Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rachel the super-hero !!!

Earlier this year I was contacted by a young lady named Hannah D'Avino to see if we could team up on a fundraiser to honor her sister Rachel. When she proceeded to tell me who Rachel was and what she had done, I could not say "yes" fast enough ! Rachel D'Avino had been hired by Sandy Hook Elementary to work with a nonverbal autistic girl and had been at the school for only a couple days when the horrible shootings occurred on December 14, 2012. Hannah created this bio about her brave sister;

(The amazing Rachel D'Avino)

  Rachel was working on becoming a board certified behavioral analyst. She was at Sandy Hook Elementary for a little over a week working with a nonverbal autistic girl. Rachel's whole life was dedicated to helping those on the autism spectrum lead easier more enjoyable lives. Autism Speaks was Rachel's favorite charity because one of their main goals is research. Rachel used to say the more we know the more we can help.We have a team called Team Rachel. We wear capes and Wonder Woman gear.

(Team Rachel)

  We walk in honor of Rachel Marie D'Avino a true super hero. Our family was shattered on December fourteenth. A pillar of strength and wisdom isn't coming home. The only thing that can keep our family functioning is to work as a group to be like Rachel. We find solace by continuing Rachel's dream and working as a team to make lives easier. Rachel was a hero to children before that day in December and it is our job to make that known.

(Rachel's passion was helping children)

 Rachel was more than a sister to me. She was my best friend and mentor. I have dedicated my life to continuing her dream. I will spread autism awareness with every step I take. After Rachel was taken from us I started working with a low functioning girl with autism and changed my major to applied behavior analysis. She may not be able to help a child be more independent, but she taught me well. I will follow her footsteps and do everything in my power to be like Rachel. 

(Rachel on graduation day)

Our two artists for this campaign also wanted to mention just what Rachel meant to them as well:

 Corbin Dillane age 8.
He wrote:
 " Rachel was my best big person friend. I have ADHD and Rachel used to help me think of things to do to keep me having good behavior. My picture is my own video game land. Rachel and I played video games together a lot. I think she would love my video game land."
 
(Corbin in Gameland)
 
  Evelyn Stone Age 8
She writes "Rachel was my friend and babysitter now she is my guardian angel." 
In this picture she is with her brother Andrew. He has Autism. Rachel was his para, babysitter and friend. The both of them love and miss Rachel. 

(Andrew and Evelyn)

It is a true honor to be helping Team Rachel keep her memory and her mission, to make this world a better place for those with autism, alive. Thank you so much

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sharing is caring :)

Hello members of the PCA family :) I wanted to have a big contest that would come with a big prize and so here it is;

Paper Clouds Apparel is looking to really grow their fan base and offering an amazing giveaway for anyone to win the package below (Different shirt options available)

 (Win all these goodies)


1. Visit the Paper Clouds Apparel Facebook page
2. Scroll down below our cover photo and follow the arrow and click on the "see all"
3. Invite all your friends to "Like" Paper Clouds Apparel
4. The person who sends us a screen shot of their page and has the most friends liking our page on April 21st 2014? will win a Paper Clouds Apparel bag, hat, hoodie, and two shirts! (minimum 50 required to win)
Paper Clouds Apparel needs your help to spread our mission of helping those with special needs, and since we give away 50% of our proceeds, we depend on your help and word of mouth to grow and help more individuals with special needs. Thank you so much!
 (Follow the arrow, invite all your friends and win)

We will also award prizes for the second and third place finishers. Second place will receive a bag and a shirt, third place will receive a shirt and a magnetic bumper sticker. So over the next three weeks you can continually invite your friends and post on your Facebook page asking them to go "like" our page. Then on the 21st, email a screen shot like posted above to papercloudsapparel@gmail.com and we can see how many members of the Paper Clouds Apparel family you have brought us. Thank you so much and cannot wait to give away all this gear.

