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Hello 3E Lovers!
Super excited to introduce you to a very good friend of mine. This blog will be a little more casual than usual, since I know her so well :) Reveca Torres has been a friend of mine for several years. She briefly met my sister and 3E Founder Annie before her passing and I have had the pleasure of getting to know her since.
3E Stevie – Hi Reveca, thank you for joining me today! How are you?!
Reveca – FAN-TASTIC! How are you Stevie?
3E Stevie – I am great! I'm excited to interview you and share with the whole world what you are up to and how cool you are! Why don't you start by pretending that we don't know each other and tell me your name, where you live, what your story is, you know :)
Reveca – My name is Reveca Torres (with a V) I am currently living in Portland, OR but was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. I am the 3rd oldest of 6 crazy Torres' Let's see... I grew up with a lot of people in our home and feel like I was often thinking up of creative ways to have fun with my brothers, sisters and cousins that lived with us... Maybe this is what moved me towards art, design, fashion and eventually BACKBONES :)
3E Stevie – Thanks for the intro, but you just had to skip to the end didn't you! Can you tell me more about your childhood and what it was like growing up with a disability?
Reveca – Yeah, my scatterbrain likes to skip around :) My childhood... I was injured in a car accident at the age of 13 and was paralyzed from the chest down. I always had a tremendous support group from friends, family, church and school. Our family became very united after this event that could have really broken us apart. My parents pretty much continued to treat me as they did my brothers and sisters (although I did get away with more things, I feel). I hung out a lot with my siblings and we all had mutual friends so it was always the whole bunch of us doing things together. So although at times I felt much loss because I wasn't able to do the other things girls my age were doing (sports, dance, trips, etc); I also feel like I didn't miss out on everything because my siblings and friends took me out and we did different things. It was lonely sometimes, I felt alone surrounded by so many people who cared about me. If that makes any sense...?
3E Stevie – It totally makes sense. Even though my disability is not acquired, I went through a lot of the same struggles but had a great support system as well as a sister with the same disability that I could share it with. What are some of the hobbies and activities that you got involved with aside from those things you felt that you missed out on?
Reveca – Well once in high school I was very anti-school spirit at first and then eventually there was a teacher who kept on pushing me to get involved with activities. I would try and avoid him because I thought he was so annoying. But... he was persistent and eventually got me to join clubs and activities. He introduced me to the Fashion teacher and the Art teachers and then I stopped going to lunch. I spent my lunch periods sewing, drawing, painting or in the dark room. I traveled for the first time to CA my junior year, just my sister and I. My travel itch was born!
3E Stevie – Haha, that reminds me of my high school math teacher who I always avoided in the halls, only because he was trying to get me more involved. He became on of my favorite teachers, but he still never got me involved. That is one regret I have - there are so many activities I could have done in high school! Travel, huh? Where have you been? What's your favorite place? And why haven't we gone on a road trip together?
Reveca – I have been to Mexico (of course), Costa Rica, Paris, England, Bahamas...and all over the US. I'm hoping to go to Honduras next year :)My favorite place...geez. I can't say! As corny as this may sound but I really find beauty and amazing-ness every place I go. Love to go places where tourists don't always go and secretly do things I think no one has ever done in that particular place...ever!... Nothing out there or complicated, just fun. I gotta say Costa Rica was wonderful and the people were so friendly. You should go some time and practice your Spanish with the locals. You won't want to leave I know it! As far as a road trip goes--- I am down! Wanna go to Wyoming? I've never been there.
3E Stevie – Ooooh Wyoming, I'm game! Other than travel, what else are your hobbies and interests? I've heard you're quite the fashionista.
Reveca – You heard right :) I went to school for fashion design and then theater arts so i have done some designing for individuals, costumes for theater and dance companies. I love to design clothing, and paper goods. I draw and paint and play around with graphic design. I think I would make a good photographer but handling the camera has been difficult for me and I get frustrated. In addition to that I love to stay active and keep my body healthy. I am a big pusher for self-care and healthy lifestyles. I love to do yoga and exercise. Makes my body feel good and have less pain.
