#ForTheKids

Last week, we celebrated Children’s Hospital Week in honor of the over 10 million brave children who enter a CMN Hospital every year.

Now, more than ever, we must remember that #KidsCantWait. The millions of children already in a hospital cannot wait for a cure, the curve to flatten, or an economic boost, so it is up to us-those who are lucky enough to wait, to do our part. By simply staying home, we are saving lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I am so grateful the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Organization has given me the platform to advocate for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. If school were still in session, I would be busy working with administrators, teachers, and fellow student council members to plan our Dance-a-thon fundraiser for Boston Children’s that was scheduled to take place in only a few weeks. Just because we can’t hold our even doesn’t mean we can’t help. Do your part and stay home for those who can’t.

Kindness ROCKS!

Looking for a way to spread some smiles in your community while also staying your distance to keep everyone healthy?

This weekend I decorated a few rocks with positive messages and designs. I chose to paint the one pictured in honor of my organization, Seeds of Hope. I left it at the peak of New Hampshire’s Joe English hike!

I loved doing this because it was such a fun way to share positivity and enjoy the fresh air! Now, I want to see you get your creative juices flowing and make someone smile with your rock. Personalize it however you want (don’t forget to keep it colorful!) and leave it somewhere for the next person to find. Post your rock with the hashtag #KindnessROCKS so we can spread kindness from coast to coast, because kindness really does rock!

“Dragons Love Tacos” and other stories with Miss NH’s Outstanding Teen

Lots of people know that I love literature… reading, writing, even the history of literature! What a better time to share that interest than during this period of social distancing?

I started a Youtube channel and on it, you will find my first ever virtual story times! I began with books “Dragons Love Tacos” by Adam Rubin and “A Bad Seed” by Jory John. My goal is to keep kids reading while they’re out of school, so these videos are available to anyone interested! They have also been sent to a few local preschools, elementary schools, and dance studios as we all make the transition to a remote lifestyle.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to subscribe to Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen on Youtube so you never miss a story!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiMCyr0_DBJN3mkgf-8QAlA

Apart, not alone!

“Individually we are just one drop, but together we are the ocean.”

Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

Hope is not pretending troubles don’t exist, or assuming they will just blow over, it is believing that they won’t last forever. There is no refresher of hope like seeing the community come together and lend a hand to our neighbors.

One of the food pantries I work closely with, a chapter of the national End 68 Hours of Hunger Organization, diligently provides school aged children who rely on school lunches with adequate food each weekend. Since the transition to remote learning, their job has become even more vital and they suddenly had a great need for help.

I quickly gathered a few boxes and kicked off a social distancing food drive with safe drop off locations in two different towns. I then turned to social media and almost immediately we had our first donation.

By the end of that first day, both of the two boxes had been packed with the food pantry’s most needed items. The pattern continued in the following days, but instead of each box filling up just once, they were beginning to overflow, fill up twice, and even fill up three times a day!

I believe there is no force stronger than that of hope, and I am endlessly thankful to live in a community that proves that to be true. In just a few days, we were able to restock the shelves of the food pantry and feed the children of our state. Once again, I am so impressed by the outpouring compassion of Granite Staters but not the least bit surprised! Teamwork and a little hope is truly all it takes.

Do you believe in unicorns?

I do!

It is no secret the covid outbreak is changing lots of things about our daily life. My good friend, Lennon, felt the impact when her fifth birthday had to be cancelled for safety measures. A princess like her deserves a super special day, so her mom turned to social media and got all of her friends to virtually wish her a happy birthday! The day before her birthday, I went shopping for her gift and I picked out a book called “Uni the Unicorn”. On the way home from the store, I happened to see- what else- a real life unicorn!

Remi was this unicorn’s name, and she helped me wish Princess Lennon the most magical birthday ever! The next day, I got to safely celebrate the birthday girl with a socially-distanced visit and a wave from the driveway to her front porch.

My visit with both Lennon and, of course, Remi proves that even in crazy times like these, friends are forever, magic is real, and ANYTHING is possible!

Win Win

1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every single year, that is one third of all the food produced. Yet at the same time, over half of our population doesn’t have enough to eat.