This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Facebook and entrants and participants in the competition release Facebook and its associated companies from all liability arising from the competition

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Our Three Miracles :)

 Today I want to share with you the artist who created the amazing pieces we are currently featuring in our campaign to raise funding for Icing Smiles. There is an amazing organization called Mommies of Miracles and I have been following their Facebook page for some time and figured I would see if they would be interested in teaming up on a project. Mommies of Miracles is a growing international peer-driven support group of mothers who have children of any age (infant-adult) with complex medical issues, rare or undiagnosed conditions, and/or developmental disabilities. I contacted them and they were very excited to give their miracles a chance to shine and show the world their art. Mommies of Miracles came up with the idea to raise funds for Icing Smiles. Icing Smiles is a nonprofit organization that provides custom celebration cakes and other treats to families impacted by the critical illness of a child. What a phenomenal cause to help ! So now I want to focus some attention and praise our amazing artists and let you get to know them.


 (Brynlee celebrating her 3rd birthday with an Icing Smiles cake)

 Asia is a joyful eight year old with Down Syndrome. Her development is behind compared to ‘normal’ kids her age including her ability to communicate, but it does not define who she is. She loves drawing, music, swimming, ice cream, and playing on the iPad! Asia is very affectionate, goofy, and has a sweet nature.

(Asia showing off her beautiful smile)

 This drawing portray’s her heart and is very special because it is the first complete picture she has ever drawn. She has moments where she shows her brilliance and beauty to others and this is one of them.

 
 (The amazing Sunflower Asia created)

 She exemplifies other kids with Down Syndrome  in that each is a pearl waiting to be discovered. All that is required is a little bit of love and a little bit of care to open up their shell. They are not just children with special needs but individuals who were made for the glory of God and once you meet them you will whole heartedly adore them.

  
(Asia outside having some fun)
 

Emma is a very happy 7 yr. old who loves life.  She was born at 27 weeks and weighed 2 lbs. 14 oz.  She developed a brain bleed at birth and this caused her to have Cerebral Palsy.  She spent 72 days in the NICU and it was during her stay in the NICU when we realized how tough she would be.  She was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy one week before her first birthday. 

 
(Emma's smile is infectious)

  
            Emma began physical therapy during her first year of life and she started school at the age of 18 months.  The teachers and professionals along the way have helped Emma develop a positive attitude and have given her a life without limitations.  She loves going to school so she can see her friends and has always been very social.   During Kindergarten, Emma explained to her class why she was in a wheelchair and uses a walker.  One of the kids asked, “What is Cerebral Palsy?”   Emma answered, “When I was born, I got a boo-boo on my brain.”  Emma has not let CP get in the way of her dreams.  She has always wanted to dance and walk by herself.  

(The amazing Cupcake Emma drew)

      On June 6th, 2013 Emma had spinal surgery to help her reach her dream of walking.  Emma took this surgery on with a smile and has undergone extensive physical therapy.   She has made amazing progress and can now take up to 3 independent steps!  She currently goes to physical therapy 3 times a week and continues to persevere.  She has inspired many and we are very proud of what she has accomplished in such a short time. 
Emma recently had an assignment at school and was to give advice to a baby on their first day here on earth. This is what she wrote, "Some days you will pass the test. Some days you will get the answers wrong. Some days you will reach your dreams. Some days you will lose your grip. It's just how it is here. Enjoy your new life!"   She is a beautiful, caring, and bright young lady.

(Emma is an inspiration to all)



Emilee is 2 years old. She loves music and painting. She can wave her hand and sign "please". 

(The beautiful Emilee)


She is a generally happy girl. She was born at 34 weeks with Nonimmune fetal Hydrops and she had a stroke inutero. Since the Nicu she has been diagnosed with optic nerve hypoplasia and spastic cerebral palsy.

(The very cool Fish Emilee created)

 She's our miracle baby. :) 

(Emilee can brighten anyone's day with her smile)

I hope that you loved getting to know our amazing artists and will support this campaign. These little miracles have made my life better and I will remember them every single time I wear their shirt. Thank you all so much for believing we can change the world. We can make it a better place for everyone. I truly love every single one of you who support us. Whether it be by making a purchase, sharing our Facebook posts, blogs, or Instagram pictures, you all are helping us spread our mission and I know we have some great things ahead of us.

 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wonderful artists of TCH



I became aware of The Centers for Habilitation (TCH) when looking for workers with special needs to fold and package our Paper Clouds Apparel gear. When I took a tour of this amazing facility and got to spend time with the members that attend and work there I wanted to help them in any way I could. TCH provides services that support, care for and empower children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities. Services improve the quality of life, alleviate barriers to independence, and help Arizonans of all ages to reach their full potential.

