Monday, May 20, 2013

The Countdown Continues

       "There is no better exercise for your heart than reaching down and helping to lift someone up."
-Bernard Meltzer

     As Miss New Jersey approaches I've become more and more busy and I. Love. It!!!  Just this past week I was able to take part in so many volunteering, performing, and just-for-fun activities, including a tea party!  Here's a look at my eventful week since I last blogged!
       On Saturday I made the trip to Atlantic City to join the Miss NJ Team for the Shirley Mae Breast Cancer Assistance Fund walk!  Every year a handful of the Miss New Jersey contestants unite to represent our organization at such a meaningful event.  I was lucky enough to perform at the walk and participate when I was Miss New Jersey's Outstanding Teen!  It was an honor to be walking as a contestant for the first time, regardless of how gloomy the skies were!
As you can see, the weather before the walk began was tolerable!
Shout out to my pageant sister, Courtney Fairfield, for being
our team captain this year!
Notice how the weather went from tolerable to torrential in just a matter of minutes.
Olivia and I huddled under my Shirley Mae umbrella for minimal shelter from the rain!
Not exactly our ideal weather conditions, but we made it fun :)
We picked up a few more gals during our adventure through the rain and
decided to document just how soaked we were at the end of the walk!

       Later that very same day, I traveled to Collingswood to watch one of my awesome little stars, Olivia, perform in the Alice in Wonderland ballet!  She was a little ballerina and a bunny!  Brooke, my other little star, and I went together to watch our friend shine on the stage!  They are so supportive of each other, and being that we all love dance, this was a cool way to bond. :)
Olivia rocked her cool sneaker-styled slippers after a long show :)

       With Sunday being Mother's Day, my sweet mother and I decided to do a little service together to kick off the holiday!  We visited ManorCare Health Services to deliver adorable, hand-made flowers to each woman, whether she was a resident or a staff member.  I loved being able to put a smile on so many faces, especially with my own mother at my side.  We then hosted "Coffee Club" in the dining hall and served hot beverages and danishes!
My Aunt Kris and her recreation staff at ManorCare made these hand-crafted flowers!
These looked SO yummy, but my inner swimsuit body said "no!"
Serving them to my ManorCare friends was good enough for me :)

       After we volunteered all morning, it was time for our annual Mother's Day Tea at my grandmother's house!  My Mom-mom has hosted a tea party for her daughters, daughters in-law, and granddaughters for 16 years.  Each and every year we come together on Mother's Day to enjoy each other's company and remind each other how grateful we are to have one another!  
Self timing cameras are a beautiful invention.
All of the girls at our tea party!
This is just dessert! Mom-mom really outdid herself.  
I couldn't help but indulge in these goodies!

       The following Monday, I took part in another tradition I know and love.  Each year, the ladies of the Almonesson United Methodist Church plan a Mother's Day banquet for their congregation.  They invite the Shore Girls to serve dinner, as well as perform their talents and answer questions from the audience.  I took part in this tradition as a teen titleholder and am lucky enough to call myself a Shore Girl yet again!  The women of Almonesson United Methodist are so devoted to their church and community, it is truly inspiring.  Not only that, but they are always extremely supportive of the Miss America Organization and the Shore Pageants.  

After serving dinner and eating our own meals, my pageant sisters and I performed our talents.  Along with performing my Miss New Jersey talent competition dance, I sang "I See the Light" from the Disney movie, "Tangled."  Apparently there were a few Rapunzel fans in the crowd, because by the end of my song I had a flock of cuties surrounding me ready to join in :)  
Maddie was the first little one to join me in song.
I loved having a few friends willing to keep me company :)

We got a chance to chat about our favorite princesses (mine is Belle!) and I was even lucky enough to see some of their fabulous dance moves.

Maddie and Breanna were such charming young ladies, we had to have a little impromptu crowning session.  I can't wait to see them on the Miss New Jersey stage someday!

       The next day I ventured to Cherry Hill to pick up my competition swimsuit from Posh boutique!  The ladies at Posh were super sweet and my swimsuit fits just right!  I can't wait to wear it on stage :)
       I started my internship at the Volunteer Center of South Jersey this past week!  With the Volunteer Center I work with volunteers to find their perfect service match, and I help non-profit organizations to find volunteers and ultimately improve their business and management systems.  I was able to revise the center's website, write letters to our sponsors, and update our volunteer log!  I can't wait to learn and help even more this week!  
       For several years I have participated in multiple American Cancer Society Relay for Life events!  Friday I was fortunate enough to perform at another Relay for Life, reviving my "I Run for Life" ribbon dance.  When I competed at Miss America's Outstanding Teen I performed “I Run for Life” for the talent competition and dedicated the dance to cancer patients, survivors, and those who lost their lives to the disease.  I was asked to perform my dance and was so excited to dust it off!  I also had the pleasure of judging each team's tents with my fellow "crown heads," Lindsey Petrosh, Miss New Jersey, and Kelcie Klaus, Miss Gloucester County!  We had a great time mingling with all of the participants!  
 We loved this "Jersey Cure" team's theme! Their t-shirts
said "Fighting cancer one fist pump at a time!"
 We got VIP treatment and a golf cart ride to the stage area :)
 A shot from my ribbon dance!
We watched as the survivors turned the corner and 
completed the survivor lap!
       The next morning I took a trip up North to take part in the Children's Specialized Hospital's "Walk N' Roll!"  I was a part of the "Crowns for Kids" team along with Kaitlin Davis, and my pageant sisters, Cierra Kaler-Jones, and Anna Negron.  
 Team "Crowns for Kids!"
 We couldn't eat the cupcakes but we could take a picture with one!
You might notice the nice healthy orange in my hand, haha :)
Our beautiful team leader, Kaitlin Davis!
       Less than 24 hours later I saw more of my pageant sisters at the Miss New Jersey car wash at Canal's by Magaziner.  11 of the contestants vying for the Miss NJ title came together to raise scholarship funds!  I worked a donation table, held car wash signs outside, and made several cars squeaky clean!  We raised a great amount of money and really advertised for the pageant!  I even got a chance to do a live radio interview!
Some of my fellow car-washers, Kaitlyn and Lindsey!
Working the donation table!
       All in all I've been thrilled to take part in such humbling and fulfilling events.  Each time I am able to spend time with my fellow Miss New Jersey contestants I get more and more excited for pageant week in June!  The girls are so welcoming and fun!  Three weeks from this Tuesday is move-in day!  I'll keep you updated :)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Only 35 Days to Go!

"Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal-a commitment to excellence-that will enable to you to attain the success you seek."
-Mario Andretti

       Today, I realized that in just five short weeks I will have started preliminary competitions for Miss New Jersey.  Five weeks?  That's 35 days.  I have 35 days to prepare myself mentally and physically for the experience of a lifetime.  Time sure flies when you're having fun!  Here are a few of the fun events I took part in the last month...
       On April 7th my sorority hosted a philanthropy event to support JDRF called "Twist-off!"  We hosted students from across campus in a messy Twister tournament.  Twister boards covered the intramural fields, and paint covered the boards.  Things got extremely messy, but it was for a great cause.  I had the pleasure of working a table with my Big, Katie!  We watched the fun and helped the messy participants clean off enough to snack on chips and salsa provided by Moe's Southwest Grill!  

Katie won the "Sister of the Year" award for our chapter of 
Alpha Gamma Delta at High Point!  Proud little :)

      In between classes, gym time, studying, Panhallenic meetings, chapter meetings, more studying, and a little bit of sleep, I managed to complete my "University Ambassador" training.  This included becoming "Golf Cart Certified".  I am proud to say that if you ever come to High Point University for a campus tour I am able to wheel you around campus in style!  No guarantees that I won't take a curb or two, but I promise you a fun and informative outing!  I also took part in "Greeks Got Talent" to represent my sorority!  I was on a team of several girls who worked hard to choreograph and perform a dance for the show.  It felt great to dance again with a team and I loved bonding with some of my sisters during the countless hours of rehearsal!

       In the midst of finals, I flew home for Miss New Jersey orientation!  While I had several traveling difficulties, I am so lucky to have a caring and selfless father.  After too many delays, I was stuck in Washington, DC having missed my connecting flight, but my Dad drove all the way to pick me up!  Though the trip wasn't what I expected, it was nice to have some quality car time with my Dad...and I had just enough time to catch a few hours of shut-eye before Saturday morning's orientation!  I met with the other "Shore girls" and some shore directors for breakfast to start our day.  It was so nice to see everyone again!  
       One especially exciting aspect of this year's orientation was meeting Denise from Posh Boutique, who is sponsoring the contestants' swimsuits and opening number dresses!  We all chose our swimsuit style after watching our beautiful Miss New Jersey, Lindsey Petrosh, model them.  She still rocks the stage!  It's such a blessing to have generous sponsors helping out us Jersey girls.  I can't wait for my very own Posh swimsuit to arrive!  
       Overall, orientation made me extremely excited for Miss New Jersey week!  I loved getting to know the girls I'd never met, and of course catching up with girls I knew before.  We're going to have so much fun in June :)
Miss Gloucester Country, Kelcie, and I wore the same dress.  Who knows-
maybe we'll have a few twin moments during Miss NJ :)

       After flying back to school to finish my finals, my freshman year of college was complete!  Having no schoolwork or studying to do sure makes being a titleholder easier :)  I've been a busy bee since being home on summer break!  I joined my Crowns for a Cause friends to help the Lauren Rose Albert Foundation with their annual "Mothers Matter" project.  The project collects toiletries, make-up, hair supplies, jewelry, and more to donate to women who need a little pick-me-up on Mother's Day.  We helped sort, unwrap, clean, and organize all sorts of products and even got to make our own gift baskets!  This is the fifth time I've helped the foundation, and each year it gets bigger and better!  I can't wait to see what the future has in store.

 Pictured in the top photo is Susan Rose with the Crowns for a Cause participants.  She is such an inspirational woman who has given so much of her life to this worthwhile cause.  I loved helping her out and designing my own lavender-themed gift basket!

       I was also able to work with Crowns for a Cause at a community event entitled, "Bark in the Park."  I helped work our table and even entered my pup, Zoey, in the puppy parade!  While Zoey can be quite the diva, she loved meeting new people and even won a trophy!!

 This K-9 officer put on a great show!  
I don't think Zoey will join the force any time soon...
 Kelcie and my new friends :)
 I recited the Pledge of Allegiance before the puppy awards ceremony!
The girls and I sold doggy blankets and dog-themed books to 
benefit "Paws for a Cause!"

       Another benefit to being home for the summer is being able to spend time with my awesome "Little Stars."  I went to Tricia Sloan Dance Center's Company Showcase to see my girlies light up the stage!  Being a graduate of TSCD, I had a blast seeing friendly, familiar faces, and spending quality time with Brooke and Olivia.  
       These two were amazing!
(Shout out to Olivia for turning 10 this week:)

       I'm extremely excited and honored to be starting my internship at the Volunteer Center of South Jersey this week.  With that wonderful opportunity and more pageant preparation, I'll be super busy for quite some time!  With each day I challenge myself more to get in swimsuit shape!  With the help of Miss Julie and her fun workouts, I'm really enjoying it!  Until my next blog, you can keep up with my platform and pageant endeavors by visiting my website: www.KeepCalmAndVolunteerOn.Org, or following me on twitter: @KCandVO.  Thanks for reading and take care! :)