left my skin feeling soft without feeling greasy. This aspect is so important to someone like me, as I am not a huge fan of greasy lotions. Even on my legs, this absorbed nicely leaving a sleek, smooth finish. I also love how thick and luxurious this product feels compared to other body lotions. // $6.49


The Grooming Guide


WINTER PICKS FOR HIM By: Danielle Hazekamp

Eprouvage Pour Homme Daily Shampoo

Designed to remove buildup, this shampoo is formulated with a special progressive plant cell technology so that your hair and scalp are healthier. It will also strengthenyourhairin orderto prevent future damage. // $15

Eprouvage Pour Homme Daily Conditioner

Like the shampoo, this conditioner is also formulated with a progressive plant cell technology for healthier hair and scalp. This conditioner will also make your hair stronger, and more manageable. It will also moisturize and condition dry hair. // $15


Beard Guyz Beard Oil Perfect for any guy who has a beard. This oil contains 25 natural and organic oils to help moisturize the skin underneath your beard as well as soft your beard. The formula isn’t greasy and you will notice a difference after your first use.. // $18

Van Der Hagen Premium Shave Set First, I love how this looks. It reminds me of the old fashioned way men used to shave which I just think is cool! I will say, I was little skeptical about it being shaving soap since most soap will leave your skin feeling dry. Yet, this one actually doesn’t as long as you lather a ton of it onto the brush! Just be careful when using the brush as it does have the tendency to shed, but other than that this is a great set. // $13.99

Van Der Hagen Shave Butter

I cannot say enough about this product! Yes, I know this is for men, but hey I thought I would try it and I love it. I like how smooth the texture of this shave butter is and how nice it leaves my skin after each use. I also love how you don’t have to rinse off the excess product. All you have to do is rub it in and it acts as an aftershave. // $ 6.99



Meet Sonia Roselli

A BEAUTY Q&A By Danielle Hazekamp


I am not sure how familiar many of you readers are about well-known makeup artists here in Chicago, but Sonia Roselli is definitely on the list. Not only does she have a successful business, she also has a growing private label brand. Her skincare products are top notch and amazing! You can find my reviews on them below. She also has a successful Glossible that covers topics for pros as well as the general beauty lover. I personally admire this woman and plan to strive to get to her level in terms of business, blog success and skill in makeup artistry. In between her busy schedule, Sonia was kind enough to allow me to send her some questions for her to answer on just about everything! I promise you this interview doesn’t disappoint. Read on for the full Q and A. 1.You are a well-known artist here in Chicago, how did you get your start in the industry? Depends on when you consider “getting started”. I worked at cosmetic counters when I was a teen


2.What made you want to get into the beauty industry? Start your own brand? I loved makeover shows. I always look at a woman and think, “what could I do” to enhance their look in terms of makeup. I always liked how the beauty industry was so magical and majestic. I loved the mystery of it all. Today, however, it’s so out in the open and everyone gives away everything! It’s lost so much of that appeal. I miss the days where it was all so secretive. I never thought I would be in the beauty industry, but it really kind of found me I started my line because to be blunt and honest, the beauty industry is so disturbing now! They don’t listen to their customers. They THINK they do, but they really are listening to what the customers think they want, but don’t really do anything but “throw pasta on a wall” and hope it sticks. They do a lot of “spray and pray” in my

opinion. This led me to create my own brand. I launch one thing at a time, not collections of things. So, I can really look at a product and study it in all of its glory. I’m very active on social media and always asking folks what they think and will sometimes get them to test products I am developing. It’s rather fun to get other pros involved. I love a team effort. 3.What is the best piece advice for someone starting out in the industry? Hustle. Work hard, don’t take short cuts and assist as much as possible. Stay off social media in terms of learning trends. Work with an old school pro. 4.Now some

on of

to your

makeup, what are favorite products?

In all honesty, I absolutely hate this question. Every makeup artist gets asked this question and it’s so boring to me. This is essentially what is wrong with the beauty industry. No one “discovers” anything anymore. Everyone is all about “just tell me what to do”. Where is the fun in that? My advice? Buy some shit and paint! What did you discover? What did you like? What did you not like? What works for me may not work for you. This is where the industry has gotten so ass backwards. They think “the best” is for everyone. While there are products that are good for most skin types, “the best” is so subjective. While I think my skin prep products are the best in the biz right now, some people may not be able to use them. I think this kind of question should be banned, honestly. Get your ass out there and discover shit! 5.What are some must have products that every woman should own in their makeup bag? Good brushes, good skin prep, good light, good concealer and good foundations and a great mascara. Choose sensorial textures. Don’t shop by price, shop by quality. Does it make you feel pretty? Does it make you feel special? Do you enjoy using it? Then don’t apologize if it cost you $10 or $100. Life is too short to worry about what something costs. Splurge and save in ways that matter to you!


