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Organization The NIMBY Project 
Issue Women and Children Shelter Makeovers 

Six months ago, I sat down with a friend to talk about some important social issues. We talked about the NIMBY Project (a TV show specifically designed to make over shelters across America), which mirrors one of my personal dreams to make over shelters across America. My friend instantly wanted to become involved, and we started working on three important Projects including the NIMBY Project.

A week later my friend set up a meeting in Little Italy where I met longtime actor Luis Guzman. I told him about my documentary "Not In My Back Yard," and gave him a copy. I also told him about, and the NIMBY Project which was inspired by my documentary. Luis and I met the very next day, and he expressed to me how much he loved my film. He actually said he had never seen anything like it. Of course, that surprised me because Luis has been in over 300 films, and has worked with some of the best producers, actors and directors in Hollywood.

What surprised me even more was the fact that Luis immediately wanted to come meet my mentor Sandra Ramos and visits one of her shelters aptly named "Strengthen Our Sisters." I instantly knew Luis was different because not only did he want to go to a woman's shelter sight unseen, he brought his son Cemi with him. To understand Cemi you have to meet him. He is like his father, kind and authentic. Everyone knows Luis Guzman because he is seen on the big screen, but what people do not get to see is a generous, caring person who really wants to help make a difference. I know Luis Guzman, and am proud to have him as a spokesperson for "Not In My Back Yard," and The NIMBY Project. He is a kind and compassionate free spirit, and a loving, excellent father. His past has helped to shape who he is today having worked as a social worker before he became famous.'

We shot The NIMBY Project's Public Service Announcement (PSA) in NYC, (with a host of other special celebrities who are ambassadors for the Project), however one special spokesperson was absent. Luis had called me and said he was so sorry he could not make the shoot. However, he went on to say that he took his role as spokesperson very seriously and invited us to film him at his home. So, Rick my fiancé and cameraperson, Jack our dog, and Fran my right hand for everything packed up our gear and hopped into the car for the six-hour ride. I honestly thought we would film him and then turn right around and head home that weekend. We got up there late Friday, went straight to Luis home and met his family. He has an incredible wife and great children. While we were at their home, they graciously shared it with us making us dinner Friday night. We checked into a local hotel and returned Saturday for the filming. Filming was done by noon and instead of leaving, Luis invited us to stay. We had a BBQ, relaxed, and then watched some great local fireworks. On Sunday, he told us to come back before we made the drive home. He made us all pancakes with strawberries and blueberries.

We talked a lot about how many people are suffering and what is wrong with humanity. His wife is so caring and knows a great deal about holistic healing. I learned a lot that weekend. I am humbled and overwhelmed by Luis and his family. Luis represents what it is to be a perfect spokesperson. He is the right man to help humanity. He is so funny and he makes you laugh so hard, but most of all he is genuine. Luis has always kept his word with me and is extremely passionate about this cause. Not all celebrities do that. Luis was the only person who did not get hair and make-up done for the NIMBY Project PSA. That is how cool he is. I have had the same friends for years, and I rarely call people I have only known for a short time a friend or someone I admire and respect. I have to say all those things about Luis Guzman. He is not just famous or funny; he has real substance and a huge heart. He wants to make a difference in the world and he is. Remember, world peace begins at home.


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