Pin-Ups For Vets Unites Sailor & Marine

Troy and Alex 1

Alex & Troy

Red Carpet

Marine, Alex Minsky, on the Red Carpet at the ESPY’s in a suit custom designed by Sailor, Troy McSwain.

Pin-Up In Chief, Gina Elise, is founder of Pin-Ups For Vets, an award-winning nonprofit that produces a yearly pin-up fundraiser calendar, to support hospitalized Vets, VA Hospitals, deployed troops, homeless Vets, and military spouses. 

Elise believes in the power of fate and that those who cross your path in life are put there for a reason.  In 2012, Elise was selected as a social entrepreneur finalist at the Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards event sponsored by the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) at California State University San Bernardino.  It was at that event, that Elise met another local entrepreneur finalist, Troy McSwain, who had founded a business to design custom clothing for athletes, entertainers, and those in the media.  Elise tucked away McSwain’s business card into her sizeable rolodex, not quite knowing when or if she would contact him in the future.

That opportunity to contact businessman McSwain came just one year later when wounded  Marine Veteran, Alex Minsky, reached out to Elise to find out if she knew anyone who could help him find a suit for the July 18 ESPY Awards Show in Los Angeles.   Minsky, who had overcome a severe head injury, burns, and a leg amputation, had become an overnight celebrity when a photographer spotted his finely chiseled body in a gym.  The subsequent photos taken of Minsky and uploaded onto the internet went viral.  An underwear company approached him to model their line of underwear. After making the rounds of the biggest talk shows on TV and appearing in popular magazines, Elise contacted Minsky to do an interview with her on a web series that she co-hosts called, “Release Authority”.   As a result of all of his continuing media exposure, Minsky landed a sweet invite to the ESPY Awards.  And he needed a suit right away to walk the red carpet with his Dad.  He reached out to Gina Elise for help. 

Elise went into her card file of contacts to find Troy McSwain’s phone number to see if he would make her new friend, Alex Minsky, a custom suit that he could wear on the red carpet.  Minsky’s story touched Navy Veteran, McSwain, who immediately drove from the Inland Empire to meet Minsky at his home in Orange County.  McSwain took the measurements and proceeded to  design a beautiful custom suit that Minsky wore  at the ESPY’s on July 18. 

McSwain decided to make this suit as a gift to Minksy who had overcome so much.  McSwain, too, had also overcome a lot.  He had grown up in a depressed urban community with little knowledge of starting a business.  He also had to overcome many challenges in his life, much like Minsky. 

When Elise later asked Navy Veteran McSwain, why he decided to reach out and make this generous gesture to Marine Veteran Minsky, he answered: “There are a few reasons that drove me to make the suit for Alex.  Everything seemed to be in alignment for us to meet.  His story is much like mine.  For the past few years my designer business was dead and flat. I had just decided to proceed to re-invent myself and my business, with the aid of my two sons to carry on the torch. So in a way, Alex’s strong will to get better and change his life was inspiring to me to not give up. The last few years I have been selling cars, and my son was just filling orders from previous clients, but now I am on a new mission!” 

With another “mission accomplished” for her beloved Veterans, Pin-Ups For Vets  Pin-Up In Chief, Gina Elise moves on to begin work to produce her organization’s 8th annual pin-up fundraiser calendar that will be sold in 2014 to benefit hospitalized Veterans and deployed troops.

Share This:
facebooktwitter

Ears! OPEN. Camera! CLICK.

Attention all male Veterans! Have you ever wanted to be in a Pin-Ups for Vets calendar photo with Gina Elise? Well, keep reading because this might be your chance!

The Pin-Ups for Vets team is in pre-production mode for our 2014 Pin-Ups for Vets calendar! That means that we are busy with planning, scheduling, and finding inspiration for each month’s photo. During one of our many brainstorming sessions, we came up with a fun idea to include…YOU!

One of the months in our 2014 calendar will be a group photo of Gina Elise and one Veteran from each military branch. You’re invited to be a part of it!

To qualify, you must submit:

* Your full name

* EITHER a video entry OR written entry of why you would like to be featured in the calendar’s service member group photo

* Two clear photos of yourself (1 headshot, 1 full bodyshot)

* Please e-mail all of the above to: submissions@pinupsforvets.com
* DEADLINE is 11 PM PST, WEDNESDAY, JULY 17, 2013.

