The student council Service Outreach committee that I am the chair of was really struggling to make any progress this year due to the frequent changes between our hybrid school schedule and a transition to full remote learning. As I began to plan my fourth annual Seeds of Hope coat drive back in November, I knew it needed to be bigger than ever before. Not only because I somehow had to beat my personal record of 350 coats last year, but because the need has never been as severe as it is right now.
I proposed a partnership to my committee for the Pinkerton Academy Student Council to team up with Seeds of Hope to plan a mega coat drive… they were all over it and I got right to work!
I assigned each member of my committee a business in their hometown to reach out to and request sponsorship as a coat drop off location. We ended up having almost ten different businesses in throughout southern New Hampshire collecting coats for us!!
I am so thankful for the platform I have from my title of Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen. No one needs a title to make a difference, however I have built so many incredible relationships through this organization that some of my MNHOT sponsors were willing and eager to get involved as well. With a greater following on social media, I was able to spread the word quicker than ever, which I believe is just another of the many factors that contributed to this year’s success.
About two days into the coat drive, I was getting calls from multiple businesses saying their donation boxes were already overflowing. After a week, it was time for me to sacrifice my parking spot in the garage so we had a place to store the mountain of coats which seemed to grow in every single day!
A month later, I had 646 winter coats piled from the floor the the ceiling in my garage…
I got my workout in when it was time to fill my dads truck with all these coats so we could bring them to the donation center. It wasn’t easy and contrary to my mom’s bet, I somehow fit them all into one car!
When I got to Anton’s Dry Cleaners to drop off the coats, I was greeted with a business card for a WMUR reporter and was told I had an interview as soon as I finished unloading the coats! It took awhile, but with the help of the amazing employee, Holly, we got all the coats inside after about 15 trips!
I quickly got home and squeezed in my interview with Monica Hernandez from WMUR before heading out to my dance classes for the night. It was an honor to be joined by Mr. Arthur Anton and to be able to share my message of Hope to everyone watching the news.
I am so thankful to everyone who made this all possible. From my Service Outreach committee and the rest of the Pinkerton Academy Student Council who were so helpful in making this so widespread, even despite our tricky remote learning environment, to all the local businesses who donated space in their facility to store coats for us, to all the people who donated, liked, commented, and shared my millions of Facebook posts advertising the coat drive, to Anton’s Cleaners for accepting so many coats, my parents for keeping the mountain of coats in our garage for a month, Holly at Anton’s Cleaners for working so hard for us, Monica Hernandez and the rest of the WMUR team for a special feature, this never would have been possible without the dozens of people who contributed. I hope that this will be a new tradition for Pinkerton Academy, and that the success of this coat drive was proof to all my peers who were watching that anyone can make a difference!
Most importantly… there is still time to donate! Bring all of your gently used coats to any Jordan’s Furniture or Enterprise Bank to help families in need right here in New Hampshire.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who cheered a little louder when the ball hit the ground this New Years Eve. 2020 has been a year unlike any other but certainly one that we will never forget. History unfolded before our eyes this year.
It began with an orange sky. Australia’s wildfires were devastating, even to simply witness from thousands of miles away. The Presidential campaign was in full swing with a long list of candidates chasing each primary. A travel warning and the first domestic case of the coronavirus stirred questions across the country. This all happened in only January, and the busy first month of the year ended with Brexit, the passing of Kobe Bryant, and the declaration of a public health emergency.
The fate of 2020 seemed to become clearer with each passing day, as political turmoil shook the nation and the status of the new virus escalated to a global pandemic. All professional sports teams suspend their seasons, schools shut down, medical professions transformed into modern day super heroes, and millions were left unemployed. Over the summer, our nation’s injustices were put in the limelight. Riots took over cities but many peaceful protests taught us all that we have some learning to do. California went up in flames, and history was made with the announcement of the first female Vice President. Notorious RBG passed away in September and the confirmation of her replacement shortly followed. By December, more than 80 million cases of the coronavirus had been reported, close to two million of those were fatal, and the national food insecurity rate surpassed 50 million. Yet the inoculation process began in the final days of this long year, and with an efficiency rate of 95%, the COVID vaccine is so much more than a shot to us… it is an emblem of hope.
Since the pandemic began, I have actually been busier than ever before, working hard with Seeds of Hope to combat the unprecedented levels of food insecurity right here in New Hampshire. I cannot deny that somedays it can feel defeating, like with every step forward comes two steps back. However when there is a need as urgent as this one, there is simply no other option that to keep focused and stay diligent one day at a time. For me personally, this year held both some of my most treasured memories as well as some testing challenges.
The holiday season has been a reminder of how extremely different life is this time around. I’ve been doing a lot of reflection, and wanted to tie up 2020 reminiscing on the positives of the year.
