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Raising High

Shima 0 comments 08.02.2016

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Every Monday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place. Today’s #MCM title belongs to Aaron Ware who is bringing his discipline and success as an athlete into the workforce all while inspiring kids from the inner city to stick to education.

Aaron Ware, 26, was born in Gardena and raised in Los Angeles. Upon graduating from Bishop Montgomery in 2008, Aaron attended George Washington University on a basketball scholarship from 2008-2012. He chose GW amongst the others because it was the most well-known basketball school and first school that recruited him.

Although initially apprehensive about leaving L.A. to attend college, Aaron’s mother always encouraged him to spend time in another city as well as meet new people. GW began recruiting Aaron in July of 2007 and they stuck with him until he signed his letter of intent to attend the university.  “I attended GWU because it was an opportunity for me to attend college in the nation’s capital, as well as grow as a young adult,” he says.

Playing basketball has given Aaron many opportunities that he says he would have never fathomed. “Traveling around the country, staying in 5-star hotels and getting television exposure is something not too many people that come from my neighborhood get to experience,” he says. Furthermore, he was able to learn the business side of college basketball such as, coaching staff changes, early morning film sessions/practices while balancing it with schoolwork allowed him to prepare for life after basketball, in the workforce.

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Going to school in Washington, DC gave Aaron many memorable experiences that he will never forget, such as: taking a white house tour, attending President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, GW basketball’s marketing campaign and an opportunity to play a basketball game in front of the First Family.

Today, Aaron works as an Order Management Specialist, in which he places orders for K-Swiss Sales Representatives from around the country.  However, in five years, he hopes to be the Sales Representative for the brand for the Southern California and Arizona area.

Aaron’s passion for shoes led him to K-Swiss when his mom’s best friend, John Porter, saw an opportunity for him to have a career in a business he was knowledgeable in. According to Aaron, Porter has been a sales rep for K-Swiss for over 20 years and is responsible for the Southern California and Arizona territory. He finds that the best part of his job is seeing how each department operates, between operations, product, sales & marketing, etc.

K-Swiss has been in existence since 1996 and is best known for producing tennis shoes and a wide range of apparel including shirts, shorts, and bags. Working at K-Swiss and understanding their “Assembly Line” has helped Aaron realize that when everyone commits time to their assignments, the brand will be successful. Aaron believes that what makes K-Swiss so uniqu

e is that it has remained true to court fitness and style, and will continue to influence young consumers with trends for many years to come.

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Transitioning from the sports world into the shoe industry is right up Aaron’s alley, since he knows trends and styles that people love on the west coast. “K-Swiss is a brand that was very popular among our parent’s generation. However, the goal within the next 3-5 years is to sell shoes and apparel that resonate more so with people 13-35 years old,” he says.

Aaron’s plan to do so by being a “walking billboard.” He says that people he is around often are always curious as to what shoes he is wearing. He explains that once they realize he is wearing K-Swiss, they are shocked because the shoes are typically known to be basic, all white and black shoes.

Today, Aaron enjoys playing basketball sparingly, sometimes 3-4 times a month. “I have a few friends that play professionally so when they come home in the summer, I play with them on weekends,” he says. However, he remains very active participating in cardio 4-5 times/week.

Aaron pays it forward to his community by speaking to young boys and girls, especially those who come from the inner city. When given the opportunity, Aaron speaks at basketball camps to children aged 7-12 about the game of basketball, but more importantly, life lessons.

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When Aaron is not playing basketball or working, he enjoys watching sports and attending games, mainly basketball, baseball and football. He genuinely loves music of all genres, but mainly listens to hip-hop, R&B and Pop. An interesting fact about Aaron is that he owns over 70 pairs of shoes. He still owns some of his shoes from when he was just two-years-old and still wears shoes from over 10+ years ago.

Aaron looks up to his mother, Shirley Warren and her best friend/his Godfather, John Porter who are both of his greatest mentors.  In addition, he admires Doug Mitchell, his high school basketball coach at Bishop Montgomery in Torrance.

Aaron enjoys living in the South Bay mostly for the beach culture, restaurants, beaches, and bars/lounges which he says make it very hip and one of the most underrated areas in the city. He also enjoys going to restaurants around the L.A. area and claims himself to be a huge “foodie.” In addition, he enjoys shopping time to time in the Beverly/Fairfax area of L.A.

Thank you, Aaron, for being a wonderful member of the South Bay community and finding ways to inspire the youth to reach their academic and sport goals.

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 “I believe I can inspire young people to achieve their goals and encourage them that school is very important. I have been very fortunate thus far with some of my experiences, and I think if I can share my story with the youth, they can visualize themselves becoming successful.”

Aaron Ware

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The Broad Museum

Shima 0 comments 03.02.2016

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When my client said he wanted over-sized chairs for his dining table, I didn’t think he had this in mind. So, for today’s Tourist in your own city, I thought I would share with you L.A.’s latest hype, The Broad.

The often sold-out museum has guest visiting who’ve reserved tickets at least three months in advance!

The Broad is a new contemporary art museum which opened in September of 2015 and was founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad and located on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. According to the museum’s website, it is “home to the 2,000 works of art in the Broad collection, which is among the most prominent holdings of postwar and contemporary art worldwide.”

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The collection of contemporary art at the museum is from the 1950s to present day from the works by more than 200 artists. The museum was created in hopes of “advancing education and engagement through exhibitions and diverse public programming, the museum enriches, provokes, inspires, and fosters appreciation of art of our time.” In result, admission to the museum is free for all!

As an individual who is not very artsy and does not know much about artist and their history, I found myself enlightened to see different kinds of art brought to life in the museum. The art pieces range from paintings to photos to sculptures.

