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.

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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.

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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.

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Four Military Wives Win “Pin-Up For A Day” Contest Sponsored By Nonprofit Organization, Pin-Ups For Vets

Pin-Ups For Vets Founder Gina Elise is on a mission to boost morale and show appreciation for sacrifices made by wives of active duty and deployed service members.

LOS ANGELES, California–February 10, 2012—On the morning of February 10, 2012, four deserving military wives from So.California will be chauffeured in a limousine, donated by Exclusive Sedan Service in North Hollywood, CA, and taken to the scenic Virginia Robinson Gardens at 1008 Elden Way in Beverly Hills, Califronia, where from 9:30 a.m. to 3 pm, they will styled by the Classic Glamour Dolls team and then photographed in the breathtaking garden settings. The photos and video captured during this special event will be a wonderful momento for the wives, as well as for their husbands, who are all active duty service members.

Gina Elise, CEO and Founder of “Pin-Ups For Vets”, an annual award-winning pin-up calendar project benefitting hospitalized Veterans is joining forces with the styling team of Classic Glamour Dolls and Los Angeles photoghapher Marcus Menchaca on February 10th to give four lucky military wives from Southern California a day they won’t forget. Sweet Romance, a vintage jewelry line based in LA has also donated some beautiful pieces for the wives to wear in their photos and also take home as a keepsake from the day. The wives will end the day at a surprise dinner donated by The Stinking Rose. North End Pizza in Los Angeles will be catering a delicious lunch for the military wives during the photo shoot.

“We wanted to boost the morale and show appreciation for the sacrifices made by these incredible wives of active duty service members,” said Pin-Ups For Vets Founder Gina Elise. “We put up a YouTube video on the internet asking our military wives in Southern California to submit letters or videos to tell us about their personal lives as military wives and why they would like to be “Pin-Up For A Day” in this contest.”

Elise explains, “We received many very touching letters from these special military spouses.”

One wife, who is also an Army Veteran herself elaborates, “ I guess I got a little caught up in how proud I am to be a military wife and support our troops and vets. I would LOVE to be a pin-up for a day because it has been a secret passion of mine. I think it comes from growing up with my grandparents telling me stories from back then. I found out years after my grandmother passed away that she used to be a vaudeville dancer. And yes she was a pin up! I have always thought pin-ups and actresses from that era to represent iconic beauty. They represent glamour, sophistication and a sexuality that is all Hollywood. As a military wife who struggles with the everyday demands of work and family in these tough times. I don’t get to feel glamorous, or sexy, or sophisticated. I work 40+ hours a week to take care of my family and home. We all have our worries and stress. I know mine are not as bad as others. I have a wonderfully blessed life. Being picked to be Pin-Up for just one day would allow me to become part of the glamour of yeasteryear and forget the everyday world for just one day.”

One husband who is a Soldier, nominated his wife saying, “I truly believe my wife deserves to have this opprotunity because she always puts the needs of others before her own. And I am asking now, that you too share her beauty and her story with the world. She would never do this for herself. Which is why I am writing you and not her. She does not even know I am doing this for her. So it would be a wonderful suprise. Especially since she has always loved pin-up girls and so do I.”

“With much difficulty, we selected four deserving winners, who will each be styled with a unique pin-up look and then photographed on gorgeous grounds of Virginia Robinson Gardens. It is our way of giving thanks to these wives who sacrifice daily. These four military wives are the spouses of service members representing the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force,” explains Elise.

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