In January, I had the honor of attending the National Leadership Conference in Washington, DC., where I met with leaders and change makers from around the world. In the midst of the impeachment trials, experiencing my favorite place in such a unique time was something I will never forget.
February is always very busy for me, it began as I continued to follow and support the campaign trail of many Presidential candidates after getting the incredible opportunity to work one on one with them during my time at Phillips Exeter.
The rest of that month was spent working hard to prepare for the Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen competition. 2019 was an exceptionally tough year for me, so my only goal was to finish the weekend proud of my resilience, passion, and growth. I love (and deeply miss) the feeling of preparing for something like this. The mix of excitement and nerves instils a drive in me that cannot be reached from anything else.
Needless to say, walking out of the competition after reaching and surpassing my goals was the greatest feeling in the world. I would do anything to live that weekend over again a million times. Despite the countless hours that went into my preparation, I will always credit my success to my incredible support system including my family, coaches, and directors.
That was the best weekend of my life… and I held closely onto its memory as things became a little tricky when the pandemic began to spiral worse and worse.
March taught me to live in the moment, as I was living on cloud nine until things seemed to dive-bomb for the very worst. I spent a week with my family in Puerto Rico, relaxing on the beach and spending some time working in their local food pantries. I came home to one of my favorite annual events with the New Hampshire Food Bank and my first appearance as Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen, a performance at a school fundraiser, a day in my local food pantry, a fundraiser for the Make a Wish foundation, and just one week of classes before the virus sent me home for the rest of the year. As much as I loved those events, I now wish I absorbed them just a little more.
By April, I had adjusted to the quarantine lifestyle and online school was in full swing. At this point, I was busier than I had ever been spending all my free time restocking New Hampshire’s food pantries, holding food drives, and of course making some time for homework too! In honor of Global Youth Service Day, I organized the #PoveyPower 5k, which remotely united close to 100 runners, walkers, and bikers from across New England and beyond and raised enough money to provide nearly 9,000 meals for struggling Granite Staters. It was a perfect day, and I was shocked and so grateful to be honored by New Hampshire’s ABC Affiliate news station as the WMUR Hometown Hero.
Throughout the quarantine period, I routinely published virtual story times for young children home from school and began a fun new project which I like to call #KindnessRocks, which encouraged people to spread kindness in a socially distanced world while keeping active and enjoying the beauty of New Hampshire!
After winning Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen, I was planning on competing at the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition over the summer, which has been my biggest dream since I won my first local title at twelve years old. Because of the COVID outbreak, that got put on hold, along with most-if not all of the other incredible events that come with this title which I have worked so hard to earn over the past few years. It is no secret that this year was anything but what I expected, however those changes allowed me to try new things. Instead of going to pageants every weekend, I got my first job at a local cafe! It was extra special as I was able to establish my Win-Win food waste recycling program where we donated our leftover bagels at the end of each week as well as a 5% off promotion to anyone who brought a donation for the local food pantry… both of which are still active today despite my short time working there. I also began teaching dance and performed in my first outdoor recital.
In the fall I began my junior year of high school! Although we didn’t last too long in the hybrid set up and have spent the majority of the year fully remote, I love all of my classes this year and am desperately looking forward to whenever I’ll get to return to the classroom. I decided to give up my lunch and study periods this year so I could take extra classes, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made!!
I am still busier than ever in the food pantries. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the battle against food insecurity has felt defeating at times, however the outpouring compassion from the community has exemplified enough hope to carry us all through. I have known since I was just seven years old that my purpose in life is to share my strength to those that need it and ultimately put an end to food insecurity. So far, I have provided more than 20,000 meals to families in need around the world, trained and recruited 200 other youth volunteers to fight hunger beside me, and I have so much left on that to-do list. Over the past few months, I have been honored with some unbelievable recognitions that I am endlessly thankful for. A 5,000 dollar grant from the New England Patriots, the Outstanding Volunteer Champion of New Hampshire award, and even a cover story in Hippo magazine have all been the greatest honor and truly mean the world to me.
Just like so many others, I experienced countless disappointments this year. However, I could not possibly end 2020 with any more gratitude in my heart. I have grown more than I’ve ever imagined possible and learned the truth behind the saying, “when one door closes, another one opens”. I learned trust through the uncertainty and grace in times of challenge. It was probably the exact opposite of what I had in mind, but I am so proud of myself and my community for stepping up to the plate and rearranging our priorities to suit this new life and the needs that have come with it.
As we leave 2020 in the past, there are still so many questions about what the future holds. Really the only thing I am certain of is the fact that 2021 will be the year of hope, and I am okay with that. We have never needed anything more than we need hope right now.
Let this be the year that you take it one day at a time, and view uncertainty as potential for something even greater than you originally had in mind. Let us never forget the valuable lessons 2020 taught us, and most importantly, allow us to unite in the name of hope.
So excited to announce that Seeds of Hope has hit the ground in Kailua, Hawaii!
There has been (and still is!) so, so, SO much happening behind the scenes. All throughout quarantine I have spent lots of time reflecting, reevaluating, planning, and most importantly doing everything I can to expand Seeds of Hope. I am busier than ever in the food pantries making sure New Hampshire’s unprecedented number of food-insecure families have access to the services they deserve. Still, there are some really exciting projects in the works that I cannot wait to reveal… get ready! 2021 is going to the year of Hope.
For now, I am thrilled to share that we have reached a new destination, Kailua, Hawaii! These seeds will be made into personal garden packages with my lesson on youth empowerment and will be distributed to elementary schools throughout the island. A portion of them will also be donated to community gardens so they can provide healthy food to families in need.
Stay tuned for more pictures as they begin to harvest!
Over the summer, I had the honor of being appointed to the New Hampshire Youth Legislative Advisory Council. Typically, we would be in full swing right now meeting regularly at the beautiful statehouse but in classic 2020 style, the coronavirus wanted to keep us on our toes!
Myself and the 18 other college and high school students from around New Hampshire will be working directly with our state representatives, senators, and even the Governor to ensure the concerns of Gen-Z are being taken into account. Whether that is through creating new legislation, testifying for or against a bill, or simply advocating from the unique perspective of youth in today’s world, this committee ensures that regardless of our voting eligibility, all voices can be heard.
We recently held our very first virtual meeting and I cannot wait to see what we will accomplish as my two year term unfolds. It was wonderful to meet the representatives and senators who will serve as our advisers, and begin to brainstorm which important issues must be tackled first.
All of our meetings are open to the public and can be found on the New Hampshire House calendar. If you have an issue you want to be recognized at the legislative level, contact me and I can make it happen!
Back in September, our country lost a champion. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a powerhouse, unapologetically fighting for women’s rights. It is no doubt that her legacy will live on eternally, not only because of all she accomplished until the very last moments of her life, but her unstoppable spirit and unbeatable strength.
I honor and thank her for fighting so hard for us, I produced a quick video for the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation about what exactly RBG means to me. One thing is for sure, and thats the fact that she is the epitome of selflessness, tenacity, and grit and will forever be a role model to all people. To serve with a fraction of her virtue is a goal I will never forget!
As the weather continues to get colder and colder and the colorful leaves fall to the ground, I am so excited about how this year’s Hunger Action Month went. September was full of socially distant inspiration, empowerment, and togetherness.
Throughout the month, I had a blast partnering with the New Hampshire Food Bank for a fundraising initiative called “Tag Out Hunger”. This was a fun way to get everyone involved in the fight against food insecurity, raise awareness about the relevance of the issue, and show support to neighbors who may be struggling. It all starts with a sign, and to tag someone all you had to do was stick the sign in their yard and then it was their turn! On the sign, they would find a challenge to share a photo with their Tag Out Hunger sign to social media in order to spread the message, donate to the New Hampshire Food Bank to provide meals to fellow New Hampshirites, and then pass it along to the next person!
Tag Out Hunger not only raised tons of money for the New Hampshire Food Bank and spread awareness throughout the state, but it created a ripple effect of empathy and community during a time that can feel rather cold. All month long, everyone came together with one common goal… to end food insecurity. As September days continued to pass, it was amazing to witness the strength of this movement grow with each new household it reached.
Along with Tagging my friends throughout the state, I have been busy as ever not only fulfilling my purpose of doing to make sure no one has to go without dinner, but empowering others to do the same.
Leadership does not come from a person’s power, it comes from their ability to empower those around them.
Seeds of Hope’s motto is, “From the smallest of Seeds grow the mightiest of trees”, because changing the world comes from tackling the biggest issues with one little act of hope at a time. The JFK Food Drop has become the hotspot of this compassion, and each week I have been aiming to bring a new team of volunteers with me to further prove what I have believed all along; that we are the generation of change. Gen-Z is not the future, we are the now, and seeing an army of advocates form over the course of Hunger Action Month 2020 has solidified this!
This month, I was honored with a place on the George H.W. Bush Inspiration Honor Roll. As exciting as it was to join other change-makers of all ages from around the world to celebrate the successes my dedication to food insecurity has brought, what has filled my heart has been seeing the state come together to help out those in need. I will never forget the ripple of strength that turned into an entire wave as the group beside me fighting hunger grew exponentially. (see the Press tab for more on the George H.W. Bush Award)
September is always very special and this year and I am so proud of the strides we made against these unprecedented levels of food insecurity. I know that we will carry this same enthusiasm and hope in the coming months as the fight against hunger continues, one meal at a time!
