Yashira Marie Rivera-Calero is an enthusiastic and passionate volunteer that in the span of 11 years has contributed to 15 different organizations. Her exposure to volunteering came from a childhood coach that provided a positive atmosphere and shelter to Yashira a girl, with an uncertain future. A graduate from the Art Institute of Philadelphia with a degree in Fashion Design, she currently uses her design experience to style clients at Dress for Success with the South Central PA affiliate. She truly believes that regardless of background and social standing any individual has the ability to persevere. She is in the process of launching M0ntage.com, a personal composition blog that will use inspirational stories, art, and volunteerism to help women regain confidence. Her volunteerism and dedication has awarded her the 2013 Community Involvement Award through Northwest Savings Bank, an award granted to one regional employee yearly.
Q: You have a broad range of volunteer experience and you mentioned a childhood coach that “provided a positive atmosphere.” Can you tell me more about that influence on your life?
YR: There was a point in my early teens where everything seemed to be falling apart. The relationship between my parents, certain living conditions, peer relationships, and the large gap between my siblings and me made it seem as if I was an only child. My childhood coach was fully aware of my personal life and became a beam of light. She became a mentor and helped me become involved in sports, extracurricular activities, clubs and volunteerism. Once I volunteered for events such as, Swap Shop, an exchange event were individuals with torn and tattered clothing could be exchanged for clothing of a better quality. I then became humble and realized that there are other individuals that go through life challenges that are more challenging than your own. Instead of reprimanding me for my unacceptable behavior she nourished me with tough love and encouragement to persevere. After that first experience, I was involved in the Renova Center in Lebanon and Cedar Haven. In college I was a part of Philabundance and other charitable events. I didn’t volunteer for many years until I helped out the victims of Hurricane Sandy, which rekindled my passion for volunteerism.
Q: How does working with Dress for Success utilize your fashion degree?
YR: I saw the interview you had with Ruth Koup and she is an incredible inspiration. Having a degree in fashion design along with experience has helped me utilize many of my skills while suiting clients at Dress for Success. In art school I learned:
- Fashion Trends/Colors
- Fashion Sketching
- Pattern Making & Draping
- Extensive knowledge in sewing
- Time Management
All these skills are used when suiting/styling a client. One thing I learned in suiting clients is the variety shapes and sizes of women and what colors/prints and styles look best. The average fashion mannequin or fashion model tends to be thinner than the average women. Something many women have to think about when it comes to image.
Q: Tell me about M0ntage. What is your inspiration and how will you change the world?
YR: M0ntage.com will be a personal life/style composition by Yaya (ME). My inspiration will be one featured story monthly of a woman with positive image to other women. I will also be documenting my journey as a public speaker at events/organizations about volunteerism and how it helps people improve as a human being. Lastly, using various forms of art along with the other topics to help women regain confidence. My goal for M0ntage.com is for it to be an escape for women to find a positive form of social media. As women, we have to take a stand against negativity and work with each other to form a positive movement. I want women to understand that they are accomplished and beautiful regardless of the daily challenges life brings. I truly do believe that regardless of background and social standing any individual has the ability to persevere. If one person is inspired enough to become the person they dream of becoming by reading M0ntage.com, then it is the beginning of a tremendous movement. I am currently in the process of building the website and hope for a launch this year!
Q: What makes you joyful? Where do you find inspiration? Where does peace come from?
YR: I love laughing, and singing (though I am a terrible singer) and dancing. I love spending time with the individuals in my life that remind me of my greatness when I forget. I find inspiration from anything such as: music, film, art, and other inspirational women. I hope to become the absolute best person I can become regardless of all the obstacles life brings. I get my peace from exercise, and hearing the impact I’ve left on a client’s life. Hearing what people say about how I have affected their lives brings me the greatest peace. It shows that regardless of the doubts I may have, I am gearing towards the correct path in my life.