*** IMPORTANT: You must provide your own transportation around Southern California and be available for the entire day of the photo shoot. (Photo shoot date TBD)***

Thanks for your submissions! We can’t wait to see them all! XOXO

"You ought to be in pictures!"

“You ought to be in pictures!”

Share This:
facebooktwitter

Autographed Artwork from Cartoonist Chris Muir of Day by Day Comic Strip

A huge thank you to Cartoonist Chris Muir of the Day By Day web strip, who has created a signed piece for award-winning nonprofit organization, Pin-Ups For Vets,  to auction off to benefit hospitalized Veterans & deployed troops!  This piece, featuring Day By Day‘s character, “Sam”, is printed on canvas & measures 22 inches wide by 16 inches tall, with a 3 inch white boarder framing the art.  Piece is also signed by Gina Elise, founder of Pin-Ups For Vets.  Check our the eBay auction here: eBay auction for Pin-Ups For Vets

Share This:
facebooktwitter

How One Non-Profit Organization Actually Makes Volunteering Glamorous

A recent google search of the words “volunteering” and “glamorous” turned up these online entries:

  • The Not So Glamorous Side of Volunteering
  • Nobody Said Volunteering Was Glamorous
  • Please understand that volunteer work is not glamorous
  • A lot of what volunteers do is not glamorous
  • Volunteering and its labor are not always glamorous

It would appear from the above entries that the general conclusion about volunteering is that, although a noble gesture, it certainly is NOT to be deemed as a “glamorous” endeavor.  Many people view volunteer work as being dull or lackluster or unglamorous.  Because of this perception, is often a hard-sell for nonprofits to recruit volunteers, especially young people, to help carry out their mission.

However, one national nonprofit organization is turning that preconceived notion on its head and is proving that volunteering can actually be very GLAMOROUS!  “Pin-Ups For Vets” Founder, Gina Elise, is leading the way to inspire young women to step forward to volunteer and gladly follow her into the wards of VA and military hospitals across the United States.

Young women who have previously hesitated or even rejected the idea of stepping into the wards of hospitals to visit those patients with burns, amputations, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, and terminal illnesses, are now lining up and coming forward in large numbers to offer Pin-Up-In-Chief, Gina Elise, a helping hand, as she makes it her mission to visit hospitalized Veterans in every state in the U.S.A.

Who is this “pied piper” of volunteers?  Gina Elise does not look like your typical CEO.  She can usually be found wearing 1940’s liberty rolls in her hair, bright red lipstick and matching nail polish, high heel platform shoes, WWII era fashions, and a big colorful flower tucked behind her ear.   She has been dubbed by U.S. troops as “the calendar angel” and “the Betty Grable of a new generation”.  The deployed troops have painted her name on a military helicopter and have flown 9 American flags in her honor over bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.  A Veteran, who had suffered a traumatic brain injury and had not spoken in a month, finally spoke his first words to pin-up girl, Gina Elise, as she stood at his bedside during a hospital visit.  VA Hospitals are enthusiastic in their praise of Gina Elise who inspires hospitalized Veterans to say: “When you are here, my pain is gone!”

Since Gina Elise began her Veterans’ project in 2007, she has made it her mission to visit hospitalized Veterans in all 50 states, as well as overseas.  She personally delivers the popular“ Pin-Ups For Vets” calendars that she produces each year, along with the “Kiss A Vet” T-shirts, as well as the posters and playing cards donated by her organization’s supporters for the ill and injured Veterans.  To the delight of the Veterans, she often places lipstick kisses on their birthday calendar dates when she presents them with the donated calendar gifts.

Seven years ago when Gina Elise first founded the “Pin-Ups For Vets” project, she decided to reintroduce the 1940’s pin-up girl that had become a morale-boosting icon for the troops fighting overseas during WWII.   She had always admired the nose art on the WWII planes and bombers, and she wanted to do something special to honor her own grandfather’s WWII service in the U.S. Army.  She studied the glamorous paintings of famed pin-up artists, Elvgren and Vargas, and then she became the sole model in the pin-up photos featured in the first six annual “Pin-Ups For Vets” fundraiser calendars.  The proceeds from her calendars would then go to VA Hospitals to help them purchase new rehabilitation equipment for their therapy programs.

