Member Spotlight: Arlene Illa

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Home Category : FOOTBALL

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Arlene has been a San Francisco 49ers fan since 1981. Her friend had season tickets back then and she attended many games at the Stick. Later, she became a season ticket holder herself. Her passion for the Niners is evident in her love and knowledge of the history of the players, the plays, the rivalries and the coaches. In 2014, the 49ers opened the museum at Levi’s stadium and Arlene was there to welcome fans and visitors as the doors opened for the first time. If you have the good fortune to run into Arlene while she is working at the 49ers museum, you would be impressed with her ability to run down Jerry Rice’s stats, as she points to footballs suspended overhead, representing his touchdown receptions. Her face lights up when she’s talking about the G.O.A.T., her favorite player, Jerry Rice, the greatest receiver of all time. She even journeyed to Canton, Ohio in 2010 for the Hall of Fame induction of Jerry Rice.

Her enthusiasm for educating museum-goers with facts is natural for Arlene, an Elementary School Teacher for the past 31 years. Currently she teaches 5thgraders math and social studies and her kids definitely know she is a Niner fan by the memorabilia on her desk, and of course her stories. When asked about her favorite play, she did not hesitate, “it was NaVorro Bowman’s interception return for an 89-yard touchdown against Arizona, the last game at Candlestick in 2013.” Arlene has such a love for our Niners!When asked what being a member of Ladies of the Empire means to her, she quickly responded, “die hard Niner fans who always cheer on our team, help out our community, and it’s a sisterhood.” Good women doing great things and loving football. What could be better?

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As a 49ers season ticket holder, I receive requests to complete a survey on my experience after every single 49er event (No joke, literally after every single game). They want to know things like how my tailgate experience went, how my food tasted, did I like the halftime entertainment, how was my interaction with staff, how was parking, my restroom business (ok, maybe not that), but you get my point.  Frankly, it feels like every time I think about the 49ers or Levi’s stadium, they want to know how my experience went.  There is such a thing as ‘survey fatigue’, and I’m pretty sure I have it.  Don’t get me wrong, I do realize that this feedback is important. I know there’s a great group of hardworking individuals who crunch and analyze the data, and I truly appreciate them for their efforts and how serious they take our answers; but after every event?

When another survey came in about two months ago, I opened it thinking “no more!” It’s the off-season, and as a fan I needed a break.  But this time, it wasn’t just a survey. There was also an invitation to a focus group, which intrigued me.  I looked at it more as an opportunity to meet with other season ticket holders to promote Ladies of the Empire.  So I signed up, took off half a day from work, and prepared my list of praises and areas for improvements.  The focus group turned out great; however, it felt as if many people had more complaints than praises.  The facilitators took it with stride and, as a thank you, took down our jersey sizes with the promise of giving us each a Jimmy G jersey!

About a month later, we received our thank you jerseys along with an invite to tour the staff’s offices and parts of the stadium I’d never seen before, including the team locker room (shout out to Moon who leads the survey team)! And while I cannot confirm or deny that I saw a very neat and tidy Jimmy G locker (keyword is ‘tidy’ ladies), it was definitely an unforgettable experience! But unfortunately cameras weren’t allowed… *sigh.

But that wasn’t all! They then invited us to a Draft Day 2 party at the Bourbon and Steak Pub! I thought to myself: “All you can eat and drink on a Friday night? I’m in!” So of course I went! And just as I was eating some of the most delicious Caesar salad and beef loin, I looked over my shoulder to see one of the largest men ever. It was our first round draft pick, Mike McGlinchey!  He was there to say hi and meet us. Unbelievable!

So, needless to say, I’ve changed my tune on surveys.  I’m in! Send me a survey, and I’ll gladly take it.  Hope you do too. =)

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“Good afternoon … I am so happy to hear back from the Ladies of the Empire! I really appreciate all the support and love from this amazing community. The scholarship has helped me so much in my transition from Ohlone College to UC Berkeley with textbook and housing costs. I am able to work less and focus more on my studies.
My first semester at Cal was challenging but rewarding as I have met many amazing individuals and got involved with various activities and student organizations on campus, as well as finished strong in all my courses with a 3.67 gpa.  I was recently selected to become an ambassador for UC Berkeley for the University of California Global Health Institute for Women’s Health, Gender, and Empowerment in which I am helping raise awareness of global health and women’s rights issues on my campus.
My brother, Giovanni is following my path in attending Ohlone College and plans to transfer to a UC campus to study business. My younger brother, Josue, is still playing football for the Milpitas Trojans and is in his sophomore year. My family are all very proud of my accomplishments and their love is what is helping me stay focused on my studies and continuing to excel.
I once again am so grateful for all the LOTE has helped me with. I would love to be a part of the LOTE community by giving back or volunteering in events that you all will hold. Please let me know how I can contribute and give back to the LOTE family.
Thank you!”
– Georgina
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Dear Mrs. Pinkney,

