By Brandon HENSLEY
There have been many words to describe Kim Kardashian in recent years, some of them – or is it most? – are not printable.
But when the celebrity made news earlier this year announcing her intent to run for mayor of Glendale, it at least got one person’s attention, and in a good way.
That would be Helen McDonagh, owner of the Massage Envy franchise. Even Kardashian’s lack of knowledge in how the city’s politics work (a person must be on the city council and the mayor’s seat rotates annually) was okay with McDonagh.
She started her own “campaign” this spring, and decided to donate funds to a favorite organization of hers – Glendale Healthy Kids.
From now through June 30, McDonagh will be taking “campaign contributions” and donating them to GHK. The goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of June.
“The organization does a lot of great things for the community, and I thought it needed some attention during this time of transition,” she said.
That transition includes the announcement by GHK Executive Director Camille Levee of her resignation from the non-profit organization in April. Levee’s last day with Glendale Healthy Kids is today. She will head to Payson, Ariz., to lead Time Out Inc., an emergency and transitional shelter for domestic violence victims.
“It’s a tremendous loss for the community,” said McDonagh. For over five years Levee has been leading Glendale Healthy Kids, which focuses on the health and wellness of low-income families are not able to provide much needed preventative care for their children.
MacDonagh’s sentiment was shared by many on May 24 at the Wine Cave in Montrose. It was there a fundraiser for Helen’s campaign was held as well as a going away party for Levee, who gave away hugs and thank yous to her well-wishers.
“We never expected all of these people to be here,” Levee said. “We are in the middle of the ‘McDonagh for Mayor’ campaign. This was not part of that. It just happened to fall together.”
But it was fitting to have McDonagh and Levee in the same room for one of the last times.
Both are well traveled. Levee has worked in Arizona before, as well as South Dakota and Michigan as part of the Girl Scout Council, and McDonagh is from Ireland and has lived in the U.S. for 26 years.
Each has respect for one another, and they have others’ respect as well.
“Everyone is sad Camille is leaving but they are so blessed to have had her here in their presence,” said Karen Hudson, who has given seminars for Glendale Healthy Kids volunteers on ways to talk to the kids.
“[Camille] took Glendale Healthy Kids from a small organization to being more recognized throughout all of the cities throughout Southern California,” said GHK donor Peter Rusch.
Rusch also praised McDonagh’s campaign, and her visibility in the community. Aside from Massage Envy, McDonagh is also president of the Downtown Glendale Merchants Association.
“We know if we’re having an event that’s going to involve Glendale, that Helen will be behind us 100%,” Rusch said.
“She’s a businesswoman who really values an organization that’s well run,” said Levee. “She knows how we run the organization and what we do.”
Would McDonagh’s campaign have happened if Kardashian hadn’t wanted to run?
“I’m always brainstorming for ways to raise money for organization in Glendale,” McDonagh. “You always have to come up with creative ideas.
“Maybe [Kim] will be inspired by me like I was inspired by her.”
Donations are being taken through Facebook.com/mcdonaghformayor, and the Fundly app and on Fundly.com/mcdonagh-for-mayor. Through June 30, McDonagh will also donate 10% of all gift card sales to Glendale Healthy Kids.