HOW IT ALL STARTED
Our story began in 2016 with Journeys Companion, Inc. dedicated to providing resources for young people in need. Through our work in the community and dealing with a child cancer diagnosis in our family, we became aware of an urgent need impacting young people locally in pediatric hospitals. For this reason, we are proud to introduce Lily’s Warrior Project in honor of 5-year-old Lilianna Russi, and other child cancer warriors like her. We provide hygiene packets, playtime fun, and resources for children & their families receiving cancer treatment at local pediatric hospitals. Young people from infant age to teenagers receiving medical care are in need of items for playtime activities and interactive projects while undergoing cancer treatment. Lily’s Warrior Project provides children with emotionally supportive resources as well as fun and educational activities to do and enjoy while receiving their cancer treatment within our local community. Our Board of Directors is comprised of amazing individuals including educators, business owners, and patient advocates dedicated to investing in the youth of our community and here to make a positive difference.
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
LAURA MOA – FOUNDER/ PRESIDENT
Laura is a proud mother of two children Brianna and Lilianna and comes from a family of educators. She is a published author and has more than 23 years in the real estate industry including multifamily, commercial real estate, and property management experience focusing on Affordable Housing, training, marketing, communications, curriculum content development, and instructional design roles. Laura has a passion for public speaking, overall talent development, and connecting with people in a very meaningful way. This led her to start a Florida-based nonprofit organization called Journey’s Companion Inc., in 2016 which provides resources and mentorships for at-risk youth. Still the President/ Founder today, Journeys Companion transitioned into Lily’s Warrior Project, which provides playtime resources for children receiving cancer treatment in Orlando’s Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in honor of her daughter Lilianna. Laura has a bachelor’s in Business Communication, is fluent in both English/ Spanish languages, and is a proud founding member of the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children Bereavement VolunPeer Program.
JUDITH CANCEL P.H.D -VICE PRESIDENT
Judith is a retired bilingual educator and university professor with 30 years of expertise in both elementary and university-level education. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies, a Master of Arts in Leadership Administration, and her Philosophy Doctorate is in Bilingual and Bicultural teaching from the University of Connecticut. Her specialty is Second Language Acquisition and Multicultural Studies. She served as the Director of the Bilingual and Bi-cultural Education Program for Windham Public School and has served as a board member for Christ Church Unity and several other community initiatives. Former cohost of a Spanish language radio program in Orlando, FL called Dialogando, which discussed topics of concern impacting the Latino community in Central Florida. Judith also led a traditional Spanish dance company named Retablo that showcased the beauty of Puerto Rican folk dance culture. Judith is a proud grandmother, enjoys learning about culture, history, and is currently working on authoring her first book series.
MELODY HARRIS – TREASURER
Melody is a proud parent of two children Laila and Kalani with over 30 thirty years of restaurant management experience. She has overseen daily operations in both Central Florida and Tampa area dining venues leading staff handling, supply orders, space inspection, and food preparation. Her background in the restaurant industry is where she performed financial roles in payroll reporting, budgeting, and restaurant venue book-keeping. Melody also has a culinary background, and a love for cooking, and has catered private events in addition to facilitating new restaurant training programs for both management and staff. Melody’s creative talents have inspired the recent launch of her craft business called Your Crafty Friend, where custom-made cards serve up encouragement and elaborate designs for all occasions. She has served as a pediatric parent advocate for Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Shriners Hospital, and Tampa General Hospital for over 17 years.
JASON RAMOS- BOARD MEMBER
Jason has over a ten-year background in the hospitality industry and is a Central Florida business owner. Jason co-owns Level 10 Certification Services; a nationwide certification provider for comic book enthusiasts and collector services. He is also a recipient of the Hilton Worldwide IGrow Leadership Development Award focusing on mentoring, coaching, project proposals, critical thinking for results, public speaking, business communication, and emotional intelligence. He was also recognized for the Rising Star, Helpful Hero, and Shining Star Award for his distinguished improvement of Quality Assurance within the Hilton organization. He serves as the Vice President of the Latin Cruisers of Orlando Chapter and has dedicated many Multicultural- Philanthropic projects to the Central Florida community. Jason is an avid outdoor fisherman and as co-owner for Level 10 Certifications, enjoys traveling the state showcasing and promoting authentication, grading, 3rdparty signature witnessing, and certification services for comic books, action figures, and other popular collectibles.
