Monday, December 28, 2015

That Time I did Artoga for Spright...

Art + Yoga, it's a thing. I know, I had no idea either. It's okay. :)


A few months ago, I stumbled across a listing for an Art + Yoga, aka "Artoga" class right here in Washington, DC and decided that I, as an area fitness writer and yogi, needed to try it out. You know, for professional purposes.


Anyway, I ended up signing up for a class earlier this fall and reviewed the whole experience for Spright and even got a chance to snap some half-decent photos. I won't give you my full review of the creative, bendy expereince, but here's a snippet of my review:

When I first saw an Artoga (art + yoga) workshop pop up on Greg’s List DC (a Washington, D.C. events site), I laughed out loud. It seemed a little bit ridiculous, but I was also curious. I decided to investigate and try it out.


After a bit of digital digging, I discovered that Artoga was co-founded by Nichole Friday and Marta Staudinger in 2014. Staudinger, an artist and yoga instructor, says it all began when she started brainstorming for an innovative activity to feature at her curatorial space, which was scheduled to open soon. Staudinger wanted to find a way to blend her two passions, art and yoga, and reached out to Friday for some creative and logistical help...
Read the full story here!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Spright Interview of Olympic Proportions: Talking with Gold Medalists Meryl Davis & Charlie White

Guys. I had a really fantastic opportunity a few weeks ago that I'm so jazzed to share a little bit with you about today.

See, it all started with a big interview series I was organizing for Spright back in the summer.

I got to talk to a lot of awesome people for this series, but one of the highlights of the series was scoring a conversation with Meryl Davis and Charlie White. A quick 4-1-1 for those who have no idea who they are, Davis and White are champion ice dancers that brought home the U.S.'s first-ever gold medal in the sport during the last Olympics.


Basically, they're kind of a big deal.

Anyway, I reached out to their publicist over the summer with the hopes of chatting to them about their eating, fitness and post-Olympic life routines and was pleased to hear back rather quickly. Within a few days, we set up two interviews and before I knew it I was chatting with Davis and White about their favorite workouts and YOLO meals. They were SUPER nice to talk to and very down to earth.

So cool, right?

It's always so fun to have great interview experiences like this to remind me that even world-class Olympic athletes are normal people, just like me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Hello December, Hello Awesome USO Recipe Series

Guys, I have a confession. I've been holding back a super exciting project that I've been working on at the USO for a while from you. But now that it's officially launched, I can finally tell you all about it!

Drum roll, please... Introducing... my USO Celebrity Cookbook recipe series!


A few months ago my awesome boss stumbled upon an old USO Celebrity Cookbook from our archives and asked if I would be willing to test some of the recipes and launch a multimedia series about the cookbook, its history and how to make the different dishes. Naturally, I said yes. (Read the full story behind the series here.)


Cookbook, spatula and camera(s) in hand, I selected five of the star-studded recipes and set off to turn them into rich multimedia stories for the USO's online audience to enjoy. For five straight Fridays I turned my tiny apartment kitchen into a makeshift studio to test, film and photograph myself making each recipe. While this was super fun (and tasty), most of the legwork came in long after the treats were eaten.


I spent many days researching, writing stories, editing photos and videos and putting this multimedia project together. It's a five part series with long, beefy historical posts, Instavids, YouTube videos and custom graphics for each recipe, so each post took quite while to make. (Shout-out to the USO's awesome creative team, who helped design special graphics for the series!)

Now, two weeks into the five week series, I'm happy to say all my work during the months of August and September are finally paying off. The whole series looks great and is getting great reviews. Plus, who doesn't like to hear about the awesome celebrities who help support and spread the USO's mission?

You can take a look at the two currently published recipes here and here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

November Craziness: Spright Research, Georgetown Grad School, USO blogging & more!

Oh hi, it's me again. The blogger who forgets to write on her blog. Sigh. I really hope this once a month posting thing doesn't turn into a routine.

So, guess what? I'll make this post nice a meaty to make up for my lack of posting.