I admire the fact that the museum is large enough where you feel free to roam around. Staff is very friendly and kindly offer to take photos of you next to the art pieces. My favorite piece was by Robert Therrien and was called Under The Table, 1994- which is the large table and chairs. It felt very Alice in the Wonderland.

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I also was in awe of the building itself. The Broad was designed to symbolize “the veil and the vault.” When visiting the museum, one will tunnel through the vault- which is a 105-foot escalator taking one straight to the third-floor. In addition, one can take the cylindrical glass elevator that was specifically designed to take one of the art pieces directly to the third floor during creation of the museum.

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There are central stairs that wind through the vault, which provides visitors glimpse into the collection storage. The vault was created with 36 million pounds of concreate alone!

Eli and Edye Broad have been creating their collection of postwar and contemporary art for the last five decades. The building of the museum was designed by world-renowned architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler, created a “veil-and-vault” concept.

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The collection at The Broad continues to grow as one piece of work is added weekly.

Visitors of The Broad are welcome to take photos for personal use, however, are asked to refrain from using flash, tripods or selfie sticks. During your visit, you can download The Broad’s free app to follow a self-guided audio tour.

Visitors may visit The Shop at the museum located in the lobby which features limited-edition prints, books, memorabilia, and gifts. No food or drinks are allowed inside the museum, however, visitors may enter/exit at any time.

General admission to The Broad is free. However, advance online reservations are highly recommended and available online.

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Hours of The Broad:

Monday  |  Closed

Tuesday and Wednesday  |  11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Thursday and Friday  |  11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Saturday  |  10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Sunday  |  10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

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Information in creation of this blog was supported by the brochure of The Broad museum which can be picked up during your visit.

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Not Just a Temporary Fix

Shima 0 comments 03.02.2016

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Every Wednesday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place. Today’s ‪#WCW title belongs to South Bay resident, Nelita Villezon, who is changing the lives of many through her love of fitness.

Nelita,29, was born in North Carolina and raised in Los Angeles since she was one. Growing up, she was surrounded by all aspects of fitness as her parents owned several martial arts/fitness facilities. “I have always trained in many styles of martial arts and dance,” she says.

Nelita grew an immense passion for fitness and owes it to her parents. She says when growing up, it was rare to see people do the things her family did. However, today, she has found that just about everyone is in some way a fitness enthusiast. “They instilled it in me from a young age that fitness is a lifestyle and not just a temporary fix. I grew to love it and it will always be a part of me,” she says.

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Today, Nelita remains very active and trains clients at several places. She explains that because she works out daily, she does not stick to one specific gym. Instead, she visits several gyms and occasionally implements outdoor workouts.

Despite working out daily, she finds new ways to mix her workouts up. She lifts daily and also trains in martial arts, takes dance classes, yoga classes, and more.  “It really depends on how I feel on a given day. Every day is different,” she says.

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Nelita’s coaching schedule depends on a person’s specific needs or desires. “Some people like to work out for a specific goal. Others want to acquire specific skills. Then there are some that just want to work out for the fun of it,” she says. Based upon that, she is able to create a plan unique for that individual.

In the next five years, she would like to make a larger footprint as a global brand. I would like to travel and share my knowledge with fitness and overall wellness. She has come to realize that more than ever people are becoming more aware of health and fitness. “I would hope that this continues to flourish. It’s a beautiful thing to see,” she says.

When Nelita is not changing the lives of her clients and working out, she likes to pay it forward through charity, donations, etc. Her friends and her often offer free classes in their communities as well as donate their time to various charitable/fundraising events. “I personally have a charitable organization called The Rooftop Project that benefits impoverished families in the Philippines. That is close to my heart because my family is from there,” she says.

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Nelita’s greatest passion outside of working out and fitness her passion for people. She seeks to connect with others not only through fitness, but through life. “I think it is important to connect and share with others on any level. That is the only way to grow, understand, and really appreciate this life,” she says.

Nelita enjoys living in the South Bay most because she identifies herself as a “beach girl.” She genuinely believes that the South Bay has many beaches to offer. “It is a completely different vibe than living in greater Los Angeles,” she says.

Thank you, Nelita for being a wonderful asset to the South Bay community and bringing your passion for fitness and people together.

To schedule a workout with Nelita, please email her directly at: nelita@viebrantathletics.com. If you are not located near her, she is also creating online workouts that you can purchase on her site at www.viebrantathletics.com

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My biggest hope is that we become more aware of the nutrition that we give ourselves. I believe that is still a huge issue to overcome. Lastly, I hope we become a generation of change and givers. The world needs that so badly right now.”

– Nelita Villezon

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Working Hard to Stay in The Room

Shima 0 comments 01.02.2016

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Every Monday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place. Today’s MCM title belongs to Sean Boling, who has turned his love for football into a career at the NFL Network with hopes of only working harder than he did the day before.

Sean, 26, was born in Torrance, CA and raised in the South Bay. Upon graduating from South High School in 2007, he went to El Camino College and then transferred to U.C. San Diego soon after.

Today, Sean is a Production Assistant at NFL Network. Sean’s primary roles include graphics in which he writes, produces and operates the side ticker on live shows. In addition, he works on highlights where he assists the highlight producer and editor in producing a highlight. “I mark shots throughout the game and keep track of the entire game and press conferences,” he says.

A typical day for Sean depends on what he is assigned. “If I’m doing graphics, I will check which shows I’m assigned and prep for shows. This includes talking to show producers to gauge what they want on the show and how they want it written,” he says.

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Sean has found that different producers want different ways of presenting their shows. When breaking news occurs, Sean must make decisions on the fly with everyone else since plans can be discarded at any moment for certain levels of breaking news. “If I’m doing highlights. I will check which game or sometimes games I’m assigned for the day,” he says.

