The mission of Wings of Love, International, Inc. (WOLI) is simple, yet complex. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to helping those affected by abuse to live safe, self-sufficient lives, with a mission to passionately empower, educate and inspire a pathway from abuse to emotional health, wholeness and abundance, says founder Denise O’Brien.

O’Brien said she came up with the idea to start the organization after life-changing events in 2009 affected her so deeply and overwhelmingly that her life’s mission was altered forever.

Wings of Love International, Inc. officially opened March 23, when O’Brien met personally with Secretary of State Debra Bowen in Sacramento to file its Articles of Incorporation.

The current board of directors includes Vice President Carrie Macelletti of El Segundo, Secretary Connie Trageser of Pleasanton, Treasurer Alan Rubin of West Los Angeles, and Children’s Program Director, Lynne Rossman of Poway.

The primary goal of the program is to provide education that will help break the cycle of abuse. Through the organization’s speakers’ bureau, it offers free classes, seminars, and workshops to help men, women and children of all ages learn how to avoid becoming a victim. The organization is planning an international speakers’ bureau to be available in cities throughout the world to provide education and training.

A single mother of three children, O’Brien has lived in Westchester for over 28 years and has been a business owner there for over 23 years. She’s worked with and on behalf of women for decades, earning a number of community service awards.

“I wanted to create an organization that would allow people from every socio-economic class to have access to services that would help them when confronted with any type of abuse or domestic violence issue,” said O’Brien.

“The holidays are a time for peace, love and joy, but many families only see these words in a Christmas card and rarely find peace while dealing with abuse in their homes,” said O’Brien. “In many cases, the violence that exists behind closed doors is rarely seen, and reluctantly discussed by victims of abuse. During the holidays, there is always a rise in crime, violence and suicide.

“So many families are hurting because of the struggling economy, which creates more stress and violence in homes. Wings of Love International is a group of over 175 people who are committed to education about domestic violence prevention throughout the world,” she continued.

“Our panel of speakers comes from various backgrounds. Each speaker is passionate about our mission. Our training topics are geared to help children, teens, and adults address emotional issues within themselves that are a result of abuse or domestic violence in their lives.

“It is amazing to see how everyone in my path wants to support our mission. Our goal is to open five shelters this year throughout the U.S. In my conversation with Secretary of State Bowen, she has already offered to join us at the opening of our California shelters. We are blessed with incredible people joining our group every day. It’s exciting to see the synergy that faith, enthusiasm and passion create. We are on our way to creating a life of abundance for everyone,” O’Brien said.

She is a former Ms. Santa Monica and Miss California International, and since high school, she has been involved with many community organizations.

WOLI will be sponsoring a holiday open house benefit from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 23 at Seymour Jewelers, 1212 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach. The evening will include hors ‘oeuvres, refreshments, one-night offers and a holiday raffle.

A portion of the proceeds of all sales will benefit WOLI and go directly towards victims and survivors of abuse and domestic violence.

Anyone unable to attend on Thursday can mention Wings of Love International while shopping between Dec. 20 and 25 to receive a special discount. To RSVP or for information, (310) 890-5299.

WOLI is always looking for help with fund raising, publicity promotion and development. They are also looking for more volunteer certified counselors, trainers, and coaches, as well as pro-bono or low cost attorney to help advocate for victims of domestic violence.

“We are dealing with cases where children have been threatened with loaded guns at their head, almost smothered by their father, ripped away from their birth mothers, and caught in the middle of legal tugs-of-war due to challenges with the court system,” said O’Brien.

“We can use the help of more talented people right here in Westchester that may want to volunteer. We are also planning a local thrift store to raise funds, and we are looking for a rent-free retail space in Westchester. We have many donations for our survivors and we need space for sorting. If anyone has retail space that is not being occupied, WOLI would love to borrow it for a while for a good cause,” O’Brien stated.

For more information, contact headquarters at (424) 224-WINGS (9464),

e-mail to: Denise@WingsofLoveIntl.org, or www.wingsofloveintl.org.

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