I’m thrilled to introduce you to a Smarty Mom and Daughter this weekend – Paige and AnneLeigh Twer. I recently Paige at a mutual friend’s house. She and I were just chatting about our kids, and she happened to mention that her daughter was being honored as the first-ever Junior Honoree of the W.I.S.H. Society – an unbelievable feat for a fifth grader! It turns out this ten-year-old Smarty is going to extraordinary measures to give back to other children. I couldn’t wait to pick both of their brains and learn more about this sweet family.
First Annual Daddy-Daughter Date Night with Dinner & Dancing
Register for the event here
September 12, 6 p.m.
Chima Brazilian Steakhouse, 139 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202
Tickets are charged the night of the event. Reservations required for seating.
Daddy + 1 Daughter = $70
Daddy + 2 Daughters = $100
Dads should bring their best gal and enjoy an evening of dinner, dancing and dessert in one of uptown Charlotte’s delightful and delicious restaurants. Check out AnneLeigh’s fundraising page here to learn more information about the dinner AND other fundraising opportunities she has planned, and become a member of their Facebook page to get updates on the event.
Enjoy getting to know this amazing family. Smarties, meet Paige and AnneLeigh Twer!
Smarty Mom and Daughter: Paige and AnneLeigh Twer
Married to: Michael Twer for 12 ½ years
Children: AnneLeigh, 10; Juliann, 8
Hometown: Danville, IL
‘Hood: Berkeley in South Charlotte
Years in Charlotte: 12 years (with a brief 3 year hiatus when we tried to move away… What were we thinking???)
Occupation: Local Coordinator for Au Pair USA; Preschool Teacher
Alma Mater: Illinois State University — Go Redbirds!!!
School: Providence Spring Elementary School — Go Rockets!!!
Hobbies: horseback riding, art, volleyball, cooking, reading
Favorite thing about Charlotte: I love being able to get to the mountains or the beach so quickly.
What got you involved in the Make-A-Wish Foundation?
We talked about helping people while at preschool one day. I came home and wanted to help sick children, so my mom gave me lots of options and I chose Make-A-Wish.
How did you think of the Daddy-Daughter Date Night event?
I did Y-Guides (for five years) with the YMCA and we always had a Daddy Daughter Date Night, but some girls never experienced that and so I wanted to give them a night with their Dad.
What has this experience taught you? Can you see yourself doing more big events in the future?
It has taught me that helping people makes you a better person inside. I can see myself doing more and I think that I would love to reach out to a whole bunch of fundraising organizations and get involved with them as well.
What do you hope people do as a result of attending the Daddy-Daughter Date Night?
I hope that the dads can bond with their daughters and they can spend time together because most dads work. I hope that this becomes an annual event. This could be just the first of many to come!
How does giving back to your community make you feel?
It makes me feel good inside and it makes those around me feel special.
What do you want to do next?
I would like to keep fundraising. Like I said, I would also like to reach out to other charity organizations as well. Someday, I would like to start my own charity. And I have said I do not want this to be all about me. I want kids as young as 5 years old to realize they can make a difference in the world.
What led AnneLeigh to this moment? Did you start talking about volunteering from an early age?
There are so many moments we could talk about. Ultimately, I believe this was AnneLeigh’s destiny from the beginning. She burst into her life 5 weeks early and without warning… just ready to get started!
– I remember as a toddler in a playgroup, another mom asked me how I taught AnneLeigh to be so empathetic. I can’t say that I ever did…it’s just who she is, how God made her.
– The next year, her preschool teachers were talking about dads in class. They asked AnneLeigh to tell them about her dad. She responded, “Which daddy do you want to know about? My daddy here on Earth, Michael, or my daddy God who lives in Heaven?”
– At 4-years-old, we started taking AnneLeigh and her younger sister, Juliann, with us to volunteer at Room in the Inn at our church by making up cots, eating dinner and sitting with our homeless neighbors to get to know them and their story.
– We have always told our girls, no matter how much you have or don’t have monetarily, you can always offer someone a look in their eyes and a smile. Also, if you do have something and you know that someone else is in need, we feel called to give to that person…even our most prized possessions.
