Going Beyond the Vanguard Community to Improve Lives

Bits of Hope

“A Costa Mesa company is looking to improve the lives of Ugandan women one bracelet and necklace at a time.”

By Alisha Gomez


Sometimes a trip is more than just a great escape.

That’s what happened to Kallie Dovel when she first traveled to Uganda in summer 2007. It was there that she saw what women were going through: little to no education, lack of health care, extreme poverty.

But there was one thing they had: paper beads they made by hand and turned into jewelry. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a market for them to sell the items.

Dovel started thinking. She brought home a box of jewelry and showed it to friends and family who were amazed. She sold the jewelry at school and at events. People responded strongly; they loved the jewelry.

But Dovel, a young twenty-something finishing her degree at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, couldn’t do it alone. She went to her friends and told them she really wanted to sell the jewelry and invest in Uganda, but she needed their help.

“So we started helping her,” said Alli Swanson, one of the five founders and director of public relations and marketing. “We started selling jewelry at craft fairs and random events, wherever we could.”

In the summer of 2008, four of them went to Uganda to meet the women they had been supporting, see their lives and figure out a way to make their jewelry business model more sustainable.

It was then that 31 Bits, now in Costa Mesa, was born.

The company first hired six women in Uganda to make the beads and jewelry, paid them a salary equivalent to a teacher and ultimately started devising their business plan.

All of them — Jessie Simonson, Anna Nelson, Brooke Hodges and Swanson — but Dovel returned to finish school at Vanguard. Dovel lived and worked with the women to put the business model in place.

A big break came in October 2008 when sandal maker Reef called. One of the designers was friends with one of the founder’s moms. The designer loved the story, the beads and the design and had showed the design team at Reef to see if the sandal maker could work with 31 Bits to make a special edition sandal.

“Reef is one of the largest sandal companies in the world, so we were really excited at the possibility of partnering with them,” Swanson said. “We met with them and had [photo copied] pictures of the ladies and box of jewelry, told our story and said a prayer. They loved our story and they placed a rather large order from us. That’s when it took off for us and that’s when it became something bigger.”

That first big order, some 16,000 beads, gave the founders enough money to get their business truly off the ground.

Nearly four years later, 31 Bits is on its fourth sandal design with Reef. The necklaces and bracelets made out of paper beads are sold in internationally in about 140 boutiques. Locally, they can be found at Silhouettes in Newport Beach, Deer Lovely in Costa Mesa, Jack’s Surf Shop in Newport Beach. For a list of shops, visit http://www.31bits.com.

Bracelets range from $10 to $48. Necklaces are $20 to about $60.

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A Beautiful Campus

Vanguard University has a rich history of equipping students for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service. And much of that happens beyond the classroom.

The things that happen as a professor talks with a student, as a group of students share with each other, these things happen physically somewhere and often on campus. As we approach the renewal of many of our campus spaces, we are being intentional about creating spaces that facilitate the important interactions that occur beyond the classroom.

Our facilities plan includes a significant component that addresses outside spaces, and several of the projects on the drawing board include areas for having a cup of coffee, eating together, and talking, as well as areas for studying and having moments of solitude.

The objective is to create a campus that provides spaces for student life outside the buildings, taking full advantage of our mild climate in beautiful settings. By providing park areas, outdoor courtyards and formal gathering spaces, as well as quiet semi-private areas for studying and reflection, VU can make the most of its spaces. This does not require significant budget, it does require knowledgeable planning and adherence to the plan by the facilities projects, the grounds maintenance team, and the community.

The first step was to establish a coordinated color palette, which has been done. All new facilities and any painting on our existing buildings are done in the new palette, enabling the University to maintain a pleasant environment. And consequently, it saves budget dollars as we can always have the right types and colors of paint on hand to make quick work of any touch up or project.

Additionally we have been working on an outdoor furniture plan to provide comfortable seating in our courtyards and other outdoor areas. The Towers Lobby provided us the opportunity to showcase our new plan elements including several new types of seating and tables. The new lobby also provides covered outdoor space that transitions informal spaces from indoors to outdoors. This approach is planned for additional places on campus in upcoming projects.

We are also focused on our landscaping. We love our Vanguard palm trees, but our spaces also need the beauty of a variety of trees, bushes, and flowers. Providing shade and beautiful vistas and spaces to enhance our lives while outdoors. We want the VU campus to reflect the beauty of God’s creation and to facilitate the best is Southern California living spaces for all of the Vanguard community.

11th Straight Appearance in the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship

Vanguard Drops Nail-Biter at NAIA Championships
Women’s Basketball – Wed, Mar 14, 2012

Frankfurt, Ky. — Frankfurt Convention Center – 32nd Annual Women’s Basketball Championship – The 13th -ranked Vanguard Lions, making their 11th straight appearance in the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, fell to No.19 Georgetown (KY) 70-68 on a pair of free-throws with three seconds remaining, ending the Lions’ season in the first round of the 32-team tournament. Vanguard had tied the game on a three-point field goal from senior captain Paige Halberg with just seven seconds left of the clock, but the Tigers from GC were able to take advantage of a foul called on the Pride and knock down both freebies to reclaim the lead. Halberg, who finished the game with a game-high 18 points, was unable to connect on a final shot at the buzzer, and the fifth-seeded Tigers advanced to the second round with the narrow win over the fourth-seeded Lions.

