Friday, December 18, 2009

Mason County Family Christmas

Each year, Mason County offers the Christmas for Kids afternoon craft event. Each business is represented and provides their own crafts and other supplies for each child to take part in making. With all the crafts to choose from, I started with a group of children at the beaded candy cane table, then moved to the cellophane Christmas tree decorating and from there decorated some Christmas cards for family and friends.

There were close to 150 children in attendance and each went home with at least an average of five crafts/gifts, hot chocolate, and cookies.

This free event is open to the general public and encourages families to participate together during the Holiday Season. Counties like Mason serve as the trailblazer for many others. Their well-known mission and first priority is their children, their safety and well being.

Dale Carnegie Training

In 2002, Dale Carnegie celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2002. With over 7 million graduates, Dale Carnegie Training is dedicated to serving the business and professional community worldwide. Currently there are over 2,700 professional instructors that offer Dale Carnegie Training in more than 75 countries in 25 languages. If those facts do not speak for themselves, I am not sure what does.

The Dale Carnegie Trainging Organization sponsors the Miss America contestants during their year of service. I was able to attend the “High Impact Presentations” course in Atlanta, GA and gained much knowledge about myself and my presentations skills.

During this course you are video taped seven different times, giving seven different presentations. Your first presentation starts out with just introducing yourself, stating what organization or company you represent, how many presentations you do on a yearly average, and why this training program is important to you and your growth as a presenter. The last presentation is on any topic, but is promoting the creation of change, whether that be change within your position and what you cold do to expand that job, or change within your organization.

There were eight people in this particular training course and their background ranged from a Marketing/PR person for a local hospital, to a plant manager/engineer, to a woman who currently worked for the Centers for Disease Control. Myself and the entire class became very close with our trainers – Ercell & April. They were the best in the business and it was no wonder that they loved their job. You could see it all over their face and in their presentation.

This was an invaluable experience for me and I gained much, whether that was more impacting presentations skills or relationship with others that I would have never had the opportunity to meet. I would recommend this course, but Dale Carnegie Training, to anyone hoping to positively advance within their career and life.

Inwood Christmas Banquet & Parade

Inwood, WV – near Martinsburg, WV – always throws the best parties and offers the best parades to watch. This Christmas they were hosting their annual South Berkeley Christmas Banquet and Parade and I was invited to participate.

The banquet was held on Saturday night and honored one particular man and others that have supported and given back to their community in one way or another. Featured was an honorary student, citizen, mayor, sports marshal, invited guests, and also featured were the king and queen who were selected by essay submission. Throughout the banquet the various different honorary attendees spoke for 5-10 minutes.

Throughout each speech I became in awe of how much time and preparation had gone into starting the Christmas parade years ago and how each year they keep getting bigger and bigger. The Rutherfords are to thank for the past few years of organization and promotion of the South Berkeley County Christmas parade.

There were 178 entries in Sunday’s parade, even with the temperature measuring 34 degrees. Hot coco was served during the parade route by a local church and man it was good! I was number 66 and was provided a restored jeep convertible! My driver was such a blast to be around. He was 60+ and owned a Hummer vehicle. He said when they came out, he couldn’t wait to get one, but had to spend two years researching, checking them out, and most importantly – convincing his wife! I hope the next time I am in the South Berkeley both his family and myself and take another ride in that beautiful jeep!

Wellsburg CASA Holiday Open House

On another trip to Wellsburg I visited the CASA Holiday Open House, held in the Wellsburg CASA Offices. This was a nice get-together for the volunteers and CASA staff, as well as the general public. There were 10+ vendors that were showing and selling their inventory for Christmas presents. The items on display ranged from Pampered Chef to fashion jewelry. There was a silent auction as well that featured a children’s basked full of various different items, men’s basked, women’s basket, Pampered Chef baking pan, and an overnight stay at a resort nearby. I ended up winning the children’s basket and plan to auction it off at the Miss West Virginia Scholarship Pageant silent auction in June.

I was able to get to know the volunteers and Executive Director, Michelle Bush, on a more personal level as we shared stories from the past and talked about the need for CASA and how each area in West Virginia was somehow affected by child abuse and neglect. The volunteers, staff members and interns were all so fun to be around. I met a new girl there that was participating in the VISA government program at Bethany College and volunteering with CASA as well. She has such a kind spirit that I would have stayed there all night to visit. The interns were also special ladies. They too attended Bethany College and we majoring in social work. The looked forward to serving as CASA volunteers while finishing college, but longed to serve as Child Protective Service Workers.

The Wellsburg CASA has served 120+ children throughout 10 years of service. Right now they have 40 children that they are advocating for and have 14 on a waiting list. That tells you what kind of epidemic we are in and why CASA volunteers are so appreciated and needed here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

West Virginia Museum

I love shoes...but how did the women fit their feet into these skinny things?