3E Stevie – That's really awesome. I've seen some of the dresses you have made and they are incredible. I'm going to post one in this blog chat :) I know that you moved to Portland in the past few years. What have you been doing there and since graduating from school? Tell me more about your day to day and plans for the future!
Reveca – Thanks! I moved to Portland in September of 2010 to complete a certificate for Nonprofit Management at Portland State University... and also just because I was looking for a change of scenery. Portland is a great city and there is so much outdoorsy stuff to do outside the city. I really like it here. It's also really accessible. I finished school in December 2011 and since have been working on BACKBONES. BACKBONES is a nonprofit organization I started in 2009 that provides 1:1 support for people with spinal cord injuries...so they have someone to talk to after an injury or if they are looking for a resource we can direct them. We also host REALLY fun events to get people to come out and meet each other in a more social setting. Some examples are: Wine tasting; 5K Run, Walk, Roll; Fashion Show (models in wheelchairs); Sports outings; Scavenger Hunt, etc. My day to day includes talking to individuals with SCI or family members, healthcare professionals, etc. Or planning our next event! I love planning the events and hearing people tell me how much fun they had. Plans for the future!!...Hmmm... you know I don't plan ahead too much...I like to take things as they come in my personal life :) But in regards to BACKBONES I plan to GROW and conquer the world! This month of September is SCI Awareness Month and we have been doing so much with outreach, education and fundraising.
3E Stevie – I've never been to Portland but I hope to go someday! BACKBONES sounds very rewarding. It's great to start something that means something to you and to be able to put your all into it! It also sounds like your group has a strong connection to our 3E's! Do you see yourself running BACKBONES long term? Is that your future or just a means to an end? Also, where do you have events and how can our readers get involved?
Reveca – Oh my gosh!!! You would love it here Stevie! Portland is full of characters :) Maybe when we hit Wyoming we'll make a detour. You know, I am really proud of where BACKBONES is right now and where it's heading. I do put everything I have into it and it is so rewarding to hear people appreciate the work I do and feeling a connection and sense of community with us. I feel like BACKBONES does have a strong connection to 3E! I believe we started right around the time you started taking off. It's been lovely to see your growth---I AM SUPER PROUD OF YOU BTW-- and sort of share this with you. I think BACKBONES really stands for the 3E's-- Embrace, Educate and Empower! That is what we are about! Helping people live life AWESOMELY and educating others. And although we have specifically targeted spinal cord injury and disorders (it's what I know best)... really BACKBONES is OPEN ARMS!!! We love everyone and have assisted people from all paths of life. I do see running BACKBONES for a long time. At first I was very reluctant to even send in the application to become a nonprofit. I felt that if I committed to this I would be turning my back to my art and creativity. I cried at times with confusion. I was so torn. But then I talked to my high school teacher and she said to me, "You will NEVER lose your creativity. You will just bring it into everything that you do." I sighed with relief and haven't regretted what I've done. Our events have been in Portland and Chicago thus far. However we have plans to reach Los Angeles, Salt Lake and Houston in 2013. We also will be at all the Abilities Expos in 2013 and have plans of hosting some meet-ups at the cities we visit. At the end of the month 3E Lovers can join us in Chicago for our Scavenger Hunt (http://backbonesonline.com/?p=320) in honor of Awareness Month. Each team gets a wheelchair with the purpose of letting people experience a glimpse of what it can be like to have a physical disability. People can also get involved by volunteering or making a donation (http://www.crowdrise.com/scimonth/fundraiser/backbones). We are trying to raise $10,000 this month!
3E Stevie – Let's hit the road together then! I will be at most of the Abilities Expos as well. I look forward to seeing you and the rest of the crew there :) Thank you for sharing your story with me. Do you have anything else you want to tell all of our 3E Lovers out there?
Reveca – I just want to say that I am sooo glad that one day Annie Hopkins came into my life and changed my world! Love you Stevie and all the Hopkins!
3E Stevie – Thanks :) Talk soon and good luck with your upcoming events!