What was your initial reaction when AnneLeigh came to you with her thoughts about planning this event?
AnneLeigh and I were walking to her school for a special event. We were kicking around ideas about how she could raise the funds for her W.I.S.H. Society honor. (She has also hosted preschool camps, dog sitting and held lemonade stands.) It was shortly after her final Daddy-Daughter Date Night with her Y-Guides tribe and we talked about how special those times are with her dad. She realized it made her sad that not all of her friends had those experiences and decided to throw this party! I love the idea of building that relationship while raising money for Make-A-Wish. Of course, when she said she wanted to find a place to host it so that it would not be just for her and her friends, but that she wanted all of Charlotte to know about it and to come … that might have just sent me into panic mode!
I know you’re so proud of AnneLeigh – what part of this makes you the proudest?
Oh goodness — both of our girls are our biggest blessings from God! While we love the fact that AnneLeigh is a good student, hard worker and young fundraiser…it is how she does it all. There are so many things that she does that I might not even think about doing. She looks at the world in a different light and realizes that her words and actions can always impact someone else’s day or even their life — either positive or negative. She takes that pretty seriously. We were driving home from her horseback riding lesson yesterday when she told me about her goal for this next school year. She said she would have some academic and social goals, but that her biggest goal will be this: “I want to concentrate on being able to be around someone else who might be having a bad day or a bad attitude and for me to stay positive and not let that take my smile away.” WOW — I think I should make that my goal as well!
What have YOU learned by planning this event?
I learn so much from my children and children I get to spend time with every day. One of the big, recurring lessons is that children do not yet have the blinders on that we as adults do. We get so caught up in the “oh, I could never do that… I don’t have the time… or they would never say yes” mentality that we just go about our days thinking we will get to it later or someone else will do what needs to be done. From very young ages, our girls have come up with ideas and have figured out how to execute them. AnneLeigh is a pretty reserved gal, but when it comes to standing up for someone else or making someone else’s day brighter, she steps up to the plate and knocks it out of the park!
She has a special guest speaker who has agreed to speak at her Daddy Daughter Date Night event. We have watched his family handle diagnosis, treatment and ultimately loss with so much grace and dignity — while always still reaching out to help others in need. I would have never imagined asking him to speak, but AnneLeigh said “momma, if we don’t ask, we know the answer will be no.” She did ask and he immediately replied with a big ol’ YES!!! I am so excited to watch his message shine down on the dads and daughters who will attend!
Where do you see AnneLeigh going from here with her zeal for community service?
That’s such a good question… I guess we try not to influence or to manipulate her journey too much. She has so many interests, causes and ideas up her sleeve and she truly believes she can make it all happen. Sometimes, I do have to remind her that she is 10 years old and she doesn’t have to do it all tomorrow However, I love to watch her live with her heart outside her chest (although that can also be difficult as the mom of a pre-teen who is dealing with peer challenges at school!). Ultimately, through this W.I.S.H. Society honor and other non-profit work she enjoys, the message she is really hoping to get out is that kids just like her, older or younger, really can make a difference in one person’s life or in many lives throughout the world. Watching her tell and show other children that they don’t have to sit back and watch or wait for adults to make the changes…that’s pretty incredible! She would love nothing more than for other kids to read this think to themselves “I can make a difference, too…and I will!”
In addition to raising very civic-minded children, you also run the local cluster of InterExchange Au Pair USA. Tell us a little about that.
I have been the Local Coordinator for our agency for more than 4 years now. We help to match families in need of childcare solutions with au pairs aged 18-26 years old. It is so much more than that, though…it is an intimate cultural exchange between our American families and those from more than 40 different countries around the world. It is such a wonderful way to expose your own children to lifestyles, traditions and languages from the au pair’s home country.
What do you see as the benefits to having an au pair?
Obviously, you get to know the person who is caring for your child for up to 45-hours each week very, very well. They live in your home. They can vacation with you. They truly become a family member.
Also, especially for families who do not necessarily have the traditional 8-5 jobs, you can be flexible about the way you schedule those 45-hours and know that you don’t have to get your kids up & out of the house while getting yourself ready for your own work day!
