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The scene at the Greens Hotel on a Saturday evening in September was not necessarily what you'd expect for a charity fundraiser.
Pinup models straight from a World War II catalog strutted for a swimsuit contest, DJs blared mashups of songs old and new, vintage cars with bucket seats and fashion vendors selling ‘50s counterculture clothing -- all of it was par for the course for an evening organized by one of Sacramento’s newest groups, The Atomic Angels. Their goal: making charity a party and raising money for local causes.
The group’s unconventionality has sparked various responses, beginning with the Atomic Angels emblem -- a haloed pinup posing in front of an anchor, draped with the slogan “Charity, Hope, Friendship.”
Image by: Atomic Angels
“At first, we faced a lot of controversy for that logo,” Jamie-Lynn Hazzard said, founder of the Atomic Angels, realtor, former pin-up model and volunteer for local charities such as the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary and SPCA. “The idea of working with charities, and the idea that a pinup is not what you want people to see. But that is really who we are as a group. That’s what we are, and we want to help charities. If people have a hard time with that, then it’s on them – it’s not on us.”
Hazzard's philosophy toward nonprofit public relations work is direct, and if her experience is a reliable guide, effective.
“When you get a bunch of pretty girls all dolled up, all showing up somewhere for a cause, they get attention,” Hazzard said.
In September 2011, Hazzard contacted friends who shared an interest in charity as well as vintage fashion. The result was a diverse group of women, some with experience in charity work, and some with experience in modeling.
“All together we’re able to get so much done,” she said, “kind of like Captain Planet, with our powers combined.”
Each of the 12 Atomic Angels is a board member, finding time from their full-time jobs to meet twice a month for organizing charity events.
One of the first members was Christina Robinson, CFO of the Atomic Angels and a paralegal secretary.
While pinup modeling isn’t really her thing, Robinson does have extensive experience in charity work, serving her fifth year on the nonprofit Sacramento Valley Paralegal Association and lending a hand in Haiti with All Hands Volunteers.
“I sit at a desk in front of a computer for most of the day or I’m in meetings with attorneys,” Robinson said. “It’s very cut-and-dry, whereas with the Atomic Angels, there is so much diversity within the group, it’s a whole different beast.”
Atomic fundraisers vary from all ages to adults-only.
They’ve held events for Loaves & Fishes, WEAVE, the Red Cross, and Treasure Our Troops.
Their most recent event was the Mad Men pool party, a vintage party involving a Jell-o mold contest and limbo. Hazzard gives a synopsis in this video:Tickets were $8 at the door, and all proceeds went toward Wind Youth Services, a local nonprofit providing outreach for homeless youth.
Up next is the Howl-oween Haunted House at the Governor’s Mansion which is raising money for state parks that were cut off from funding in July.
In November they will be hosting their second annual pie drive for the Loaves & Fishes Thanksgiving lunch. They’re also putting together an SPCA 2013 calendar which includes a layout of the Atomic Angels modeling with an SPCA animal for each month.
Jackie Scott is the newest member of the Atomic Angels. She was introduced to the group during an Angels benefit for WEAVE, an organization dedicated to preventing violence against women.
After winning a pin-up contest, Scott went through a pledge process where she learned about various charities that the Angels support.
“Pin-up and rockabilly is not only my lifestyle, it’s the life I lead,” Scott said. “I went from being, hey I’m a student in my own little world, to gosh I really want to do good things for people but I’m not sure how, then I met this group of incredible women.”
A strong extended family has also been built within the Atomic Angels.
Deanna Sutton, 30-year-old from Los Angeles, has found a niche with the Angels since moving here. Sutton’s mother and both of her aunts look forward to each event.
“It opened a lot of doors for her,” said Sutton’s mother, Camille Cruz. “The camaraderie of it all is so great and I even find myself headbanging and wearing clothes that I thought would be thrown away by now.”
To learn more about the Atomic Angels, visit their Facebook page: http://facebook.com/TheAtomicAngels