More than Models
More than Models, these individuals lead by example and model traits worthy of celebrating. They are being and doing things of significance, large or small though the tasks may seem. And they are people in progress, like us. Please enjoy the windows into these lives and be inspired!
Model Citizen and Q’s Clothiers Feature Model, Leah Valenti, District Director, U.S. House of Representatives
I got to sit down with local political powerhouse, Leah Valenti, the District Director for the United States House of Representatives 17th Congressional District of Florida. As the Director for the second largest district in the state of Florida and longtime public servant, Valenti knows the inner workings of Congress from the grassroots to the labyrinthine hallways of Capitol Hill.
As District Director Valenti hustles to represent the Congressman in the district when he is representing the constituents in Washington, DC. She stands in for him at events, presents awards on his behalf and makes sure that constituents have the assistance they need in their dealings with Federal agencies. “It is a trust,” says Valenti of her work for the Congressman and how he commissions her to represent him and carry out his wishes in the district when he cannot be present. “I have to know him well enough to be able to represent him as he would wish and do what he would want to be done. Plus I work alongside other local elected officials and community leaders and must have a pulse point on the community to help keep him closely connected to his constituents and the needs in the district. “
When asked about the highlights of her role her eyes lit up describing an instance when she got to help present medals to a 90 year old World War II veteran who had waited 62 years to receive his medals. She also described how she enjoys working with the local police department on the Do The Right Thing program that rewards young people for making good decisions. Valenti sees the importance of investing in local youth and urges parents and the community to “stay involved with the children because that is the future!”
I asked Valenti about what her days usually consist of and it was remarkable to hear about the variety of activities, individuals and situations she deals with on a daily basis. She can go from meeting with rural citrus growers in a grove where she may need to wear cowgirl attire and then may need to change quickly to attend a formal political luncheon or high profile meetings. She must be savvy to respond to the varied demands of such a large and diverse district.
“It really is customer service,” she says of working as District Director. Valenti says of the casework her office does between citizens and federal agencies, “We are liaisons and we can assist them (constituents) in cutting through the red tape of bureaucracy. Congress is not just for DC, it really is on the local level. And, we are the avenue for constituents to make their voice heard.”
Valenti is passionate about her work and is a champion for the people she serves. We are inspired by her drive, excellence and the difference she makes in so many individual lives and in our nation. Thank you, Leah Valenti for being a model citizen and a model of inspiration for Q’s Clothier’s!
Jennifer Salcido is feverishly fighting the war against ISIS. But her weapons are compassion, diplomacy and generosity. Salcido is taking on religious persecution and aiding destitute refugees with
multilateral measures. Salcido’s zeal for human rights has catapulted the California native over to the Middle East multiple times and to her current base in Washington, DC.
I got to interview Ms. Salcido, hear her share from her heart about the suffering people she is championing, learn about the refugee crisis in Kurdistan and about the simple ways you and I can work to relieve the oppression.
QW—Please tell us about your human rights work, specifically about refugees and persecuted religious communities
JS—Currently I am working with the International Veterans Alliance (IVA), and another organization (which will not be named for the safety of those involved with it in dangerous areas), which combats persecution with multi lateral measures such as governmental pressure, awareness and aid. I am working with the IVA to provide humanitarian aid to brutalized refugee communities of religious minorities including Yezidis, Christians and Shia Muslims that have fled ISIS. We are working with a Hollywood director to produce a documentary film called The Longest Road that will highlight the plight of refugees in Kurdistan. You can see the trailer here. The film is slated for release for TV and/or theaters in early 2016.
QW—Tell us more about the International Veterans Alliance and why you are working with them to produce a documentary
JS—An Iraqi war veteran, Richard Campos, founded IVA. Campos made a promise to assist refugees in Iraq with humanitarian aid when a friend’s son was killed in Iraq and his father consequently died of a broken heart. The IVA focuses on supplying medical assistance and providing for basic needs with things like diapers and baby formula.
The IVA is producing the documentary because there is not another documentary like this that focuses on the refugee crisis and the situation of minorities in the Middle East. During Operation Iraqi Freedom Al Qaeda was being bombed approximately 900 times a day. ISIS, which is committing even more extreme atrocities is currently only being bombed about 20 times a day and they get around 100 new recruits and make around three million dollars a day! (photo image courtesy of Stan Rapada)
Though conflict in the region can be traced back over 2000 years the documentary will talk about conflicts in the area dating back to the Armenian genocide of 1915 when 1.5 million Armenian, 700,000 Assyrian and about 500,000 Greek Christians were crucified, starved and beheaded. Hitler tried to emulate this genocide during WWII.
