19 Mar Giving Back
I truly owe my success in the cosmetic industry to the countless people who helped me along the way, particularly those who I’ve named in the acknowledgment section of My Pursuit of Beauty: A Cosmetic Chemist Reveals the Glitz, the Glam and the Batsh*t Crazy. As soon as I was financially able, I began giving back in four areas: music scholarships, water wells in Africa, the Wounded Warrior project and bringing attention to trichotillomania, a hair pulling disorder that has beset me since age 11.
Shortly after my father and grandfather died, I established two scholarships in the arts at my old hangout, Vineland High School in New Jersey, to honor both who were well known musicians. I named it The Professor Enrico Serra & Vincent Spinnato Sr. Scholarship and personally present the awards every year. They’re each worth $20,000 over five years.
As a chemist, I realize how essential clean water is to health and wellness so I’m working with Wells of Life, a non-profit that provides reliable water projects to communities in African nations. Last year I sponsored my first water well in Uganda. There will be more to come.
But true confession: my pet project is volunteering with the Wounded Warriors project with my beautiful English Mastiff, Savannah. I’ve owned four other English Mastiffs—Rebel, Sable, Falon and Alexis—named after the female characters in my favorite-of-all-times TV show, “Dynasty.” All have come from the same lineage and have become amazingly pets who grew into 200 pounds of pure love.
I always bring a new pup home as soon as she is old enough to be weaned, and we begin training immediately. The first two weeks, Savannah trained alone with a Marine. The next two weeks, the Marine trained me. Then he trained us together for another two weeks so we could work effectively with members of the Armed Services who have PTSD or have been severely wounded in the line of duty. When I put on her service vest, Savannah transforms from a pet into the perfect service dog whose been named an honorary member of the Marine Corps! Veterans seem to love snuggles from such a massive but gentle animal, and occasionally, I’ll see tears in their eyes when we get ready to leave. We hate leaving them too.
I know that all dog Dads are partial to their furry kids, but Savannah is truly special. With mere facial expressions, I can get her to obey a number of commands. Sometimes I wonder if she’s doing algebra in her head!
She also gives me emotional relief from trichotillomania, an obsessive-compulsive hair pulling disorder (more about that in tomorrow’s blog). As a reward for Savanah’s good work and the comfort she provides me, I pamper my gorgeous girl to the extreme. She gets full pedicures, weekly baths and wears Louis Vuitton collars. Actually, she has nicer stuff than I do!