7th ANNUAL FACE FORWARD GALA INSPIRES ON THE RED CARPET
Los Angeles, 24 September 2016 –
Face Forward was started by Deborah and Dr. David Alessi , with the mission to help survivors of violent and disfiguring crimes, after suffering from domestic abuse, by providing pro bono emotional support and reconstructive surgery for victims of Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking or any cruel acts of crime. Together they play their part in helping survivors heal and provide them “with the confidence to put their best Face Forward once again.”
Shantel Jackson, honored as a Survivor/Advocate, calls Face Forward “… a really amazing organization that gives people back their lives. Renee Lawless added: “(The organization) gives them the confidence to go out in the world and create great new relationships without fear.”
NBA head coach and Face Forward honouree for his philanthropic work and his pledge to recruit athletes to learn and help spread the word about domestic violence, emphasised: “Number one, this is a very important charity. I think finally people are starting to speak out about domestic violence and it’s about time.”
After seven years of running the charity, Deborah Alessi, herself a survivor of domestic violence, is inspired to continue their work because “Seeing the change in the patients that we help, and the more we help the more people contact us and the more they need us, so I can’t close that chapter I have to keep going and I have to raise more money every year because the patients … it’s incredible we started with two patients and last year we did almost a million dollars pro bono surgery.”
The highlight of the event for us was meeting two of Dr. David Alessi’s Face Forward patients, Hanifa Nakiryowa and Stephanie Schurman, on the red carpet as part of their Face Forward agreement that they would do something great with their lives. Hanifa, from Uganda, had her face burned off with acid by her ex-husband and is now a visiting scholar to the University of Pittsburgh. Stephanie, when she first came to Face Forward with a really tragic story, was a shy little wallflower. Now, after some of her scars have been fixed, she just goes out there! “She went on the show and just took the whole thing over!” Dr. Alessi beams.
Stephanie expressed her transformation as; “I couldn’t smile in 23 years. And I can smile. He had given me a smile. He has anointed hands and he is truly a gift, a man from God.” A conviction echoed by Hanifa saying: “Dr. Alessi is a gift from God, God has touched him to touch our hearts. And his wife Deborah, she’s an angel; we keep saying they complement each other so well.”
This year’s Gala theme was Havana Nights, a clue that the night was about celebrating the good that Face Forward puts out into the world. The event was hosted by actress and producer Ruth Connell and multi-platinum rap star Nelly supplied the high energy entertainment for the evening.
Other celebrities who graced the red carpet in support of the cause included Jen Lilley, Brett Dalton, Christina DeRosa, Mercedes, Shane Mosley, Steve Cederquist and Nathan Palmer.
To find out more about Face Forward and the services they provide, please visit their website at www.faceforwardla.org. And please consider taking a stand side-by-side with the Alessi’s against Domestic Violence by donating through the site.
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Written by: Miquette Caalsen