Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Meeting with Mission WV Frameworks and DHHR - Martha Walker

My mother and I met this morning with Kelly Thompson and a few others at Mission West Virginia, the group that does public relations for recruitment of foster and adoptive families as well as administers several other programs that assist DHHR.  We learned of the many ways we could partner together to bring new awareness to the public of the many opportunities to help families in crisis.  One of the most interesting things we talked about was their program to transition foster children out of the system.  Can you imagine turning 18, having had your parents’ rights permanently terminated, been moved from foster home to foster home, and then you’re just on your own?  DHHR has programs to help fund college costs, but on the college breaks and the summers, you have no one to go home to.  That issue has really hit me hard, as I am so close to my family and their presence in my life is so huge – I don’t think I could make it.  We are looking for families willing to become a mentor in their lives, willing to invite them to holidays and family gatherings, take an interest in them and be an encouragement.  

Please log on to their site at www.wvmission.org for more information.

We left Mission West Virginia and headed off to see my trainer, Taylor Stillpass at Hurricane, where he critiqued my body and suggested some changes I needed to be working on.  From there, we jetted over to TJ Maxx to shop for “headshot clothes,” things with interesting necks to use for tomorrow’s photo shoot.

Had an afternoon appointment with Jason Najmulski and Marsha Daddisman from DHHR Cabinet Secretary Martha Walker’s office to discuss legislation we might pursue that would help CPS workers or other DHHR needs.  They were so incredibly welcoming and forthcoming.  They had packets prepared showing me the relevant statistics, where the money is going and what holes in the system we currently have.  I could not have asked for a better reception or more cooperation, and I am really looking forward to working with them to achieve the goals that will better our response teams in all areas. 

Off to the mall to look for more funky-neck clothes, and mom and I practically crawled home, glad to be out of those high heels and power suits!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Big Bear Campground + Miss Pennsylvania Pageant

6:00 a.m. came quickly.  Left Ripley, drove to Bruceton Mills to be present at the dedication and ribbon-cutting of the Big Bear Lake Campground Waterpark.  The dedication of the volunteers and board members' efforts to put together a $2.1 million dollar investment into their camp was again an example of the best of West Virginia.  I had my first personal papparazzi, age 10, who helped me explore the park. 

Pictured:  [Male in yellow shirt - Miss West Virginia Auditor] - [Small boy in front of water park - my personal photographer & auditors son]

Drove to Pittsburgh to hook back up with Miss WV 2008 Kayla Lynam at her apartment.  There we laughed and joked, finally got another meal, and took a nap.  Spent the evening at the Miss Pennsylvania pageant with Kayla and Barb Brunetti, where we saw {ck} crowned.  I am looking forward to getting to know her at Miss America.  One of the most interesting things was that the talent at their pageant was absolutely phenomenal! 

Pictured: [Miss Teen Pennsylvania Contestants.  Miss WV 08 - Kayla Lynam & Miss WV Board President - Barb Brunetti]

Friday, June 26, 2009

Jackson County 4-H Camp

Spoke to 385 4-H campers at Cedar Lakes about "How to be a Grand Champion - Rather than a White-Ribbon Winner."  Spent some time at the Council Circle where I was reminded of my old Seneca roots from seven years of 4-H camp.  Had to ask a camper to help me do the hand sign so I could ask the Chief's permission to wear my headress. Bet that was the first time he ever got that question!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Workforce Youth in Excellence Ceremony

Spoke at the WV Work Force Youth in Excellence awards ceremonies to a group of approximately 200 high school students who have had extreme obstacles to overcome in their educational and employment path and who have made extreme progress, worthy of receiving an award.  My talk emphasized the tools for success, and commended the attendees for their efforts.

Headed home for the first time in days!  Thought I would get to rest, but then began the arduous task of unpacking, laundry, paying bills, and again, replying to messages.  Good to sleep in my bed tonight!