ALEXANDRA MOA RAMOS – BOARD MEMBER
Alexandra has been a dedicated educator with Orange County Public Schools for over 15 years and is known for her strategic partnerships with faculty, community leaders, students, and their families. She has her BA in Elementary Education and Master of Science in Psychology. Her certifications include Elementary Education K-6, World Languages Spanish, ESOL, and Reading endorsements. She is a district-trained education observer and Growth Mindset facilitator for OCPS with accolades including Florida Global Educator Nominee, Orlando Civic Community Award, Teacher of the Year for Spanish, ESOL & Latinos in Action team leader, Best & Brightest Scholarship Award recipient, Figueroa Law Firm Community Engagement Award Recipient since 2017, OCPS Hero Teacher Award, and awarded the Philanthropic Civic Service Award by OCPS Board Member recipient by Johanna Lopez. Recently she was awarded LIA Teacher of the Year for Homeless and Migrant Outreach at Liberty Middle School. Alexandra continues to lead in education as District Liaison for McKinney-Vednto Homeless and Migrant education serving over 600.000 families in service to OCPS families. Alexandra has been an integral part of the initiatives to promote and designate September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month among Orange County Public Schools.
FAITH BELL- BOARD MEMBER
Faith is our most recent board member who embraces the love & energy of working on meaningful communication to benefit our children. She is a grandmother who loves to watch her 2 beloved grandchildren play their chosen sports. Faith comes to us with much professional experience in the fields of accounting & finance as well as psychology. She had a 25-year career with Darden Restaurants, spent 10 years as a massage therapist offering related workshop sessions and most recently retired from Orange County Public Schools working with special needs students. Some of her past volunteer experiences include baby cuddler at the Arnold Palmer NICU. She has been on several organization boards in the past as both Vice President and Treasurer.
NICHOLE ROSS- SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CONSULTANT
Nichole Ross is the proud mother of one child, Knykolas, and has spent 20+ years in the workforce. Nichole holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and a Masters in Finance, in addition to numerous certifications. She has a background in sales, marketing, training, and education. Nichole has spent the past 6 years as an Orange County Public Schools Teacher. She has taught Industry Certification courses including; Microsoft, CompTia, and Entrepreneurship, to middle and high school students. She has also taught Adult Digital Literacy at Orange Technical College. Nichole has a passion for education and helping others find their passion and live in it.
DR. MARILIA RIVERA CAMACHO DNP,MSN,BSN
Marilia is a proud mother of two boys, Diego, and Daniel. She has more than 17 years as a Registered Nurse (Neonatal and Pediatric Expert) and 11 years as a Nursing Professor focused on Maternal, Neonatal, Pediatrics, and Nutrition. Marilia has an innate ability to work collaboratively with healthcare, nursing, and education professionals. In 2009 she completed a Master of Science in Nursing with Educational Role in Maternal Neonatal. Marilia was recognized in 2009 as Nurse of the Year – Pediatric Intensive Care in Puerto Rico and in 2017 as Distinguished Professor of the NUC University Nursing Program. Marilia has a passion and continues to honor her son Diego and his legacy to educate and support other parents through a complex childhood illness and/or end-of-life process. In 2021 Marilia completed a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. She member of the National Society for Leadership and Success, Sigma Theta Tau International, and the Hospice and Palliative Care Nurses Association. Marilia collaborated with the Courageous Parents Network in developing a video series for Hispanic families and is a committee member of the Florida Pediatric Palliative Care Council, a bilingual leader, founding member of the VolunPeer Program at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.
MARCO ANTONIO LARENAS ESQ. – BOARD MEMBER
Experienced Team-oriented Bilingual Attorney with a demonstrated history of working with administrative agencies, and proven ability to analyze and interpret complex legal issues, contracts, federal laws, and regulations. Skilled in Administrative Law, Risk Analysis, Contract Drafting, Microsoft Office, Public Speaking, Legal Research and Writing, and Leadership. Strong legal professional licensed to practice by the Florida Bar.
How it ALL began in 2016
The mission of Journeys Companion is to solicit charitable contributions in order to promote a sense of purpose and enrich the lives of young people during challenging times in their life journey.
Lily's Warrior Project
A valued initiative unique to Journeys Companion is Lily’s Warrior Project. Thousands of children receiving medical care at Pediatric Hospitals are in need of items for playtime activities and projects while undergoing cancer treatment. Lily’s Warrior Project provides children with emotionally supportive resources as well as fun and educational activities to do and enjoy while receiving their cancer treatment.
Adriana’s Attic, Inc.
Florida Department of Children and Families
Orange County Public Schools
Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children
Cushman & Wakefield
Fidelity National Title
Keller Williams Real Estate
Trinh Realty Group
Figueroa Law Firm
We collect clothing for newborns to young adults for distribution to those in need including, area schools, homeless and at-risk youth, as well as children in transition.
Our main team-building efforts gather and prepare hygiene packets for infants to teens in addition to parents in need including soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, diapers, socks, onesies wipes, sanitary items, deodorant, shampoo, lotion etc.
VOLUNTEER Mentorship opportunities
Volunteer mentorship opportunities include volunteer service hours for students and adults, empowered community networking, unlock leaderships skills, and project management.
Our team collects gently used books for after-school programs at area schools and facilities. Our young adult teen leaders volunteer for reading assistance.