I have always loved my state and our White Mountains will forever be one of my all time favorite places. Are you really a New Hampshirite if you don’t dream of hiking the 48 4,000 footers? I am well on my way to that New Hampshire dream!
If you’re going to do it, you have to do it right! Of course I couldn’t hike to the Granite State’s tallest points without leaving my mark and sharing a smile with whoever is brave enough to try it out next. If that means waking up at 3 am and hiking ten miles with a backpack full of rocks, then thats exactly what I am going to do! Kindness is rippling through my state from the tallest peaks up north all the way to the seacoast with #KindnessRocks everywhere!
There have been many up and downs (haha, get it!?) including 45 mile per hour winds on the top of Mount Jefferson that had us crawling the ridge on all fours to the next peak at Mount Lafayette, but its been so amazing to take in our gorgeous state with my awesome friends! So far 10/48, lots more to go but I am off to a strong start!
To win 1,003 dollars! Its fall, so you know what that means! Duck sales for the Annual Exeter duck race are in full force! It has been great to be out in the community these past few weeks getting excited for every Exonian’s favorite event of the year… and all to help local kids.
I have had the honor of working with the Community Children’s fund for quite a few years now and I always look forward to sporting my yellow and cheering for the ducks as they race down the river. It has become my job to emcee the race each year, and thanks to that role, I forever have a hundred duck jokes imprinted in my brain. For the pleasure of hearing some of them, contact me to buy your quack pack and help provide local families with warm winter gear. You and your duck could be the lucky winners of over 1,000 dollars!
Although this year’s virtual format is very different than what we are used to, the meaning behind the race will remain the same and have an even greater importance. More families than ever before are in need this year, and not only will the duck race provide for our neighbors in need, but it will be a great opportunity for us to come together as a community to remember the hope and compassion that has only grown through these unprecedented times. Contact me to buy your duck!
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, my summer did not unfold quite the way I expected it to. I had planned on many busy days serving the Granite State as Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen and even traveling down to Orlando to compete on the national stage with new friends from around the country. After all of that was suddenly put on hold, I found myself with an unusual amount of “free” time and instantly began planning how I could fill it up.
One of the ideas I thought of was to get my first paying job. Although I wouldn’t consider it my first job after running a non-profit and being a representative for MAOTeen, I began working at a coffee shop and ice cream parlor down the street from my house. Whether I was scooping a sundae or brewing an americano, I was so happy to still be out in my community all summer despite these unexpected circumstances.
I had a great summer working at Triple Elm, but nothing could ever distract me from my true passion and purpose to help end food insecurity everywhere. Immediately after getting hired, I began negotiating a promotion for customers to get a discount off their order when they bring in a donation for the food pantry. Soup kitchens and food banks are struggling more than ever to keep up with the unprecedented need that the pandemic has caused. Within just a few days, our donation box was full.
It became routine for the boxes to fill up just in time for my weekly trip to the food pantry. And every week, there even seemed to be a little more.
We also established a new pairing for my Win-Win initiative, which connects local restaurants throughout New Hampshire with organizations like food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters in their area where they can donate their left over food. Triple Elm donated dozens of bagels to the Sandown Food Pantry and will continue to do so with other unsold food, thanks to the federal Bill Emerson Food Donation Act.
Over the weekend, I worked my last shift as summer has all of a sudden come to an end and it’s time for me to refocus back on school. It was my last time dropping off boxes of food at the pantry as an employee, although I know it won’t be long until I am back. I won’t be working at Triple Elm anymore, but you can STILL bring a donation for the food pantry for 10% off your order. Every bit helps!
I have attended quite a few virtual events these past few months, but this one just might be my favorite. It is no surprise because Princess week is ALWAYS the best time ever and even though the circumstances weren’t exactly ideal, we really had a great time!
I’ve been studying News Writing at the Ohio University so I came a little late after a class, but I jumped right in to a conversation about building a platform. It was awesome to hear all the girls innovative ideas to take initiative and make a difference in the world!
Then, I got to lead the girls in a craft. We all planted our own personal vegetable gardens! On the eve of Princess Camp, my mom and I made special deliveries to all the girls with bags of goodies. There were some Seeds of Hope gear, Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen swag, and the supplies for the craft!
During this activity, I asked who has been told they can’t do something; that they’re too young or their dreams are just too big. Every single person on the Zoom call raised their hand. These girls some as young as 5 already know that feeling. By planting our Seeds, we learned that it doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are, where you’re from or anything in between, you have the power to change the world. I told them that the next time someone makes them feel small again, all they need to do is look outside at the giant trees and remember how small they were when they were just seeds.
From the smallest of seeds grow the mightiest of trees.