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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Detroit, MI

Detroit, MI

We were greeted this morning in Detroit to five eager volunteers who came to us from Claire's Accessories.  They were such a big help in setting up the mobile boutique and getting us organized.  We were also ecstatic to have twenty-four girls come in today and receive brand new outfits. The trailer was overflowing with girls trying on dresses and picking out jewelry.  However, each girl still got a personal shopping experience with the help of the Claire's girls who offered style advice, opened fitting rooms, and color coated the racks.  This left time for other volunteers to sort through storage and organize the massive amounts of clothing that has been donated for the tour.  It was cold and productive day in Detroit that was well spent serving others.

Allyson was very grateful that Suzanne Rielle of came to visit today.

A group of girls who came to shop today.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis, Indiana
Friday, June 28th

We arrived to our hotel early on Thursday and were greeted by the kind and welcoming hotel staff of the luxurious Conrad Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. We had a great stay at this hotel and it was a prime location for the appointments in the trailer. Thank you so much to the Conrad Hotel for welcoming us! 
Allyson with the manager of the Conrad hotel.
This morning many excited girls arrived to the trailer all at once, eager and ready to get their new clothes!  It was a bit crowded in the trailer with many people in it, but we were all able to manage.  Usually it gets extremely hot in the trailer when there are so many people, but today the weather was perfect; not too hot and not too cold, with a gentle breeze blowing through the trailer.  This breeze caused the fitting rooms to fly open often, but that problem was soon fixed when the hotel sent someone down with binder clips.  These clips solved the problem of the dressing rooms flying open in the midst of someone trying on clothes, so the girls greatly appreciated this small favor from the hotel. With the help of us and their social workers, the girls  all found their perfect items and had a great time shopping.  

While we had girls finding clothes, we also had many visitors from the street who came in to see what Threads for Teens is.  Among these visitors was a philanthropy group from a local college sorority, a social worker from a local organization, and the manager of the hotel.  Later in the day, a Spanish-only speaking family came in to ask what the trailer was for.  Thankfully, Kelsey had taken four years of Spanish in high school, so she was prepared to speak to them about Threads for Teens!  Overall, the day was a nice mix of good weather, great girls, and numerous visitors!  We packed up the trailer happy with the days events, but sad to leave the great city of Indianapolis.  
We had a beautiful view of Indianapolis from our hotel.
We are now excited for another great day in Detroit, Michigan!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Louisville, KY

Louisville, KY

Today was a relaxing and rewarding day here at Threads for Teens on Tour.  We began by setting up the trailer as usual and welcomed several guests early that morning including family and friends. One of our guests was Madison Roy and her family. Madison and her brother have a radio show which they interviewed Allyson for that morning.  Soon after, girls began coming in at a steady pace.  One girl was a very picky shopper as she was looking for just the right casual t-shirt in an extremely small size.  It was a challenge to find an outfit that would put a smile on her face.  However, after searching through several boxes we were able to send her home with three shirts just her style.  Later in the day, a woman named Lucy who is a CASA volunteer was able to come in and pick out a few outfits for girls who were not able to come to the mobile boutique.  Lucy was so excited to look around at all the beautiful dresses and tops. Referring to the foster girls she mentors Lucy said "They are going to freak, they have never had these kind of clothes". 

Madison Roy is a friend of Allyson's who she met at Prudential Spirit of Community Award.  Madison has raised over $9,000 through the sale of two books that she and her brother wrote.   The profits go towards helping families dealing with leukemia and sickle cell anemia. 

Some of the girls shopping during our stop in Louisville, KY.

Emily Kossey, a girl who Allyson met at ANN Power & Vital Voices is also active in her community.  Her project teaches underprivileged families healthy eating habits through informative cooking classes.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nashville, TN

Nashville, Tennessee
Wednesday, June 26th

Our drive from Charlotte to Nashville was one of the most beautiful drives we have had.  We passed through  the gorgeous Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, where the Hunger Games was filmed! We were greeted by an enormous and beautiful sunset upon our arrival to Nashville.

The biggest sun we've ever seen!