Sexapeel Instant Exfoliation Spray- Ok, this is one of the best exfoliators I have ever used! I love how it is gentle yet strong enough to get all your dead skin off. When I saw the demonstration on Sonia’s website, I knew I had to try it. I used it first on my face and I couldn’t believe all the dry skin that came off. Here I thought that my skin was well moisturized! I guess I was wrong.

Water Balm Skin Prep-This stuff is amazing. My skin feels super soft and well hydrated after I use this. The great thing about the product is that it can be used in multiple ways. I use it as an eye and face cream as well as a makeup primer. My skin is a lot softer and my foundation goes on a lot smoother when I use this instead of my usual face cream.


6. You have a successful blog, what is the best advice you can give to someone who is interested in getting started in blogging in general? Shit, patience! I’m still learning as I go. It’s very overwhelming trying to manage the day to day and write a blog. I’m much better at engaging on my Facebook group. I like micro blogging because I can hit it and quit it, but in all honesty, I have a lot to say so it’s usually why my blog posts get so long winded sometimes! I really want to blog more, but we are having some SEVERE growing pains. (Which is good, but sad at the same time!)

7.You are a successful makeup artist, blogger and business owner, what is next for you? My future is to be able to put my pants on each morning and be productive. I can’t think too far ahead in the future without a stiff drink. I have an idea of where I want to go, but I don’t hold the reigns too tight that I can’t go down a path that is open with opportunity. Short-term goals are to launch at least 3 products next year. If I can do 6, then that is even better. I would rather crawl and do it well than throw the pasta on the wall and hope it sticks. Want to learn more about Sonia? Go check out her website @ and her blog Glossible @


a look through the lense INTERVIEW BY: LAURA LOPEZ


How does being a Chicago photographer set you apart from photographers elsewhere? I love being a photographer in Chicago! The strong work ethic that Chicago has sets photographers apart from everywhere else.

ness. Few of my favorites are Powers Handcrafted Jewelry and 10th Avenue Tea

Who are some of your favorite clients to work with? I really love working with small busi-


What do you credit as your biggest accomplishment in photography so When do you feel most inspired and far? My biggest accomplishment so far is by what? For me theres is nothing more inspiring being able to have my own photography than traveling. Loading up my car and studio. Its what I have always wanthitting the road. I try to take 1-2 road ed since I was in high school. A place trips a year something about the open where I can be creative and zone out to inspirational tears on my wall. road, windows down, music blasting, and new things to see. What advice do you have for photographers getting into the industry? Was there one moment that made Never ever ever give up ! This industry you fall in love with photography? My moment of love was magical. I was is not easy and very competitive but if standing in dark room with a little red you have the passion and the drive you light above my head , swaying a tray of can make it happen. Also the key part is don’t get jealous of your peers but paper back and forth in most loveliest chemical smell. Seeing images appear instead use those feelings to drive you slowly knowing that I took that photofurther to make better work than you graph, developed the film by hand, and have before. thats when I fell in love. GET IN CONTACT WITH MELINDA! Describe your photography style. Email Address: melindajanemyers@ I think cheerful and soft might be a good description of my work.


seeing images appear slowly, knowing i took that photograph, developed the film by hand, and that's when i fell in love. - MELINDA JANE MYERS



G. I. R .L . 162

Girl Scouts are groundbreakers, big thinkers and role models. Girl Scouts design robots, start garage bands and improve their communities—and yes, they still sell the best cookies on the planet. When she’s a Girl Scout, she’s also a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™. These are traits that define girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. These traits can define you too— whatever your age, gender or background! The only question is, are you ready to take the lead... like a Girl Scout?

Join, volunteer, donate at 163

N’Spired Thoughts: Hands that Give Back Written by: Reynisha Lindsay Layout by: Kandace McVickar

During this time of year, so many things demand our attention. We begin to think about the Holidays and all the parties and social events about to rain upon us. We may make travel plans to go visit family or friends or to get away from everything. However, instead of the focus being on you, try something different. Why not give back to others? Now you may say, I do not have time or I do not have the money. Well, you do not need both. You just need a heart to serve and the will to do so. Giving is not something you do at a certain time of the year. It is a state of mind. Giving requires us to go beyond our self-wants and insecurities in order to see the needs of others. The need may be monetary, spiritual or physical. Furthermore, in order to meet the need, you may be required to think outside of the box. I recently watched a video documentary about a young boy in Australia who started making plush bears to give to children with cancer. His parents help him buy the materials and he sews the bears together. In the interview, his mother said that her son would rather sew bears than watch TV or play games. I do not know too many children who would pass up TV and playing games to sew plush bears. Moreover, he taught himself to sew! This young child saw a need and decided to make plush bears.


