Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rockin' the Red Kettle

As promised, Ms. Panny and I braved the windy, snowy, blistering cold weather this morning to ring bells and raise money for The Salvation Army. We decided to put our personalities into it by bringing a radio and rockin' out to Christmas tunes. Regardless of the freezing cold snow blowing on us, we were jiving and singing in the spirit of the holidays to help raise money for those in need. People were extremely generous, and we're thankful to everyone who stopped by and donated. Donations are down this year in the red kettles all around Michigan and the country. Volunteers will be collecting at the red kettles through Christmas Eve. So even if you can't afford to donate anything more than the spare change in your pocket, just remember that a little bit truly goes a long way!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Oral Cancer Starts to Have a Voice

This post strays a bit from the theme of creativity, love and happiness because it's about oral cancer, a little-known yet deadly cancer that strikes about 34,000 people a year and kills 7,500. Yet in my mind, any media coverage of oral cancer is happiness because that means more people will pay attention to it and more will take preventative measures to make sure it doesn't affect them.

A recent USA Today article gives a rundown of Brian Hill's oral cancer. Brian is the founder of the Oral Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing people together who've battled oral cancer and educating those who know nothing about it. Having USA Today give a voice to oral cancer is a huge step in the right direction. I've worked on behalf of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana for almost a year now to call attention to this silent killer and encourage the media to help people understand that oral cancer is just as prominent as breast, ovarian or prostate cancer. Slowly but surely we're starting to make some ground, but in theme of this blog, I was extremely happy to see a popular pub like USA Today call attention to oral cancer.

Check out the story for signs and symptoms of oral cancer and how dentists should check you for it. You can also check out Delta Dental's newsroom for some very informative news releases distributed during National Oral Cancer Awareness Week, April 16-22, 2007. After the holidays we'll be gearing up for 2008's NOCAW, and I have high hopes that more people will take notice of this cancer before the "those affected" number skyrockets.

The New York Times Calls Positive Attention to Detroit

For once -- Detroit has been recognized for it's amazing culture and travel destinations by a publication outside of Michigan. And, a highly-regarded publication that is none other than The New York Times. The Times travel section recently named the 53 places to visit in 2008, and to many people's (pleasant) surprise, D-town was included on the list.

Granted Detroit was number 40, but who cares -- it's positive publicity! And amidst an economy that's as fragile as cracked ice, budget woes that never seem to come to a resolution and once-abundant nonprofits that can't afford to help those who need help the most, I'd say this is one big home run for our state. It will make people do a double take who would never have imagined that the country's (supposedly) second dangerous city could be a hip and thriving tourist destination. AND....AND...we beat out cities like Las Vegas, New York and San Diego!

Recent openings of the Detroit Institute of Arts, MGM Grand and MotorCity Casino Hotel not only will (hopefully) bolster our fragile economy, but also give Detroit huge bragging rights and help us compete with some of the historically big league cities in our country. So thanks New York Times for shining a spotlight on the tourist attractions of Detroit!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ring in the Holidays With The Salvation Army

It's everyone's (well most people's) favorite time of year. A time when friends and family members we don't get to see that often reunite. A time when we go ga-ga over gift-giving and spending money just to see that huge smile on the faces of those we love. A time when we indulge in oh-so-bad for you goodies.

But unfortunately, there are many individuals and families in Michigan who can't afford to give gifts or provide over-indulgent meals this holiday season. That's where organizations like The Salvation Army step in. Now through December 24, The Salvation Army is seeking volunteers to ring bells throughout the community to collect funds that will help the organization provide services year-round to those in need. Bell ringing is an easy and fun way to give back to your community this holiday season. Two-hour shifts are available for individuals, and 10-hours shifts are available for groups. You can go to to register for bell ringing shifts throughout southeast Michigan, as well as to register for shifts throughout Washtenaw County.

I am blessed to provide public relations support to The Salvation Army of Washtenaw County because it's opened my eyes to the ever-increasing need for food, clothing and shelter that exists in our state. Many people don't really know what The Salvation Army is or all the great things the organization does to help those in need. Now's a great time to find out. I'll be out there with my partner-in-crime Lauren on Dec. 15 (location TBD) ringing my little heart out. And even if only one family is helped through my bell ringing initiatives, at least I can say that I'm making a difference.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pay it Forward Isn't Just the Name of a Movie

Most people have seen the inspirational movie Pay it Forward (Haley Joley Osment, Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey) about a boy determined to make a difference in the world as a result of a project posed by his history teacher. Well, this article in the Detroit Free Press proves paying it forward truly is a literal phrase.