This past month has been a complete blur. While I haven't been writing a ton for Spright this month (a few of my stories that I wrote awhile ago did go up though!), I've been totally swamped with regular work for the USO and schoolwork for my PR/CC grad program at Georgetown.

I'm not going to lie, I'm really happy that I'm finally finished one of my classes, Introduction to Elements, at Georgetown. Don't get me wrong -- it was a wonderful class with a great professor and I learned a lot -- but it was a TON of work to do on top of a full-time job, a freelance gig, another class and having a social and personal life. Grad school is hard!

However, I did learn a lot of really valuable skills that will help me over the next four semesters I have at Georgetown and as I look forward into my future communications career. Oh, and I had a ton of fun making my final communications plan (responding to an imaginary RFP from CVS Health) look pretty using fun tools like Canva.

What can I say? I'm a creative at heart!

In USO land, things have been busier than ever. I had a few awesome stories I have been working on run over the past month -- in particular a story about historic floorboards at USO SeaTac and another story about the USO's Holiday Boxes program. I just love the way both of these stories turned out and look on the new USO site!

    


I also loved a story that published earlier in November on the USO's new site about a young couple -- Isaac and Jillian Strausbaugh -- that is transitioning out of military life. Isaac recently suffered a training injury, so the couple has been forced to leave the military world earlier than expected, which is what lead them to the USO's recent Caregivers Seminar in Tacoma, Washington (I wrote about this in more detail in an earlier blog).

They were an absolute delight to to talk with and I'm so grateful they shared their story with me so I could share it with others via the USO's outlets.

Anyway, as the holidays approach, I'll be sure to be a bit more judicious about updating my blog. I have so much coming down the pipe, it'll be hard to stay so quiet this month!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Grip the Mat & Spright Collide: My Review of [Silent] Soul & Spirits

A few weeks ago, when I was in full-on crazy mode, I had the chance to attend Grip the Mat's special [Silent] Soul & Spirits happy-hour yoga event at the Carnegie Library in downtown D.C. for Spright.

While I've written about Grip the Mat before for Spright/Fiterazzi and have photographed events exclusively for Grip the Mat, it had been a while since I had attended a Grip the Mat event -- let alone one as big and unique as this one!



I won't spoil too much of my review -- you can read the full thing on Spright -- but I will give you an excerpt from my time there:

In the D.C. yoga world, Grip the Mat is kind of a big deal.

The social yoga company, which was founded in 2014 by Christy Skarulis and Ashley Braun, hosts events that combine an hour of vinyasa flow with an hour (or two!) of nibbles, drinks and socializing at unique venues. Over the past year, GTM has expanded to two other cities — New York and Orlando — and teamed up with big brands like Reebok, KIND Snacks and Verge to create its signature Vinyasa to Vino, Bendy Brunch and Soul & Spirits events. You can read more about GTM and the events it offers in our interview with the founders.

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to attend GTM’s [Silent] Soul & Spirits event at the historical Carnegie Library in Washington, D.C. The event, which GTM called its “biggest event to-date,” promised a live DJ, unlimited cocktails and a crowd of millennial yogis looking for a night on the town. As a fan of GTM’s more intimate events, I was skeptical that I would like a large-scale GTM bash. Luckily, that wasn’t the case...

Read more here!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October = Craziness & 550 Cord Bracelet Stories for the USO

The past two weeks of my life have been a total blur. Between crunching out papers for grad school (which don't get me wrong, I love, but it's so much work!), finding time to push out freelance stories for Spright and doing my actual regular job at the USO, I've barely had a moment to get my bearings.

HA! Barely. Bearings. Bears. Sometimes I make myself laugh.

I think one of the coolest projects I've been up to in USO land has been my 550 cord bracelet story that published with the launch of the brand new USO website last week. (Side note: The new website looks awesome, you should totally go check it out!)

