Rockin’ Red

                                                  15390919_1171278846283891_80982829982516182_n

                                                         Utalk Crew, Salvation Army, Staff and volunteers

This month we held the first ever “Rockin Red Christmas Experience” in Hollywood. Working in conjunction with our friends at the Salvation Army; Rockin’ Red was a special event for young adults experiencing homelessness or housing instability in the Hollywood area.

 15420997_1171277556284020_6514547941721078368_n                    15542098_1171277506284025_9203187297508492970_n 

The four hour event was packed with activities, food, celebrities, entertainment and give-aways. Upon arrival those who attended could watch a movie, play video games, shoot hoops, play pool, grab a snack, listen to a band, get a haircut or a manicure.

 15356597_1171287272949715_5846563838593031754_n                       15442136_1171287882949654_556481836662764759_n

Everyone who attended Rockin’ Red had the chance to record a video message and have it sent to a loved-one. Those over 18 at the event could also get a free smart phone.

 15356750_1171278616283914_2972220598414753587_n                     15439896_1171295009615608_2153033502309097661_n

                                                                                                                            DJ Robert Eibach

A special holiday meal with all the trimmings was served to everybody. DJ Robert Eibach provided music during the meal. Next came the entertainment part of the event hosted by the Utalk crew. Besides music from our own Larissa and a drum solo from Steve; Kati – the recently crowned Ms. California American Diamonds – also joined her co-host on the stage.

 img_8674     15578880_1171294889615620_2376304435891732364_n

 David Longoria, Steve and Robert Eibach                 Steve, Larissa and Kati interviewing Kevin Sizemore

Grammy-award winning music producer and trumpeter David Longoria performed a song from his latest album The Journey. Celebrity guests Kevin Sizemore and Issac Ryan Brown, from the new movie Believe, talked with Steve, Larissa & Kati. After showing a unique video of candy maker Jerry from Logan’s Candies, Steve shared the story of the Legend of the Candy Cane. Everyone who attended received a custom-made candy cane from Logan’s as well a copy of the legend story.

 15492499_1171288586282917_3775154751433217854_n     15338815_1171291479615961_3589258971577368967_n

Kati with Issac Brown, Kevin Sizemore and friends            Larissa, Steve and Issac performing a song

Kati and Larissa had fun using Facebook Live to let others check different parts of the event as they happened.

15380496_1171291649615944_6589096293154824255_n

                                                                         Lt. Javier Castro

Lt. Javier Castro, from the Salvation Army Hollywood welcomed everyone and encouraged them to take advantage of the various programs at the facility.

 img_1138

                    Kati holding the Heatsheet Emergency blankets we gave in all the backpacks           

Upon leaving Rockin’ Red everyone received a new backpack packed with things like a Christmas stocking, candy from the Los Angeles Fire Department, bottled water provided by Niagara Water, non-perishable food,snacks from Frito-Lay, personal hygiene kits as well as an emergency blanket provided by Heatsheets. Each person received a new pair of shoes and a jacket.


15380710_1171278396283936_7360243357364873420_n

                                                   Handing out backpacks, shoes and jackets

It was a great event that we look forward to doing again in Hollywood and hope to inspire in other cities across the country.


Hacksaw Ridge

img_0955

Hacksaw Ridge is the amazing true story of Desmond Doss, a United States corporal and combat medic during WWII. He was assigned to a rifle company of the 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division during one of the bloodiest battle of the war.

img_0950

He miraculously saved 75 men in 12 hours during the Battle of Hacksaw Ridge, on the island of Okinawa. And he did it all without a weapon!

img_0948

Steve and Kati, from the Utalk crew were able to attend a private screening of the film. After a reception they were also able to attend an exclusive interview with the film’s director Mel Gibson.

gallery-3-large-1                                                                  Courtesy of hacksawridge.com

Hacksaw Ridge was a close combat fight with heavy weaponry. Thousands of Japanese and American soldiers were killed. Doss not only survived the battle, saving so many lives, but he continues to confound those who know his story.

Veteran Carl Bentley, who was also at Hacksaw Ridge, says in the documentary, “It’s as if God had his hand on [Doss’] shoulder. It’s the only explanation I can give.”

gallery-1-large                                                The Real Desmond Doss – Courtesy of hacksawridge.com

Desmond was a Seventh-day Adventist who wouldn’t touch a weapon or work on the Sabbath. His story couldn’t be told without talking about his faith because it undergirds his life.

He enlisted in the Army as a combat medic because he was committed to the cause, but made a vow not to kill. The Army wanted nothing to do with him because he didn’t fit the mold of what a good soldier should be. They saw him as a slacker. His commander Captain Jack Glover even tried to get him transferred.

But despite their efforts, the Army couldn’t force Doss to use a weapon. A 1940 law allowed conscientious objectors to serve the war effort in “noncombatant” positions, so Doss went with his company as a medic to the Pacific.

img_0951

In conjunction with the Salvation Army, Steve was invited to attend the press conference prior to the release of the film. It’s an important reminder of the veterans who struggle with PTSD and how important it is to care for them. The Salvation Army is at the forefront of creating awareness and caring for our vets in a variety of ways.

img_0952

Mel Gibson describes the film as a love story – not just between a man and a woman – but also the dramatic demonstration of a truth from the Bible that’s there’s no greater love a man can give for others than a willingness to give his life for them.

Andrew Garfield, who stars as Doss, initially had doubts that he could play the part because of the “unique spirituality” Desmond had. This was reflected by Desmond’s simple prayer uttered after each soldier he rescued, “Lord, just one more. Let me rescue one more.”

img_0957

After the press conference Steve had the opportunity for a private conversation with Vince Vaughn and Luke Bracey, two of the stars of the film. They discussed why the film is important for this generation to view and reflect on.

It’s a must see film. It comes out this weekend. Take the time to go see it with some friends. Discuss it and think of ways you can honor and reach out to our veterans who’s commitment and courage make our freedom possible.


Terror, Courage, Fear and Faith

img_5077

Deepwater Horizon, the action thriller film that opened this past Friday, sums up all these emotions and more. The Utalk crew had the opportunity to attend a special pre-release screening starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich and Kate Hudson and found themselves emotionally engaged throughout the film.
mark-wahlberg-deepwater-horizon-f656 
                                                                        Courtesy of joblo.com

It tells the story of what happened on the BP oil rig that exploded in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven workers died and the resulting oil spill became one of the costliest disasters in the US, polluting beaches and the gulf. It was an environmental and economic disaster for five states. But the saga of what happened on the oil rig that fateful night and the courage that saved many lives is a lesser-known story that was over shadowed by the enormous cleanup efforts and lawsuits.


501439237_17679775_8col

                                                                  Courtesy of tampabay.com

Deepwater Horizon’s script draws on a perceptive article that appeared in the New York Times in December 2010. In spite of the fact that crew members died and were severely injured because of the failure of all of the defenses of the floating Horizon, many lives were saved by simple acts of heroism.

 1475364363985        deepwater-horizon-movie-trailer-large-7                          Courtesy of theage.com.au                                                  Courtesy of ispot.tv

It’s a powerful film that’s without a doubt worth seeing. Check it out in your local theater. It’s definitely a movie you want to see on the big screen