Prior to creating content, Sean will do pre-game research which includes knowing story lines/injuries/producer guidelines. He calls this “purely teamwork.”  The Highlight producer, Editor and Sean all have to be on the same page so that they know what to look for and also communicate if they notice anything that has a potential to contribute to the main story line of a highlight. This could entail an injury, arguments on the field or the sidelines, reoccurring themes or chasing a record.

Sean’s role is to essentially be the constant eyes and ears on the game. “It’s a lot of multitasking for all of us because the highlights are built on the fly and edited ASAP,” he says. Despite the fast pace, Sean finds the most enjoyment out of his job doing highlights.

“The process of creating a highlight is a mix of crazy and fun. Most of all it truly is a team effort building the highlights and I have been fortunate to bond and work some of our most talented producers and editors,” he says. He says his team and him have  handled some of the craziest NFL highlights in the year that would often rattle the inexperienced, but they handled it in full stride.

Sean is most proud when his team’s work gets praised because he says it can be a real challenge. He became employed by the NFL Network with what he calls “a lot of luck and coincidence.” His high school friend works at NFL Network on the PR-side and he had met a producer golfing shortly after graduating. He made his interest known in the field and exchanged contact info and got interviewed and hired that fall after graduating.

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“I’d love to say that I worked my ass off and got rewarded for it to pursue this career, but that wouldn’t be the truth. Networking is everything in this field to get your foot in the door, but it’s working hard that keeps you in the room,” he says.  It is evident how much pride and commitment Sean has in being a wonderful contribution to the NFL network. Just last year, Sean worked every holiday including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

When asked how one can become a member of the NFL Network team, Sean explains that there are intern spots and entry-level positions that are usually in the fall for the season (applications start in the summer). “This line of work has a lot of jumping ship to other companies and ties with each other. Somebody always knows somebody here or there and build the right reputation for yourself there will always be an opportunity opened for you likely,” he says.

He says to also make yourself noticeable and be willing to learn new things and take criticism in stride. However, he says one must have a passion in sports or football to survive because that is what is going to fuel you to grind out the long and hard days you will encounter. “Everyone here has grinded out overnight shifts, super long OT shifts, getting up at all hours of the day for work, working sick etc. Times are different. Jobs are hard to come by and it’s highly competitive especially in this field so networking is the key to success,” he says.

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When Sean is not working at the NFL Network, he enjoys watching Kings games and golfing during his off time. He has always been a huge hockey fan and says he loved the Kings through the great times winning the cup to the horrible times when they were a bottom feeder team continually floundering year after year.

Golf is something he picked up as a kid and never let go of. Playing golf is the best getaway for him no matter how good or bad the day is. “I could spend a day on the course just enjoy myself and the sights,” he says.

“If there was one thing I want to point out about NFL Network is the ridiculous amount of talent we have working here. There are a lot of men and women that work hard to create an awesome product day in and day out,” he says.

The NFL also engages and gives back to communities in many ways. “Whether it’s having employees volunteer at the Special Olympics, making a family’s dream come true with player’s events or games, highlighting players’ charitable ventures, holding clothing drives or school drives those are just a few ways our company gives back,” he says.

Thank you, Sean, for being a wonderful member of the South Bay community and inspiring others to pursue their greatest passions.322376_10151027306658423_95322296_o-310x423

“Ultimately, if I didn’t take pride in work I contributed to, I was either not trying or wasting my time. I give myself goals every day to keep myself motivated and enjoy the process of the work I put in. I’ll admit it’s not a flawless process for me, but it keeps me grinding on the road of achieving even greater work.”  -Sean Boling

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Reaching for More Than Just a Symptomatic Rush of Adrenaline

Shima 0 comments 27.01.2016

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Every Wednesday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place. Today’s ‪#WCW title belongs to South Bay resident, Danielle Castro, who has become an inspiration for many while encompassing independence, relentlessness, passion, and charisma on her way to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Castro, soon to be 26, grew up in the South Bay her entire life. She moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she graduated from The University of New Mexico in 2012, participated as a Division 1 athlete, and received a degree in Interpersonal Communications and a minor in Business Management.

Upon graduating, Castro did not know exactly what career path she wanted to choose. “Like a lot of us Millennials, I come from a super traditional home,” she explains. Her parents have worked for the same company, Raytheon, for over 60 years combined. As a compliment to her parents’ legacy, she agreed to intern for three years.

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After three years in finance, when offered a job immediately after graduating, Castro happily declined the position. She chose not to take the job at Raytheon because she knew she could never build something for herself there. She didn’t feel as though she was serving people in a way that would leave a positive impact. “It was an easy way out due to the reputation of my parents and I truly believe I’m meant to build a legacy all on my own,” she says.

After this, she went through several jobs ranging from restaurants, to tool sales, patient care coordination in a medical office, a surf shop, and Equinox. Castro says, “It was plain to see that I lacked vision.”

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However, she knew in time, she’d find something that she loved that simultaneously served the greater good. She hopped on Craig’s List and responded to the first ad that was semi-appealing – Behavior Therapist for Children with Autism. She worked with Autism Behavior Consultants for 2 years and left the company to begin working for Tai Lopez in November 2015.

Coming from an abusive background (ex-boyfriend), Castro found it was difficult for her to maintain relationships, build trust with anyone, or even believe in herself. For 10 years, she suffered from low self-esteem, body and appearance issues, and slight depression. As she began working with a small group of entrepreneurs, she also adopted a new way of life by operating out of her comfort zone and speaking on stage. “This allowed me to put all my insecurities on display and by doing so I was open to criticism and became obsessed with Personal Development,” she says.