Sunday night, I had the pleasure of attending a benefit dinner for Make-a-Wish, which raised $15,000 to grant a wish for a child here in New Hampshire! Although still an extremely successful fundraiser, many people backed out last minute but unfortunately the event was unable to be postponed.

The idea of so many meals being wasted was very upsetting to me, so I asked to speak with the event manager to see what we could do. I explained my concern, and asked if I could take all the leftovers from the evening and donate them in the morning. Even after explaining the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, a federal statute that protects restaurants from all liability when they donate their extra food to charities, I was told there was nothing they could do, “house rules”.

Disney World, Olive Garden, and Long Horn are among the few restaurants who take advantage of this protection to feed the millions of Americans who struggle everyday finding enough to eat, while so many others contribute to the mass food production and waste everyday. I almost gave up and admitted there was nothing left I could do…keyword: almost.

The next morning, I woke up still thinking about all those meals going to waste. These dinners could be used in SO many amazing ways. One phone call changed everything, and after finally getting in touch with the owner of the Atkinson Country Club, I met with chefs, managers, and other employees as we stuffed my mom’s car full of food. Not only those left overs from the night before, but meals from other events. There were full course dinners, lunches, even desserts!

Our next stop of the day was at the Anne Marie House in Hudson, where we dropped off over a weeks worth of meals for the 21 children and their 10 families who reside there. The Anne Marie House is a transitional home for local families dealing with temporary homelessness for any given reason. Families can stay for up to a year, and while they are there they work hard to get back on their feet, whatever that means for them. Whether it is rebuilding credit scores, going back to school, or receiving mental health treatment, the Anne Marie House transforms futures for over 600 families annually.

I am so grateful that the Atkinson Country Club was able to get together so much food in such a short amount of time to make a great donation to the Anne Marie House. Although it was a rough start, the company really came through at the end, and all that matters is that we are yet another step closer to ending hunger. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million more times, tackling food insecurity is going to take some serious team work. I look forward to continuing this hard earned success and educating more of our state’s amazing local businesses about the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act to grow this new initiative. When over half of the people we share this planet with don’t have enough to eat, it is unacceptable for one third of our food to go to waste and that can no longer slide.

Because I will never lose hope for what I believe in- a hunger free world, I will do whatever it takes to get us there and I will refuse to let anything stand in my way. I might be stubborn when it comes to this stuff, but in the end it really was a win-win! No food was wasted, AND nearly 30 people have a weeks worth of food that they didn’t have two days ago. That is success to me.

Updates!

When you choose Hope, anything is possible.

Seeds of Hope has proven this to me time and time again, and everyday my hope for what is next continues to grow. I have been super busy lately, and in result, making huge strides toward ending food insecurity. Locally, nationally, and globally, this has been a great few weeks for my organization!

Most recently, I spent the day in the Epping 68 Hours storage unit, putting together bags of food for the children in the school district who rely on the free and reduced school lunch program. Nearly 30 kids need services from the organization to keep them full over the weekend, so I always enjoy spending a day in the food pantry to prepare for those kids. With the recent closure of many schools, the struggles that families are already facing has increased greatly as many kids no longer have the meals they receive at school, and even families already on Food Stamp Programs face troubles as benefits have a limit that is still not quite enough to cover three meals a day for the upcoming weeks. I was also able to spend a little time preparing extra backpacks for students on Pinkerton’s Backpack Program, but right now it is critical to remember that some of the devastation from this virus can not be avoided by washing our hands.

Seeds of Hope officially reached two new locations! After a very long journey, one shipment arrived at a church group in Haiti, where it will produce vegetables to not only nourish thirty children, but also teach them how to earn a profit and prepare them for sustaining life on their own. I love that one shipment can make such an impact and not only heal food insecurity today, but help prevent it in the future. In Puerto Rico, I brought some seeds as well as non-perishable food donations to a church, where they were distributed to many other organizations throughout the island. A huge thank you goes to the Seeds of Hope supporters who sponsored this donation, as the need in Puerto Rico is immense after the devastating earthquakes that recently struck the territory.