For those who don't know, 550 cord bracelets are simple woven bracelets made from paracord, also known as 550 cord. These bracelets are made with roughly ten feet of cord and can be unwoven and used in survival situations, which makes them pretty popular in the military community. Over the past few years, USO centers overseas have started to offer 550 cord making workshops so troops can make bracelets for themselves and their family and friends back home.

Over the years, the bracelets have come to symbolize a special military connection the wearer has with a service member -- pretty cool, huh? To get a bit more info about 550 cord bracelets and their associated traditions, you should check out my story here.


Oh! And if you want to learn how to make your own 550 cord bracelet, you should watch the video above I made for the USO below and read this special tutorial.

Happy crafting!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Seattle Adventures: On the Road Reporting for the USO

One of the best parts of my job, I think, is the opportunity to travel.

Last week, I got to head to Seattle/Tacoma to cover the USO's 10th Caregivers Seminar, which provides specialized programming to caregivers of wounded, ill and injured soldiers. The programming is actually really great and features sessions from gameonNation, Stronger Families and more.


Even though I had been to this seminar before in Fort Leonard Wood, Miss., I really enjoyed the opportunity to attend the seminar in this location. While the Fort Leonard Wood seminar was small and intimate, this session was quite large, with around 90 registered attendees. For me, more attendees means more stories, more dialogue and more interesting things to write and report about.

In particular, I got to meet Carleeh Mullholland, the wife and caregiver of medically retired Army Sgt. Cy Mullholland, who was diagnosed with severe PTSD and TBI after serving several tours in the Middle East as a tank commander. Carleeh shared her story with me and talked a bit about her personal journey and how she ended up at the Caregiver's Seminar. Here's a look at my USO blog story:
TACOMA, Wash. — Carleeh Mullholland didn’t choose to be a caregiver.

But when her husband, medically retired Army Sgt. Cy Mullholland, was diagnosed with severe PTSD and TBI after serving several tours in the Middle East as a tank commander, she stepped into the caregiving role — whether she was ready or not.

“It fell in my lap,” she said. “[I had to] take care of my husband and I didn’t really get a say-so.”

After receiving his official diagnosis, Cy served for several more years before eventually being medically discharged. During the family’s transition process out of the military, Carlee notes that her husband’s condition added another dimension to an already difficult and confusing time.

“You’re in this place where you don’t know where you are, you don’t know what’s going to happen, there’s no job for your spouse if he is unable to work [like my husband, who is disabled],” Carleeh said. “So you got to figure something out.”

Over the past few years, Carleeh, a mother of three, has started to figure it out
Read more here!
While at the seminar, I also spoke to a young military couple, Jill and Isaac Strausbaugh (Isaac is injured), who are in the process of transitioning out of the military. I haven't gotten around to writing their story yet, but I can promise you it will be a good one. Besides attending the Caregivers Seminar, I also got to head to RP/6 (an org that helps veterans/transition troops find jobs) and the USO SEATAC center for two other stories which are in process.

Even though it was a very busy (and fruitful!) reporting trip, I did get a chance to sneak a peek at some gorgeous Seattle/Tacoma sites. Mountains, anyone?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fall is Here: Georgetown Grad School at SCS, Spright Stories, USO Fun and More!

Guys. I'm so sorry. Its been way to long. Like, over a month too long. What can I say? I'm a busy lady every now and then.

The past four weeks have been full of fun, work and travel for me. Between starting my Public Relations/Corporate Communications part-time graduate program at Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies, writing a ton of stories for Spright and working like crazy at my actual full-time job at the USO, its been a little crazy. Oh, and on top of all of that, I traveled to Minnesota for a wedding last weekend with Mr. Boyfriend and came down with an awful cold. So there's that too.

Mr. Boyfriend and I at Surly Brewing Company in Minnesota.

The one good thing about being so busy, however, is that I have plenty of fun stories to share with you -- like how awesome it's been to get back into the swing of going back to school.

Although I'm a die-hard storyteller and journalist to my bones, I've always known that at some point in my future I might want to make a career switch into the PR/corporate communications sphere, meaning, at some point, I might have to go back to school.