How can we get more information about it?
You can check out the au pair program at our website: www.interexchange.org Just click on the Au Pair USA tab at the bottom of the screen. And, I always love hearing from potential host families. Feel free to email me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Now let’s get to know y’all a little better – here are just some fun questions for the both of you:
Best restaurant in Charlotte:
AL: Chima, of course 🙂
P: Chima 😉
Favorite thing to do as a family:
AL: Go on family weekend trips
P: We love going on weekend trips, but we also love exploring this amazing city and area we call our family’s home! There are so many hidden gems to enjoy — Matthews Playhouse, Blumenthal Performing Arts, Imaginon, the Charlotte Knights, Crowders Mountain, all of the precious downtowns like Matthews, Waxhaw, Pineville. The girls and I love to go antiquing and make up stories about where these treasures have traveled… There is always something to do!
Best place to travel as a family:
AL: Probably the beach, Hawaii was amazing over Spring Break!
P: Disney has always been a family favorite of ours…so magical! Although it’s kind of a joke around here… we think Daddy might be the one who starts getting the itch to return before the rest of us 🙂
We had a Disney trip planned 5 years ago right after AnneLeigh’s first Make-A-Wish fundraiser when she raised nearly $4,000 to help grant a wish. I was talking to a friend who had lived in Orlando and she told me she used to volunteer at Give Kids the World…the place where all of the wish granting organizations send their families while they are visiting the parks for a week. She made a contact and they invited us to come check it out during our trip. You can not imagine what an impact that visit had on our family — being able to meet the wish children from all over the country, their siblings and those volunteers who are making their week amazing while they effort leaving behind their burdens of illness and treatment for just that brief time. As we walked from a precious bungalow to the 24-hour ice cream shop to the train station all in the snow (mind you, it was July) during their weekly Christmas parade with Santa handing out presents to each child at the end…our hearts were just bursting! Their goal is to make sure these children and their families never hear the word “No!” while on that vacation…especially because they miss out on so much during this period of their lives.
Our family of four loaded back into our car to head back to our hotel and without even realizing it, we all had tears streaming down our faces. While it is so important to do good, be kind and look beyond yourself, so often we do that without necessarily being able to put a face with a name or a cause. This trip did that for us and not just one face, but all those who are affected when a diagnosis is made…far beyond just the patient. It was truly priceless and will never leave us!
Favorite family dinner:
AL: Grilling out with friends at our house
P: We have a Christmas Eve dinner tradition…we get home from church and do “make-your-own pizzas.” Everyone grabs their individual sized pizza crusts and we lay out about a dozen different toppings for you to choose…anything from sausage & pepperoni to peppers and pineapple. (I’ve always said if the girls asked for m&ms on their pizzas that night, I would let them do it…I just don’t offer it up, though!)
It has become something they look forward to each year and now we have moved into inviting over friends who don’t have a plan for that evening. I do have to say…it’s becoming a little competitive now when my husband challenges any boys who are visiting to see who can pile on more toppings and/or handle the most spicy peppers…crazy boys!
Last book read:
AL: Tuck Everlasting
P: Still reading…Mothering & Daughtering: Keeping your bond strong through the teen years
All-time favorite musician/singer/band:
AL: LeeAnne Savage (she’s my aunt & she rocks!)
P: George Strait
Favorite thing to do in your downtime:
P: Downtime? Downtime? I’m sure I once knew what that was, but can’t seem to remember experiencing it recently. If I were graced with downtime, I love the idea of having a lazy day at home with my family, clean house, completed “to-do” list and nothing but fun, music, dancing, games, crafts & lots of laughs!
Thing you’re most looking forward to as school starts:
AL: I’m looking forward to learning again and being back on a schedule…and homework! Everything!
P: Hmmmm…what’s that saying “like mother, like daughter?” My poor husband surrounded by a couple of Type-A’s… I LOVE the idea of being on a schedule & knowing what to expect on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, though, I love saying goodbye to our alarms over summer break, too!
Thank you so much, Paige and AnneLeigh, for sharing your Saturday with us!