Face Forward International (Face Forward), a Los Angeles-based non-profit that provides reconstructive surgeries and emotional support to survivors of domestic abuse, human trafficking, and acts of hate and cruelty, has set its sights on Dallas for expanding charitable initiatives -- and kicked off its Big D debut, with a larger-than-life Brazilian Carnival-inspired extravaganza April 9th at The Eye at The Joule.
Appearances were made by Real Housewives of Dallas Alum Tiffany Moon, Social Revolt's Marty Martinez, WFAA Channel 8 Anchor Kara Sewell, and many other community philanthropists in support of this inspiring move.
"I love Dallas, the hospitality and the people," said Face Forward International CEO and Founder, Deborah Alessi. "There's a great need for what we do in Dallas [and] people needing surgery from human trafficking. We really need to be here."
Face Forward brings patients from all over the world to Los Angeles (and now Dallas), to receive treatment from world-class surgeons and medical providers to treat injuries sustained from acts of violence including: broken bones, scars, and acid burns. Additional treatments also involve implant and tattoo removals for survivors of sex and human trafficking, as designated in the organization's most recent press release.
Alessi and her team have strategically partnered with Dallas-based plastic surgeon, Dr. Rod Rohrich, MD, to kick-start the services for Face Forward clients.
"I'm looking forward to working with Face Forward," said Dr. Rohrich, former Chairman of UT Southwestern, author and educator. "It's going to be phenomenal. We're helping people that have been abused, and as a plastic surgeon...we do a lot of facial reconstructive surgeries. We've seen gunshot wounds to the face, or slashing with knives. They are very devastating wounds, and of course we help to restore them -- not only to restore the patient's face, but to restore their life. What Face Forward does as well, is to restore their spirit, because that's what it's really all about."
Face Forward's "Brazilian Carnival for a Cause", hosted by Chandini & Co, was its first fundraiser held in the city of Dallas and featured Carnival-inspired sips, festive eats, vibrant dancers, extravagant decor, and a VIP whiskey and cigar experience. Good Morning Texas' Jane McGarry served as the emcee, along with words by Face Forward's previous "Beacon of Hope Award" recipient, Caitlyn Jenner. Five-time GRAMMY award-winner CeeLo Green took the stage to bring an evening of charitable giving to a dynamic, and high-spirited close, with his hits of "Crazy", "Bright Lights Bigger City", and countless others.
"You have to spread the message and spread the love," said award-winning artist CeeLo, when asked about his alignment with Face Forward. "It's important to appreciate and acknowledge those who are less fortunate, and to use your voice, influence and platform to make a difference. You can not just tithe monetarily -- you have to tithe with [your] time, energy, attention and affection. As far as Face Forward is concerned, we all have memories and regrets that we are scarred by that are irreversible...and that's why I'm here -- it's a simple ingredient of love."
Several Face Forward patients were honored and celebrated during the evening, including domestic violence survivor and facial reconstructive patient Saundra Crockett. Crockett, expressed an enhanced quality of life following the surgeries provided through the organization. "They're amazing," Crockett said. "Without Face Forward, I don't think I would be where I am right now. I will always be grateful."