TCH takes pride in their continuing emphasis on finding new and relevant ways to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities while promoting their independence and self-determination. Their dedicated and caring staff works to encourage consumers to make their own choices, gain confidence and control over their own lives, improve their abilities, and overcome barriers to quality living.

(Members of TCH working hard folding our shirts)


Now I want you to meet the amazing artists that created the designs on our current line of Paper Clouds Apparel products;


                Theresa is kind and gentle. She likes to dance and listen to all kinds of music, and loves to sing along to “Take Me Home, Country Road” by John Denver. She enjoys going to the mall and short walks in the park and feeding the ducks. She also likes to have her nails done and wear pretty necklaces and bracelets. She likes to have long conversations with her staff and likes to give hugs.


(The talented Theresa)



                Alex is a 23 year-old loving young lady. She enjoys interacting with her peers and staff. She enjoys going for a walk and playing with her toy keys. She listens to Disney songs on her MP3 player and makes silly sound gestures, laughing along with her peers.  Alex is very affectionate and loves getting attention from everyone around her, she’s quite the princess.

 (The angelic Alex)



                Amy is 31 years-old, very vocal and is a high spirited young woman. She loves to sing all day long. Her playlist includes “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, “Old McDonald Had a Farm”, and “London Bridge”. Amy is full of life and is always smiling. She enjoys playing and listening to her Casio Keyboard. She also enjoys being outside relaxing on a mat while listening to the sounds around her and long walks in the park.


(The amazing Amy)

I hope you will show these amazing friends of our some love and support TCH. They are changing lives in so many ways and could use our help. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and hope you will share their stories with all your friends. We love you all so much :)


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Madelyn is my hero :)

A couple months ago I decided to start a contest where every two weeks we would have a contest where those who shared pictures of them wearing their Paper Clouds Apparel were voted upon by the Board of Advisors at Paper Clouds Apparel and the winner of this contest would receive a free shirt. Over a month ago the winner was a young girl named Madelyn who has collected quite the collection of Paper Clouds Apparel shirts and sent us pictures of her in her newest shirt and also a picture of all her PCA shirts. When I posted on our Facebook page that Madelyn had won a shirt her mother emailed me and her response floored me.


 (Madelyn in her newest PCA shirt)

Madelyn's mother Denise sent me back this message when I told her that Madelyn had won a FREE PCA shirt;

"I think the pic you posted of my daughter said we won a shirt?? Thanks, but we already have 5 in our household and one was won from a previous share. This month is all about the good deeds my girl does-**bragging moment- **this Sunday, she climbed 80 flights if stairs for the AON step up for kids, benefitting Lurie children's hospital here in Chicago (beat me by 13 minutes) and today donated all of her b-day gifts to another local hospital, Alexian Brothers pediatric center. This is her 2nd year donating her gifts. In keeping with that theme, she would like for you to donate the shirt to someone. Thanks, love you guys and all you do to make the world a better place! If you do donate it, please let me know how so I can share the story with Madelyn."

(Madelyn's impressive PCA shirt collection)

It took me over a month to find the right person to donate her prize to but when I saw the awesome story of MacKenzie accepting the prom invite of our good friend Logan from The Crumb Diaries, I knew where that shirt had to go :) Especially since all of Madelyn's shirts featured artwork created by Logan. For those of you out there unaware of the awesomeness that is Logan, you NEED to immediately go check out The Crumb Diaries on Facebook and you will instantly fall in love with this family and the incredible relationship between Logan and his mom Allyson, or "Honey Nugget" or "Al" as Logan often calls her :) I will share the story of why MacKenzie deserves this shirt from the post featured on The Crumb Diaries 

(Logan and MacKenzie)

Here is a post created by Logan's mom Allyson that will tell you all you need to know about why MacKenzie is awesome :)
 
"As you know, having Apraxia makes speaking difficult for Logan, so last night he colored a sign, picked out some flowers and put on a suit and tie to ask MacKenzie to prom. Here is his invitation..and here is her reply MacKenzie is not challenged, or differently abled... but she is special. She is a young lady who Logan admired last year, watching her as she led our high schools cheer squad. She is a girl who has always greeted him with a kind smile or hello when passing. She is a person who is taking time out of her busy college schedule to accompany Logan to a milestone event.
For kids like Logan, sitting next to a "pretty durl" and being treated with kindness and respect means the world. We are changing the face of our special needs youth, one friendship at a time."

