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So far Tonya has created 305 blog entries.

Delicious Brew That Supports LGBTQ Initiatives

We’re brewing up some serious LUV with PEACE, coffee for a cause from our friends at Awareness Coffee. Every time you purchase bag of their delish brew, they will generously donate to support our LGBTQ outreach! So head on over, show your support and enjoy a fabulous cup of joe. Awareness Coffee shared their exquisite coffee with our UNSTOPPABLE event attendees and many reported back it was ‘the best coffee I’ve ever had!” We can’t think of a better endorsement and tastier way to support and empower LGBTQ youth.

Delicious Brew That Supports LGBTQ Initiatives 2018-07-17T02:27:51+00:00

5 Ways to Become an Ally for LGBTQ Youth

Now more than ever, it is critical that we support and ally for LGBTQ youth. Imagine feeling confused, isolated and not accepted for who you are and who you know you are supposed to be.

It’s already hard enough discovering who you are as a human being.

Here are some ways you can support LGBTQ youth along their journey:

  1. Listen to LGBTQ Youth.

Members of the LGBTQ community and youth especially are often not given the respect they deserve when it comes to being able to have their voices heard. This has to change. Be willing to listen to LGBTQ youth and pay close attention to what they are telling you, whether it is in person, or second hand via social media or the news. They know what they want, what their needs are, and how they are feeling more than anyone. Listen with compassion.

  1. Be a role model for kindness and inclusion.

It is essential that we model kindness and inclusion in our everyday life. Go out of your way to be kind to people and always see the worth and dignity in every person. Strive for justice, equity and compassion in human relations. Don’t get me wrong – it is not always an easy task – but something that we all need to work on because the world could always use more kindness.

  1. Show young people that they can be authentic around you.

Being a young person in today’s society is hard enough, add in the fact that you are “different,’ and it suddenly can become even harder than it already is; this is the case for our LGBTQ youth. They often feel that they have to act like something they are not around others because of the fear that they will not be accepted for who they are. Can you imagine the feeling of constantly wondering if it is okay to be yourself around another person or if you have to be someone else? In 2018 it is sad that LGBTQ youth still have to ask themselves this question almost every single day and as an adult and an ally, it is our job to make sure that they know they can always be themselves around us.

  1. Take action & advocate for the LGBTQ youth.

Work with LGBTQ youth to make their lives better. Help them write letters to senators, plan and lead youth-focused events and be the rock they need. Our job as adults is to give them the tools, resources, and support they need to have their voices heard. Today’s youth are fully capable of advocating for themselves when given the chance to do so. They may need assistance along the way and we need to be willing to do the work alongside them and not just do the job for them.

  1. Stay informed and get involved.

Take it upon yourself to educate yourself about the greater LGBTQ community, attend LGBTQ events and be present in times of need. Thank you for taking the first steps to becoming an ally for LGBTQ youth. The more people on the side of love and justice the better.

My hope is if we join together in support, one day we will be able to say that we live in a nation and hopefully a world where we are all treated with the love, dignity, and respect we deserve. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” So let us all work together hand in hand and make it so.

We invited you to join us and support our LGBTQ youth empowerment initiatives. Together we can change lives.

Contributed by Free2Luv Advocate and LGBTQ Activist, Roddy Biggs @roddybiggs.official

5 Ways to Become an Ally for LGBTQ Youth 2018-06-20T19:07:40+00:00

WE STAND FOR ALL

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States among youth and young adults according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and over 20% of high school students report seriously considering ending their lives. These stats are both staggering and heartbreaking and motivate us daily in our commitment to supporting and uplifting youth.

We invite you to take a stand with us and let our youth know you care. Your generosity will help us continue our outreach enhancing the lives of at-risk youth free of charge!

We’re already making a big impact in 2018 and we’re just getting started! We launched UNSTOPPABLE in L.A., reached over 6,000 youth through our East Coast UNSTOPPABLE tour with The Change, been named a 2018 Top-Rated nonprofit and our Co-Founder, Tonya Sandis has been honored with a lifetime humanitarian award for her selfless service.

With your continued support, we are able to continue to change lives and we THANK YOU!

WE STAND FOR ALL 2018-05-10T23:36:00+00:00

Top-Rated Nonprofit 7th Consecutive Year

“My daughter became a Youth Advocate for Free2luv a couple of years ago, and I am so happy it has touched her life in such a positive way. This organization has taught her about self-confidence, and standing up for what she believes, and also believing in her own goals and dreams. She has learned how to handle difficult bullying situations that have come up at school because she remembers to be strong and kind to everyone. Free2luv is so important to her and its messages continue to inspire her every day.” ~ Megan

Top-Rated Nonprofit 7th Consecutive Year 2018-07-17T02:45:14+00:00

BE BOLD. BE FIERCE. BE YOU. BE UNSTOPPABLE!

Free2Luv®’s day of empowerment, UNSTOPPABLE was a memorable and moving day filled with powerful storytelling through music, dance, film, and spoken word.