People here in the U.S. and across the globe suddenly began to take notice and started faithfully following Elise’s hospital and military base visits in the photos shown on her website and on her Facebook page.  Decked out in her WWII style pin-up girl costume, rolled hair, and bright make-up, Elise looked like she was actually having fun as she made her way from one hospital to the next.  All of a sudden, volunteering to visit hospitalized Veterans looked glamorous, eye-catching, fascinating, appealing, alluring, exciting, and desirable!  Young women across the U.S. began contacting Gina Elise, in large numbers, to find out how they, too, could join her on her visits to thank America’s ill and injured Veterans.  Many of these young women admitted to being big fans of the 1940’s pin-up girl look, and they wanted to emulate Elise’s chic style and to volunteer to accompany her as she made the rounds of hospital wards all over the country.

One of the mission goals of the popular nonprofit organization, “Pin-Ups For Vets”, is to encourage volunteerism in VA and military hospitals.  When Elise first began her visits to the VA and military hospitals in 2007, she noticed that young volunteers were not to be found in the halls of these medical facilities.  Over the last seven years, after making personal visits to over 5000 hospitalized Veterans, Pin-Up-In-Chief Gina Elise has shown young women that volunteering can indeed be glamorous and satisfying and memorable.  Young women who had previously refused to visit hospital wards are now turning out in numbers to contact Elise and inquire how they, too, can become a “Pin-Ups For Vets” calendar girl volunteer.  Elise also reports that young women across the country are also contacting her to find out how to start their own “Pin-Ups For Vets” chapters in their states to help raise funding for hospitalized Veterans and to organize visits by local pin-up calendar girls to VA and military hospital patients.

There is no question that “Pin-Ups For Vets” Founder, Gina Elise, has put the GLAMOUR back into volunteering, and that is a good thing for hospitalized Veterans across the U.S.

Share This:
facebooktwitter

Female Veterans Get What They Deserve

Los Angeles (January 15, 2013) – Friday, January 18, 2013, from 9am to 12pm, Goodwill Southern California will welcome the award-winning non-profit organization, Pin-Ups For Vets, along with hair and make-up team, Classic Glamour Dolls, to their monthly Female Veteran’s Networking Breakfast, for a morning of appreciation and pampering. Pin-Ups For Vets and Classic Glamour Dolls will offer the women tips for how to best present themselves to potential employers in order to help launch new careers as civilians.

Gina Elise, a former hotel industry Corporate Sales Manager in Los Angeles, and Founder of Pin-Ups For Vets, will donate twelve business suits to help the female veterans in attendance dress for success. The cosmetology artists from Classic Glamour Dolls will provide makeovers for the women, including complimentary eyebrow threading and manicures. Singer Cindy Ortega will perform live to entertain the women, and attendants will go home with gift bags filled with donated beauty products.

In 2012, GSC launched the Veteran Employment Program to assist U.S. veterans in overcoming barriers to, and preparing for, sustainable, civilian employment. The program, operated by veterans, inaugurated a monthly networking breakfast as a combination job club, veteran service organization and veteran sorority of sorts, to help mentor and provide career guidance and employment opportunities to fellow veterans. “We want female veterans to receive the services they need and to feel they have a safe place to land as they re-enter civilian life and transition into post military employment,” said GSC Career Advisor, Joyce Carter. “Every month, we host speakers ranging from doctors to recruiters, to housing and health experts, all of who provide information that will help veterans succeed personally and professionally.”

About Goodwill Southern California

Transforming lives through the power of work, we serve people with disabilities or other vocational challenges, as well as businesses, by providing education, training, work experience and job placement services. Each year, GSC prepares and places thousands of  individuals with disabilities and vocational disadvantages into sustainable employment through programs and services offered at three campuses, five Career Resource Centers and three WorkSource Centers throughout Los Angeles (north of Rosecrans Ave.), Riverside and San Bernardino counties. GSC supports its mission of “Transforming lives through the Power of Work” with proceeds generated from 73 retail stores and 44 attended donation centers. Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator has awarded GSC its highest four-star ranking for 11 consecutive years; largely due to the fact GSC spends 93 percent of its budget on programs and services. Committed to caring for the earth, last year GSC diverted 65.6 million pounds of reusable or recyclable goods from landfills. Goodwill is Good For Everyone!  For more information about Goodwill Southern California, please call (888) 4-GOODWILL or visit www.GoodwillSoCal.org.