Finally, after a very long seven hour car ride, we arrived at the amazing Indigo Hotel! They were so kind and welcoming to us, and surprised us all by leaving a gift bag in our room! Thank you Hotel Indigo!

The contents of the care package from Hotel Indigo!
The next morning we woke up ready to start the days appointments. First, we realized that the carpets were dirty, so we asked the hotel to lend us a much-needed vacuum!

Allyson got to work vacuuming the carpets.
After everything was cleaned and ready to go, the girls came in to start their shopping!  One of the girls was having a hard time finding clothes that she liked, but we noticed that she was wearing a collared button-down shirt, so we matched her up with a checkered blue shirt of similar style.  Many of the girls liked the turquoise blue shorts and asked for our help with finding a top to match it.  It was fun searching through the clothes with the girls to find a matching shirt that they liked.  In the end, we were able to help all the girls find clothes that they loved, and everyone left happy with their choices!

Allyson helping a girl find a cute dress.
Vernel Mitchell, an advocate supervisor of CASA, stopped by the trailer for a while to see us.

The hotel was also able to lend us a ladder so the chandelier could be fixed! Thanks again!
Meanwhile, Katie is taking her turn cooling off in front of the air conditioner; it was a very hot day in Nashville!

Ronni Anderson, the director of sales from Hotel Indigo, came down to say hi to all of us.

Allyson and Amy pose for a picture together.  So cute!

Charlotte, NC

Charlotte, NC
There was only one wave of girls for the day who we were thrilled to have in our mobile boutique.  They were able to take their time in looking around and find the perfect outfits.  We started by introducing ourselves and asking each of the girls their names, then after showing them around the boutique we began pulling items that we thought would fit each of the girls' personal style.  One girl named Brianna, who I was able to help shop and talk to stuck to the basics with a sweater, shoes, and a simple t-shirt. Another girl spent most of the time picking through dresses amazed at the variety. As one girl wrote in our guest book "a beautiful selection!"  Katie was also able to connect personally with one girl who was seventeen and talk about high school and sports.  Overall, it was a rewarding day spent in beautiful North Carolina.

Taylor Waters, a fellow HALO award winner, came to the mobile boutique to visit today. She works with the Red Cross, spending much of her time raising awareness and funds for the organization. Allyson really enjoyed being able to visit with her and show her more about the organization.
A girl shopping for a new outfit in Charlotte, NC
A quote from our guestbook that truly inspired our volunteers:
"Thank you so very much. We hope your idea and vision grow as you grow which you have plenty of years!" - Charlotte, North Carolina

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Columbia, SC

Columbia, South Carolina
Monday, June 24th

We never thought it could happen, but the humidity didn't faze us too much today!  After struggling through six days of unbelievable heat and humidity, we were finally getting used to it.  Believe it or not, we survived the day in the trailer without air conditioning! All the appointments went really well and the girls all loved their items.  We had a great time talking with them about different South Carolina and North Carolina attractions that we could do today.

After the appointments were finished, we packed up and started our short drive to North Carolina!  Before heading out, we stopped at Jason's Deli, our go-to lunch place, and got some great food.  After, we walked over to a cute cupcake store and bought some delicious cupcakes.  While we were eating we noticed that it had gotten very windy and cloudy outside.  Within minutes, it was a complete downpour.  We got completely soaked on our run to the car, and then watched as the road flooded up to the sidewalk within minutes.  The rain pounded on us during most of our drive to Charlotte, but thankfully it stopped when we got there!
Our favorite, Jason's Deli!

Kelsey, Allyson, and Katie with their delicious cupcakes!

Our view of the flooding outside from inside the car.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville, FL
Today was by far the hottest and most humid day yet, but also one of the most memorable and exciting.  The morning was productive and many of the girls found purses, necklaces, and dresses that they loved. We were lucky enough to have several visitors to our mobile boutique today. 
One of those visitors was Dana, a friend of Allyson's who she met at the Coca-Cola Scholarship program.  
 Lee Kaywork the CEO of Family Support Services came to the shop today.

