Hello All (or none, perhaps)!
I was originally going to blog for Zipcar, my car sponsor for the year. Not only to keep everyone up to date with what I've been doing but also to get Zipcar AND the places I go some publicity, too. But, alas, it didn't pan out and here I am. A real live blogger.
I will not refer to this year as "my year" but as our year, because believe me, far more people than I have been instrumental to date and beyond. With that said our year has been all kinds of things, but most importantly an unbelievable blessing. Let me say that it will be difficult to fully explain all that I have done so far, therefore I'm going to give a cliff-notes version to get you up to speed.
Winning Miss New York has been a challenge within itself. Most don't know the MAO eligibility rules, and many that do still want to openly discuss the shame of a girl originally from VA representing NY (Ellis Island, anyone? melting pot?). Yet, I will continue to use my year to turn the spotlight onto those who need it much more than me. That's why I continued to compete. My platform is what did, and continues, to drive me. I am not a carpet bagger. I am not a crown chaser. Rather, I am an activist. I am a leader. And I am a dreamer. Ultimately, isn't that what our Miss States should be?
My platform morphed itself from just being the general encouragement of volunteerism into one that focuses on disadvantaged children. But not necessarily serving them, but asking THEM to serve. You see, it's engaging our youth of all all backgrounds that will help move our communities forward. They will begin to feel as if they are becoming the solution, and no longer the problem. Thus they stop looking for pity and take charge of their own communities, and their own futures as well. In an effort to educate myself as thoroughly as possible I spent time meeting with Sean Strub (the man behind the Denver Principles), David Thorpe (Director of Communications- Housing Works), Ethan Zohn (winner of Survivor Africa and avid philanthropist), I watched as Senators Obama and McCain discussed volunteerism within our country on September 11th (and was introduced by Bon Jovi, his hand is soft, and YES he is the hottest dad alive), visited an all male HIV Support Group at Arthur Kill State Penitentiary, visited Crossroads- a juvenile detention center in Brooklyn, took a public AIDS test on World AIDS day in Albany, and the list continues! Along with being Miss New York I also hold a full-time job with an interior design firm, Scott Sanders LLC. So needless to say my weeks are jam packed. But so very worth it.
But, for me, the most exciting thing that has happened is in reference to policy change. As I said earlier, I think all representatives should not only champion a cause, but should be an activist. In keeping with this I currently have a bill, sponsored by Danny O'Donnell, on the floor of the NY State Senate that would require all New York State Public High School Students to complete mandatory community service in order to graduate. On December 7th I traveled to Albany for the State of the State Address where I also lobbied and advocated for this bill, #A.302!
Along with many other things/appearances I've done so far I have also done some introspective thinking provoked by Ellen Carrington, Miss Tennessee (!) while we were in LA filming Countdown to the Crown. The first night we were on the Queen Mary Ellen told a table of gals that her predecessor had said that a successful year would need to include coming out still loving yourself. We sat around the table and tossed the idea to and fro. We came to the conclusion that many people would rather pick us apart for what they see to be our physical shortcomings rather than focus on the truly breathtaking things we have done, foundations we have started, and lives we have redirected and changed. Skin grows thicker, and determination blossoms, but it doesn't mean the judgment doesn't sting. We're going to create a movement to stop that. Or, er, something like that... :)
Sometime soon I will post a blog with some baller photos of my time spent in Las Vegas at Miss America. That my friends was an experience of a lifetime. And certainly included gals that will be in my wedding. In 12 years. Speaking of those girls, I'm getting ready to head home and pack for my trip to Katie Stam's (Miss America, DUH!) homecoming in IN tomorrow where I get to see a load of them. I'm getting the tingles just thinking about it.
Until next time...