News story & video from the Parkersburg News Channel WTAP - http://www.wtap.com/news/headlines/48934547.html

Monday, June 22, 2009

Camp Muffely Autistic Camp

Woke up to the phone ringing off the hook with interviews, e-mails to check and txt messages to send back.  Had 78 txt messages of congratulations and more than on Facebook.  Spent a little time trying to respond and thanking everyone for their support.  Chose the photograph to go on my autograph pad and worked on getting those ordered.  Set up meetings with the DHHR Cabinet Secretary Martha Walker and Mission WV to begin my platform awareness and our partnerships.

Wrote a speech to give the next day in Parkersburg, my first speaking appearance.

Went to Cheddar's for a late lunch (yes, more food!) and mom tried to put her hair on my face in the reflection of the door as we were going on to see how auburn would look on me - little did we realize that the hostesses and waiters had recognized me and were laughing their heads off, wondering what we were up to.

Went to TJ Maxx to buy mom underwear and some clothes, as she was unprepared to stay with me as long as she was going to, and I had my first request for an autograph!  A lady approached me and said, "Aren't you the new Miss WV?  I watched you  - congratulations!  Could I please get your autograph for my niece?"  I, of course, said, "Sure," in my usual loud voice, and she says, "Shhhh, don't let everyone in the store know who you are, they'll bombard you!"  I just laughed and wrote a note to her niece on a receipt we found in her purse.

Went to Superior Ford to pick up the car they provide for the year - Jarod Hartshorn is absolutely the most generous and friendly guy around!  What a blessing they are!  I was overwhelmed by their generosity and tickled to see that the car they provided (Ford Focus) gets great gas mileage!

Off from the dealership to my first appearance at Camp Muffley, autistic camp run by Rick Romino of the Clarksburg Elks Club.  I was met by Rick Romino, the camp organizer, who introduced me to the campers and the staff.  What a great evening that was!  My favorite part was the talent show, where campers and staff showed their many unique gifts for music, theater and dance.  The talent show included me and another camper who promised me we were going to be "ballroom dancers."  Turns out he liked to slow dance, and that was okay, as I wasn't coordinated enough to ballroom dance anyway.

Left Camp Muffley and drove to Parkersburg, arriving in the hotel at 10:30 p.m. - BIG DAY!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

1st Board Meeting and Judges Critique

I woke up this morning with the realization that as exhausted as I was, I was also more excited than I've ever been about living this next year. The first item of business as Miss WV is to meet with the Board of Directors (who gave up their Father's Day to invest in me) to ensure that I accomplished everything I envisioned throughout my year and to begin the preparations to successfully represent our state at Miss America.

In the Judge's critique, I was somewhat surprised to learn that their suggestions for me were the following:

1. Dye your hair the auburn color of your mother's (mom says they must have been paying more attention to her than to me - haha!)

2. Pick a different song, possibly with more range

3. Wear eight-inch heels in swimsuit, "Let those legs go on and on"

After our meeting with the Board, mom and I and Misty McMinn (my great friend who happens to be my Director) went out to eat and blew that diet out at Eat-N-Park. I had eggs, bacon, french toast, two bowls of soup, salad and cake! Whoohoo!!

Went to bed at 8:00 p.m., and did well to stay up that long!

PICTURE: My pageant director and one of my best friends, Misty Quick McMinn. She has been one of the biggest reason why I ever became Miss West Virginia.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Crowning Moment

Overwhelmed with tears and excitement...
So cool that the year I win Miss West Virginia, Miss America is there to help crown.

Wow - it is finally me! All these years of pageants, with that ultimate goal to SOMEDAY be MISS WEST VIRGINIA! First, thanks to my Lord and Savior, who promised me five years ago on that very stage (while Julia Burton was doing her final walk) that one day my mom and I would have a year to travel together all over this great state, just like Julia described. God is my rock, my shelter in the time of storm, and my joy that overflows!

This year, my platform is "Child Abuse and Neglect - Breaking the Cycle" and with it, I hope to impact the lives of children through my school tour, increase awareness of the Child Protective Services needs legislatively and do my best to recruit more foster families and adoptive homes for those children looking for that "forever family."