(Madelyn in her first Logan created PCA shirt)

When I told Madelyn's mom Denise that I had chosen the recipient of her free shirt and that is was MacKenize she had this to say;
 
" OMG! I love it! love it! love it! Madelyn and I LOVE Logan and Al (all our shirts are from their campaigns) and LOVE Mackenzie for her prom response. She is adorable! This is perfect!!!"
 
I feel so blessed to have such amazing people that have joined the Paper Clouds Apparel family. I truly consider every single one of you who believe in our mission of making this world a better place for those with special needs as members of my family. We can do it :) 






Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You make my life better :)

Today I woke up and just wanted to tell you all how much you mean to me and how much better my life has become since starting Paper Clouds Apparel. This business came to fruition from seeing a drawing hanging on the fridge of my parents home in Chico, CA. None of my siblings or myself have children so I was confused as to what this drawing was doing on my fridge. I asked my mother, a bus driver for children with special needs, to tell me the story behind this drawing. She then explained to me that a little girl on her route would draw the whole ride to school and often give her drawings to her. I spent the whole night mesmerized by this great piece of art. I couldn't get it out of my head and the next morning I awoke with the idea of how cool these drawings would look on a shirt. I came up with the idea that I could start a business that gives those with special needs a place to showcase their creative abilities and artistic talents and we would give 50% of the profit back to the special needs school, organization or cause that the artist attended or chose.


 (The art that started it all)

After coming up with the idea for Paper Clouds Apparel I had to come up with the money required to start the business. So for three years I worked all the jobs I could: road construction, bartending, bouncer, you name it, I was willing to do it to get the money needed to get PCA off the ground. A loan wasn't really a possibility due to the fact if I went into a bank and told them I was planning on giving away 50% of the profits they would have promptly shown me the door. I also didn't want to take on investors and have them have the ability to tell me how to run the business and have the authority to change how much we give back. So I did it all on my own and so happy that I was able to launch Paper Clouds Apparel. 

(Our first every shirt)

For two years I would just gather artwork from a Phoenix habilitation center and print up a lot of shirts and post them on a poorly constructed website and hope they sold. I always wanted to help those with special needs nationwide and then came up with the idea how to do so. Every two weeks we would team up with a different special needs cause, school, or organization and put out new designs every week. We would order and print the shirts at the completion of the two week campaign and this would give us the ability to have an actual profit and be able to hire adults with special needs to package ALL our shirts ! I really wanted to do this after reading studies that stated that anywhere from 80-93% of adults with special needs were unemployed. 

(Some of our amazing workers)

Since our change in the way we operate in January of 2013 we have been blessed enough to hire over 100 adults with special needs to fold and package our apparel. The times spent with them as they package our shirts is such an amazing time for me. These individuals work so hard and want to do an amazing job. They take such pride in their work and I could not be prouder of them all. I pray one day we will have many more businesses giving those with special needs a job.

(My mother, the inspiration behind PCA)

One of the most amazing byproducts of starting this business has been the changes these projects have brought to the artists with special needs and their families. Paper Clouds Apparel is still a very small business and I still work a full-time job and end up working 80-90 hour work weeks. At times I can feel the stress of the business bearing down on me. Somehow whenever I get to feel pressure I will receive an email or message from one of these amazing families and it snaps me right out of it and reminds me why I am doing this and how I need to turn it up and work even harder so we can grow and help even more individuals with special needs. 

(Collin in wearing HIS design and the letter he wrote me)

Collin is one of the people who inspires and motivates me. I met Collin through his loving and fantastic mother Tammy. Collin has autism and was having a hard time just getting through his days and it was hard on the whole family. Then they found Common Threads Family Resource Center and things got much better. Tammy said they "Brought a smile back to my son" Common Threads needed a smartboard to help their students be able to learn. So we teamed up and it was one of our biggest campaigns when we first launched. Then a local news station picked up on the story and they were able to get TWO smart boards. After the campaign concluded I received this picture of Collin wearing a shirt with his art on it and a Thank You letter from him ! I am so blessed to know this amazing family.

