Media Personality, Civil Rights Attorney and Child Advocate Areva Martin Mixes Fashion and Philanthropy to Raise Money for Autistic and Special Needs Children

Who runs the world? That was the question of the day as 350 pink-wearing divas graced the pink carpet at the 14th annual Pink Pump Affair on May 15, 2022 in Beverly Hills. Hundreds of ladies, exuding pink power gathered together to support media personality, civil rights attorney and child advocate Areva Martin and her charity, the Special Needs Network (SNN).

The fun-filled afternoon included a champagne reception, a silent and live auction hosted by comedian/actress and SNN board member Kym Whitley, and an awards show, honoring women of distinction. Plus, a fashion show, featuring Gen Z emerging designer Journey Carter along with size-inclusive clothing brands from African American designers, presented by MaTte ArGyLe, wowed the audience with size inclusive women of color on the catwalk. MaTte ArGyLe is Black-owned boutique at Runway Playa Vista.

On Instagram, Martin announced that during its fundraising drive, more than $500,000 was raised for SNN through foundation grants, VIP charity ticket sales and 30 corporate/nonprofit sponsors. LA Care Health, a gold plus sponsor of the Pink Pump Affair, presented a $25,000 check  to SNN during the charity event.

“I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love for the 14th annual Pink Pump Affair. More than 350 powerful women came together to collectively say that kids with autism and special needs matter!” said Martin, the founder and president of SNN. “The generous donations will allow the Special Needs Network to continue the transformative work of fighting and advocating for Black and brown kids with autism and other special needs, and ensure that they are valued and given every opportunity to thrive in our society.”

This year’s Pink Pump honorees included Emmy-winning producer and NAACP Image Award-winning actress and philanthropist Wendy Raquel Robinson. She received the Vanguard Award for her work as the co-founder and artistic director of Amazing Grace Conservatory, a theatrical training institute for youth in the Los Angeles community for more than 25 years.

Other famous faces in the crowd included comedienne/actress Luenell as well as actresses Anna Maria Horsford, Vivica A. Fox and Elise Neal.

SHEEN spoke with some of Hollywood’s most glamourous ladies on the pink carpet about supporting this worthy cause as well as sharing their top five fashion and beauty must haves.

SHEEN: What are your top five fashion and/or beauty must Haves?

WENDY RAQUEL ROBINSON: Lipstick, lipstick, lipstick, a good wig, and internal beauty and confidence.

VIVICA A. FOX: A good pair of SPANXÓ, a comfortable pair of heels, some good moisturizing lip gloss, a fabulous pair of shades, and a push-up bra.

ELISE NEAL: A great black dress and an amazing pair of shoes.

Emmy-winning producer and NAACP Image Award-winning actress and philanthropist Wendy Raquel Robinson was honored at the Pink Pump Affair held on May 15, 2022 in Beverly Hills. . She received the Vanguard Award for her work as the co-founder and artistic director of Amazing Grace Conservatory, a theatrical training institute for youth in the Los Angeles community for more than 25 years.


SHEEN: The Pink Pump Affair is raising money for the special needs community. What type of impact do you want these funds to have on the community?

LUENELL: I think it’s really important to see the dollars at work.  SNN provides summer camps and other important programs for special needs children. I also want to see some projects that teaches tolerance and acceptance of these kids to others.

Pink Pump Affair event chairperson and Special Needs Network vice president and board member Bonnie Berry Lamon and Areva Martin, founder of Special Needs Network accepted a $25,000 check from gold sponsor LA Care at the 14th annual Pink Pump Affair held on May 15, 2022 in Beverly Hills.

SHEEN: You founded the Special Needs Network. What inspired you do start this charity? What is your personal connection to the special needs community?

AREVA MARTIN: My son, Marty, was diagnosed with autism when he was .2 years old, and I really struggled to get services and support for him.  I met a lot of families in the African American community who were struggling too. I knew that I had my legal background. I had a law firm. I had resources and I needed to figure out a way to help these families. The Special Needs Network has been that vehicle through which I’ve been able to help literally thousands of families throughout the state of California. Today, the Special Needs Network is one of the nation’s leading social justice, autism, and disability rights organizations. Our mission is to combat the discrimination disenfranchised communities of color face in getting proper care and resources for minority children with developmental disabilities.

SHEEN: How did you accept your son’s diagnosis of autism?  What was that process like?

AREVA MARTIN: After his diagnosis, I needed to figure out what is the best health care for my son. Where are the best doctors? Where are the best therapists? How do I get him the best treatment possible? Those were the needs, and so for me I did go through a period of grieving. I went through a period where I was really sad and then I had to transition from that. And really what happened is, I went from being really sad to being really mad. And it was when I got mad, that spurred me into action. It caused me to really figure out how I could turn that anger into a passion. I wanted to be an agent of change. How could I use it for good … for the good of my son and for the good of others as well.

Media personality, civil rights attorney and child advocate Areva Martin is all smiles at Pink the Pump Affair on Sunday, May 15, 2022 in Beverly Hills, wearing a custom outfit by designer Claude Kameni (formerly known as Lavie by CK)

SHEEN: What’s your biggest accomplishment since starting this organization?

AREVA MARTIN: The biggest accomplishment is sustaining it. I’ve sat on the boards of many non-profit  organizations and many of them are not around today. Like me, many people start a non-profit organization because of a passion to make a change … to make a difference in the world. But, you also need to know how to run a business. I’m proud that the Special Needs Networks is still here today! We’ve been able to grow and expand our staff beyond what I could have imagined.

I’m excited to announce that SNN will open LA’s first-ever comprehensive medical and developmental center — called the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (C.A.A.D) — in the late fall of 2022. The state-of-the-art autism center on the campus of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital will serve thousands of families in the Watts/Willowbrook neighborhoods and surrounding areas each month.

For more information about SSN, visit,

Wyllisa R. Bennett contributed to this story as an editor.

 Photos courtesy of Leroy Hamilton for the Special Needs Network