Sunday afternoon I visited the West Virginia Museum while waiting in for church to start that evening. I had been one time, but was there on a ‘business type’ trip and was unable to take in everything the museum had to offer.

Honestly, I hate museums. I would rather watch the History Channel and be schooled on the history of certain things than go to a museum where you have to read everything and try to take it in. This museum is an EXCEPTION though! It is as good, if not better, than the Smithsonian and I am just not saying that because I am Miss West Virginia.

I spent three hours reading all the history on West Virginia and educating myself on my great state. The museum starts from 1300BC with coal-like floors to present day. While you are on the path, there are Discover Rooms that will educate you more on that era and the hot topics going on during that time. The flooring and décor represents the era. So if you are walking through the 1800s, there are going to be horse shoes and boots in the flooring, while 1950 features a road, diner and train tracks.

It is worth spending an afternoon! Open Tuesday – Sunday at the Cultural Center beside the State Capitol.

I am a woman's rights advocate - loved this room!

Morgantown Pioneer Girls Church Group

Christine Langdon, now Christine Feathers, asked me to come and speak to her “Girls Charm Class" as well as the girls ages 5-13 at her church. The Charm Class is for girls in 6th grade that are learning about your skin, appearance, reputation and being a woman of God. Christine truly is that kind of woman so 1)being her friend is a blessing, but 2) she is the most qualified teacher for this certain course.

The Charm Class girls and myself arrived at the church early to eat dinner together and chat. They had a few questions for me, but not as many as I expected from 12/13 year old girls. After that we all went into the fellowship hall where there were 60 girls waiting to make crafts and hear a talk from “Miss West Virginia.”

I talked to the girls for about 15 minutes about my faith, how being Miss West Virginia was part of God’s plan for me and that God has a plan for each one of them. We looked at five different scriptures that encompassed God’s desires for each of His to be a woman of God. After that I took a Q & A session and got every question from “Do you like boys?” to “Where do you live?” to “Do you wear your crown even when you sleep?”

Each of the girls made foam crowns and we all took pictures. This was a wonderful experience, and I hope during this year, I get more opportunities to talk to talk to girls/women about self worth in God’s eyes.

I just received an e-mail containing this letter that one of the girls wrote to the Editor of the Dominion Post - a future Miss WV, I'm certain! Read below:

CASA Holiday Christmas Tree Auction - Jackson Co.

After a few appearances in Morgantown, I rushed home to attend and speak at the Jackson County CASA Holiday Christmas Tree Auction. This is a new event and fundraiser to CASA and celebrated its second year this year.

Each business and/or organization within Jackson County are asked to provide a decorated Christmas tree that will be auctioned off for a CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocate – fundraiser. There were about 12 trees donated from various different groups – Women’s Auxiliary Club, Fairplain Union Church, Habitat for Humanity, etc. One tree was adorned with ornaments and décor that supported the Marshall sporting teams, another supported the WVU sporting teams. Another tree was decorated in all blue items, while another was decorated in country gingerbread ornaments. Each tree was different and much thought and effort had obviously gone into them.

There were about 100 in attendance, and a women’s church choir sang as attendees snacked on some refreshments. I spoke about what CASA was, how my platform and position of Miss West Virginia ties into that, and what the fundraiser dollars would be used for. This was an emotional speech, as I cannot begin to imagine the horrors that the children served by CASA have endured. Our CASA volunteers give so much to these children, and they play a huge role in being a mentor to their particular children.

As the bidding began, it was obvious that folks had a favorite they were bound and determined to get. The highest bid was for the CASA tree. This tree was adorned in bronze/brown/gold ornaments and was absolutely gorgeous. My father, Circuit Judge Tom Evans who started CASA, purchased that tree at $460.00 for his office, after much ado!

Thousands of dollars were raised that evening and that money will go toward obtaining, promoting and providing more CASA volunteers in Jackson County. Thanks go to all who donated their time, energy and commitment to the community through this event - another great example of Jackson County spirit!

Miss Morgan Co. Scholarship Pageant

I had the best time this evening! I got to spend the night with WV Outstanding Teen’s Executive Director, Jen Gartin, and her husband Del. Although I did not know that Del was a truck driver~ I confessed my freakish love of runaway truck ramps to him and how before I died, I would like to see a truck go up one….even though I know that means they are out of control. "I just want to see if the sand and sticks really will hold the truck up there.” Stupid, I know, but the next time I go up to hide away at the Gartin residence, I get to go on a tractor trailer ride! After being fixed the World Best Morning Omelet by Del Gartin, I headed to the Hagerstown Prime Outlets for some shopping before my evening appearances. After leaving the Prime Outlets, I headed to Shepherdstown, WV for the Miss Grant County Scholarship Pageant, where I would be judging and providing entertainment.