After appointments were finished, we were able to spend the day at Amelia Island with Gary, a family friend of the Ahlstroms. We were so thankful to be treated to lunch at a restaurant right on the beach and took pictures near the waves.  We cooled off with a scoop of homemade ice cream as we walked around downtown. Overall, we had an amazing time in Jacksonville thanks to Gary Moberg and the wonderful girls who came to shop today.

A view of downtown at Amelia island.

Atlanta, GA

Atlanta, Georgia
Saturday, June 22nd

We woke up this morning ready for a busy day of work.  We knew today would be an exciting one, after talking extensively with a CASA representative who told us they had ready at the trailer site for us.  When we arrived at the trailer's location, we saw two large white tents, a table of breakfast food, a makeup station, and many girls and the CASA reps eagerly waiting our arrival.  There was even a news channel there to film the day!  Allyson's friend Kelsey from the Prudential Awards showed up with the rest of her family to help us throughout the day.  Kelsey started a project called Bands4RAINN, which raises money for survivors of sexual assault.  She had a blast and did a great job helping the girls to find clothes throughout the day.  The girls had a lot of fun choosing their items, and we enjoyed working with all of the kind and amazing girls during their shopping appointments.

Katie, Kelsey, and Allyson with Kelsey.

The tents that CASA set up for us and the girls.

Allyson getting interviewed for a news channel.

Allyson holding a thank you frame with notes from the girls. 

Allyson with the Fulton County CASA staff.

After packing up the trailer, we headed out to explore the World of Coke in Atlanta.  We had so much fun tasting the flavors from all around the world and choosing our favorites.  We highly recommend going to the World of Coke, it such was a great experience!

Katie, Kelsey, and Allyson in front of Coca-Cola memorabilia.

The tasting room at the World of Coca-Cola.  (If you go there, try the Beverly from Italy because it's delicious!)

On our way to Florida, we made sure to stop and get some sweet Georgia peaches! 
Overall, It was an absolutely great day.  We had a blast working with the CASA staff and the amazing girls, and had a great road trip to Florida after!  We are now looking forward to having another awesome day in Florida tomorrow!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Birmingham, AL

Birmingham, AL

We arrived in Birmingham late last night after a five hour drive from Jackson, MS.  We were greeted by the gregarious staff of the Hotel Highland who helped maneuver the mobile boutique into a perfect spot right in front of the hotel.  The next morning the team got to work cleaning and organizing between appointments.  We were able to clear out a ton of space and replenish the racks of clothes.  We also met numerous girls today who were so kind and eager to talk with us.  Soon it was one o'clock and we were ready to pack up and head to Atlanta.

The mobile boutique parked in a much sought after spot in front of the hotel..

Inside the Hotel Highland in Birmingham, Alabama.

Allyson as she cleans and organizes the back of the truck.

The gourmet Popsicle shop we stopped at in Birmingham. YUM!!!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Jackson, MS

Jackson, Mississippi
Thursday, June 20th

This morning we got some much-needed time to sleep in, as appointments started at 1:00 today and not 10:00 like usual. While it was great to get the extra sleep, the downside was that the shopping appointments were at a hotter time of day.  The temperature got up to a blistering 97 degrees, with a heat index of 106! At one point we had seven girls shopping in the trailer, which caused the heat in the non-air-conditioned trailer to go up about 10 degrees! The girls seemed to be used to it, but we were struggling to stay hydrated and cool.  Even with the intense humidity, the girls had a blast finding their three items and we had a great time helping them! 
Allyson with Tahneesha Harris from the Division of Family and Children Services

After all fifteen girls left happy with their clothes, we packed up the trailer and headed off on our four hour drive to Birmingham, Alabama! Along the way we stopped in downtown Jackson and saw both the old and the new capitol buildings.  

Mississippi's old Capitol building

The new capitol building hidden behind some trees

We made it to sweet home Alabama!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Little Rock, AR

Little Rock, Arkansas
Wednesday, June  19th

This morning began the second stop on our second leg of Threads for Teens on Tour.  We awoke bright and early to set up the mobile boutique and get everything ready for the girls.  At just ten in the morning the heat was already 83 degrees and a heat index of 97 degrees, but it didn't faze our intrepid volunteers.  Soon the girls came piling in and we got to work helping each girl find the perfect outfit for her individual style.  A few girls were looking for an outfit to wear to job interviews they had the next day and we were able to find just the right look that was professional and classy.

