Self-made and humble, Twila True worked her way right into the successful life she’s made for herself with her wonderful husband and five beautiful children, never forgetting from where she once came. Having to go to work at a young age to help support her family, Twila worked her way up through many positions, eventually taking a position with a private investor who turned companies around. After quickly learning the business, she was given an opportunity to lead her own project with which she was undoubtedly very successful.
Around that time, she met her husband, Alan, who was also business minded so they forged companies and moved to Asia for 14 years. Because their companies were doing so well, they developed their own investment firm, True Investments, to manage their capital and invest in other companies. A couple of Twila’s newest projects are a fine jewelry company, Twila True, and Polished Perfect by Twila True, luxury nail salons around Orange County (picture below).
Upon returning to the United States in 2012, Twila began looking for her second foundation to start, the first being a Chinese orphanage. Finding so many charitable organizations already doing wonderful things, her husband pointed out that she had first-hand knowledge of something many people don’t even know about. The True Sioux Hope Foundation was born in 2015. As a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Twila is focusing on helping the young as there is an 80% high school dropout rate, a youth suicide rate 300 times the national average, and the highest infant mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere.
With no media, no airport, and miles off any main road, this 3,469 square mile reservation is simply overlooked. There are many reasons that factor in to the high suicide rate but ultimately, the children feel that there is nothing for them. Twila’s experience has proven that authentic connection with an adult, whether it be a school counselor or herself for example, can make all the difference in the world to these kids. “That’s all it takes, is one person to tell you that you’re valuable. Especially for young girls,” Twila says. Just hearing from other women that they are beautiful, smart, strong, and that they will get through this; that they don’t have to be pregnant at 13 and they don’t have to be on drugs and alcohol, changes their outlook drastically. Also, learning that the rest of the country, outside of the prejudices surrounding the boarders of the reservation, loves them and their native culture, gives them a sense that there is more to life than what they know and lessens the suicide attempts.
Some of Twila’s main efforts are focused on building a safe house where children in need of medical attention can be taken in to care immediately, saving many young children’s lives; opening a thrift store that will not only employ reservation residents but also keep what money they do have on the reservation; bring the arts and music back into the schools; and awareness in general, as the more that people learn, the more they want to help.
Certain companies have learned already of the poor conditions and have jumped on board to help, delivering much-needed goods such as baby formula and electrolytes in an effort to lower the infant mortality rate. Another is a large manufacturing company that learned of the toxic black mold infestation in the mattresses and has donated 1,000 new mattresses this year alone. All these efforts don’t cost much, it just takes people who care, wanting to help the fabric of this nation.
The first fundraising gala is on November 12 in Newport Beach, California. Please visit www.truesiouxhopegala.org for more details including sponsorship and to purchase tickets. I hope to see you there.