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Today, Castro is an aspiring entrepreneur that encompasses all that it means to have passion. “Just 6 letters cultivated by such POWER and MAGNITUDE. The term, in itself, represents much more than its descriptive purpose,” she says. She believes that passion is not random, rather “our calling, and it is something born with us much like our heart or hands.” Castro has found that passions have become the tool that allows ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

Since beginning her entrepreneur journey at the Knowledge Society, she has served a few different roles in the company in a 2-month time frame. Initially, she began in Customer Support, serving the needs of unsatisfied customers, introducing new customers to the products the company provides, and tapping into sales, which she says was far beyond her skill set, but somehow she has thrived without prior experience.

Soon after, she was transitioned into a Product Management position, where her strengths were stretched and tested beyond imagination. “Given the freedom to design and create, it was empowering to know that I exceeded extremely high expectations through proactive awareness and consistent work ethic,” she says.

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Her current role in the company is in the Publishing and Public Relations Department. A publishing editor’s main responsibility is for the style and content of the publication. This means that the role is mostly managerial, especially on social platforms, where she is responsible for the entire content of a publication. The social platforms the company utilizes are Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.

In addition, she creates content and manages Alex Morton’s (young entrepreneur who made $2.5 million before the age of 25) YouTube channel.

{Alex Morton – started in real estate and worked with a relationship marketing company. Now, is an aspiring motivational speaker and self branding expert.}

Castro would like those who are not familiar with Tai Lopez to know that the foundation ofTaiLopez.com focuses on the 4 pillars of life, HEALTH, WEALTH, LOVE, and HAPPINESS. “We significantly impact the masses by providing online education for entrepreneurs (young and older) and consulting for small businesses,” she says.

 It is evident that Castro is extremely passionate about the company she works for including what they do, by serving the greater good with knowledge she promises you’ll never learn in school. “Being surrounded by likeminded individuals every single day is incredibly inspiring. I work with some of the most magnetic, influential people of our time. It’s pure magic,” she says.

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In the next five years, she hopes to be able to perpetuate herself to a managerial position, grow her network through Public Relations (celebrities, entrepreneurs, investors, motivational speakers, etc.). In addition, she hopes to open her own PR Firm, start a YouTube channel (AmBITCHous) that focuses on building confidence through humor and empowering women to strengthen their entrepreneurial skills.

Danielle has several mantras that keep her inspired including:

 “It’s amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit” – John Wooden

“Those who believe they can move mountains, do. Those who believe they can’t, cannot. Belief triggers the power to do.” – David J. Schwartz

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish if you forget the errand.” – Woodrow Wilson

One can get involved with Tai Lopez by contributing to the following:

Subscribe to Tai Lopez’s YouTube channel

Visit Taoilopez.com and sign up for Book of the Day newsletter (emails we write in publishing

Watch and like Tai Lopez’s TedTalk – https://youtu.be/7bB_fVDlvhc

Follow Tai Lopez on all social media platforms

Instagram – TaiLopezOfficial

Snapchat – tailopez1

Facebook – Tai Lopez Official

Twitter – Tai Lopez

Subscribe to AlexMortonMinset YouTube channel

Follow Alex Morton on all social media platforms

Instagram – AlexMortonMindset

Snapchat – AlexMortonYPR

Facebook – AlexMortonMindset

Twitter – AlexMortonMindset

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Danielle pays it forward by volunteering, along with her family, for the Relay for Life every year in May as her grandmother is a breast cancer survivor.

Prior to her current position at the Knowledge Society (TaiLopez.com), she was a Behavior Therapist for children with Autism for 2 years. She found that helping those that can help themselves, in retrospect, helped her develop significantly as a human. “We supported each other’s growth on a daily basis,” she says.

When she is not working, she enjoys sports of all kinds including paddle boarding, surfing, hiking, camping, biking, etc. An avid reader, she tries to read a book a week or listens to a personal development audio (at least 15 minutes a day). Her goal for 2016 is to read 100 books by year’s end.

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Danielle finds the beauty of growing up in the south bay is that “We are unlike any other community in Los Angeles with a strong sense of core values. It’s home and I can definitely see myself confidently raising a family here.”

Thank you, Danielle, for being an inspiring role model for many who are striving to find their purpose and continuously finding ways to inspire others.

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For me, passion is much more than a symptomatic rush of adrenaline. It is an infectious entity exacerbated through our deepest desires, our sense of purpose. Without passion we are left without the dreams, that inspire the goals, that achieve the results, that motivate those around us. I have fully equipped myself to not only bring success to my own life, but also to inspire all that I come into contact with. I am committed to the passion burning inside me to influence and reciprocate a healthy lifestyle by optimizing the 4 pillars of life, Health, Wealth, Love, and Happiness.”

Danielle Castro

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Chasing the light at the end of the tunnel

Shima 0 comments 25.01.2016

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Every Monday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place. Today’s MCM title belongs to Nick Ekbatani, who has found a way to bring inspiration to those struggling to find acceptance in loss after losing a part of his leg in an accident in 2012.

Nick, 28, grew up in Torrance, CA. During his youth, Nick didn’t have many friends and was often bullied for being “chubby.” When Nick was 11, his mom decided that she would sign him up for Pop Warner Youth Football in hopes of getting him out of the house and active. Soon after signing up, Nick thought he hated the sport and wanted to quit.

Despite his frustrations with the sport, his mom did not let him quit. “We didn’t have a lot of money, so she wasn’t going to just waste it,” Nick says. In order to get through the season, Nick often cracked jokes about himself and found that laughing at himself helped him surpass the bullying too.

After making a conscious decision to work harder in football, Nick continued to get better and better. By the 8th grade, he was one of the best linemen on his team and by his senior year in high school, Nick had been nominated as an All-CIF football player.

Nick participated in nearly every play of the game and owes a lot of his success to his mom, Tracy Ekbatani. “My mom was at every game and practice. She was the one who’d bring pizza, orange slices, Gatorade,” he says.

After graduating high school, Nick joined LA Harbor college. After one semester, he transferred to UCLA with a full scholarship and graduated with a major in Political Science.

