“Think about what you love to do. I guarantee there is a way to incorporate charitable efforts within your passion project…and it will make it so much more rewarding.” – Alyssa Parella, Brighter Future NYE

Something you may not know about me is that I do some freelance work in the event space. While I love creating unique and memorable experiences for guests, one thing that really weighs on me is the excess and waste that comes with it.

So when I met Alyssa Parella, I was immediately girl crush smitten. Not only does she share my passions for event planning, she has found a way to use her talents and passions to give back in a creative way.

As this week’s #WCW Spotlight, Alyssa shares where her passion comes from; why she chose My Friend’s Place as the give back partner for her event, Brighter Future NYE; and how you can follow in her footsteps.

Me: You work full time and use your free time to bring this event to life. What inspires you to take on such a big project and dedicate your free time to putting this on?

Alyssa: I’ve always had a passion for creating experiences that move people. I LOVE that moment at music festivals and live events where you feel utterly present, captivated, and totally free. I wanted to replicate that feeling on New Years, which in LA can often be a very expensive and pretentious holiday. I wanted to give people an option that placed all the best aspects of NYE (DJs, dancing, open bar, photo booth) into a vibey, community focused scene where people can let loose and be themselves without the BS of the Hollywood club scene. And it totally worked! Last year our guests went wild, danced, partied, drank with all their friends, but also made genuine connections with new people. It was my dream come true!

Me: How did you come up with the idea of donating a proceeds of your profits to a charity partner? And how have people responded?

Alyssa: The goal for last year was to create a fun, immersive alternative to the typical club scene on NYE. I expected to lose a ton of money on the party but was STOKED to find that people really gravitated toward the concept. We sold out quickly and put all the extra ticket sales back into the event.

So this year I approached the budget a little differently – if we can sell the same amount of tickets as last year, preserve the vibe of the party at a low budget, we might actually be able to squeeze out some profits. And since party was always focused on community and never about making money – it was a no brainer! Give the profits back to the community! It just made sense.

The increase to ticket prices was marginal and people didn’t mind at all. People LOVE that they can have a great night out AND give back at the same time. Not to mention, bringing on My Friends Place as a charity partner has revitalized my personal passion for planning the event.

Me: From the moment we began talking, your passion to use the opportunities life has presented you to also benefit others emanates from you. Where did this come from?

Alyssa: Aw, thanks! I got into film and event production to bring stories to life…but also to make change. So much of what I know about humanity comes from the TV and movies I watched growing up (for better or for worse!) I just finished The Leftovers today and it’s completely changed how I look at grief and our innate human tendencies when coping with tragedy. Sorry to get so dark! But it’s crazy how entertainment has that power! It can change the way you think, but also raise awareness about issues that you may have never acknowledged.  And I believe producers have a responsibility to do just that.

I’m also inspired by the visionaries in this business who use their power for good, either by giving a voice to the underrepresented groups in our society or giving back by way of donations.

Passion breeds passion – I’m lucky to have worked with many altruistic spirits in my career! I’m also fortunate to have the production resources in my career to create art, but also make real and lasting change. I’m still learning what that means for me – but I have the tools and now it’s time to take action. It’s an exciting journey!

Me: Has giving back always been a major theme in your lives? Or something that came about later in life?

Alyssa: I’ve always valued mentorship. I faced many barriers in my career but was fortunate to have mentors who helped shape my journey. But, honestly, it took me years just to figure out how to pay my rent on time in Los Angeles. I really didn’t prioritize giving back to my community because I never thought I was rich enough or successful enough to make real change. I was so wrong!

Committing to this NYE event has completely changed the way that I think. Brighter Future NYE may not raise a million dollars for My Friends Place, but ANYTHING helps, and spreading awareness is crucial. Plus, on a personal level, it’s been one of the more enriching and rewarding experiences of my life. This experience has awoken a part of me that I didn’t know was there. My 2018 is all about giving back!!

Me: In addition to donating a portion of your profits to My Friends Place, you have managed to convince all your partners to make additional donations as well. What is it about My Friends Place that touches you and inspires you to go above and beyond for their organization and clients?

Alyssa: My Friends Place is absolutely incredible. They provide hot meals, showers, clothing, and safe place to hang out for thousands of homeless young people around LA. They provide services for mental and physical health, education, job skills training, and more.

But what really drew me to the organization was their transformative education program. The first thing I noticed about the facility was the art…everywhere! My Friend’s Place offers a variety of art and life skills workshops that enrich communication, emotional identity, expression, and development. They have built a vibrant, expressive environment that provides an outlet for young people who otherwise would not have the resources to tap into their creative potential. (Click here for ways to purchase handmade goods made by the young people!)

I’m also obsessed with the staff. This is a GENUINE team that is committed to building more stable lives for My Friend’s Place’s young people in a TRULY judgement free place. Like I said, passion breeds passion, and this squad is truly invested in making a difference.

Me: What is the one piece of advice you would want to share with someone who wants to follow in your footsteps of using their own unique talents and life experiences to give back?

Alyssa: I LOVE producing live events…probably because I’m addicted to organized chaos. Think about what you love to do. I guarantee there is a way to incorporate charitable efforts within your passion project…and it will make it so much more rewarding.

I also learned that it’s ok to start small! You start to notice all the easy ways you can make a difference in your community without disrupting your daily life. I’ve had a bag of clothes to donate in the trunk of my car for months. Finally I realized, what am I waiting for?? I dropped them off at My Friend’s Place on my way to work and felt wonderful knowing that maybe one of my blazers would give a young person confidence at a job interview. Or maybe my hoodie will keep someone warm that night. It took me 5 minutes to make the donation.

Once you’ve started to give back, it’s addicting! You’ll start investing more time. But do what feels right for YOU, your means, and your schedule. And follow your passion. You’ll expose yourself to so many more perspectives, expanding your worldview and changing the way you see life.

Oh, and one last piece of advice. Come to my event on New Year’s Eve!

If you want to join Alyssa and me this year at Brighter Future NYE, you can purchase tickets here| You can also keep up with exciting event announcements by RSVPing here