You know what sounds really awesome after an exciting but long day at the zoo?

Burritos and Tacos!

Very friendly service!

Very friendly service!

We gathered our crowns and sashes with ecstatic enthusiasm in our tour bus to get ready for this delicious meal. We felt like an attraction as the 80-90 of us filed into the mall – people looked and pointed, smiled and clapped, and urged us to do the “pageant wave”. Cameras flashed as we get to the Richtree Taco Bus in Eaton Centre Mall, making our grand entrance.

The first thing we noticed was the amazingly decorated bus, and the cheerful manager. He welcomed us to pick anything off the menu, plus a drink – which was so nice of him!

Before the food is even made, it was obvious that the service was five-star quality. There were cooks, who take the order and make the tacos/burritos, and a manager person who monitored the outflow of burritos and kept the making on track. As they were making food for so many girls, the wait for mine was a bit longer, but I didn’t mind it at all.

A photo with the cute Bus!

A photo with the cute Bus!

The selection of food was not huge, but I love that. I like it when restaurants/buses know what they are best at making, and just specialize in those. It also makes choosing a lot easier!

I am pedestrian, and so there was the fish taco or the Heart of Palm veggie burrito to choose from. Curious, I picked the Heart of Palm – and it was amazing!! The ingredients are listed on the menu board, which was very helpful. I cannot remember exactly what they were, but the taste was a mix of sour and hints of spice – I have never had anything like it before. Made with authentic, local, and in-season ingredients, I felt good about the food going down to my stomach too.

Group table shot - sorry it's blurry; selfies are hard!

Group table shot – sorry it’s blurry; selfies are hard!

Thank you again to Richtree Market Taco Bus – we had a wonderful time eating and enjoying ourselves there!

Check out Richtree! Website: http://richtreenaturalmarket.com

Facebook: /RichtreeMarket

Twitter: @RichtreeMarket

Richtree Instagram: RichtreeMarket

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P.S. Preliminary competition is coming up in several hours – crazy! My parents are in the hotel already, which is awesome. Waiting for hair and makeup time now. This will be my final blog post before we go off – I am so excited!!

Looking forward to the fun night, and hoping that everyone back home is having a FANTASTIC day!

Shirley L

Miss Teenage Vancouver

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About My Platform and What I Did:

My platform is the empowerment of women. To learn about the issue of the role of women and gender equity and as a part of my platform, I chose to intern at the non-profit organization, Dress for Success Vancouver.

Dress for Success Vancouver is one of many Dress for Success affiliates all around the globe. Dress for Success Worldwide is based in New York. Since its founding in 1997, Dress for Success has “expanded to more than 140 cities in 19 countries” and has supported more than 850,000 women into the workforce.

Dress for Success Vancouver has three programs to provide women with economic independence. First, a suiting service where volunteer consultants dress our clients for job interviews and employment. Second, career services, such as meetings with a woman from the corporate world about resume tips, or for mock job interviews. Third, a Professional Women’s Group – an 18-month program – that allows our clients to network and attend workshops as a group.

I got involved with Dress for Success Vancouver after I read about their mission. They emphasized that the dressing services are not a hand out of clothes, but rather a hand up – towards employment and a new, positive direction in life, which really gave a meaning to my interest in fashion. Supporting women and fashion combined truly did turn out to be an amazing way to spend the summer – as well, I met so many women, learned from the staff about social media management, team management, and other things beyond the scope of what I had imagined, and spent time with dedicated volunteers.

Why Did I Choose This Platform?

Here’s a little story. I was just another young air cadet. My squadron, 111 Pegasus, has been my home for 4 years. In the beginning of my cadet career, I was the only girl from my school, despite its proximity to the squadron, and was 1 of the 7 girls in my Level.. Among 50 boys, we stuck together. I always thought about this disparity in number: is it due to girls’ lack of interest in aviation, survival, leadership, and citizenship development, or is it due to the old societal view that this sort of “cadets” thing was not “for girls”?

