LatinaLista — Dedria Brunett is all smiles these days. Life is going well. She reigns as Miss Teen California International 2010. Her non profit Luggage of Love is getting a lot of press, she’s started community college and she is pursuing a dream she’s had for a while — acting.
Yet, there was a time in Dedria’s life when things weren’t going so well. Born to a drug addict mother, Dedria suffered homelessness, scavenged for food in trash dumpsters, and was a victim of sexual, physical and emotional abuse — all before she was even old enough to start school.
When Dedria was finally removed from her mother’s custody, she remembers one thing crystal clear — the humiliation of toting a garbage bag with all her earthly possessions in it as she was shuffled from one foster home to another until she was finally adopted at the age of six.
Though she was young, Dedria never forgot the pain of knowing that her things were only good enough for a garbage bag. So, inspired by a local beauty pageant that required its contestants to endorse a community service, Dedria went one step further and created her nonprofit Luggage of Love in 2008.
Focused on raising money to buy luggage for children in foster homes and shelters, Dedria wants to make sure no other child feels the humiliation that was seared into her memory.
Her mission is a success. In 2009, she was named Youth Volunteer of the Year by the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce in Camarillo, California. These days, she juggles school with speaking engagements where she visits shelters and programs to help send children in these situations the message of hope and love.
Dedria also shares her message on her blog and it’s a place where she also solicits donations to buy new luggage for the children or accepts gently used luggage.
I found it humiliating to have my personal effects put into trash bags. It was degrading to say the least. So I vowed to myself that one day I would make a difference and that is just what Luggage of Love has been doing since June of 2008 — Dedria Brunett