Furthermore, the documentary is from the perspective of a veteran. With ISIS taking over, many veterans from the Iraq war feel their efforts were in vain and want to help the situation. Working with the IVA will allow them to fight for the Iraqi refugees, elderly, children and widows on a humanitarian level. I like to say it’s a film about hope and redemption.
QW—How did you become so passionate for the rights of persecuted people groups?
JS— Though I was always very interested in human rights my specific passion for helping refugees and the persecuted didn’t fully take hold until I went to Kurdistan in 2011 to do an internship and work with an NGO led by a human rights attorney.
While in Kurdistan I started to meet refugees who had fled from the north and south. I heard their stories about what it was like to be a religious minority in Iraq and Iran. It made me wonder why I was blessed to be born in a country where my rights are guaranteed. I promised them that I would be a voice for them and advocate on their behalf and that is what I have dedicated myself to. (photo image courtesy of Stan Rapada)
QW—What can typical people who do not have a lot of time or money do to help?
JS—God has given each of us different gifts. If you have funds to give then go for it, but if not just talk about it, if you blog then mention it, share articles, pray for them and call congressmen to support measures that will help them. The refugees truly appreciate the help of the west. They know America is powerful. They believe in us and trust us to help. With the information we know, we are now responsible to try to help. Love is the most powerful weapon in the world.
Model Francie is as her husband says an "All Star" wife, mother of four, blogger, author and speaker. Francie says "I believe God created us on purpose, for a purpose. And Because of this, I identify with the quote from Chariots of Fire, "When
I run, I feel God's pleasure." When I write, speak, live intentionally as a mom and aim to love generously as a wife, I feel God's pleasure. When I focus on the few things I know I'm made to do, there's a grace that extends over my efforts, making it do-able. I konw I can't do everything- I'm a lousy cook and cannot, to save my life, manage my laundry problem. I'm terrible at small talk and am not great at organizing parties, but the few things I know He has called me to do- I do with all my heart. And I find that I can enjoy God deeply in the process."
Check out franciewinslow.com
Model Jessica, is making an impact in a lot of lives, even little ones. Jessica is a devoted wife, mother of four, real estate agent and spinner (which she says gives her energy to keep up with the kids).
This was your first time modeling because you are actually a real estate agent. How did you get into the real estate industry?
“I realized I was interested in real estate after my husband and I purchased our first home. Being a homeowner for the first time made me so ecstatic. It was intoxicating to think that I could help someone achieve that too. To achieve their own American Dream.”
Is that how you saw it for your family? Achieving the American Dream?
“I grew up in a missionary family and lived in Moscow. Seeing how other people live and how they don’t have the same means to purchase a home made it important to me. Often in Moscow newlyweds live with their families, even in apartments, we don’t have to do that here in America.”
What do you think of Q’s Clothiers’ goal of helping women rescued from human trafficking?
“I used to work with a group of women who wanted to help spread awareness about human trafficking. We found out that in our local area there were about 17 women who had been trafficked and paid with drugs. Even though my four kids have prevented me from having a lot of time to volunteer, I am still a big advocate for women in that situation. Several groups, like the A21 Campaign, are fighting to bring awareness to the problem and are advocating for laws here in the U.S. to help protect women. My sister worked with project rescue which helps women by teaching them a trade once they have been rescued. I admire my sister and Qwynne from Q’s Clothiers for wanting to help these women.”
It is mothers and business women like Jessica who will help to lessen the terrible consequences of human trafficking and who will make our country great. As Jessica reminded us, “always keep your eyes open because you just don’t know when someone will need help.” Thank you Jessica for the noble ways you serve your family and the community.
Model Sarah is a multi-talented artist and teaches her students how to create and enjoy art like she does.
Why do you do what you do, Sarah?
"I do what I do because I love learning, helping people accomplish things, loving and honoring God, loving people, having fun, creating visual beauty, and seeing people connect. It makes me come alive! I also love to sing and worship God with music. And, I often see potential in random things or have unique creative ideas for how to develop beauty."
Looking forward, what would you like to do or see happen?
"I want to further develop and mature as an artist and for people to benefit from that, for them to feel something from God awaken in them when they experience my art. I want to grow deeper and deeper in relationship with God as I come to appreciate Him more n more and for Him to impact other people through me."
Wow, thank you Sarah! Keep doing what you do best! It's noble.
P.S. Here is one of the funniest art projects Sarah has ever gotten to grade, enjoy!