‘It Takes a Mom’ interview series highlights our recent Mother of the Year® honorees by sharing their stories every week. These moms from across the country contribute to our collective voice as mothers. They show us how they harness their maternal energy and how it really does take a mom to do it all! Here’s our interview with Dr. Truvella Reese, 2021 Nevada Mother of the Year®.
What does it mean to you to be selected Mother of the Year® for your state?
It’s a big honor. It especially was a surprise because I wasn’t aware of the honor for one and two, I felt like I give 100% being a mom, and it’s really my number one job. It’s such an honor to be recognized for doing the right thing because the work is really in the kids. It’s not all of the things that I do, but they’re the product of the efforts that I put in. So the fact that people are seeing that I’ve got some amazing kids is a compliment in and of itself.
What do you love most about being a mom?
I really like watching them grow into who they are. There’s a little bit of me in there and then there’s a little bit of dad. So just watching them, their own personalities, and their own likes manifest and watching them still have a heart for Christ. I love seeing that, even though they have these external influences, God is still number one in their life. That’s been rewarding. I pray that He continues to be first in their lives. Every day with these little critters is enjoyable, so I don’t know that there’s a ‘what I like best.’ It’s just been an enjoyable ride.
Since the toddler years, we’ve taught our kids self-identity and who we are. We’re hard workers. We’re honest. We put God first and we do the right thing, and when no one’s looking, we have integrity. We help our fellow man, we give back, we volunteer, we do service Saturdays because that’s who we are.Dr. Truvella Reese, 2021 Nevada Mother of the Year®
How do you encourage your kids to persevere and not give up?
Since the toddler years, we’ve taught our kids self-identity and who we are. We’re hard workers. We’re honest. We put God first, and we do the right thing, and when no one’s looking, we have integrity. So now that they’re older and they have this core identity of being a Reese, which is nothing more than a last name, but it’s definitely shaped who they are. As they mature, they’ve already known inside that ‘Reese’s don’t do this’ and ‘Reese’s don’t do that,’ or we do these things. We help our fellow man. We give back. We volunteer. We do service Saturdays because that’s who we are. I think that self-identity and family identity helps them as they go through life. That’s worked for us.
What do you do as a family in your community?
As I mentioned, we have service Saturdays and when we volunteer, a lot of the things we’ll do are pop-ups or the mobile food pantry here and we hand out food for several hours with The Just One Project, which is a nonprofit here in Vegas. We do charitable 5ks for financial contributions. I could go on and on. Community service is at the core of what we do. It’s one of our bonding activities. It’s something everybody can do together. The kids play sports and I work and my husband works, so we’re always being torn in different directions. But community service is one of those things that unites us together and brings us back, and we always make it about what we’re doing for others. It’s our family time and the kids love it. They’ve done it for years. It’s not a chore for them. They’re always looking forward to it and it has made them more charitable in their heart and in their core.
What do you do for yourself to unwind and relax?
I am part of a leadership team in Vegas and the goal is to find a niche here that you connect with and to make Las Vegas a better place. For me, I’m passionate about human trafficking. Now, I wouldn’t say that’s relaxing, but it feeds me. I do a lot of work with human trafficking.
I also travel a lot. When I travel, I get my own hotel room and I eat my own meal and take a hot bath, and have a glass of wine as I teach doctors and nurses. I’ve taught scouting groups about human trafficking, including what it is, what it looks like, what to do, what not to do, and so, being a national speaker has allowed me to find my niche leadership. Las Vegas has allowed me to translate it on a bigger scale to where I have a broader impact versus one person over here and one person over there. And then I also do pro bono dentistry for human trafficking survivors, so that’s what I’m kind of known for in Vegas.
How long have you been raising awareness of human trafficking?