Festivities kicked off at The Regent DTLA as the red carpet was rolled out for celebrity and influencer guests along with teens and young women from The Teen Project and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles walked the red carpet.

Attendees creatively expressed themselves as they wrote and drew what being UNSTOPPABLE meant to them on banners that adorned the hall offering a moment of thought-provoking conversation.

Free2Luv’s Co-Founder, Tonya Sandis, was honored with The Goody Awards top honor, a lifetime achievement humanitarian award, for her selfless service and commitment to empowering and supporting youth who at times feel helpless, alone, and suicidal.

Sandis was presented the award with heartfelt words by Goody Awards Founder, Liz Kelly, and pop-rock artist, GabrieLa. In her acceptance speech, Sandis emphasized: “I am honored and humbled on behalf of the sheroes and the heroes that we hold hands with every year to uplift and empower young people, who sometimes are struggling with their sexuality or are being bullied.”

Five diverse vocal powerhouses, thought-provoking spoken word poetry, beautiful dance interpretative and a powerful short film wove a beautiful story taking the audience on a journey of self-discovery. From self-doubt to self-love, artists shared their hearts and stories from coming out to rising up to be free to love who they choose. The diverse styles and talent brought to the stage uplifted and engaged the audience with powerful numbers.

Spoken word artist, LoveSea shared her heart with impactful and relatable poetry:  I’m ready for the bullets that are gonna be shot at us, plus much more … And if we can’t get it right for this generation, we can lead by example for the next.”

NBC’s The Voice, Stephanie Rice, shared her story and journey of coming out and dedicated her beautiful and moving song ‘Cold Water’ to anyone going through a rough time who may feel they need to be rescued.

Pop-rock artist, GabrieLa had the audience on their feet singing and dancing along to the Free2Luv anthem with lyrics inviting everyone to ‘break the chains of hate’ and allow love to save the day.

Actress Bianca Kajlich brought the audience on a visual journey as she invited the audience to close their eyes and envision a world where we are all one. She shared a profound, personal poem titled ‘All of Me’ “What would it feel like to bare it all and stand in the center of my most cringe-worthy truths but instead of apologizing, I loved them more than I loved anything remotely resembling approval.”

Free2Luv also unveiled UNSTOPPABLE, the short film, a collaboration with actress and filmmaker Ella Lentini and team.

This short featured 50 diverse women from many walks of life reciting empowering verses sharing what makes them strong, unique, and unstoppable. Here’s an excerpt: “We don’t need to look far to find a “they” / they are the voices of doubt that hit us like a rolling fog / the voices that have drowned out our own, making us feel / less than / nonexistent / The you’ll never be this or that your too skinny, too fat / The you’ll never fit in’s / The voice that reminds you, you’re dreaming too big / for a girl living in a world / that was long ago rigged / against you. /

UNSTOPPABLE was hosted by Stephanie Gonzalez (Reporter and “Houston Life TV” Producer) and included powerful performances by actress Laya DeLeon Hayes (voice of Disney’s Doc McStuffins), Britten Healey (“Teens Wanna Know”), Actress/Singer/Songwriter Serena Laurel (pictured below), and dancers from Dance Creations (pictured above).

Kelly reported, “Everyone left UNSTOPPABLE dedicated to spreading more love and kindness in the world. Free2Luv believes that if every girl felt supported, embraced, and empowered to rock her authentic self, we can change the world, together.”

One attendee shared her experience: “With great pleasure, I have to share… I had the best time ever, at the free2luv “Unstoppable Event!” The experience was very moving. I left feeling extremely moved, loved, and inspired. You couldn’t walk out of there and keep all of that to yourself. I want to continue to be a part of making a difference in the world, showing others that love is and should always be more contagious than hate. I want children as well as other adults to know, that they should feel great about being free to be who they are, without judgment or apology. We are all a masterpiece in our own unique way, and should continue to rise up together spreading the light of life & love to everyone surrounding us! Tonya Sandis, thanks for sharing your dream through this production, with all of us. Hopefully, you will get the opportunity to make it a traveling production to share with the rest of the world. It should not stop here.”

The UNSTOPPABLE event was produced as a benefit to support Free2Luv’s art and music outreach and programming they provide year-round free of charge to underserved youth nationally.

Photos by Celeste Holmes Photography and Paper Trail Photos

BE BOLD. BE FIERCE. BE YOU. BE UNSTOPPABLE! 2018-03-18T20:04:49+00:00

TEENPLICITY: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH UNSTOPPABLE TALENT

Teenplicity recently interviewed the talent behind Free2Luv’s UNSTOPPABLE empowerment event in a two part feature. Find out these talented, young women’s take on self-love, how they uplift themselves when they’re feeling down, the women who inspire them, what makes them UNSTOPPABLE and much more!