While setting up in the morning we met a local girl who had read about Threads for Teens in Clubhouse magazine and came out to help us that day. It was great to have an extra pair of hands and to see how the word was being spread about Threads for Teens.

Allyson and Callie after a long day of volunteering in the Threads for Teens mobile boutique.

KTHV news crew interviewing Allyson in Littler Rock Arkansas.

After we had closed up the shop we were able to tour the Dassault Falcon Jet facility. This is where high-class airplanes are customized and built for private ownership. It was an amazing experience to get a private tour of the facility by one of the company's engineers. At one point we were able to walk inside a finished jet, but not without hairnets and booties.

Allyson, Kelsey, and Katie showing off their hair nets in front of the Dessault Falcon Jet facility.

After leaving Little Rock we headed towards Jackson, Mississippi, but first we made a pit stop in Memphis, TN to visit Graceland and get ourselves authentic southern BBQ.

Allyson, Kelsey, and Katie in front of the gates to Elvis' Graceland Mansion.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dallas, TX

Dallas, Texas
Tuesday, June 18th

We woke up this morning in Dallas, Texas, thrilled for the beginning of the second leg of Threads For Teens on Tour.  We had a lot of work to do in the trailer after 41 long hours on the shaky road.  The clothes had to be put in color order and arranged by size and the boxes had to be sorted through and combined. While we were getting the trailer ready, a group of seven girls quickly filled the trailer at once.  We all had a great time helping the girls find clothes.  More girls came later on and were also very excited and positive when searching for their new clothes.  Today was Katie and Kelsey's first day on the tour, so they got to learn how to organize the trailer, fold clothes properly, and especially how to interact with the girls.  Overall, it was a successful day and we all enjoyed our time in the Big D.  Thank you to all of the amazing ladies and girls we got to meet today!

Shortly after, we headed off to Little Rock, Arkansas! Along the drive, Allyson saw a sign for "Fried Pies" and we all agreed to stop and try this local delicacy.  We highly recommend stopping at the Original Fried Pie Shop, because they were some of the best pies we ever tasted!

                             The sign for the Fried Pie Shop

We also saw the cheapest gas we've seen so far! Go Texas

                 After 5 entertaining hours in the car, we arrived in Arkansas!

The highlighted route of the first leg, Thanks Amy!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Salt Lake City + Seattle + Portland + End of Leg 1

Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City started off awesome! We pulled into downtown Salt Lake on monday evening to the awesome Hotel Monaco (Check them out HERE). Our room was extremely posh and spacious. The next morning, we started appointments with girls from the Salt Lake City CASA program. Parked right out front of the Hotel Monaco, girls tried on and chose clothes all day long. Unfortunately, this was Natalie and Auntie Abbie's last day with us on the tour. They did an awesome job while they were there, however it was sad to see them leave.

In Seattle, Threads for Teens was hosted by the lovely Pan Pacific Seattle Hotel (Check them out HERE). Our rooms were extremely comfortable and luxurious. One room even had a fabulous view of the Space Needle! In Seattle, we were so blessed with the generosity of everyone from the Pan Pacific and Discovery Center who were attentive to all of our needs. A big thank you to everyone we worked with at both places! In Seattle, I was fortunate to be able to see a friend, Clare O'Connor that I had met last summer through a program called ANNPower Vital Voices, a program that provides mentorship to teen girls with powerful mentors in a four day summit. She came out to say hi! The girls all loved the clothes they were able to receive in Seattle.

In Portland, we stayed at the super-hip and eclectic Ace Hotel (Check them out HERE). Our room was very cool and had such a downtown Portland vibe. In Portland, my friend Matt Ferguson, of Matt's Chemo Bags, and the HALO awards came out to hang out and volunteer at the truck all day. It was a great time visiting and outfitting girls in new outfits. Make sure to check out his website HERE and like his organization on Facebook HERE.

Allyson Ahlstrom