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Singer Jimmy Wayne: 'Honor your past, lead by example'

Thursday, May 21, 2015  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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More than 700 NEW members and supporters heard how to persevere and give back at the NEW Southern California spring learning event, May 19, 2015 at the City National Grove in Anaheim. Organizers said the session set a new record for attendance at a NEW regional event.

The event spotlighted the Network's "It's Time" campaign, including a presentation on the Movement by NEW Treasurer Erby Foster of The Clorox Company. Attendees watched the Network's "It's Time" video, and recorded their own "It's Time" videos, which will be entered in the Network video contest on Facebook (enter your own video by June 15).

Keynote speaker Jimmy Wayne, chart-topping country singer and author of the bestselling book, Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way, detailed his personal journey from abandoned child to successful recording artist — and his efforts to honor his life's champions — in stories and song.

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Wayne, whose childhood was marked by neglect and violence, continues to give back by actively honoring his past and those who have helped him. "I am not going to forget where I come from," Wayne said, and in 2010, his "Meet Me Halfway" campaign and 1,700-mile walk from Nashville to Phoenix raised awareness for foster youth who have aged out of the system and face homelessness.

Left on the side of the road by a bipolar mother and violent stepfather, Wayne was later taken in by elderly Bea and Russell Costner, a stroke of fortune that changed the 16-year-old's path, and offered him opportunities for betterment and self-worth. "They said I had to go to school, so I went to school," said Wayne, who eventually graduated from college with a degree in criminal justice.

Following Russell's death, Bea continued to be a mother, teacher and role model. He remains grateful, he says, "to have said 'thank you' and 'I love you' to the person who saved my life."

His sixth-grade teacher, who encouraged him to write and disciplined his errant behavior, was another influential figure. At his first record-release celebration at Walmart, she stood in line for hours to see him. "She never gave up on me," Wayne reflected.

Wayne's song "Where You're Going" shares his philosophy of honoring the past, but giving back and leading by example in the present. "It's not who you were back then, it's who you are at this moment."

Featured speaker Sue Klug of Unified Grocers Inc. urged professionals to consider the people and environments that have shaped their successes. "Think about how each of you got here, through a different path," Klug said. "Create a plan to give back."

Klug outlined her dedication to helping women advance in the workplace, helping women and men secure educational opportunities and finding a cure for cystic fibrosis, which her daughter battles. "Nothing in the world could make me stop until a cure is found."

Companies sending large groups to the event include Acosta Sales & Marketing, Advantage Sales & Marketing, Cardenas Markets, The Coca-Cola Company, Deloitte, Food 4 Less, PepsiCo Inc., Ralphs Grocery Company, Smart & Final, Southern Wine & Spirits, Unified Grocers Inc. and Young's Market Company.

John Sawyer of Foster Farms, Christina Ortiz of Acosta Sales & Marketing
and Flavia Guerrero of Hormel network at the NEW Southern California event.

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