PHOTOS BY JOLANA HOLLISTER
For the June 2022 edition of Rochester Woman Online we bring you a mother/daughter trio who is no stranger to the RWO family. From writing, to modeling, to photography and even dance comps and events, they have all been a part of our amazing team in a variety of ways for over a decade! Now, we can add RWO cover women to the list.
Tell us about Sandy, Alexis and Annaliese
We are a mother/daughter trio! Sandy is the mom, and Alexis and Annaliese are the daughters! Alexis is the oldest at age 30, and Annaliese is the youngest at age 18. Well, actually, Sandy is the oldest at age 56! We have all lived, loved and worked together for years and in many facets as family, in home schooling endeavors, professionally, and also in our humanitarian projects.
We share photos of some of the professional and service projects we have worked together on over the years in the worlds of ballet and film productions, pageantry, modeling and Sandy’s ministry and nonprofit work. Most of the photos included here are pictures Sandy has taken of her daughters to help them create portfolios of their work in pursuit of their dreams, but also to tell the story of their mutual support and appreciation for each other which spans many years and thousands of moments that is truly difficult to summarize. As Annaliese so aptly noted, “You really had to be there to understand!”
But to truly share the unique story that makes up this special relationship, it in understanding how we live and love each other as family and as mother/daughter and sisters, but also in how we support each other in our pursuits as artists, writers, dancers, performers, photographers, models, titleholders and as humanitarians with thousands of hours of combined community service hours often completed together. We have RARELY, if perhaps NEVER, have NOT done a show or pageant or event together, needing each other to do it right. Our mutual involvement includes work in front of the camera and behind, backstage and onstage, in the recording studio, and at red carpet events.
The girls are best friends and sisters, and since day one have had a sister club that Sandy cannot even penetrate, which is beautiful and rare. They are often cast together as sisters or playing the younger/older version of the same person, including in a music video that has over 400,000 views on YouTube created by a person who is somewhat famous. In the video, Anna walks around a tree and then comes out as a grown up version of the person she was portraying which was played by Alexis. The girls joke that they are 11 year-a-part twins, who have different dads! It’s not really joke though because it is true.
Anna said you are like the “Kardashians”, and that Sandy you are a Momager like Kris Jenner. Tell us about that dynamic.
Annaliese: I did originally say this as a witty joke because I love cracking jokes and have a great sense of humor! But my mom is definitely a “Momager” in the best way and does so much to make sure we reach our goals, whatever they may be.
Sandy: I believe that an important part of my role as a mom is to help all of my children achieve their dreams whether through founding a dance studio to create a safe place to learn and professionally grow as dancers for both my girls many years ago, or by using my skills as a former publicist and photographer to help them create professional connections and opportunities. And haha Annaliese. You ARE so funny and quick-witted!
How did you start Worth More Nation and what is the mission behind this amazing organization?
Sandy: I founded Worth More Nation in 2016 with the vision to empower girls and young women. The name came to me while praying and running on a treadmill at the Pittsford Y! Ironically, or should I say only in a world where God orchestrates the miraculous and divine, our Worth More Nation special occasion closet – called the Fancy Frock Closet – is located in that old YMCA which is now the location of Edgewood Church!
I went to work registering the name and creating a template for a social media and online presence, and then let the name sit as I had no idea specifically what Worth More Nation would be, or how it would serve. All I knew was that I wanted to empower young ladies and girls to gain confidence and inner strength and to know their worth.
It wasn’t until the following year in 2017 through my personal involvement fostering children in our home, as well as working in the pageantry and fashion industries as a photographer and also “Momager” to my youngest daughter Annaliese, that Worth More Nation would become better defined as an organization that would help girls know their worth through fashion, pageantry and giving initiatives. I had seen with my own daughter that participating in pageants, fashion shows and fashion shoots and wearing beautiful garments – if done compassionately and correctly –had a way of boosting her confidence and bringing her joy while she made new friends, and developed poise, presentation, public speaking and advocacy skills for a lifetime. I saw the power that these moments had to transform girls where they would hold their heads higher, smile more brightly or walk with more confidence. I saw the power of a dress to transform and to set the stage for what could be. I saw a shy demeanor turn to triumphant when girls would gather the confidence to walk on a stage or speak in a microphone. I saw them light up in the appreciation of applause, and in the glory of being seen and noticed.
Through Worth More Nation’s initiatives and programs then, I wanted to provide girls in need of a boost, or coming out of traumatic places that same opportunity regardless of their support systems or abilities to pay. I wanted to give girls that same healing balm. I was sexually abused as a child by my grandfather and suffered through moving to a new home or town at least every other year. I had lived in 25 homes by the time I graduated from high school including four homes as a foster baby the first year of my life. My father was an alcoholic and my mother was addicted to prescription drugs for as long as I can remember, and my parents divorced when I was a young teen. I knew from experience that early trauma had a way of whispering the lie that you don’t matter and that you are less than those around you, I became passionate about helping girls and young women rise out of traumatic times to live out their God given destinies with the knowledge that they are ENOUGH and that they are Worth More.
For each of you, who is someone that has inspired you and why.
Sandy: I am truly inspired first and foremost by the Bible. It is my guidepost for living and seeking God to be all He created me to be, and to serve Him by loving and helping others. I am also inspired by each of my family members, of course, including these two lovelies who are being interviewed with me. I am inspired by my husband Sam for modeling patience, discipline and diligence. He is truly one of the best humans I know. All of my children inspire me every day to be a better person and mom, and to be strong in the midst of adversity, resilient in the wake of the valleys we walk through, and hopeful for the future we are promised by the Lord. I try to teach and model the kind of character I want to have and that is of the Holy Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. I believe these character traits are only possible to have by staying connected to Jesus and following Him. I am also inspired by my sister Jan, my cousin Kate – two incredibly kind, devoted, fun, strong and talented wives, moms and professionals. Also, I am inspired by my besties I have met in my journey of life in different stages including my college roommates, and my Sherry and my MaryAnn. While I have many friends and associates along the way and people who have greatly impacted my life in so many wonderful ways, my closest relationships are the ones I cherish and nurture and do not take for granted! I try my best to sow into these relationships as much as I am able. Finally, I am inspired by Lysa Terkheurst and her story of faith and overcoming, her motherhood and sense of family, her career as an author, and her personal style of wardrobe, her social media pages and her home decor. She is very inspirational to me.
Alexis: I am inspired by my mother and sister because they always have my back and inspire me with their resilience and strength. I feel very grateful to have both of them in my corner.
Annaliese: Of course my mom and sister inspire me every day and have since I was little. They are both amazing women. Outside of my family, Taylor Swift inspires me because of her resilience.
What empowers your drive to push ahead?
Sandy: What empowers me to push ahead is my faith in Jesus and the promises God has for us in the Bible. He has given me a vision for my purpose and life as a mom and a helper of mankind which is my namesake. In the midst of hard times