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In July of 2012, Nick’s life would be forever changed. He was involved in a catastrophic auto accident in which a van collided with his motorcycle. He woke up in the hospital and was delivered the news that doctors had to amputate his left leg.

Though highly drugged, Nick was able to laugh at himself like he did when he was younger. He explains that he went through several stages of grief, such as denial. However, in hopes of lightening an extremely difficult situation, he cracked jokes and tried to make the best of the situation.

Fortunately for Nick, he had been working out tremendously prior to the event, which ultimately is why he is still alive. Doctors explained to Nick his cardiovascular fitness helped to prevent him from bleeding to death. Despite being healthy, Nick remained in bed for 4 weeks while heavily drugged on painkillers.

Nick recalls the first two years after the accident as very challenging. He often fell in the process of recovering due to his eagerness to improve. Since he was visiting the doctor’s office at least once a week, he even moved to Santa Monica so that he was closer.

Nearly four years and a dozen surgeries later, Nick is still recovering. One of his greatest challenges has been battling a stubborn infection in his femur. He uses a prosthetic leg which he has to carefully clean and take care of, which also can be tiring to wear for a long time as it is tight on his skin. Being the joker that he is, Nick explains that he has benefitted by learning a lot about skin care in result.

When asked how Nick has been able to remain so positive during such a difficult time in his life, he explains that he is always seeking ways to chase the light at the end of the tunnel. “It only gets dark when you stop chasing it,” he says.

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The accident has definitely had an impact on how Nick lives his life today. At times, he finds himself reacting overzealously in realizing that life is short. Other times, his fear/anxiety holds him back and scares him. Despite it all, he finds himself to be very grateful and has a changed perspective on life.

Nick genuinely feels blessed to have grown up playing football. He explains that he has become very disciplined due to the sport, which has helped him remain persistent to succeed. He loves football most for the virtues he has gained, relationships and mentors he’s found and how he is able to continuously improve his craft like an artist would.

Today, Nick remains as disciplined as ever. He remains very active, waking up at 4 a.m. to train clients and instruct classes at Orangetheory Fitness in Brentwood and West Hollywood. During times where he finds himself frustrated, he remembers that there are others out there who have it worse and no matter how bad it gets, he feels blessed to be alive.

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Nick is currently pursuing his MBA from USC. He genuinely loves technology companies like Apple and athletic apparel brands like Nike and he hopes to establish his own business in the next five years where he can lead a team and inspire others.

When Nick is not studying, working or improving his recovery process, he is visiting patients of the doctors who’ve operated on his leg. It is very easy to see why Nick’s doctors value his presence, as he is able to present a positive, welcoming and high energy to others.

Nick spends time with patients who are in the premature stages of recovery and shows them that despite his loss, he is able to still do a lot for being in the position he is in. Helping new amputees throughout their recovery motivates Nick and gives him a deeper sense of purpose.

Thank you, Nick, for being a wonderful member of the south bay community and an inspiring and positive ray of light for those who still need help finding their way in a dark tunnel.

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“Adversity has the way to advance us if we allow it. A setback is really a setup for us to come back.” Nick Ekbatani

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The City with a Hometown Feel

Shima 0 comments 20.01.2016

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Every Wednesday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place. Today’s ‪#WCW title belongs to South Bay resident, Kelsie Winders, who is a Human Resources Technician, assuring that all testing procedures are conducted accurately and oversees all potential employees for the City of Torrance.

Kelsie, 26, was born in Torrance and has lived in several cities in the South Bay including Hawthorne and Gardena. Despite having moved several times, she explains that her parents always kept her sister and her in Torrance school to make sure they could maintain their established friendships.

 When Kelsie was 15, she started working part-time for the City of Torrance.  She began in the Youth Sports program; and over time, was able to take on greater responsibility to where she was eventually working directly with the supervisor to help run the programs.

 She graduated from CSULB in 2012, and like many, wasn’t sure when or how she would “start” her life.  When she was given the opportunity for temporary work in Human Resources with the City in 2013, she took it almost immediately.

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Today, Kelsie is working as a Human Resources Technician for the City of Torrance. She is responsible for coordinating & conducting all of the testing for any job with the City.  Some of her duties include planning, organizing & overseeing all examination processes for routine and recurrent classifications.  Dependent on the position, she is also involved in some recruitment and outreach, as well.

​Kelsie explains that each position has some sort of testing component – whether it is a written exam, performance test or an interview, or both. She is responsible for proctoring the written/performance exams ​and scheduling the interviews.  In addition, she does testing for the Torrance Fire Department & Torrance Police Department, Public Works, Torrance Transit, etc. Lastly, she also deals with employee relations​, including gathering information for employees and ensuring that Department needs are met.

Kelsie’s position of overseeing the testing process for the City requires for her to follow certain rules & guidelines. “Our processes, not just for testing but throughout the City, are in place to keep a standard across the board and to ensure that all are treated equally,” she explains.

 Kelsie genuinely enjoys feeling like she is able to help individuals in some sort of way.  “I’ve always known that I wanted to be able to help others, and I feel like in my position, I’m able to do that a little bit more,” she says. One of my Kelsie’s favorite parts of her job is being connected with applicants/candidates throughout the testing process.  When a person applies for a position in the City, Kelsie is involved in their “journey” until the end, whether they are hired or not.

​She enjoys being connected ​not only with applicants/candidates, but building relationships with employees, as well.  It makes her feel like she is truly connected with her job & the City.

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he enjoys working with the candidates by being able to answer their questions and keeping them informed of each step in the process.  She explains that this also leads to one of the more difficult parts of her job – the unhappy applicants.  Whether it is someone who did not make it past the screening process or someone who failed a testing component, delivering bad news does not always go over well.

