HOMAGE founder Ryan Vesler recent sat down with Nina West to discuss our collaboration tee benefiting wildlife devastated by the Australian wildfires.
1) What is the Nina west foundation?
Growing up, I learned quickly that I had to use my voice to foster growth for the kind of world that I wanted to live in, not just for myself, but for people like me. So much of my life story and personal experience lead to the formation of The Nina West Foundation, a charitable foundation that was formed alongside the Columbus Foundation in Columbus, Ohio in 2015. Since its inception, The Nina West Foundation has primarily done work for LGBTQIA organizations in central Ohio. Since my time on RuPaul's Drag Race, it has found a calling to help fill gaps and need around the United States and across the world.
2) What is your connection to Australia?
As I'm sure you can imagine as a kid, I was extremely imaginative. I dreamt of far off places and adventures in strange lands. Was there anything more magical than the world Down Under, a magical place called Australia? No. Australia was a land of beautiful animals that captured my imagination - a place where these beautiful animals carried around their babies in pouches, just like I had seen on Winnie The Pooh (hello Kanga and Roo!). I was so smitten with Australia as a little boy, my mom gave me a stuffed koala that I quickly became very attached too that I called Kwickie. He was my first best friend. When I became older and finally had the chance to visit Australia in 2019, I immediately fell in love. It was more majestic than I had imagined. The land was so lush and so green. I was lucky enough to hold a koala named Hamlet in Brisbane. When we landed in Sydney, you could smell the bush fire, even though it was a distance away. What is happening in Australia is devastating. Climate change is real. Our world is crying for help and global warming is happening in front of our eyes. We must do something. I am grateful to be able to team with Ryan Vessler and HOMAGE on this new project which will allow us to raise much needed funds for the animals of Australia. I learned through my visit that magical creatures do exist and with your help, we can save them for another generation to one day also be able to dream of and see in real life for themselves while visiting the beautiful land Down Under. Maybe they too will even be able to hold their own Kwickie Koala.
3) Why is it important to help?
I am thrilled to partner with Homage to raise money for Wildlife Victoria, a nonprofit based in Victoria, Australia providing wildlife emergency response services. Through their work, they are helping wildlife shelters rebuild enclosures and habitats, buy equipment and give homes to displaced wildlife after so much of their habitat has been destroyed by the wildfires. Buy a snazzy tee and save the lives of these majestic and magical creatures.