Leisle Chung headshot 2021.jpg

Leisle Chung

Nearly a decade ago, I walked into a trauma recovery center in Cambodia, and my life has never been the same. In the serene setting, I was surrounded by sweet children and women rescued from brothels and human trafficking.

I met a lovely 17-year-old woman, “Ruth” (not her real name), who was nearing the end of her yearlong stay at the recovery center. Ruth was studying to become a cosmetologist. She asked if she could do my hair and makeup in gratitude for supporting the recovery center. Isn’t it amazing how helping each other with hair and makeup is the universal love language for women?

And then, I learned Ruth’s story.

Her father abandoned the family, leaving behind his sick wife and three children. Ruth was the eldest child, so she took it upon herself to care for her ill mother and her younger siblings. Ruth took any job she could to pay for her mother’s medical bills and to keep her siblings fed. But it was never enough. With no other option to support her family, Ruth sold away what was most precious to her. She went to work as a prostitute in a brothel.

As I sat with Ruth, I realized that I was a woman who had come from the comforts of my beautiful home in Colorado Springs. When I give, no matter how generous I may be, I have everything I need — so I am only giving my extra. And then, there was Ruth, who gave literally everything she had. Everything.

Yet, she was the one brushing my hair and thanking me. I could see so clearly the injustice in our roles.

When I returned home to Colorado, my heart was broken. I also found a new purpose — finding creative ways to protect children and to help brave young women like Ruth have a better life.

One of those ways has been Clara, a division of Vanguard Skin Specialists that provides aesthetic skincare products. Clara helps you look beautiful, but it also helps the world become more beautiful. 20% of Clara sales, or 100% of profits (whichever is greater), is donated to support nonprofits here and around the world. This past year, Clara has supported Healing Haiti’s maternal health program and World Vision’s Strong Woman Strong World initiative. This month, we offer Give Thanks.

Give Thanks is a grant making campaign that recognizes local nonprofits. The campaign will feature up to 10 nonprofits that focus on helping children and/or families in need. Three signature awards grant $10,000 to qualified nonprofits. It’s a simple application and the deadline to apply is Oct. 22.

For more information on Give Thanks, visit Vanguardskin.com/give-thanks-2021/.

Just as Ruth expressed her gratitude to me by helping me with hair and makeup, Give Thanks is Clara’s way of expressing love to our local charities.

Leisle Chung is the CEO of Vanguard Skin Specialists, a dermatology and plastic surgery practice with a mission to make a positive impact on patients, community and world.

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