In result, getting those calls with complaints on the other end aren’t usually very pleasant.  In a City as large as Torrance, Kelsie has found that every day be different. “HR supports all of the City’s Departments, and with as big as Torrance is, anything can happen,” she says.

 When asked how residents can help make the City of Torrance greater, Kelsie explains that one of the easiest ways residents can help contribute to the city is through their Volunteer Program.  There are numerous opportunities for those willing to volunteer all over the City – at the multiple libraries, through the Youth Sports program, with Seniors or docents for various programs.

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One can simply fill out an application on the City’s website here:www.TorranceCA.Gov/VolunteerProgram.htm

 Residents can also stay informed on C​ity happenings by attending or watching the live stream of City Council meetings here.

​Furthermore, the Torrance City Council meets every Tuesday in Council Chambers at City Hall, 3031 Torrance Boulevard, at 7:00 p.m.

Kelsie pays it forward to her community by donating blood to the American Red Cross as often as she is allowed to. “I try to help out as much as I can, whether it’s giving waters to the homeless that I see around town or donating to others in need.  I feel that it is extremely important to give back – if you don’t, then who will?” she says.

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When she is not working, she enjoys spending her time with her boyfriend, Dylan, and their adopted dog, Apache (lab/shepherd mix).  They also both like to spend any free time with both of their families.  Kelsie enjoys attempting to recreate what she finds on Pinterest – food recipes, baking recipes, decorating, cutesy projects. Since her workweek is busy, she finds enjoyment in being home and enjoying a good book, movie, or spending time with good company.

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Kelsie feels lucky to not only work in the South Bay, but to also live here because everything is so accessible. She has found that Torrance is close enough to everything that nothing ever feels out of reach.

“It was always my goal to work in HR and to work in HR in my City was everything that I had gone to school and worked for! Human Resources is the hub of all things Torrance and I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity which I was able to turn into my career!” she says.

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hank you, Kelsie, for being a wonderful community member of the city of Torrance and assuring that employees are carefully chosen and all testing is conducted accurately, providing safety to all!

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To learn more about the City of Torrance and how you can help or apply, please visit the following links:

City website: www.TorranceCA.Gov

Job Opportunities: www.torranceca.gov/516.htm

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Flying with a Clipped Wing

Shima 0 comments 18.01.2016

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Every Monday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place. Today’s MCM title belongs to Philip Stokes, who has inspired many people through his motivational videos and blogs by emphasizing that with the right attitude, there are no heights you cannot reach.

Philip Stokes, 27, from Torrance was involved in a motorcycle accident in 2006 after a pickup truck ran through a red light into him and changed his life forever. Efforts to try to save his deteriorated arm were ineffective resulting in Philip to voluntarily decide to have his arm amputated due to the severe atrophy, advanced arthritis in his hand, elbow, and a shoulder that would disjoint constantly.

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Philip had to even convince the doctors that he believed that this was truly the right thing to do. He had a spinal cord injury when he was 17 years old in 2006, and has been a full-arm amputee since October 2012. The accident resulted in Philip becoming paralyzed in his left arm, shoulder and chest. Not too far after his fall, Philip suffered from severe pain from the paralysis which took a toll on him resulting in frustration, depression, and prescription drug abuse.

He spent many restless hours struggling with nerve tests and experimental surgeries. After realizing that the frustration was getting the best of him, Philip decided that he needed to change his mindset. Although his spinal cord injury changed his life, it didn’t have to control him. In result, he decided to commit his life to the five essential elements of mindfulness that are necessary to overcome life’s obstacles which include: patience, perspective, positivity, perseverance, and passion.

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Philip was turned on to the idea of the “3 P’s” by a friend of his, who was also his first soccer trainer when he started after his amputation. His friend read an inspirational book written by one of the most famous soccer managers in modern times who talked about “patience, perspective, and perseverance.” Philip thought, “Wow, how profound, yet simple, right? “

He started thinking about how those three things had been present in all of his transformations as he grew out of his anger and sadness. However, the 3 P’s seemed incomplete to him, as he felt there was more that made those transformations possible. In result, he added “passion” and “positivity” to the 3 to get “5 P’s”

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As Philip began to implement these elements into his life, he realized he was moving forward rather than allowing the pain and frustration to get to him. Philip decided to create a website called, How to fly with a Clipped Wing, which he describes as “A motivational glance into the life of a spinal cord injury survivor, amputee, pilot, and soccer player.”

Philip used his website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel to communicate his stories and life lessons with others and how he has incorporated these He hopes that these stories will inspire others to incorporate these elements into their lives. Philip offers his motivational speaking services to all and everyone.

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Philip was inspired to title his blog “How to fly with a Clipped Wing” after being asked, “How did you break your wing?” Since he spent many years in an arm sling, it appeared to be broken to others who did not know that it was completely paralyzed. He realized in the first few years after the accident that he was running very low on patience, perspective, positivity, perseverance, and passion in his life which was the real reason why he couldn’t get his life off of the ground. Without these five elements, Philip realized he could’ve fluttered all he wanted but he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon without changing himself for the better.

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Philip explains that a bird with its wing clipped has had it clipped by some other means outside of its own control. He explains that “sometimes the effects can be temporary, and sometimes they can be permanent. In either case, it is bound to the ground where it most likely doesn’t prefer to be.” In result, he realized this would be a great motivational approach to the ways that he has overcome his paralysis.

As time has passed, Philip has found the silver-lining to his accident. “I’ve gained such an immense appreciation for the power of patience, perspective, positivity, perseverance, and passion over the years that I felt it necessary to try to reach out to anyone willing to listen to my stories and try to improve their own lives in the same ways that I have improved mine,” he says.

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Today, in addition to spending his time inspiring others, Philip is one of the few full-arm amputee general aviation aircraft pilots in the country. He spent a little over two years getting his license to fly single engine airplanes. He was inspired to become a pilot around the age of seven by his uncle who flew fighter jets in desert storms and he thought that flying was the “coolest thing humans could possibly ever do.”