On a brighter note, I had total blast at the annual Steal Chef Challenge by the New Hampshire Food Bank. This event is always so much fun, and I love seeing SO many people get all dressed up and excited for such an important cause. It was also pretty cool to meet celebrity chef, Micheal Symon! My favorite part however was seeing my New Hampshire Food Bank family, because I remember how welcoming they have always been to me, ever since my first food drive for them when I was very young.

I also want to give a big thank you to the Miss New Hampshire candidates who generously brought canned food donations to their competition orientation! Although the event which these were planned to benefit was unfortunately cancelled, they will be put to good use once things clear up and I am able to get the inventory of a few food pantries throughout the state so I can make sure these donations are used to their highest potential!

I am so completely grateful for the outpouring of support I have gotten since I began Seeds of Hope. Truthfully, this organization has taken off more than I ever imagined in this short of a time period, and I couldn’t have done it without the kindness of my community. My work to end hunger means the absolute world to me, and I am so thankful to be able to make a lasting impact in my community and others around the world. This has been yet another great month for us, but there is SO much more in store! Stay tuned!

Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen 2020

The stronger the why, the easier the how.

Four years ago, some of my greatest accomplishments included catching the biggest frogs for my town’s annual frog jumping contest and having the coolest birthday parties because of the zip-line and tightrope in my backyard. I was the opposite of what I thought to be a “pageant girl” but decided to compete because it meant I had an audience to dance for and a microphone to talk about what I’ve always cared so deeply for: ending hunger. I wore cow girl boots in my interview and was absolutely starstruck by all the titleholders. Little did I know that I would walk away as one of them, embarking on a journey of exponential personal growth, leadership, and sisterhood.

I get butterflies looking at the pictures from that first competition because I know the girl catching frogs would never believe if someone were to tell her not only what she will accomplish, but also who she will soon become.

The Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Organization has given me so much, and I’ll forever strive to repay even a portion of what I have gained through competing. It is because of this program that I know how to win and also how to lose. I know that with hard work, determination, and a little hope anything is possible. I know what I stand for, and I really do stand for it. I have found my passion, purpose, and power through pageants. Who I am, and who I want to be, I credit it all to the organization that taught me the first step to success is believing you are worthy of it.

Almost two weeks ago, I was crowned Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen. (Still can’t say that without the widest smile!) I feel overcome with gratitude, honor, and responsibility as this dream becomes a reality. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to give back to the scholarship program throughout my year of service. I have so many goals for myself and the organization and I’ve already been busy working to accomplish them. Through my years of competing, I knew holding such a title is a full time job, but as I step into the role, I am committing myself to give my all and embody the values and missions of the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen organization. I owe it to the volunteers and my sister titleholders to represent them with all the grace and humility as I can.

I was asked in my interview what my guardian angel would tell me, and instantly I thought of the quote by author Sylvester Mcnutt, “She’d overcome everything meant to destroy her, she wasn’t giving up now.” I have always thought that everything happens for a reason, but that belief has been tested as this year has been challenging for me and there were times when it was hard to persist towards my goals. However, I entered pageant weekend already extremely proud of myself because I knew that no matter what happened, I had made it through my hardest days. I can’t imagine my life without the people who were there with me during it all.

They say it takes a village, but I never could have done it without the cities of support my family, friends, and mentors have built for me. I absolutely am the sum of my counterparts and for that I am eternally grateful. I will never be able to thank each and every person who has contributed to my growth along the way. It all means the world and more to me, not only the dance classes, mock interviews, and costume fittings, for when it really comes down to it, those are extra, but all the words of encouragement, hugs, and texts have made all the difference. I feel my whole body overwhelm with gratitude as I look back on the past four years and think about all the people who have given so much, and believed in me since the very beginning. I will never stop thanking you.