About Pin-Ups For Vets

Pin-Ups For Vets raises funds for medical equipment and program expansion to improve veterans’ healthcare, enhances the quality of life for ill veterans across the U.S. through personal bedside visits to deliver gifts of appreciation, promotes volunteerism at veterans hospitals, conducts morale-boosting events for military spouses and  boosts morale deployed troops through delivery of care packages. The award-winning organization is currently in the middle of a 50-state veterans hospital tour, and to date, has visited the bedside of more than 5,000 ill and injured veterans at 38 VA and military hospitals in 24 states. Pin-Ups For Vets has also donated $50,000 to help purchase state-of the-art rehabilitation equipment for physical, occupational, and cognitive therapy programs at hospitals serving America’s veterans.  For more information about Pin-Ups For Vets please visit www.PinUpsForVets.com.

About Classic Glamour Dolls

Classic Glamour Dolls: “Make-up and Hair with a Hollywood Flair”:  This glamorous team of hair and makeup artists lead by founder Ana Vergara, has been featured internationally on TV, radio and in magazines. Known for their work in support of charitable organizations, they provide confidence-boosting make-overs for various groups including makeovers for women receiving cancer treatment with the Glamour Project and The City of Hope, 1,400 makeovers over the course of a four year partnership with Orangewood Children’s Foundation and Belle of the Ball, and several makeovers for homeless women through the American Housing Authority. Classic Glamour Dolls also helps non-profit organizations like Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Orange County and the Inland Empire and Women Helping Women to raise vital funds to support their respective missions.  For more information about Classic Glamour Dolls please visit www.ClassicGlamourDolls.com.

Share This:
facebooktwitter

Women of A&E’s “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” Pose in Vets’ Calendar

Shannon Tweed-Simmons, Sophie Tweed-Simmons, and Tracy Tweed don 1940’s fashions to model in the award-winning “Pin-Ups For Vets” calendar that will help support hospitalized Veterans and deployed Troops in 2013.

Gene Simmons, entrepreneur, actor, bassist, and singer-songwriter from the rock band, KISS has always shown love and support of the United States Military through his visits to entertain the troops, his visits to Veterans Hospitals, his donations to help Wounded Warriors, and through his hiring of Veterans. 

However, in the upcoming months, it is Gene Simmon’s wife, daughter, and sister-in-law who will be in the spotlight for steping up to help America’s heroes, as their vintage-style photos appear in the popular 7th annual “Pin-Ups For Vets”calendar that will be sold to raise funds that will help to support America’s ill and injured Veterans in VA Hospitals and those troops deployed across the globe.

“Pin-Ups For Vets” Founder and model Gina Elise, who is in the middle of a 50-state VA Hospital Tour,  invited Gene and Shannon to join her on her visit to California’s Long Beach VA Hospital.  As they made their rounds of the hospital wards to thank and deliver the “Pin-Ups For Vets” calendars and “Kiss A Vet” T-shirts donated by the nonprofit organization’s supporters, many of the Veterans asked Shannon if she was in the 2012 calendar.  That was just the inspiration Shannon needed to do a photo shoot with her daughter and sister for the upcoming 2013 “Pin-Ups For Vets” fundraiser calendar, that is shipped to Veterans, troops, and civilians across the globe.

The Tweed-Simmons ladies showed up ready to “rock and roll” for a fun vintage-style photo shoot at Siren Studios in Hollywood, California.  “Pin-Ups For Vets” Founder and model, Gina Elise, was there to lend her expertise to help pose the ladies, as acclaimed photographer, Austin Young, captured gorgeous photos of the Tweed-Simmons trio.  The episode can be seen here: http://www.aetv.com/gene-simmons-family-jewels/video/kiss-a-vet-26622777

The 2013 “Pin-Ups For Vets” calendar is now ready for pre-sale orders and can be purchased for oneself, donated to a hospitalized Veteran or to a deployed service member.  Calendars are $10.00 each and are a tax-deductible purchase.  Veterans, troop supporters, pin-up fans, and fans of the calendar’s featured celebrities can visit the “Pin-Ups For Vets” website at www.PinUpsForVets.com and go to the “Order Now” page to order the popular 2013 calendars.  Website visitors can also learn more about this project, honored with many community service awards, and also honored by Oprah Winfrey and the deployed troops.  Funds raised by the organization have helped VA Hospitals purchase needed equipment.

Share This:
facebooktwitter