PART 1  features actress Laya DeLeon Hayes, reporter/producer and UNSTOPPABLE host, Stephanie Gonzalez and spoken word artist, LoveSea

PART 2 features vocalists GabrieLa, Serena Laurel, and Britten Healey

TEENPLICITY: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH UNSTOPPABLE TALENT 2018-03-22T16:31:03+00:00

UNSTOPPABLE: DAY OF EMPOWERMENT

Free2Luv’s Music Driven Production Raising Self-Esteem for Underserved Girls in DTLA

Award-winning youth empowerment nonprofit, Free2Luv® is bringing their girl-empowering music-driven production UNSTOPPABLE to Los Angeles on March 10th, 2018 to raise self-esteem and benefit underserved girls. Their thought-provoking show and red carpet event will unite artists in all genres as they ignite the stage sharing a story of growth and self-awareness through music, film, dance, and spoken word. UNSTOPPABLE will take youth on a full circle journey from the depths of low self-image to the celebration of self-love. Proceeds raised from UNSTOPPABLE will benefit Free2Luv’s music and art empowerment initiatives designed to create a kinder, braver, a more loving world for underserved youth. UNSTOPPABLE will be staged at The Regent DTLA, 448 S Main St. Los Angeles, CA 90013. Sponsor an underserved teen or reserve your space  today.

Research shows 47% of girls are being held back by low self-esteem. Girls, more often than boys, are the target of social, relational and cyberbullying, which has more damaging effects than physical bullying. Free2Luv believes that in a world where every girl feels supported, embraced, and empowered to rock her authentic self these percentages will change dramatically.

Highlights on this day of girl empowerment will be performances by NBC’s The Voice Stephanie Rice and Ddendyl Hoyt and pop-rock star GabrieLa, Rules of Engagement and Undateable recurring star Bianca Kajlich, the voice of Disney’s Doc McStuffins Laya DeLeon Hayes, and many more. Alaska Airlines is providing two round-trip tickets worldwide for auction, Studio Unbiased is creating designer fashion for bidding, and the red carpet will be rolled out for expected celebrities supporting UNSTOPPABLE.

“We are very excited to be producing UNSTOPPABLE with an amazing group of talented young women and look forward to creating a life-changing experience for underserved girls and teens. This event will be moving and inspirational, and we’ll be rolling out the red carpet for a VIP experience for youth who may seldom have an opportunity to experience this type of production. We view UNSTOPPABLE as more than an event – it’s a movement. Music and the arts offer a universal language that enables us to see the world and the human condition differently. They allow us to heal and to see a truth we might not have understood before. We know the transformational effect the arts have on children; it boosts their confidence and empowers them to communicate and express sensitive issues,” says Tonya Sandis, Co-Founder of Free2Luv.

Find Your Voice

Rice, a pop-rock singer-musician who recently found international acclaim on Season 12 of NBC’s The Voice, shares her compelling story of resilience through emotional and persuasive performances, offering listeners a source of inspiration and hope. “As a kid – I could never imagine a reality where my life could be lived out loud. I love giving visibility to young girls so they can see what their life could look like one day – full of love. Free to love. We all need someone at some point in our lives to speak for us when we cannot. I aim to empower the youth of today by giving them a voice,” says Rice.

“I’m excited to be taking a stand against hatred, and ignorance and join together to say that being yourself and being unique is perfectly ok, even when society says otherwise. It’s so important to let our kids and teens and young adults know that no one is alone, and whatever their journey might be, there are always people who understand what they are going through and that they are loved, accepted and beautiful souls,” says Hoyt.

Feel Empowered

“Women supporting each other is SO very important, and by doing so, we can empower each other. Standing together can make a huge impact in our fight for respect and equality. I feel it’s all of our jobs to be there for girls of all ages and to set that example while letting them know how much they rock and how awesome they truly are,” says GabrieLa.

UNSTOPPABLE is made possible by the generosity of Free2Luv sponsors including MRC Studios (Ozark and House of Cards) and Spaceland Presents (The Regent DTLA).

UNSTOPPABLE: DAY OF EMPOWERMENT 2018-03-12T21:37:40+00:00

Hollywood 360: UNSTOPPABLE EMPOWERMENT EVENT

Are you ready to be UNSTOPPABLE? Our UNSTOPPABLE Day of Empowerment will bring together incredible artists for a day of thought-provoking entertainment to help raise self-esteem and benefit underserved girls in Downtown L.A.

Want to learn more? Check out this great article highlighting the event from The Hollywood 360.

If you’re interested in attending the event on March 10, 2018, get your tickets or sponsor a teen.

Hollywood 360: UNSTOPPABLE EMPOWERMENT EVENT 2018-03-12T21:38:34+00:00

Advocate Lauren Suthers Awarded Grant for Free2Luv Volunteerism

Big congratulations to Advocate Lauren Suthers who has been awarded a Be Inspired Disney Citizenship and Youth Service America grant for her volunteerism with Free2Luv. Lauren is facilitating Free2BeME art empowerment workshops in her community for underserved youth and we are incredibly proud of the impact she’s making. Keep inspiring, Lauren!

Thank you, Disney and YSA for supporting Lauren’s volunteerism and our outreach efforts to create a kinder, braver, more loving world for ALL youth.

Advocate Lauren Suthers Awarded Grant for Free2Luv Volunteerism 2018-05-11T01:08:50+00:00
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