in order to comfort sick children. He gave them a companion that would be with them through all the tests, treatments, tears and fears. What’s more, he gave them hope and love. What a blessing he has been and will continue to be for years to come Now you may be saying to yourself, well I cannot sew or I am not creative. That is totally fine, because that may not be your way to give back. However, one thing you can surely do is give of your time. There are so many places in need of volunteers – food banks, shelters, nursing homes, schools, hospitals. I have had the opportunity to sing for seniors in a nursing home and I cannot begin to tell you what a privilege it was to perform for them. At first, I was nervous about how they would react or even if they would react. Yet, the smiles on their faces took away any doubt or insecurity I had. I was thinking I am supposed to be here to lift their spirits, but instead they are filling me with joy and happiness. Yet, all did was take time out if my schedule to spend time with them. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to give of my time for the needs of others. Each experience has left an indelible print upon me, which has changed me for the better. The

funny thing is that when you give of yourself to others who are in need, you end up being blessed in return. Now, I am not saying every volunteer experience has been effortless. Trust me; there have been some very interesting ones. Probably one of the most challenging projects I ever encountered was mentoring a group of girls who were wards of the state. These teenage girls were anything but prim and proper. Some of them were mothers, others were angry about being in the home and some just did not care about anything. I had to try to find relatable experiences for situations I had never encountered. Yet, no matter what, I was always honest with them and did my best to make the time we spent together enjoyable. Although, I must admit after my first visit to the home, I had serious second thoughts about returning the following week! Then, I realized that their need for mentorship was more important than my feeling of awkwardness or fear. All I needed was prayer and a lot of patience to make a difference in their lives! While none of these scenarios may be right for you, your opportunity to give back is out there. Find what you are passionate about and get to work. If you can dance, volunteer to teach a class at a community center. If you like sports, volunteer to coach or assist in a youth league. If you are a hairstylist, offer to cut or style hair of women who are re-entering the workforce. Put your talents to use. Perhaps you are a good listener. If so, you can visit nursing homes or hospitals and let people talk to you. When a person (adult or child) is in a hospital away from family and the comfort of home, a personal visit from someone who just wants to talk or play games with them becomes vitally important. It gets very lonely in the hospital. The days seem long and the nights are even longer. Patients long to feel normal. The adults want to get back to their everyday routine and kids just want to play. You can make a difference in their lives just by your presence. If you are not outgoing or not comfortable interacting with strangers, then you can always give back in other ways –such as financially. I know people who love to fundraise for a cause. They take the lead for such events as, breast cancer walks, tribute luncheons, food drives and many other worthy causes. You can also donate directly to

organizations that are advocates for cancer research, the homeless, children, or battered women shelters. All nonprofit organizations need donations in order to operate their business or service effectively. Another way to give back financially is to support someone with his or her GoFundMe effort. If you are blessed financially, these are just a few ways that you can give back to others. Remember, monetary donations are just as important as time-spent serving in the community If I still have not struck a chord that plays your tune, let me suggest that you start close to home with your giving. Help those who are around you. If there are seniors in your neighborhood, offer to cut their grass or shovel snow. Babysit children in the neighborhood. Prepare a meal for someone who is sick. Lend a helping hand to anyone in need. As the old adage states, treat others as you want to be treated. Therefore, it is necessity in our day and time to unify communities and give support where needed. The world may seem overwhelming at times and slightly self-centered. People are rushing here and rushing there, and not giving a moment’s thought to how their actions are affecting others. Do not rush through each day missing opportunities to help those around you. We are in this world together and none of us can live unto our own without the other. I try to find those opportunities to help others with my children. Do not forget that you can give back to your children by sharing volunteering opportunities. Give them the gift of compassion by caring for others. You can pack meals together through Feed Our Starving Children, donate gently used toys, books and clothing to Goodwill or raise money for school scholarships. However you decide to volunteer, make sure you explain the “why” to your children. Share with them the value in giving back to the community in which they live. As they get older, expand their worldview by giving of your time in communities other than your own. Most importantly, remember to lead by example and let them see you give to organizations like Toys for Tots or even tithes and offering in Church. Be the example of compassion and giving for them. If we raise compassionate children, we will not have to worry about the future. We will know it is in safe hands –hands that are giving back.





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What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead. – Nelson Mandela

- steve jobs








Halfstack Magazine Winter 2016