Thank you for giving us free tickets to the Niners game. It was a really fun and cool experience because it was a high scoring game. Remember Pierre Garçon’s sideline catch and the fumble on the punt return? Those were my favorite plays. It would’ve been a better night if they won but I still had a great time. I’m glad that I had the experience to watch a Niner game up close.  This was my first time going to a NFL game. I really am thankful that you gave us these tickets.

Very grateful,

Aidan Udofia

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We were fortunate to have sent these amazing youth to their first 49er games this season. Check out their stories below.

“Thank you for the 49er tickets. My family loves the 49ers even though they have been losing.
I had never been to a game because my parents said it costs too much and there’s too many of us to afford to go. My dad works a lot so I never get to see him much and he knows more about football than anybody else in my family. So I’m so glad that I made the choice to pick him to go with me to the game because it was a blast. It was one of the best days of my life because I got to go to a football game for the first time and spend time with my dad. I couldn’t believe I got to go to a real game and with my dad!
Thank you again for the tickets. I will never forget this special day.”
Tiffany P.

“Dear Donor,
Thank you for donating to us the tickets to go to the 49ers game. This was my first time going to a game and it was very fun and amazing. My whole family had a really great time. I wish I could thank you in person because it is a very rare thing to get free tickets to a game, and just once more thank you with all my heart for donating those tickets to us.”
Nathaniel and Sebastian

“Thank you for the 49ers tickets, I am glad that I got the experience to go to a football game. I really enjoyed myself while I was at the game. I got a souvenir, I got to see the 49ers in person, and I even got to see the cheerleaders dance. The game was really exciting, mostly because I got to see a lot of other 49er fans and they were cheering and also booing the other team! It was really fun!”
Thank you!
Jordan L.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re a season ticket holder with extra tickets, donate your tickets and send a deserving youth to their first game! If you would like to donate your tickets, please contact cat@ladiesoftheempire.com.

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Deserving Kids: Jordan L.

“Thank you for the 49ers tickets, I am glad that I got the experience to go to a football game. I really enjoyed myself while I was at the game. I got a souvenir, I got to see the 49ers in person, and I even got to see the cheerleaders dance. The game was really exciting, mostly because I got to see a lot of other 49er fans and they were cheering and also booing the other team! It was really fun!”

Thank you!
Jordan L.

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On the evening of September 28th, the Ladies of the Empire, represented by Oona Smith, Cindy Robins and Monique Morales, were honored to be in attendance at the Cocktails and Couture event to benefit the San Francisco 49ers Academy. Under the clear dusk sky, we were graciously welcomed into the private home of one of the Academy’s Board members in Woodside. Vendors lined the walkway with their scrumptious treats, beautiful artisan creations from jewelry and apparel to unique sports themed gifts for men. The wine and cocktails flowed freely for this incredible cause. Ladies cheerily conversed as they sampled culinary delights while sipping these festive beverages. And of course, some our favorite 49ers football players were there too, to mingle and participate in the fashion show. Dontae Johnson, Eric Reid and Raheem Mostert were there with their gorgeous ladies. Alumni was represented by the ever-charming, handsome former Forty-Niners Quarterback, Steve Bono and his lovely wife, Tina. The event was charged with energy, great raffle prizes and a live auction, which included “Dinner with Firemen”, a big hit for sure! The fashions were delightful and looked amazing on the models. The event was a great success. We are grateful to support the San Francisco 49ers Academy and can’t wait to attend again next year.

Located in East Plao Alto, the San Francisco 49ers Academy is a private non-profit agency embedded in the public school system providing on-site services, staff, and programs to middle and high school students. This unique and innovative model allows the 49ers Academy to address ongoing challenges facing low income students and helps bridge the opportunity gap that they face daily.

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Dear Donor,

Thank you for donating to us the tickets to go to the 49ers game. This was my first time going to a game and it was very fun and amazing. My whole family had a really great time. I wish I could thank you in person because it is a very rare thing to get free tickets to a game, and just once more thank you with all my heart for donating those tickets to us.

Sincerely,

Nathaniel and Sebastian

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