(My buddy Logan and his prom date MacKenzie)

Another amazing and inspiring family we met through the amazing Facebook page The Crumb Diaries. A mother basically writing about her life with a son with special needs and their amazing interactions. Once you visit this page you will instantly fall in love and become addicted. Logan has created many designs for us and his campaigns have been our most successful to date. Recently this was posted on The Crumb Diaries and I was brought to tears of joy for Logan and proud that people like MacKenzie are out there.

"As you know, having Apraxia makes speaking difficult for Logan, so last night he colored a sign, picked out some flowers and put on a suit and tie to ask MacKenzie to prom. Here is his invitation..and here is her reply MacKenzie is not challenged, or differently abled... but she is special. She is a young lady who Logan admired last year, watching her as she led our high schools cheer squad. She is a girl who has always greeted him with a kind smile or hello when passing. She is a person who is taking time out of her busy college schedule to accompany Logan to a milestone event.
For kids like Logan, sitting next to a "pretty durl" and being treated with kindness and respect means the world. We are changing the face of our special needs youth, one friendship at a time."
(Ethan is pretty happy with his PCA Christmas shirt)

Another amazing family I have been contacted by is the Tompkins family. Scott and Jodie are always sharing our posts on Facebook and leaving comments and then they begin sending me messages and I have been so touched by them that I just had to share.The following is a compilation of some of the messages I have been sent by the Tompkins

"lol its his favorite shirt..the only one he doesn't try to pull of
Seriously thank you for being you
Giving people with special needs dignity, pride...priceless
I am only beginning my journey with my son and it makes me so happy to know there are people like you in the world to make a difference and I need that after a very rough start to our journey.
I felt like no one cared about anything but money and even though we do ok for ourselves we were in a bind..no assistance or anything. We were stuck. No local programs, nothing. I had to take him out of therapy because I couldn't afford to take him. I paid them, they haven't even contacted me to get him back in. I've had to do all the footwork, research. 6 months later, life's a lot brighter, thanks to people like you. Don't ever change! I am a lucky person to be my kids mom. He is AMAZING. So smart and wonderful, just wired different. He is going to grow up to do great things.. I guarantee it"
 (Ethan in his Sky shirt created by William)

Just the other day I received the picture above from the Tompkins of Ethan in his new shirt and they had this to say


"He loves it! He said "ooooh my sky shirt" as soon as we opened it. Keep up the good work guys! Ps.. He is very happy to know William also likes Angry Birds! (He saw his yellow angry bird socks in the picture you posted and said "look mommy he has angry bird socks like me too!")"
Hearing how we can affect these families and show others with special needs that we feature art created by people "just like me" really makes me happy and gives me the strength to keep putting in 80-90 hour work weeks and make Paper Clouds Apparel a huge success and help millions with special needs. 

(Exactly how I feel every day running PCA)








Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My newest hero Bronson !!!

I was contacted a couple months ago by a woman named Shannon who was curious about how we find our artists with special needs and I explained to her that most come directly from the organization we have teamed up with but a few come to us with their art and we then ask them if their is a special needs cause they have a connection with and they would like to help raise funding for. Shannon sent me scans of art her son Bronson created and when she mentioned helping the Golden Heart Ranch, I did a little research on them and fell in love with what they do. The Golden Heart Ranch provides a safe, living and working environment for adults with special needs. Hope you will support this amazing ranch by purchasing one of the super cool Dino Chase designs created by Bronson.

(The amazing Bronson)


Bronson is 10 years old, he was diagnosed with Autism when he was just 2.  A strategy that worked well was to draw him a list of what was going to happen.  He took our simple stick pictures are turned them into a way to communicate to us. 

 (The amazing Dino Chase design Bronson created)

 Bronson loves Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror, and all roller coasters! If he’s not riding the roller coasters he is drawing or building them.  Baron is Bronson’s big brother and he is the best big brother around, Bronson really started drawing a lot when he changed schools to attend an Autism ABA Class, he drew a picture of Baron to bring to school with him everyday.  

 (Bronson goofing around)

 Bronson is very active he loves to go camping, ride his quad, play in the ocean and ride the wave runners.   


(Bronson riding his quad)

I hope you loved learning a little about Bronson and hope you will purchase one of his limited edition, wearable pieces of art. Do something amazing today and support a young child with autism and a ranch that gives many adults with special needs a place to thrive. Thank you so much