Even though my current (awesome!) storytelling job at the USO allows me to dabble in both the journalism and PR, I've often felt like my PR and business skills are lacking or even non-existant.
See, I'm a great photographer. A decent writer. And I know how to write an awesome story. But when it comes to creating a strategic communications plan -- an integral part of a PR professional's role -- I come up empty.

So, after a bit of soul searching (and realizing that I actually have time in my life to attend grad classes part-time), I decided that NOW was the perfect time to go back to school -- even if I wanted to stay in journalism a little longer after graduation before seeking out pure PR positions.

Do my glasses make me look like a grad student?
Now, three weeks into my first semester as a part-time grad student at Georgetown, I'm really happy that I chose to go back to school. Not only is my new program engaging, challenging and interesting, but it also has given me a new-found love for my full-time job and part-time freelance work. School has always had a funny way of invigorating your whole life like that sometimes, doesn't it?

In USO-land, I've been working on a bunch of special projects that are almost ready for you to see. I promise I've been working really hard on photos, videos and stories for weeks! Until then, you should check out my two feature stories I wrote for the USO magazine ON★PATROL that were recently published in the fall WWII commemorative issue.

One of my two pretty spreads in the recent issue of On★Patrol!

As for Spright, I've been churning out different interviews and articles for the past few weeks, including a fun interview with the founder of Broga, my mega almond milk taste test experiment (with original photos!) and my article all about how Wanderlust is shaking up yoga!


Phew, doesn't that sound like a lot? Well, jokes on you -- I've got even more exciting things to come :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

That Time I Wrote About the Fit Bottomed Girls For Spright

You know those websites that you stumble upon and just fall in love with? That was Fit Bottomed Girls for me.

The first time I ended up on their site -- probably because of some fitness hashtag I was scrolling through on Twitter -- I was enamored. Here was this website that was completely devoted to everything I was about: staying active, eating in moderation and still enjoying life.

I couldn't believe something like this excited. I told my friends about it. I kept reading. It was like I struck internet gold.

Flash forward a few years from now, and I'm still a FBG follower -- despite the fact that my online-fitness fan girl love has spread to other healthy-in-moderation-type websites. Some things never change...

Why, do you ask, is any of this important?

Well, a few weeks ago I reached out to the FBG team to see if I could e-interview them for a series that I've been working on for Spright, about how fitfluential people are just normal people looking to find balance in life.

And, to my delight, the FBG said yes to my interview request.



I don't want give away too much of my interview with the ladies, but I will say this: it was very grounding for me to hear that all these wonderful, inspired and influential ladies are really just like you and me. Sometimes, its these kind of stories that help me to remember that everyone is really just trying to do and achieve the exact same thing and, at the end of the day, we're all just trying to be the best versions of ourselves.

Anyway, here's a snippet of my story about them, which you should totally check out on Spright!

If you’ve been around the fitness internet, you may have encountered a site called Fit Bottomed Girls. Yep, the name is inspired Queen song “Fat Bottomed Girls.” The site, which also features the catchy tagline “Keeping a Lid on the Junk in the Trunk,” was launched by friends Jenn Walters and Erin Whitehead in 2008 in order to provide practical fitness and nutrition advice to real women trying to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

Now seven years since its start, the FBG empire has grown to include two sister sites (Fit Bottomed Mamas and Fit Bottomed Eats), a newly published book (The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet), a third member of the FBG core team (contributing editor and writer Kristen Green Seymour), and a tens of thousands of loyal followers and fans. Talk about a busy few years in business!

Despite the FBG brand’s growing popularity, the dedicated trio of Jenn, Erin, and Kristen has managed to find that sweet balance between running a highly successful health and fitness site and achieving their own fitness, eating, and personal goals.

I reached out to Jenn, Erin, and Kristen to hear more about their lives as the Fit Bottomed Girls core team and how they, as everyday women, find the balance between fitness, food, and fun in their lives. Here’s a look at what they had to say:

(Read more!)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Spright Updates on Working Out in the Heat & Summertime Fun

90 degree heat? Check. Watermelon overflowing at the grocery story? Check. Feeling like you live in an oven? Double check.