After his amputation surgery, Philip worked hard at a finance analyst job he received after graduating college and essentially afforded the majority of training that way. Although he recently completed his private pilot’s license, he is currently working on an “instrument rating” which he explains is a secondary license that allows him to fly in bad weather, reduced visibility, and low clouds. His goals are to become trained to fly aerobatic planes.

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He also loves remaining physically active by playing as a midfielder in soccer whether he’s playing futsal (indoor soccer), in 7v7 leagues, or men’s full field leagues. These two passions of his are what helped inspire the title of his “clipped wing” motivational series. In addition, playing video games one-handed is another one his remarkable accomplishments and hobbies.

Thank you, Philip, for allowing your strength, mindset and most of all, daily choice to not let struggles block you from achieving your goals and inspiring so many to keep flying high, even with a clipped wing.

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Philip is willing to speak with all or anyone who’s in need of his motivational services. To contact Philip, please refer to the contact section of his website here.

Like his Facebook Page here.

Visit his Website here.

Visit his YouTube videos here.

“I think that we all have a bit of our own clipped wings at different times. These are the things that weigh heavily on us and inhibit us from getting where we want to go or what we want. The circumstances that we find ourselves in might be our clipped wing at the moment, but by changing the ways that we are patient with ourselves and others, by changing our perspective on the situation at hand, by changing our mindset to more of a positive and affirming mindset, by changing our willingness to persevere no matter how long it takes, and by changing the ways that we incorporate what we are passionate about into our lives, we can all learn to fly with a clipped wing.”- Philip Stokes

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The Purfect Voice for the Incapable

Shima 0 comments 12.01.2016

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Every Wednesday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place.

Today’s #WCW title belongs to South Bay resident, Brittany Neal, who started her own dog walking and pet sitting business on top of giving animals left at shelters another chance at life.

Brittany, 24, realized that she always had a deeper passion for animals than most. She grew up surrounded by many different types of animals including fish, turtles, a rabbit, a frog, lizards, snakes, cats, and dogs. “Whatever animal someone didn’t want or we found we kept,” she says.

For some time, she watched her uncle’s animals while he was out of town and also worked for a dog walking company in the South Bay for a summer.  She worked for the dog walking company for about six months until deciding to focus on graduating from CSULB. Upon leaving her job, many of her previous clients asked if Brittany would continue working for them as a dog walker when time permitted and suggested she’d set her own rate with them.

After graduating from CSULB in 2014, Brittany’s previous clients continued referring others in need of animal sitting or dog walking to her. Knowing that she loved it so much, she decided start her own business, Purfect Companion with the referral clients she started to obtain in 2014.

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Purfect Companion services include dog walking and exercise, in-home visits, pet taxi and overnight stays. Details of her services can be found on the website here. Currently, Brittany runs the business alone with occasional help from her sister, Keilani. She is searching for the perfect employee to assist her at the moment, but is taking her time in finding the right match.

When asked what makes Purfect Companion differ from other dog walking businesses, Brittany says, “I make sure to meet with the owner and animal prior to welcoming them as clients. I take the time to get to learn and take notes of each animals quirks and I always have constant communication with the owners. This, I feel, makes the owners at ease and creates a closer relationship with my clients so they always feel comfortable coming to me with questions or concerns.”

Brittany hopes to one day be able to patent her own technology for her business, which will help her to be able to expand into the Orange County region, as well as Hollywood/Santa Monica Area. “At the moment, there isn’t the exact software/app program, etc. that correctly fits the needs of my employees, my clients, and myself,” she explains. She hopes enhanced technology will allow her clients to stay connected with her which results in better organization and all-around happier clients.

She is always seeking ways to spread the word or do anything she can to help a dog/cat find his/her forever home. Growing up, her family has always taken in strays and had many types of unwanted animals so she believes this is where she has gotten the drive from. “I don’t know any different,” she says.

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Currently, she has five animals living in her home. One cat who she adopted from the Carson Shelter, one cat came from an accidental litter, one cat was found drinking gutter water outside of the restaurant she works at nights, her own dog who was adopted from an unwanted litter of puppies, and finally her foster dog Achilles whom was adopted from the Carson Shelter in October 2015.

She’d come across a video of an injured and completely adorable dog online that no one seemed very interested in. She went to the shelter and saw that Achilles was located in a quarantined area and his front left paw was injured and he wasn’t able to use it.

After a lot of back and forth with the shelter, Achilles was finally (after a month) available to be adopted out on a health waiver. She had to sign papers stating she was aware he needed further medical attention and that she would return with proof of this.

“I felt so bad for this poor guy sitting at the shelter for a whole month unable to even be considered for adoption, that I had to take him in. It was difficult and taking a long time getting a rescue group on board to try to get him out as a foster, and I just wanted him to be safe and not stand a chance of euthanization, so I went ahead and adopted him in hopes of re-homing him in the future,” she explains.

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Once adopted, she took him to her veterinarian Dr. Kumar at the Animal Medical Center in Hawthorne and he did the works on him. Achilles had kennel cough, tape worm, flea infestation and after x-rays and tests, they found that his paw had nerve damage to it.

She also took Achilles to a neurologist and they agreed as well. There was nothing to do but wait and see if the nerves would repair themselves over time. Both veterinarians told her that with some cases, dogs can get serious injuries due to not being able to feel their limbs and sometimes even bite off their own limbs.

After three months of being with Achilles, the worst case scenario happened. The dog managed to somehow bite off or rip off one of his toes (the dew-claw that is located higher up on their arm). She took him to the vet and they and I agreed it was best to amputate his arm since this would only get worse.