Don Nichols, a professor at Oakland Community College who is preparing to retire in December after 42 years, is determined to find a way to pass along 210 unused sick days that he's accumulated throughout the years. He asked members of the OCC Board of Trustees to allow him to transfer those sick days to a fellow employee or employees battling cancer. His second option is to donate the dollar equivalent of those sick days to the OCC foundation that raises money for student scholarships. The board has yet to make a decision.

I love it when our local papers include heart-warming stories like this one to combat all the negativity Michigan is facing. Don Nichols is a noble, honorable man, and it would be truly disappointing if the OCC Board of Trustees denied the wish of a man who dedicated so much time and energy to their university.

What makes Don even more of an admirable person is that he has post-polio syndrome, so I'm sure those sick days could have come in handy. But according to Don, "I don't ever want to quit. I'm a workaholic."

If only everyone cared as much about others as they do about themselves.....

A Few Secrets of Happiness.....

Everyone wants to know the secret to happiness -- right? Well I don't think there's one magic secret that will ultimately produce happiness in a person's life, but there are definitely steps you can take to ensure you live a long life of happiness.

Vital magazine, southeast Michigan's only family-oriented health and fitness magazine (distributed monthly in the Free Press and Detroit News) gives a breakdown of what happiness really is and steps you can take to make sure you're surrounded by happiness. The article states that traits such as habitual positive thinking, good physical health and commitment to personal relationships are common factors among those who consider themselves happy.

According to Claudette Taylor from Oakwood Heritage Hospital, if you're feeling blue, the key is to raise the level of endorphins (especially serotonin) in your bloodstream. Serotonin boosters include laughter, Vitamin B and regular movement.

Whoever said it takes a lot of work for someone to be happy?? :)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

When Words Fail, Think Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCAD to native Detroiters) is home to a very creative and thought-provoking exhibit now through Jan. 20, 2008 titled "Words Fail Me."
According to Matthew Higgs, a New York-based artist, curator and writer, the exhibition explores visual art's ongoing, and often times uneasy, relationship with language: A century-long entanglement between word and image. The phrase "words fail me" alludes to language's limits and limitations, a scenario in which language might be considered insufficient or possibly even inadequate, where words become less certain, more blurred, and consequently, open to interpretation.
As evident from the photos above, the exhibit encompasses a variety of different works from artists depicting the many ways words can form art. From drawings by Anne-lise Coste that resemble illegible scrawlings on diary pages (first photo) to Carl Pope's menagerie of colorful posters (third photo) that expresses a variety of bold and often conflicting viewpoints, "Words Fail Me" will make you crawl out of your mind's shelter and allow you to form your own opinions as to why the artists chose such phrases to resemble art. As a bonus, a series of lectures and presentations will also accompany the exhibit. The next one is Oct. 10 and features Carl Pope.
As a person who lingers on the words of others and appreciates music mainly because of the lyrics that accompany the sounds, I would highly recommend this exhibit to anyone who can look beyond the surface and discover the true beauty of this type of art.
I'm discovering more and more reasons every day to appreciate metro Detroit (although it can be difficult most days to stay positive amidst all the negativity). Props to my girl Lauren for finding a great article in the Chicago Tribune titled "The lights come back on in downtown Detroit." It's good to see people from other cities (especially a writer from a city as vibrant and addicting as Chicago) giving a lil shoutout to our D-town. Slowly but surely, I think we're movin on up....

Friday, October 5, 2007

Giving Back is More Than Just a Dollar Figure

"Success shouldn't be measured by how much you have but by how much you give back."

This quote really struck me because I made a promise to myself a long time ago that when I become wealthy one day (and by wealthy I don't mean a millionaire, rather a successful PR professional who doesn't have to worry about how I'm going to pay the bills), I will contribute to organizations that strive to better the community and world. I came across this article in Crain's Detroit Business about Art Van Elslander (you know, Art Van furniture stores) donating $6.5 million to fund the Van Elslander Pavilion at St. John Hospital and Medical Center. I hands down agree with Mr. Art Van's quote in the article:

“I feel that when you are fortunate enough to be as fortunate as we have (been), it's your responsibility to give back to the community.”