It's official: the dog days of summer are in full swing here in Washington, D.C. Lucky me.

In all seriousness though, this summer has gone by in a blur. Between traveling to Canada to visit family, visiting with friends, traveling to weddings, its so hard to believe there's only a few more true weeks of summer left before my graduate school classes begin at Georgetown. Sigh.

At least this summer has been very productive for me in terms of Spright.com & USO work -- that's at good thing right?

I'm not going to spoil all the wonderful things I have in the books for you to enjoy on Spright over the next few months (trust me, I have a TON of things coming!), but I will say that one of my stories -- about working out in the heat -- hit the site last week and I couldn't be happier.



I loved that I was able to reach out to my alma mater's own Dr. Todd Miller for advice in writing this story. He really helped me understand all the interesting ways the body adapts to temperature changes without making me feel like I needed to re-take my freshman biology class.

Anyway, here's a little snippet for you to enjoy:

Exercising outside in the summer months can feel a little like self-inflicted torture, especially for those first few workouts. Your face gets red. Your skin gets sweaty. Your breathing gets increasingly labored as you push yourself to finish your final set. Even recovery can seem to be more difficult than it would in cooler months.

However, after a few consecutive days of exercising in the heat, you’ll probably start to notice that dealing with stifling outdoor temperatures while you work out isn’t as difficult for your body as it was a week or two ago — all thanks to process called temperature acclimation. Simply stated, temperature acclimation is an adaptive bodily process the body undergoes to become more tolerant of working, exercising, and living in the heat.

I wanted to learn more about what goes on inside the body during the temperature acclimation process, so I  reached out to Dr. Todd Miller, an associate professor of exercise science at the George Washington University, to talk more about how the body adapts to working out in the heat. Here are the major takeaways from what I found out...

Read more here!

Stay tuned for more fun things to come!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

On Bandit, the USO's Comforting Canine

Remember a few months ago when I was trekking around Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, recording story about a wonderful dog named Bandit?

Well, if you don't, you can read about that here. If you do, keep reading. I have great news.

A few weeks ago, I finally finished editing together the video about Bandit, and it turned out awesome -- like, one-of-my-favorite-videos-ever kind of awesome. It has everything in it you could ever ask for a in a non-profit video: cute dogs, touching family stories, amazing people.

What can I say? Sometimes my job is really, really easy when I'm asked to tell such inspiring stories.

While I don't want to give too much away about the story (and take away too much traffic from the USO!), I will at least give you an embed of the video to enjoy. If you want to read more about Bandit and hear more about his work with the USO, click here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

#TBT & #ICYMI: My Story is Featured on Jackelyn Ho's Website

So. Big news guys.

I just realized that the lovely Jackelyn Ho posted an article I guest-wrote for her new website a few weeks ago. Silly me, I totally didn't know that she posted it until today. I'd call that the biggest #TBT or #ICYMI, ever, right?!


Anyway, the story behind this guest post is pretty cool. A few months ago, when Jackelyn was revamping her site, she asked me if I could guest write a post for her which would be part of a real-world love stories series she was going to have on her site.

Naturally, I was honored to be asked to contribute and had NO idea waht I was going to write about.

Even though I have a wonderful loving boyfriend (aka, the Mr. Man from all my blog posts), I don't typically write about the complexities of my romantic relationships -- especailly one that is as long and deep as me and Mr. Man's.

However, after a few tries, I think I came up with a wonderful vignette that shows just how deep and selfless our love is.

I don't want to steal traffic from Jackelyn, but here's a sneak peak at the story, which you should totally go and read:

Matt never brings me flowers when he’s supposed to — you know, on birthdays, or anniversaries or things like that. He says that’s when I’ll expect them the most, which, according to him, defeats the purpose of surprising me with flowers. While most girls would hate to have a boyfriend who doesn’t give them flowers when they’re traditionally expected to, honestly, I don’t mind at all. It’s part of the many reasons I love Matt so much, actually.

