by Specialist Gisselotte Ventura , N.J. National Guard
On Monday February 18, 2013 five of my Army National Guard battle buddies and I were chosen to partake in the “President’s Day Makeover” organized by Shining Service Worldwide It was billed as a salute to “First Ladies” and was their reward for our hard work as first responders during Hurricane Sandy.
We were chosen by one of our sergeants for a job well done. Sergeant Brito and Pamela Kulisek both informed us of what Shining Service was putting together for us. On our way to the makeover we were filled with excitement, nervousness and we did not know what to expect. From the minute we entered Riccardo Maggiore’s Salon everyone was very welcoming. For the first time we were the ones being rescued and catered to.
We had gotten a breakdown of what our day would consist of but believe me, it far surpassed our expectations. Everything was so well organized. The stylists and Fox 5, who filmed the event for the evening news broadcast, were eager to know more about us and where we came from. Being in the military we very seldom find people who are genuinely interested in who we are, it has mostly been about what we have done.
Words cannot express our gratitude for being granted the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people. It was as if we were queens of the city. We were complemented from the minute we arrived and even after we said our goodbyes. All the stylists kept us engaged in conversations about what they were doing to our hair, nails and make up, providing us a real level of comfort.
Then it was time for our big reveal. We changed into our party attire ready for the final piece to an amazing day. Linda Franklin and Trish Rubin welcomed us to Shining Service Worldwide and provided us with a beautiful Shining Service bracelet and gorgeous red pashminas. It was a very emotional moment for us. I was even more excited because this same week marked my fourth year in the military and what better way to celebrate your service.
Then if was off to TGI Fridays for lunch. We were greeted royally and ushered to a special section just for us. Then it began. Champagne toasts, followed by a delicious lunch and an open bar for our pleasure. The manager of Fridays at 56th and Lexington Avenue and the server, were at our beck and call with fabulous service.
Our combat boots were taken off, children were left at the babysitters, and professors and employers were notified of our absence. It was as if we were part of a fairy tale – only it was real life.
Linda, we learned so much about your organization and we praise what you all do for women in the military. Again thank you not only for the makeovers, the delicious meals, or the toasts but for introducing us to your organization and what you do. – Hooah
Shining Service Worldwide is a charitable organization that supports all women who are part of the military family. Our goal is successful re-integration back into civilian life.