I’ve done the pro bono work for a decade now, and I’ve been a national speaker for two years, so I’m just now getting to the point of telling people, but people will say, ‘Oh, you’re such a great person,’ and with that said, I don’t do it for any accolades. I had a cousin who was trafficked and in watching that journey and what my family went through—because it doesn’t just involve one person—it’s been on my radar for more than 20 years. Now that I have a tangible way to effectively change lives, that’s how I feed into myself. I invest myself in helping other women.
Through American Mothers, the Golden Rule Movement provides a platform for women who embody the selfless caring spirit of motherhood, and who are using that maternal energy to make the world a better place. How would you say you exemplify the Golden Rule in your everyday life?
We are involved, we participate, we help when we can. We give back whether it’s monetarily, whether it’s our time, whether it’s just writing a letter to someone saying, ‘I know you had a rough day, but it’ll get better.’ We bake cookies for the elderly. We do everything with intent. We as a society and as individuals tend to get extremely selfish and extremely self-centered, and it’s not intentional. It’s just the way society is, especially with social media. If you’re not conscious of the role your play, if you’re not talking to your children, and not involving your spouse—if you have one—in how to make this world a better place, then you become that person in very many different regards.
In my kids, it’s becoming something they don’t think about. It’s becoming ‘Mom, I have two dollars, can I give it to him?’ I’m not having to say, ‘This person is destitute, and they’re down on their luck.’ It’s becoming my kids identifying that ‘I have all of these clothes that I don’t wear, is there a way we can give them back?’
My kids all applied for grants this year to do a service project through the city of Las Vegas. They fund projects for kids and you can do whatever you want and write it down and the grant committee will read it. If it’s reasonable, they’ll fund it. My oldest daughter wrote a grant—and I might cry because I’m so proud—for homeless teens. And it’s for bras and panties. She’s going out and she’s buying bras and panties for the Nevada partnership for homeless youth. She’s creating a sign-up list, and you write down whatever size bra and panty you wear and your name, and she’s going to shop for it. Then, we’re doing a little party with popcorn and cotton candy, and you can pick up a goodie bag in your goodie bag. You know what’s in it, but it’s just a party. So it’ll have hygiene kits from Project Maryland, which are stuck full of things that, if you were a female teen on the streets, will give you confidence and make you feel better about yourself.
My 13-year-old has partnered with one of my girlfriends, who has a ton of foster kids. In talking to them, she found out that foster kids’ number one need is pajamas, and their number one struggle is sleepless nights. So she did a little research and discovered that most successful people have a good bedtime routine. From top to bottom, you brush your teeth, take a hot bath, get in your jammies, and maybe lastly read a book, and they do these routines, and they wake up ready for tomorrow, but a lot of foster kids are in an uncertain environment. They don’t really know their foster families or where they’re going next, so they don’t really have routines. So she found a book about simple bedtime routines, and she’s partnering with these different posture agencies here in Vegas. They’re having a pajama party in which they come in, they can pick out whatever pajamas they want, and again, we’ll have sponsored cotton candy and popcorn and drinks, and she’s going to talk to them about bedtime routines and a good story. There are books that we’ve gotten donated, so the kids can take a book with them. It just warms my heart.
And then my son, his project is called Smile Savers. I’m a dentist, and most of my friends are dentists, and our offices are in a very affluent area of Las Vegas, but I’m from the hood of hoods and grandma still lives there, and my son noticed that there aren’t any dental offices anywhere while driving to grandma’s house. He said, ‘Mama, where do they go to the dentist?’ and I said, ‘A lot of times, people in underserved areas don’t have what we have, and they’re not getting the care like you.’ And he said, ‘Man, that’s not fair. We should do something about that.’ So he wrote a grant about oral hygiene and nutrition and is giving these presentations at the community center. He’s ordering toothbrushes and floss and mouthwash kits and is making his sister put them together. Because that’s what we do, we support each other. So he’s presenting to the inner city community centers on how to better take care of your teeth if you don’t have access to care.
So those are their grants. I didn’t tell them what to write, I didn’t find their need for them, and I didn’t do the research. So those are the types of things my children do every day.