Many Americans have forgotten the value of the American dream and instead take our freedom for granted. People from around the world leave everything they love and cherish behind in order to come to America to pursue their aspirations and to become successful through hard work and dedication.
Vlada Vladic, who emigrated from Serbia to America 30 years ago, risked everything to come to America. Vladic grew up in what most Americans would consider the “old-world” way of living. Her family, like those around hers, lived off the land and learned to make the most out of meager surroundings. She desperately wanted to take these skills and use them in a new place where she would be exposed to opportunities and freedom, which she never had back in Serbia.
She could have gone anywhere, as she has family all around the world, but instead she chose America where she had no one. Vladic was only 19 and had two dollars in her pocket, but she was determined to leave her old life behind and start fresh. Her enthusiasm to be successful enabled her to be fearless in pursuing her many endeavors after first setting foot in the “land of the free.”
Over the years, Vladic has started her own nonprofit organization, Vlada’s Seeds of Life, and has created a family program called “Cooking and Kids.” The inspiration behind both endeavors was Vladic’s combined passion for giving back to the community and cooking. She believes that cooking serves as a core factor to unite any family, and whatever can help reunite a family can also reunite the country.
“If you don’t feed the minds (of young people), you can’t expect to have a great generation,” she said.
Vlada’s Seeds of Life is a Temecula-based nonprofit that aims to reunite families and communities by sharing the love, not only for quality food, but also for the enriching experiences attained when children are engaged in the process of bringing that good to the table. Their mission is to educate, enable, energize and engage families to reconnect through a shared passion for food and family. Although food is the medium, family is the message, and this message is shared through “Cooking and Kids,” a television program that resonates with children and parents alike through recipes that are simple, nutritious, fun to prepare and that appeal to all ages. The program represents positivity and the American family, with no negativity or sense of competition. Their current sponsors include Southwest Healthcare System and Kohl’s.
In her programs, Vladic has slowly incorporated sights and places around Temecula to show her audience healthy communities like ours. Vladic is extremely proud of Temecula and is happy to call it her hometown.
“We have something special and unique going on here,” she said. “I would love to (tell the) story of this town and share it as an example for the rest of the country.”
Over such a short period of time, Vladic found that she had never experienced such ample amount of opportunities in life and was extremely grateful for all of her blessings thus far. Although her dreams have come true, she fears that other Americans fail to see their own potential and their ability to impact others.
“People have become dormant,” she explained, “Coming from a communist country, I cannot have enough of freedom.”
Although she has accomplished a lot through her hard work, Vladic’s journey has been one with many obstacles. At first, Vladic also had to work through her English-speaking limitations and teach herself how to film and edit video in order to produce her programs.
“I am an ordinary mom with no background in production,” she admitted. Yet, Vladic has managed to get “Cooking and Kids” in schools, libraries and many other educational institutions to inspire children and their families.
“(‘Cooking and Kids’ has had a) humble beginning but has already accomplished so much,” she said. Vladic is also working on getting “Cooking and Kids” on PBS, which would allow the program to be broadcast across the entire country and in every home in America.
Apart from her hard work with her cooking program, Vladic has also independently funded her nonprofit for seven years and has struggled financially at times. Even so, the widowed mother of two has been able to pull herself out of each situation and managed to land right back on her feet again.
“It is a matter of confidence,” she said. “Nothing can stop you if you have confidence.”
Vladic encourages people to consider what they enjoy doing the most, like she did with cooking. Once they can recognize what they are most passionate about, they are able to make a difference in that area. She hopes that people who have yet to immigrate to America will be greeted with the same abundance of opportunities as she had been. This country inspires her, and in turn, she wants to inspire this country.
“There is no place I would rather be,” she said.
Vladic will continue to pursue her dreams as long as God wills her to do so and as long as she physically can, she said. She hopes that her story will inspire others to strive to achieve goals that are thought to be impossible because she is living proof that the impossible is possible.
Americans must remember how lucky we are to have freedom. With freedom, every single person is able to make a difference and influence others’ lives. Vladic’s experience shows how the human spirit is capable of doing anything and everything imaginable, and it all starts with recognizing a dream and making it come true.