See, even though Matt doesn’t give me flowers on those red calendar days, somehow, he always manages to give them to me when I need them the most...
Read the full story here!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Finding My Balance: SUP Yoga Reviewing for Spright with Ebb + Flow

Okay. You caught me. I haven't updated my blog in a while. I blame laziness and vacation... erm, mostly vacation. But everyone deserves a little break from the interwebs every now and then, right? Anyway, here's a little update, from before I headed off on my wonderful week of vacation in the Canadian Rockies with Mr. Man (I'll talk more about that in another post).

A few weeks ago, I got to spend a wonderful evening reviewing a SUP (stand-up paddleboard) yoga class for Spright.com.


Now, let me be perfectly clear. I had never done regular SUP -- let alone SUP yoga -- before I headed down to the Key Bridge Boathouse to take one of Ebb + Flow's SUP yoga classes a few weeks ago, so I was a little nervous.


Looking back on it now, I probably wouldn't have ever thought to try the class in the first place if it wasn't for the Ebb + Flow founder, Jane Daly. Earlier in 2015, Jane introduced herself to me at a Grip the Mat yoga event, where I was working a Fiterazzi photo-booth. Even though the weather at the time was too chilly for SUP, Jane encouraged me to follow up with her in the summertime and come and try out a class.


So, after a few weeks of seeing all the paddleboarders out on the Potomac, enjoying the warm summer weather, I decided to follow up with Jane and take her up on her offer.


Now, I won't give away too much of my review (you should go read it on Spright!), but I will show you some pictures I took (with just my GoPro 3) and leave you with an excerpt to enjoy.
.... Our class started with stand-up paddleboarding demos to help any SUP newbies in the class (cough, me, cough) feel more comfortable on the water.
Then, once everyone was given their boards, personal floatation devices, anchors, and paddles, we were off, making our way to a small cove of calm water on Theodore Roosevelt Island.
Once we reached the cove, everyone put down their anchors and settled into child’s pose before starting the practice. As the hour passed, we flowed through a series of modified vinyasa moves including downward facing dog, warrior three and, aptly, boat pose....
Read more here!
Side-note: I've got to say, I'm pretty impressed with the quality of my GoPro shots -- for such a little thing, it did a pretty good job. Maybe next time I'll take my Canon out on the water -- or not. It is my non-waterproof baby, after all.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Behind the Shoot: Shooting Grip the Mat's Bendy Brunch at K Street Urban Farm

Happy Monday and happy July!

A few weeks ago -- actually, more like a month ago now -- I had the awesome opportunity to shoot a Grip the Mat Bendy Brunch at the K Street Urban Farm, which is run by DC Greens.


While I've shot events for Grip the Mat before, I've never shot an event on an urban farm -- let alone a yoga event on an urban farm.


It was a little weird seeing people mozy through their flows between rows of collard greens, but hey, as a photographer, it was a magically wonderful scene to capture!


It's funny, I used to live within walking distance of this part of town and I had no idea that this urban farm even existed or that there were events there and that anyone can come on Sundays to pick the produce and take it home.


Why aren't there more urban farms like this throughout the city?



*** P.S. If you want to see more photos like this, or hear more about Grip the Mat, or what a Bendy Brunch is, check out this post. I've written about Bendy Brunches in more detail before, so I don't want to repeat myself when I can just show you pretty pictures :)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Partying Before Work: Covering Daybreaker's launch in DC for Spright

All the things I read about Daybreaker before going to cover the company's launch in D.C. for Spright left me with a ton of questions.



An event company... that only does early morning events? At nightclubs? During the week? With yoga and no booze? And they're crowded? With people paying to party before 9 A.M.?

Surely, there's catch.


Yet I was wrong. That's really all there is to Daybreaker. There isn't a hidden agenda or catch.

As soon as I entered the venue with my camera, the space was filled with eager Yogis, bending it out with vinyasa lead by Grip the Mat.



