"The best investment is to educate and truly love yourself." - Sophie Felix
Sophie Felix is the San Diego Chapter President of America's Children of Fallen Heroes, an organization that supports the children who lost a parent in the military, fire department or police force. She is also a passionate Latina entrepreneur, hungry for making a difference. When we say girls will change the world, we mean girls like you, Sophie.
Way to go!
Every Ella: Tell me about yourself.
Sophie Felix: I was born and raised in San Diego. I'm the San Diego Chapter President of America's Children of Fallen Heroes, and I'm very proud to be the first female President within my charity organization. I'm also the owner of HBM Talent & Management. I take great pride in being a Latina Entrepreneur and I'm very ambitious when it comes to accomplishing my dreams.
What field of study did you get your education in?
I received my education from the National Latina Business Women's Associations ELEF Program. ELEF stands for Emerging Latina Entrepreneur Fellowship. Through strategic business development education, I was able to start my own business and make it profitable. I learned about the laws, business plans, marketing and how to pursue capital.
After completing my education in 2013, I immediately rebranded by business and personal goals. I often get requests from women for guidance. It's empowering for me to mentor other women and watch them obtain financial freedom, especially if their businesses can collaborate with mine. The ELEF program literally changed my life. I'm grateful I was chosen for that program.
You’ve recently been named the first female president for the San Diego Chapter of America's Children of Fallen Heroes Charity. Can you tell us a little bit about the program and your role?
Absolutely! My role is to provide support for children who have lost their hero parent that served in the military, fire department or police force. I assure we have resources to implement our programs and I lead our San Diego Chapter. My favorite is our Dream Development Program, a 10-year mentorship program that provides a child with top of the line education, therapy, special trips and overall assistance in accomplishing their American Dream.
Our second program is our EOA Program. EOA stands for Expression of Appreciation and it's letters written for a widow or family of a fallen hero that we collect from celebrities, politicians and local supporters. These letters have a positive impact and mean a lot to the families. My goal is to make sure they always feel loved and appreciated for their ultimate sacrifices.
How did you become involved with ACOFH?
I was referred to the Executive Director Chaplain Tig about ACoFH by Scott Becky. At the time, I was deeply involved with supporting other charities, but I was just volunteering my skills and resources. When I met Chaplain Tig, he explained his vision for ACoFH and why it's so crucial to have strong leaders. I started as an ambassador and by the next month, I knew this was something I needed to become 100% involved in. I realized that all the time I spent volunteering for children actually prepped me for this next challenge.
Chaplain Tig asked me what was my 'American Dream?'. I told him I wanted to work from home and have a career where I can help children and change lives. I remember Tig told me God had special plans for me; I was a 'lioness just waiting to break free.' That's how I really felt with my work. I was so ready. He gave me the opportunity to make my American Dream a reality and I went full force. Not long after, I was inaugurated at a church in my hometown as San Diego Chapter President. It was the most beautiful ceremony with my family and mentors there. When I placed my hand on the Holy Bible and took my oath, it was one of the proudest moments in my life.
Did you always know you wanted to do charity work?
Not when I was growing up, but I strongly feel like I was spiritually led to it. I started my charity work in 2011 when I met a child named Baby Izaiah Wallis. He was hit by a teen drunk driver when he was just 18 months old, which left him paralyzed, on a feeding and oxygen tube and brain damaged. He's supported by a charity I help, Passion4KIDS.
One day Izaiah's grandma, Maria, invited me to meet him and see if I could help fundraise. I remember walking through the hallway and being so nervous. I walked in his room and met 'Baby Izaiah' for the first time. He was hooked up to a tube connected to a oxygen machine. He was watching a movie Shark Tales and his grandma said "Izaiah. This is Sophie. She is our friend and she's going to help you!"
Even though he was hooked up to machines, he looked me straight in my eyes and gave me the BIGGEST smile and started dancing and waving his arms really fast (that's his way of showing he's happy since he can't talk). I was crying happy tears and something told me I had to help. It was a very euphoric feeling. I promised him one day we would get him a new home and brain therapy. After that, his family treated me as family and included me in special stuff. I don't tell that story often but that day is why I started focusing on charity work.
What has the most rewarding experience been thus far in your career?
The most rewarding moment was the day Izaiah appeared on the Dr. Phil Show and The Dr. Phil Foundation surprised his mom and dad with a $173,000 check for his therapy. The reason why it was so special was the way I found out. I used to always surprise the Wallis Family... but this time they surprised me. They kept the check a secret and while we were sitting on their couch watching the Dr. Phil Show, I learned of the donation (with news stations filming our reactions).
I was so shocked and happy for Izaiah that I started sobbing in front of everyone! I'm grateful the news didn't show that part. Ha! It was embarrassing to cry like that, but that's a day so spiritually rewarding to me. I knew Izaiah could get his therapy. My mentors, the Van Kesslers, who coordinated everything hugged me and told me I had a big part in this. It meant a lot to me.
Has any one story or individual in particular had an impact on you?
Of course Izaiah Wallis has been a huge inspiration but another is a woman I met this year through my charity ACoFH. She's the widow of a fallen Marine EOD tech. The things she has confided in me makes me understand the importance of my position as President and why I need to fight for women like her. Her welcoming me in her life and being so strong is inspiring. We helped her get a new fence for her backyard thanks to the EOD Foundation and also brain therapy from The Braintek Institute to help with her anxiety. I love her so much.
Recently an anonymous woman heard about our story and donated funding so I can now provide modern brain therapy from The Braintek Institute to others! I'm beyond grateful to have the tools to help people who are suffering from anxiety and PTSD, which I feel is an issue that needs more attention.
What woman has most inspired you?
That's difficult to choose because there are several woman who have inspired me or had my back during my process. If it wasn't for these women, I would not be where I am today. They are my mom, grandma Jenny, Maria Gonzales Izaiab's grandmother, best friend Erika Belvin, former boss Cyndi Spell, Linda Van Kessler - Founder of Passion4KIDS, Susy Contreras - Founder of IMOB and Remy Mimms - President of NLBWA-SD. As far as celebrities, I admire Oprah Winfrey for her entrepreneur achievements and Angelina Jolie Pitt for her international humanitarian accomplishments.
Has there been any obstacles being a woman president?
Not at all. I actually find that people are excited about it. Sometimes kind people who hear about what we do thank me and it makes me feel good. I am somewhat feisty if challenged, especially with men. I enjoy to be challenged and debate intellectually. So if there is ever an issue, I will overcome it.
What are you upcoming plans with ACOFH?
To further pursue taking our organization to a higher level so we can support children, not just in California, but throughout our nation. We have a vehicle being made right now that is a beast. It's a customized jeep. Within the next few months it will be driving throughout our country attending special events and meeting with families that we will support. It has a huge American Flag and eagle on it. In the future, I'll be traveling to mentor the other chapter Presidents and volunteers so we can help more children.
What goals do you have for yourself?
To be highly successful and respected as a humanitarian and entrepreneur. I just got a call from director and producer Joseph Cinemato from Lanucana Studios saying we're upcoming 2015 recipients of The Telly Awards for our ACoFH charity commercial! Yass! I plan on having a special celebration when my statue gets here and I really want to enjoy these moments of happiness.
I want to get to that level where I can help more people. I want to be able to continue being my own boss and live my life the way I visualize it. I want to watch sunsets by the ocean, chill and drink tea on my porch. Most importantly, I want to spend more quality time with my family and I want to experience true love in the future. No matter what, I'll stay shining.
What one piece of advice would you like to give other girls?
The best investment is to educate and truly love yourself. And once you get there, celebrate your victories, woman up and keep pushing!