Our generation is a generation of change. Sure, we teenagers probably spend more time on social media than we should – but teenagers and social media are both notorious for being “teenagers” and “social media” due to the way they are often portrayed. Though it can never replace CNN, social media is a dominant source of worldly information for teenagers. And right now, much of the information and news trends out there on social media contain messages of advancement, from allowing people to love each other despite their genders, to raising awareness and volunteerism for poverty-stricken places in the world, and to opening the conversation about gender equity.

I started to explore the gender equity issue in my own community and city. It is vastly different from the issue present in developing countries, such as Ghana and the Philippines – we are far, far more privileged. However, that does not mean that the problem here isn’t sever, or any less critical to be taken action against.

As I started to learn more, I realized that most aspects of the local gender inequity issue centre around employment opportunities and salary disparity. I wanted to understand the role of women, their struggles in these areas, and the best support options we can implement. As a titleholder, I wanted to use my platform as an opportunity to learn, and hopefully make an impact.

Thus, I chose my platform: “Empowering Women”.

What Does My Platform Mean to Me?

I hope to give back to all the women who inspire me in my personal life, and all the women who make history, make literature, and make a difference.

It also holds tremendous meaning for the fact that the work I did affected my local community, so I was able to see the clients it impacted, and see the difference it made. Even just being at Dress for Success Vancouver for a month, I have witnessed so many rewarding moments, when the women thank us, when they tell us how their confidence increased after their appointment, and especially when you just see the “ready to take on the world” smile on their faces when they look at themselves in those new outfits.

What Would I Do for my Platform as Miss Teenage Canada?

Um…this one’s easy. Everything.

To hold the title of Miss Teenage Canada means that I can make an impact through my platform nationally, and internationally as well. I will get to know the issue more first, by talking to and learning from women who need the support, and figuring out how to most effectively and efficiently make a difference for me, for one year. I will then try to promote my cause as much as possible by getting in touch and joining forces with organizations and people who are already doing amazing work, and with my experience from Dress for Success Vancouver, expand my involvement.

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Had a blast helping out at the sale last week, running speedy shopping trips during lunch breaks with Emily, and everything in between. It’s been something I’ve been anticipating since the beginning of this month, with every promotional tweet scheduled, with every sale-worthy clothing item stuffed into bankers boxes, and with every bumpy trip over to the Harbour Centre with the racks.

The Shop for A Cause sale is open to the pubic for one day: July 25th. Designer, vintage, new, and gently-used clothing are sold starting from $5. All proceeds go back into our programs. ’Cause DFS Vancouver is awesome, and it needs funding to run career services programs, etc.

If you missed it, don’t worry – the Sales are seasonal, and Fall is coming right around the corner. Or better yet, here is my recap of the whole fundraiser event through photos.

On the first day, I stayed here helping out the whole day. From ten until ten, our clients lined up outside the space: many return season after season, and all are excited and patiently waiting to discover the goodies we have this time.

Our early bird clients excited to go into the sale :)

Our early bird clients excited to go into the sale :)

Many volunteers supported the sale for it to run smoothly. Rebelle, and many volunteers who are usually at the boutique had a couple of shifts, and the girls who have basically been running the sale for a few seasons, were there for whole days. From bringing the clothes over from the boutique, (which starts in the beginning of the month!) to sorting them, to putting them out onto the floor, the sale would not be possible without them.

Three of the ladies who organize the clothing sale :)

The merchandise there was amazing. Every piece has gone through two rounds of selection: once in the boutique’s sorting room, and another time when items arrive at the sale space stock room and are sorted again before being put out. Some items are brand new – donated by a clothing store, but are unfit to be worn to an interview or employment. For example, there was a collection of new LOFT corduroy pants, and baskets of mint-condition 100% silk shirts and skirts. Clothing that would normally be $100 and up are sold at the affordable price of $5, and our clients get first picks.