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Over the span of just 4-5 days, any time Achilles was left alone for only a few minutes, he would manage to rip off the bandaging and make his wound even worse to the point you could see bone. Brittany says, “at this point, amputation was urgent”

 On January 5, 2016, Achilles became a 3-legged dog. She says he is adapting extremely well and it’s almost as if he wanted that leg removed. She finds that he is just fine and is in very high spirits. Brittany is extremely grateful for her mother, Riki Rodriguez, who helps Achilles when Brittany is unable to. She explains that Riki is her dog sitter and helps watch him while he is healing.

With the help of non-profit dog rescue, The Lovejoy Foundation and Erin Lovejoy herself, Brittany believes she will be able to find Achilles’ forever home in hopefully the next month or two. Donations to help Achilles can be made directly on his Go-Fund me page here.

Outside of opening her own business, Brittany has always wanted to help a rescue group or start one of her own and she hopes to spread awareness to the South Bay about adopting animals and not purchasing them. “There is such an epidemic going on with overcrowded animal shelters and animal abuse cases that it is imperative to help spread the word to anyone willing to listen. I hope to be able to connect with the people of South Bay and make a difference for these poor animals who did nothing other than be born,” she says.

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She believes this can be done by providing information on low cost or free spay/neuter clinics, low cost behavioral specialists so animals have a chance to correct unwanted or bad behavior, so they ultimately do not have to be given away for these reasons, and information on the importance of continual care for your pet for its entire life.

Brittany would like others to know that animals should be treated like children. “They require time, money (lots of it sometimes), patience, training, and love. So if you aren’t willing to make a 10-16 year commitment to NOT just leave your animal in the yard, or give them away when you move, then don’t get one in the first place,” she says.

Although busy, Brittany still manages to have her own pets with the exception of help too. “I have help, just like my clients have me to help them. Sometimes I have to plan ahead of time with my schedule and ask a friend or family member to swing by to check on my animals or feed them. I have lots of spare keys just for the animal’s needs,” she explains.

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Brittany’s animals sleep with her inside, and if possible, she takes her dog on vacation with her as well. In addition, she makes sure they all have a routine of when they eat and she knows when they need to go potty. She believes that having taken the time to know each of her animals as well as each of their personalities, has made life easier.

When she isn’t being a wonderful mom to her own pets, rescuing dogs, or walking and sitting dogs, she enjoys grabbing food/coffee with friends and just catching up with their lives. She also loves music and enjoys going to concerts whenever possible. Brittany currently resides in Lawndale and grew up in the South Bay.

To learn more about Achilles and how you can help, please refer to the following link:

Achilles gofundme link for donations: www.gofundme.com/achillesleg

Purfect Companion Business Inquires:

www.purfectcompanion.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/purfectcompanion

Thank you, Brittany Neal for being a wonderful member of the South Bay community and providing not only exceptional services but by offering a voice for our fur friends who are unable to speak.

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Once a Marine, always a Marine

Shima 0 comments 11.01.2016

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Every Monday, I will share a resident of the South Bay contributing to making our community a better place. Today’s MCM title belongs to Zach Lee.

Zach, 25, was born and raised in North Torrance, CA. At the age of 20, Zach joined the Marine Corps in December 2009 and began boot camp only a few months later in March 2010. “I joined the military to be a part of something greater, and to serve my country, and do my part in the wars,” Zach explains.

Zach’s title in the military is corporal, which according to Military-Ranks.org is “the fourth enlisted rank in the U.S. Marine Corps, ranking above Lance Corporal and directly below Sergeant.” Zach explains that it is considered the first tank of Noncommissioned officer. At the end of his enlistment in January of 2014, Zach concluded as a combat veteran. Zach’s uncle Kenny Simpson also served in the military prior as a fighter pilot in the Air Force.

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Zach’s duty in the U.S. Marine Corps was a 0331 Infantry Machine gunner. “Attached to 1/1 C.co WPNS Platoon, our job was to attach to the rifle squads and provide support with heavy guns,” he explains. Since returning  home, Zach continues to visit his unit aboard Camp Pendleton, and has personally visited platoon mates.

His accomplishments and efforts have resulted in awards and commendations; good conduct , meritorious unit citation, and a navy achievement medal. Along with other medals while overseas. Zach has deployed to numerous countries including Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Pakistan, Oman, Hong Kong, Africa, Thailand, Jordan, and Hawaii.

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He finds that the most rewarding part of serving was the honor of giving back to the country. However, he says that the most difficult part of service, was “The mental hardships of war and being away from family for so long, such as seven month deployments.”

When asked what he’d like people to know about service men and women, Zach says, “I would like people to know that many service men and women have a hard time transitioning to “civilian life”, when they get out of the military. With that comes stress, if you happen to know or meet a veteran sometimes they could use helpful advice or a leg up in their new adventure to becoming a civilian.”

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Today, Zach is working at Valero refinery, which helps families in need during the holidays, by providing essentials and presents for the families. “When I had first hired on with Valero it was December, our training class had been assigned a family, they had a list of items that each family member needed, and a few items that they wanted for the kids like small toys. Our class had put together the gifts and items, and myself and a few other guys from the training class went to the family’s house and delivered the gifts and took pictures with the family,” Zach says.

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As a single parent, Zach spends most of his time with his son and daughter, Jake and Sophia. He enjoys taking them outdoors, reading books with them and going to the dog park. He is currently living in North Torrance and in five years hopes to have been promoted with his job to the highest level he can go.

He also hopes to purchase a home in the future for his family and enjoys donating to United Way which is a nonprofit organization that contributes money and charity work to cities that are in need. For instance, united way and Valero Wilmington have raised 2 million in proceeds to Wilmington and its schools and parks and programs to help people find jobs, homeless shelters.

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Thank you, Zach, for serving your country and dedicating your early years to making our country a safe place and continuing to live up to your role by finding ways to pay it forward to your community today.

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