After stretching out, people stayed to dance and socialize while enjoying tasty treats and a variety of performers and entertainers.



There were even live musicians thrown into the dance party mix!


Maybe it's the simplicity of a Daybreaker's event that makes it so unique and appealing. Maybe for some people, waking up early, doing yoga, then moving their bodies to dance music and strobe lights while fueling up with coffee and juice is a way to jumpstart their day.

One things for sure, it sure is the total opposite of a typical Wednesday morning.

Want to know more? Check out my full review for Spright.com.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Jetting Around For USO Stories: Part 2, Missouri

Looking back, it seems like forever ago that I was in Missouri shooting stories for the USO. But no matter how long ago it was (or feels like it was) it's certainly a USO trip worth blogging about!

After a wonderful weekend working in NYC back at the end of May, I headed back to DC for a hot sec (literally, less than 20 hours) and jetted off to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for a week of shooting.

The last time I was in Missouri was for the NCAA A-10 Softball Championships back when I was in college, and I didn't really get to see much of the area since I was playing softball, so I was glad to head back to the area to explore a little bit more.

Anyway, after landing in St. Louis, I drove two hours out to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, which is an Army base where a lot of soldiers go through basic training.

During my trip, I shot a number of stories, including a story about long-time volunteer, Henry, and covered the USO's special Caregivers Seminar, which provides support for those taking care of wounded, ill and injured service members. Although all the stories I worked on in Missouri were (and ARE STILL!) important, the highlight of my trip, hands down, was shooting a special video story about Bandit the USO Comfort Dog (sorry Henry!).


Now, I don't want to give too much away (I'll write more about this story when the video is done), but in a nutshell, Bandit is an awesome Great Dane therapy dog who spends his days putting smiles on people's faces. I got to spend a day with him, and let me tell you, it was AWESOME seeing all the big difference just one dog can make in people's lives.

Here's some more snaps from my day of shooting with Bandit and his mom, Kelly.



Although my trip to Missouri was jammed packed, it was really, really awesome. I can't wait to keep working on other USO projects so I can finally push out some of the video stories from my Missouri trip.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Jetting Around For USO Stories: Part 1, NYC

I forgot how much I loved traveling for work. Seeing new places, meeting new people, being out of the office -- it's one of the many things that makes my job at the USO so wonderful.

But until last week, for nearly half of 2015, I hadn't had the opportunity to travel beyond the DC metro area to report a story since 2014. Needless to say, when my boss asked me if I could hit the road for a week to capture stories in NYC and Fort Leonard Wood, MO, I was more than ready to pack my bags and get back into the field.

I started off my marathon work travel week in NYC, where, in addition to capture a video story and writing a blog about OTMD, the adult leg of the USO Operation That's My Dress program, I got to spend time with my friend Tara, who I met playing softball at GW.


In addition to hanging out with her and her fiance on Friday night, the Saturday before I had to work, we wandered around Brooklyn for a bit, which I had never done before.


I even got to introduce Tara to another one of my close friends who lives in NYC during dinner on Saturday evening, which made me really happy.


Sidenote; I'm a big believer that, if my work schedule allows it, I should always try to squeeze in time to grab dinner or a drink with friends, colleagues or acquaintances who live in the area I'm visiting. It really makes work trips seem like much more than a plane trip and another night in a hotel room, savvy?

Anyway, back to the weekend. On Sunday, after a wonderful first half of the weekend with friends, I put on my working shoes on and headed the USO's launch of OTMD, the adult leg of the USO Operation That's My Dress program. Basically OTMD, along with its sister program, provides women in the military and military spouses a special day of pampering and fashion where they get to select and take home a FREE designer gown of their choice. Think Sherri Hill, Ralph Lauren and Ann Taylor -- for FREE! How cool is that?


To give you a better idea of what the program is all about, take a look at the video I shot and put together about the day. It'll put things into perspective.


Anyway, after shooting the video and having a ball at OTMD, I headed back to Penn Station to travel back to Washington, D.C. so I could jump on the next leg of my travel week adventure...