The scholarship pageant had about 40 entries – ages 5-18 – and was put on by a 17 year old girl, Chelsea Hessler, who was only producing this pageant for her senior 4-H project. I couldn’t believe it! It was one of the best and most organized pageants I have ever been a part of. There were production numbers for each age group, commemorating Michael Jackson, and each group competed in four phases of competition – Introduction, Costume/Casual Wear, Evening Gown, On-Stage Interview. At the end, each participant received an award and the winners were crowned.

This was not a Miss America preliminary, but I feel it will soon become one. It was so well put together and promoted all of the right things. Each queen and runner-up received a crown, trophy, and a savings bond of a certain amount. This pageant did not promote beauty, but self-confidence – all the right things a pageant should be based upon.

Chelsea inspired me in many different ways. If she could, at 17, put together a pageant that hosted 40 contestants, gain the scholarship dollars, raise the money to purchase the trophies and crowns, choreograph four different production numbers, provide each girl with a T-shirt for the opening number, obtain the auditorium, decorate and find judges, the least I could do is try harder each day at being the best Miss West Virginia I know how to be. I started out my year with the quote and vision that “People are not going to remember how you looked, or what you said…they are going to remember how you made them feel.” That young lady made me feel inspired and that I could do anything I set my mind to…just like she did.

Country Charm Photoshoot

Tonya Rohrbaugh is one of the best photographers, with the BEST vision, that I have ever been able to work with. She was gacious enough to provide a photo session free of charge to the newly crowned Miss WV. Because of scheduling, we were unable to get together until November 13th, but it was well worth the wait.

Since my senior year, I have had no pictures taken with my naturally curly hair. So because this was something that was deemed to be “fun” I decided to take the ‘natural route.’ Her ability to work with lighting and your best features is unlike any I have ever seen. She had awesome ideas, and I look forward to working with her on my wedding day…whenever that is....

When thinking about a photographer for your "big day," family pictures, baby pictures, pregnancy pictures, or senior pictures - remember Country Charm Photography. She is so good that many all over the US are using her for their photogaphy needs.

Please visit her website – Click “Enter Site,” go to Proofing at the bottom. Enter Password: MWV-09 [it is caps sensitive] and you will be able to see all the photos that she took of me that day.

Harrison Co. Channel 18 Interview

The Harrison County Chamber of Commerce hosts local Channel 18. Each week, month, there are various different programs and interviews being run consecutively. One week/month there might be a program ran about the local little league football teams, the next week/month there is something about the local Walmart’s holiday shopping traffic. The Chamber does its best to promote the businesses and organizations in Harrison County through public television awareness.

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview with one of the nicest gentlemen, representing the Harrison County Chamber of Commerce’s communications side. We talked on the set of Robert C. Byrd High School's Audiovisual Department for about 45 minutes on the opportunities provided to Miss West Virginia, my platform, preparation for Miss America and the Miss West Virginia Scholarship Organization.

Prior to the interview, I had been infected with the swine flu and cooped up in the house for a week. That was my first day feeling back to normal and able to be out of bed. So….after the interview, I exercised “retail therapy” and shopped that afternoon before meeting an old pageant friend for dinner.

Upshur County Schools

During the first week of November, I had the opportunity to visit nine different schools and one church in Upshur County, West Virginia: Hodgesville Elementary, Washington District Elementary, Union Elementary, Rock Cave, French Creek, Buckhannon Elementary, West Virginia Weselyan College and Buckhannon Upshur High School. All the students were fantastic and so well behaved.

In each school I received the normal questions, but I did get asked to go to the school ball that was taking place that Friday afternoon with one of the 5th grade boys - probably was the best offer I'd had all week!

Union Elementary finished up my last school presentation. When I arrived, there were two newspapers there and two TV crews ready to capture a story. I had never felt like a celebrity until that day! After the various interviews, the school assembled for the presentation and we have K-5 in the gymnasium. The presentation went WONDERFULLY, and after I was finished I was even offered a job teaching at the school when I completed my reign of service. I laughed….as I have never really seen myself as a teacher….but had a great time with my presentation that day.

During that week I was granted the opportunity to speak to a classroom of students at West Virginia Weselyan College. This was a class full of future educators, so I explained what the job of Miss West Virginia was, my platform, and how to look out for signs of abuse and neglect within your future students. It was exciting to meet some inspiring students who have great plans for their future, and I hope to continue my relationship with them beyond my year as Miss West Virginia, as they're going places!

Lastly, one of the best things about this week on the road was that I was able to stay in a bed and breakfast that was HUGE! I had my own room, living room, kitchen and bathroom. The décor reflected the Victorian era and was a home of serenity for me that week. Check it out – The Governor’s Inn: