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People On The Move

16-Year-Old Aspiring Orthopedic Surgeon Launches New Non-Profit Aimed at Helping Veterans

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Thundar, Lighting, and Peace: The New Nonprofit That Helps Veterans Find Their Purpose

By Rachel Silverman — Freelance Writer for IEBJ

“I met this veteran. He served two tours in Afghanistan and after he came back he had PTSD. He had trauma. And every year for the past 6 years a member of his squad has committed suicide. The VA was filling them with meds and money. And not giving them a purpose.” -Samantha Haylee Moreno — Founder of Thundar, Lightning and Peace 

Stories like this are foundational to Thundar, Lightning, and Peace (TLP), a 501(c)3 started by Etiwanda High School Junior, Samatha Haylee Moreno. TLP will support and provide resources and find a purpose for veterans fighting PTSD, depression, and suicide. 

“I want to be the resource girl. If a veteran is an amputee and they’ve been fighting with the VA for a wheelchair or a cane, I’ll get it for them.” Young and passionate, the energy radiated off of Samantha when sitting down to talk to her about her nonprofit. 

Coming from a military family, she has had first-hand experience and interaction with veterans. Her mother was in the Army for 9 years, leaving home at 17 and juggling her service while having a child and going to college. 

Samantha is following in her mother’s trail of hard work. As an aspiring Orthopedic Surgeon with a 4.57 GPA and a participant in multiple school sports and clubs, it’s a wonder where she’s finding the time and energy to start a nonprofit. 

Thundar, Lightning, and Peace is not a mere glory project. Samantha has her sights on Oxford and Harvard and eventually medical school. And the final goal? Orthopedic surgery either under the VA or as a field surgeon. Sam wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps and serve her country. 

In the meantime, TLP is her way of making a difference. She’s working under the guidance of Justin Bond, a veteran amputee who founded Our Heroes Dreams, a nonprofit that offers programs and services to fund veteran’s passion projects. Our Heroes Dreams offers veterans multiple programs through recreational activities and community outreach that give them something to be passionate about. This is the core of what Samantha wants to provide: the ability and access for veterans to find and pursue their passion.

“In the end, we know that pills will only do so much. When someone finds their passion, they realize they can be happy again, and that’s what I want to do. I want to be the source for veterans to understand; you’re not alone. You’re not the only one suffering from trauma. We’re not gonna fill you with pills and shove you out of the way. We’re going to find you a purpose and a passion, so you don’t feel alone.” 

Once Thundar, Lightning, and Peace’s 501(c)3 status are officially approved, Samantha will begin fundraising to start camps, therapies, and other programs aimed at helping veterans find a purpose. She plans to have the operation fully functional in the next six months. 

“I already have veteran contacts and a list of things they need.” She’s making plans for a silent auction, and the GoFundMe page for Thundar, Lightning, and Peace is up and open to donations. If you would like to contribute, you can find the link here: 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-sams-vision501c-4veterans

If you would like to follow TLP on social media to stay up to date on fundraisers and silent auctions: 

Instagram : @tlightning.peace 

Facebook : tlightning.peace http://facebook.com/tlightning.peace 

To contact TLP: Email thundar.lightning.peace@gmail.com

The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.

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Business

IE Chamber and AmCham Peru Forge Strategic Partnership for Business and Youth Development

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Building Global Bridges: IERCC and AmCham Peru Unite for Cross-Continental Business Growth and Youth Empowerment

On December 12, 2023, a landmark event unfolded as the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce (IERCC) took a significant step in expanding its international influence by forging a strategic partnership with The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Peru. In a meeting that symbolized the dawn of a new era in cross-continental collaboration, Eddy Sumar, MBA, CCE, CICE, an esteemed member and Chair of Education and Youth Skills Development at IERCC, presented Mr. Aldo R. Defilippi, the Executive Director of AmCham Peru, with the Certificate of Honorary Global Member.

This partnership marks IERCC’s foray into the Latin American continent, signifying a major stride in its mission to build collaborative networks that facilitate market entry and growth for US and Peruvian companies. IERCC President and CEO Edward Ornelas, Jr. commented on this milestone, stating, “This partnership with AmCham Peru is a significant achievement for IERCC. It represents our dedication to fostering international business relations and our commitment to the growth of businesses in both regions. We are excited to embark on this journey, offering our members unprecedented access to new markets and opportunities.”

The collaboration between IERCC and AmCham Peru is set to open new avenues for businesses in both regions. It will enable members of AmCham Peru to tap into the vast resources and connections that IERCC offers, thereby facilitating smoother market entry and business expansion.

A key focus of the partnership is the development of youth and education programs. During the meeting, Mr. Aldo R. Defilippi was introduced to various initiatives led by IERCC aimed at empowering young entrepreneurs and business leaders of tomorrow. Further emphasizing this commitment, Mr. Defilippi received a copy of “The Hidden Dreams,” authored by Eddy Sumar, which explores the importance of identifying and pursuing the aspirations of young individuals.

Mr. Ornelas, Jr. further elaborated on the significance of this aspect, stating, “Our focus on youth and education is a testament to our belief that the future of business lies in the hands of the next generation. By aligning with AmCham Peru, we are not just expanding our business network, but also cultivating a fertile ground for young minds to grow, innovate, and lead.”

IERCC’s partnership with AmCham Peru is a forward-thinking move, indicative of its commitment to nurturing a global business community that supports both immediate business interests and long-term developmental goals. This collaboration is set to be a beacon of innovation, growth, and shared success, benefiting businesses and young leaders in both the United States and Peru.

As the Inland Empire business community looks on, the IERCC and AmCham Peru collaboration promises to usher in a new era of international business cooperation, bridging continents and cultures for mutual prosperity.

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People On The Move

Driven and Influential Latina Shaping the Expansion of the Small Business Ecosystem

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People On The Move

By Josaline Cuesta, California Program Director, Small Business Majority & IEBJ Content Contributor

Based in Southern California, Xiomara Peña is currently the Vice President of Programs & Engagement at Small Business Majority, where she leads a team of 13 to drive the organization’s external engagement efforts and build visibility. Xiomara has grown into an executive position at Small Business Majority, so I sat down with her to learn more about that evolution and her thoughts on the future of the small business community. 

For nearly a decade, Xiomara Peña (Xio) has worked in various roles at Small Business Majority to ensure that entrepreneurs feel supported and empowered. To align with Small Business Majority’s mission, she has focused on lifting the voices of diverse small business owners to create an inclusive and equitable table that benefits smaller firms in underserved communities. 

She has been named one of the “Top 50 Women Leaders of Los Angeles for 2023;” showcased among changemakers such as America Ferrera, Kali Uchis, and Emeraude Toubia on a list of 100 influential Latinas shaping our world; and she currently serves on the Advisory Council for Support Latino Business, just to name a few of her accomplishments.

As the daughter of immigrant parents born in Honduras and Mexico, Xio knows firsthand the uphill battle many immigrants endure to gain the American dream. “My parents worked hard and were fortunate to be able to apply their entrepreneurial skills towards making a living,” said Xio. She grew up in low-income areas and became a single parent at a young age. But she also became a first-generation college student who hustled through school, being pushed by the example of her immigrant parents, who heavily touted the importance of working hard. “I take from these experiences and lean on them in my everyday work,” said Xio. She continues, “While some may describe them as barriers, they created opportunity and promise to me.” 

Indeed, many small businesses–especially those owned by people of color, women, and immigrants–encounter multiple obstacles to small business ownership due to entrenched discriminatory policies and practices exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the daunting consequences of the pandemic, Xio has always searched for the positives. She has been excited to witness the recent surge in new business formation among the Latino community and the pursuit of independent enterprises due to entrepreneurs seeking new opportunities to combat layoffs and cutbacks. “Entrepreneurship is a proven pathway for Americans from all walks of life to build an income, independence, and financial security for themselves, their families, and their employees. This path to finding independence has become even more essential for people in under-served communities who have been shunned by traditional access to capital opportunities.” 

Alongside the organization’s small business engagement team and other leadership, Xio works collaboratively to strengthen relationships with policymakers, small business owners, and organizations nationwide to amplify an equity lens in the small business ecosystem. She understands the power of community-based organizations and the strength of knowledge. Although she has worked with various small business owners and small business organizations across the country, her deep-seated work in California has given her a unique perspective on the true needs of Latino and Black small business owners who have faced systemic barriers to ownership. She has described these challenges as a “broken infrastructure that promotes chronic job loss, income instability, and a continuous cycle of poverty.”  

Ahead of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Xio is once again helping to lead innovative thinking and working to expand access to capital for under-resourced communities. Presented by Small Business Majority and powered by Support Latino Business, Xio will helm the 2023 #SupportSmallBiz Grant that opens on September 14 and will award four grant prizes totaling $2,500 each to eligible small businesses. This grant is a fantastic opportunity for Hispanic-owned small businesses to access the capital they need to grow and expand their businesses. 

Additionally, starting in September, Xio will take on more opportunities to fix the broken small business lending infrastructure by supporting a new partnership with Small Business Majority’s Venturize.org and Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) to expand a network of responsible small business lending partners and assistance providers to support entrepreneurs nationwide. “Inequalities in the small business ecosystem have always existed, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic only exacerbated the barriers that have always been present and created even greater vulnerabilities for entrepreneurs, especially in the lending industry. Small business owners of color are huge contributors to our economy, and we want to be certain they have the tools, resources, and capital they need to thrive. I’m excited to help build transparency in this space and create sustainable generational wealth through entrepreneurship,” said Xio. 

Join our mailing list to learn more about Small Business Majority and Xio’s work to support small businesses. Find free, unbiased education and resources, including how to apply for the #SupportSmallBiz Grant, by visiting: Venturize.org

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Health & Wellness

People On The Move — Claudia Medina Salazar, PA-C

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Claudia Medina Salazar, PA-C Joins Optima Health

Claudia Medina Salazar, PA-C is the newest member of the Optima Health medical team.

“I’m excited to begin my career as a physician assistant alongside the highly respected and accomplished Optima Health medical staff,” said Ms. Salazar. “I look forward to gaining added insights into primary care while working with patients to collaborate on care plans that they can incorporate seamlessly into their everyday lives.”

Ms. Salazar received her BS in Biology from the University of California, Riverside and her MS in Physician Assistant Practice from the University of Southern California. Her path to the medical field was formed through personal tragedy.

“My dad passed from a heart attack when I was a very young girl,” explained Ms. Salazar. “Recollections of that experience made me very passionate about preventative health for myself, family and friends. Today, that extends to the patients I treat.

“So many chronic conditions that are prevalent today are rooted in the minor choices we make every day. I make it a point to address ‘little things’ that can lead to an improved quality of life.”

The mission of Optima Health is to improve the health of patients served with a commitment to excellence and to offer the highest quality patient-centered care in a caring, convenient and accessible manner. Practices are located in Riverside and Crestline.

For more information, call 951-788-0008 or go to optimahealthgroup.com.

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