Luncheon for the Girls hosted by Florence Crittenton of ArizonaMarch 14th, was a special day for those who attended the 11th annual Teaming up for Girls Luncheon at Florence Crittenton of Arizona, a foundation that provides a residential home for girls and young women in need. The event, hosted at the Biltmore, was an afternoon filled with inspiration.

Hope and Inspiration was the theme of day’s events. A very well deserved Hope Award was given to former Police Officer Jason Schechterle, who was burned extensively after his patrol car was rear-ended. Jason reminded us that with each day brings new hope.

IMG_0309International Journalist and author Laura Ling was the keynote speaker and inspired the audience as she recounted her harrowing tale of being held hostage in North Korea along with fellow journalist Euna Lee. There was not a dry eye in the house as she spoke of her darkest moments and some of the thoughts she had as she was sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. I was touched during her story of how she said she would focus on one good thing a day. One day it was that a beautiful butterfly flew by her cell another time it was that her cell guard who was normally mean took a moment to be nice to her on a very bad day. Her story made me think of how my day to day problems are really insignificant compared to the hardships of others.

Laura told the audience how former President Bill Clinton was instrumental in her rescue in 2009 when he travelled to Pyongyang and personally negotiated their release. On the plane home she asked the former President how it came to be and that he was the one person able to come to her rescue. President Clinton mentioned that the North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Il had once expressed an interest to meet him as the former President was the very first person who called him to express his condolences after his father had died.

Tracie Lytle and Debbie Gaby (right)  posing with Smartfem Publisher Lea Haben (center)Also presented at the luncheon; Sleep America’s Founders Len and Debbie Gaby were brought to the stage and recognized as honorary chairs. The Gaby’s have been on the board for years and have spent their time in the Valley giving back to the community through their philanthropic efforts with their Sleep America charities.