Some blazers and suits at the sale

Some blazers and suits at the sale

People came in waves: the floor was quite packed in the morning, and when things slowed down a bit in the afternoon, Gabrielle and I went to the stock room to sort through more clothing and restock.

Stock room!

Stock room!

Lastly, Nicolle, an author at VancityBuzz, came over to check out the sale. Here is a BTS of some Instagraming/Twittering.

Christina, DFS Vancouver Sponsorship and Marketing Manager, helps Nicolle of Vancity Buzz snap a shot sporting Shop-for-a-Cause pieces from head to toe!

And that wraps up the recap. My apologies for the quick, run-down-of-the-day blog post today though – my mind is entirely on the Miss Teen Canada competition that is coming up in 4 days and a few things I need to finish up before I leave – such as my drivers test!

Hope everyone is enjoying the absolutely gorgeous sunshine we are getting (the ocean was an especially tropical deep blue yesterday!). Enjoy this photo from Monday (aka my lock screen background):

Yes, this saturation was adjusted - but only to bring out the beautiful, clear blue that was the ocean!

Yes, this saturation was adjusted – but only to bring out the beautiful, clear blue that was the ocean!

Shirley L

Miss Teen Vancouver

www.facebook.com/missteenagevancouver2015

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I can’t believe that today is already the 21st! It feels like the each year passes exponentially faster than the last, and this summer is just flying by. Nationals are in two weeks, which feels completely surreal (technically, next weekend, but I don’t want to freak myself out), and after that I’ll be visiting some schools in Toronto and down to the States. I’m overwhelmingly excited about that – it’ll be incredible to experience the environment, go on tours, and learn about programs in person.

Webinar! Read about it below:

Webinar! Read about it below:

After some Instagram/Twitter things this morning, I sat down with Jennifer for the informational webinar, Social Fundraising: Put Your Network to Work. It educated non-profits on the most effective methods of fundraising, from a relationship-building perspective. From the importance of “warm introductions”, to tips on how to scout out connections to potential corporate donors  through LinkedIn, and to ways to leverage the connections of people close and supportive of the non-profit already, such as board members and volunteers, the webinar covered a whole lot with points and scenarios in 40 minutes. But everything still narrows down to one thing the female speaker briefly mentioned: the ABCs of today are “Always Be Connecting”.

As Jennifer said, it’s wild that we are all connected in some way. So, when reaching out to a “target” donor corporation, the webinar speakers suggest to search up – with all the detailed filters – people connected to that corporation, and then narrow down connections, whether they are first or second degree. They gave this scenario where the male speaker needed to reach out to a company in New York, and would have never thought that his sister – a New Yorker – knew a key person in that company if it hadn’t been the connections mapped out on her LinkedIn. The thing is, his sister wouldn’t have recalled she had that connection without LinkedIn either, and wouldn’t have been able to introduce him.

Another thing that Jennifer mentioned was that nowadays, it is considered polite for a person to check out another person’s LinkedIn profile before reaching out to him/her, to get more understanding of his/her role and to make sure that interests align.

After lunch and some more social media stuff, Jen and I wheeled even more clothes for the Shop for a Cause sale over to Harbour Centre! It’s this Saturday, 10am-6pm, and there will be designer, vintage, new, and gently-used clothes there for $5 and up! All proceeds go back to our programs.

This sequinned vintage Adrienne Vittadini sweater will be at the sale!

This sequinned vintage Adrienne Vittadini sweater will be at the sale!

And here is some news of today! “Once Again Dress for Success Worldwide Receives a 4-Star Rating on Charity Navigator. Our organization received a four-out-of-four star rating in recognition of the high standards we adhere to, including sound fiscal management, accountability and transparency.”

Speaking of transparencies, I left early today to get my Invisaligns…wearing them right now, it feels like I have food in my teeth 22/7. A Lot of food. I just hope they don’t end up lost, buried within a heap of leftover food in a restaurant in China like my old retainers did…but that’s another story.