Junior All-GSAC forward Esther Timmermans started the game’s scoring with a field goal, but scoring was held to a minimum in the opening minutes of action. The score was tied at three as the clock approached the 13-minute mark of the first half, and remained close for the opening period of play. Tied again at 19, Georgetown scored five straight points before the Lions finished the half on a 9-5 run to pull within one at the break, trailing 29-28.

The Blue and Gold opened the second half with better execution, and the Lions claimed their biggest lead thus far in the game just three minutes into the half, after Halberg buried a shot to put Vanguard on top 40-32. VUSC continued to hold the lead for the majority of the second half, stretching the advantage to ten on a Timmermans bucket that gave the Pride a 60-50 lead with six minutes to go.

However, the pesky Georgetown squad would not go away, rallying to score the next ten points in the contest, tying the game at 60 on an old-fashioned three-point play. After Vanguard’s Ali Drennan made one of two at the charity tripe, the Tigers drained a triple to take a two-point lead. Yet VU responded, and Chelsea Alfafara nailed a triple of her own to put the Lions back in front by a point. Again Georgetown countered with a basket, but Alfafara hit one of two free-throws to tie the contest at 65 with 1:39 remaining.

The Lions got a big defensive stop on the next Tiger possession, but GC forced a jump ball moments later to reclaim possession and set up a trey for Mikkah Rogers, putting the Tigers in front by three. Vanguard Head Coach Russ Davis called a timeout with 16 ticks left on the clock, and Halberg, the fifth-year senior and only remaining member of the Lions’ 2008 National Championship team, came through in the clutch, calmly stroking the three to knot the game once more. However, the aforementioned foul call ultimately doomed VU, and Georgetown’s Dev King made both attempts to give GC the two-point lead. Halberg was able to get off a shot before time expired, but it went begging, handing the Tigers the victory.

Georgetown improved to 22-9 with the victory. The Tigers were paced by Jessica Waddle’s 15 points, 12 of them coming behind the arc.

Vanguard held GC to a 37 percent clip from the field, but the Tigers drained 10 tree-pointers in the contest. The Lions struggled at the free-throw line, making just 6-13 from the stripe, a stat which played a large role in the loss. Vanguard was also outrebounded 51-38, despite Timmermans game-high 16 boards.

In addition to her 18 points, Halberg, who played in her final game as a member of the Lions, finished with three rebounds. Timmermans pitched in 12 points to capture another double-double, while Ali Drennan and Alfafara added seven points apiece.

Vanguard, who finished tied for second in the GSAC regular season standings, ends the 2011-2012 season with an overall mark of 23-7. Gold Pride!

GCWJ Hosts Gala Dinner to Ensure Justice

The beautiful Santa Ana Country Club combined with the mellow sounds of the Vanguard Jazz Ensemble was a perfect setting for the Inaugural Global Center for Women and Justice Gala.  Attendees included people like Symphony 100 President, Darellyn Melilli,  OC Human Trafficking Task Force Chair, Lt. Derek Marsh, Justine Amodeo, Editor in chief of Coast Magazine, and Retired Judge Sam Smith who came together because of a common heart for justice.  Justice for children was the theme of Keynote speaker, Rhonda Sciortino who asked attendees to support the important mission of research and education in addressing injustice for children.  Director, Sandie Morgan, stirred hearts with reports on her recent trip to Iraq on behalf of women and her commitment to educating our communities to prevent sexual exploitation in our own backyard and globally.

The Gala was followed by a 2 day conference demonstrating the Center’s mission to Ensure Justice: Standing Together to End the Exploitation of Girls. Judges, Prosecutors, teachers, nurses, survivors, community members, and students studied the issues in order to be a voice and make a difference!!

Save the date for next year, the 10th anniversary of the Global Center for Women and Justice, March 7-8, 2013.

OC Metro: President Taylor Remains a Woman to Watch in OC

Dr. Carol A. Taylor

President, Vanguard University of Southern California

Worst Job: Working in a cubicle doing patient billing at a small hospital, with little or no human interaction.

As president of Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Carol Taylor is the first female president of any Assemblies of God university, and only the sixth woman currently in presidential leadership, among the schools in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU), an international association of Christian institutions of higher learning. Taylor is a strong advocate for second-language learners and international students. She has consulted for a number of state departments of education and national resource centers, and worked with national committees focused on large-scale testing. She has taught and lectured nationally, as well as in 11 countries around the globe. Since 2000, Taylor, who has a Ph.D. in multilingual/multicultural education from Florida State University, has helped to further Christian higher education. She’s been a facilitator and a mentor in the CCCU Women’s Leadership Development Institute, and she served on the CCCU Student Academic Programs Commission.

Advice to women in business: Be an eyes-wide-open optimist while facing brutal facts. Get the best team, invest in them and turn them loose.

OC Metro story