Giving back can be defined in a variety of ways -- not just a million dollar figure. Today the Franco gals took a much deserved trip out of the office to Fuddrucker's for lunch. We were fortunate enough to be helped by a very upbeat and bubbly woman who took our orders, and even gave us cookies when we forgot to show our receipts to prove we were entitled to the cookies. We all complimented the woman's efforts to her manager on the way out, and it really made me happy to know that she was being recognized for her efforts. I know firsthand how challenging it can be in the restaurant industry, and whenever I received compliments from customers I always felt that much better about my job.
Giving back truly can be delivered in small packages -- it's taking the opportunity to give back in any way that you can that really counts :)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Touting Those Who Tout Michigan

This past week, I received a cordial invitation from my good pal Julie to the launch party of BrainGain Marketing, Detroit/Michigan's ONLY social media focused PR and marketing agency. The small gathering took place at Buzz Bar in Detroit, which was great for me because I've never been there, so it added to my newfound interest in visiting as many hip places as possible that I've never been to before. This up-and-coming, ubercool (my new favorite prefix to all words is uber) social marketing company targets creative, young and talented people throughout the state who are the next influential wave of social media. Heck, they're a bunch of creative, young and extremely talented people themselves, so they know exactly how to reach out to their targeted audience.

Julie and her colleagues also have created a cool Web site called MiLife MiTimes (Mi = Michigan...get it?). The site offers a fresh perspective on life in Michigan for and by those who can't help but love the state that's been taking so much political/social/governmental slack recently. Most of the articles focus on artsy, innovative topics about music, entertainment, outdoor recreation, eco-friendly info, fashion and forward-moving companies. I find myself tapping into the site at least once a day to see what new and fun things are going on around the state, and to confirm my sometimes questionable decision of choosing to live and work in Michigan. It's great when companies like BrainGain come along because it helps reinforce that decision and pools creative talent together who have the same thoughts and interests. Our state definitely needs more people like the BrainGain team to help fuel the creativity/social media fire and provide a resource for young, enthusiastic people like myself (and so many of my friends) who are itching every day to make a difference in the communications 2.0 world.

What's even better is that now anyone can post an article on the MiLife MiTimes site. Just go to Submit a Story on the main page and let your thoughts run wild. Of course, the article must be ubercool (there's that word again), and will be reviewed by staff prior to posting. I know I will be contributing articles in the near future to help play my part in spiffing up the way people think about Detroit and Michigan in general. It's up to us young and talented folk to dig deep and uncover all the hidden secrets of our state, because if we don't do it, then who will?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tennis Fever!

Although I don't dedicate nearly enough time and energy to paying attention to (or playing for that matter) my beloved sport of tennis, I have to pay tribute to the fact that it's U.S. Open season yet again. All it takes is two minutes of watching pros like Maria, the Williams sisters and Federer (I'm biting my tongue because for some reason his domination really irks me, but I can't deny he's unprecedented) and I'm drawn in. I'd really like to sit Federer down and find out what it feels like be **literally** king of the court. How many people in life can say that they're living their dream (and then some) and bashing down on competition without barely skipping a beat? Maybe there are more people than I can fathom out there who can say that. And maybe his flawlessness bothers me because I can't completely understand how a human being can charge on like that and never seem to fail. Allow me to be cliche real quick and quote that failure really is the key to success --at least in the novel that I'm writing (otherwise known as my life). So although I may grind my teeth every time Federer advances effortlessly throughout the tourney, I will confess that I'm just as awe-struck by him as every other tennis aficionado out there.

I have to let my fashionista alter-ego get her say in and give props to Maria Sharapova for incorporating design into an already delicate and intricate sport.

The article notes that the saucy Russian (and defending champ may I add) will be wearing outfits incorporating graphic interpretations of the cityscape of NY City. Plus, she adds even more glitz with more than 600 Swarovski crystals woven into the design of her nighttime dress. At least she's got fashion to fall back on in case she takes the Anna Kournikova route and becomes too self-absorbed to remember why she went pro to begin with. But for some reason, I have more faith in this girl....
**Besos y Abrazos**

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Who Knew?

So....I've succumbed to the blogosphere and started one of my own. I must say I have no one other than the sassy soon-to-be Mrs. Weber to thank for this ;)

Who knew that in a few short months since leaving my beloved college life behind I would become so obsessed with social media. Hey -- that's what having a career in PR (and being young!) does to you. I need more of my friends to jump on the bandwagon though to make sites like Twitter fun!

OK..I will play with this more later. I'm chatting with my Chilean bro Sebastian on MSN and need to check out Court's fun photos from the Kenny Chesney concert, which by the way, was the best concert EVER!!!!!!! Thank you Kenny for making me fall in love with you all over again :) Now if only I could find a guy that looks/sings/plays guitar/loves summer and all things related like Kenny does.