Shirley L

Miss Teen Vancouver 2015

www.facebook.com/missteenagevancouver2015

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It was a quiet Friday morning today, with only two staff members, 2 interns, and Hannah in the back room. Scheduling and editing tweets on Hootsuite kept me occupied for the morning, since I had to leave for the afternoon. Emily and I threw in some testimonials – most of which were so heartwarming and unfortunately could not be jammed into 140 characters for our Twitter audience.

Working with Emily, Marketing Intern on Hootsuite

Working with Emily, Marketing Intern on Hootsuite

I really wanted to share what one lady said about the impact of DFS Vancouver’s services on her life – the un-curtailed version of a future tweet. I really love what she said about how “it’s alright to feel vulnerable”, and then to “work on it”. I think some of our day-to-day agitation stems from the fact that we dwell over a present situation, and drive ourselves into a gridlock from there. I really hate doing downward dogs, but a part I do like about yoga is that the instructors always tell us to “accept the present”. Once there, we can properly “work on it”.

“It was been a great pleasure and amazing experience to be apart of DFS Vancouver and PWG program. The first time I came to pick up an outfit I did not even imagine how lucky I was! I felt a little uncomfortable at the idea of receiving free clothes but had no choice since I lost 13kg last year. I got my first full-time job in Canada. My 18 months experience with PWG showed me it is alright to feel vulnerable and work on it. Meeting so many women with both shared and unique challenges and stories united us. It helped me to overcome life stress, to believe and hope! Moreover, networking and hearing stories from different women helped me learn about Canadian life and work environments, culture, and social and economic challenges. I started to feel better, to accept challenges and understand personal strengths and weaknesses. These positive Influences helped me to take change and be responsible for my own life challenges, and to be aware this is a normal transition period! Volunteering and helping others was such a rewarding experience for me. Thank you for helping me to stand on my feet again!

Sincerely, T.S.”

Happy weekend!

Shirley L

Miss Teen Vancouver 2015

www.facebook.com/missteenagevancouver2015

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The Donor Celebration Open House was created for Dress for Success Donors – corporate, monthly, or one-time – to thank them for their support, and to provide an opportunity for them to see our boutique in person, as some of our online donors have not yet had a chance to tour our newly renovated boutique.

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In the early afternoon, after some ice bag runs with Emily, tidying up of the boutique (luckily I had my runners with me), and prepping of snacks, people started rolling into the boutique.

Emily, Marketing Intern and SFU graduate!

Emily, Marketing Intern and SFU graduate!

I gave people tours of the boutique, and met the TELUS team (from the TELUS Amazing Race event that fundraised for DFS), the women who made the Spark it Forward Race happen, the Sidebuy girls, our “landlords” from the RBC, and many other supporters and donors. It was a joyful afternoon, with light pop tunes playing, the Petit Puf serving cotton candy from mango to chai flavours, water and bubbly, savoury meats, cheese, and crackers, and other sweet treats.

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Me, Christina, and Emily enjoying Petit Puf

Me, Christina, and Emily enjoying Petit Puf

Enjoying Petit Puf!

Enjoying Petit Puf!

DFS Vancouver team and me :) L to R: Christina, Hannah, Lucia, Jen, Jennifer

DFS Vancouver team and me :) L to R: Christina, Hannah, Lucia, Jen, Jennifer

Group photo – seeing this photo, I realize how close knit the team is at DFS Vancouver, and how this small group has spearheaded such huge impact on local women. And also the distinctly different personalities of each staff and how every one balances out each other and makes the team stronger. For example, Lucia has the patience that is perfect for managing PWG and interacting with its members, who look to her almost as a supportive, motherly figure, as Jennifer was talking about today.  In contrast, Jennifer is more “go-go-go” – which allows her to efficiently oversee the organization.

Until tomorrow!

Shirley L

Miss Teen Vancouver 2015

www.facebook.com/missteenagevancouver2015

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