That leads me to one last thing… sisterhood! I think it is safe to say the Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen dressing rooms are THE place to be. Every year, I have so much fun spending the entire weekend with the fellow contestants. I never thought I would build so many strong friendships by competing in pageants, but these girls are sure to be my lifelong sisters. It is a great honor to be a part of a class of individuals who are each so talented, intelligent, and making such a difference in their community. Whether it is gluing on fake eyelashes, zipping up a gown, or giving a good luck hug, this sisterhood is SO real during competition weekend and far beyond. When I look through my photos from the weekend, there is one thing that is the exact same in all of them, the faces of the girls in the background. My biggest cheerleaders were on stage with me, cheering, jumping up and down, crying happy tears, and radiating community, not competition. There is no one I would rather have shared the moment when my dream came true with than the girls standing behind me as this crown was placed on my head.

It still feels unreal, but I wake up everyday with new goals and new plans. The next few months are going to be crazy, but I will never stop feeling so grateful to have the opportunity to lead in my state and give back to the organization that has given me so much. I am ready for all that is ahead. New Hampshire, thank you.

Placemats with a Purpose

I decided I needed to do something to help people dealing with hunger and food insecurity when I was just seven years old. After an eye opening experience, I visited my local soup kitchen to see how I could make a difference, but was turned away because I was too young to serve and told to try again in a few years. I’ve always been pretty good at setting my mind to something and doing whatever it takes to get it done but I remember something inside me refusing to give up, I knew I had to help in however I could, even in the smallest way. I went home and gathered a few friends and some markers, and we decorated piles of placemats with colorful drawings and positive messages which were later brought to the soup kitchen where they served the purpose of brighting the days of people who needed a smile most.

Since then, I have dedicated myself to the issue and I will say I am genuinely more proud of my service to end hunger than I am of any other accomplishment. I have made this more than a hobby, passion, or platform, but I have made it my purpose. After countless food drives, pantry shelf stocking, backpack stuffing, and so much more, I still craved making my impact bigger. Thus came my international non-profit, Seeds of Hope.

Of course Seeds of Hope is about ending hunger, but that is not all. That experience when I was seven stays with me everyday, and inspired the other half of my organization’s mission. Metaphorically, any tiny seed will soon be a mighty tree or beautiful flower, which expresses the power that each and every one of us hold to change the world. I believe that no matter who you are, where you’re from, how old you are, or what you have, you CAN make a difference and Seeds of Hope is all about sharing that.

I serve globally, and it is an incredible feeling that is absolutely indescribable to know that children and families in places like Haiti and Pakistan are benefiting from my efforts. However, just like a rooted seed, I will never forget where my drive comes from nor will I lose my ambition to alleviate the food insecurity crisis right here in our own neighborhoods. Food insecurity really is everywhere, closer than we may think and I can promise you that someone you know is struggling to decide what will have to go in order to put food on the table this month.

Since November, I have been working closely with the very soup kitchen where I began this journey. I wanted to bring the empowerment I felt as a young girl that first time I made a difference in my community to fellow leaders. After lots of long preparation, I was finally able to dedicate a student council meeting to creating placemats for the soup kitchen. All sixty of Pinkerton Academy’s student leaders decorated beautiful placemats with messages affirming the Seeds of Hope mission and proving how simple it is to create change.

This was a full circle moment for me and it really sunk in thinking how proud that seven year old I once was would be to see who she is today. I will never stop being utterly thankful for all I experience and gain through my purpose to serve, and my goal and strive for a world free of hunger will preserve longer than anything else.

Leadership on all Levels

What a time to be a New Hampshirite! I love my state for many reasons; our beaches, our mountains, and our primary election. Our country has been watching us closely, and we have been busy upholding the responsibility. I am so grateful I have been able to see these politically bustling weeks unfold literally right before my eyes.

Just a few weeks ago, I was truly in the heart of American politics, and because of all the attention on our nation’s capitol at the time, it was quite a once in a lifetime trip. I spent a few days touring the beautiful city and doing some site seeing (most of which I’ve seen a few times before, but really could never ever get tired of), and then united with other youth leaders from across the world. Representatives from every state as well as nine countries attended the LEAD Conference, a weekend full of inspiring workshops and speakers that equipped us to bring back new leadership skills to our school and community, and for me, my organization. I left the conference with some big, fresh ideas, and built some FANTASTIC professional relationships that are sure to last and continue generating real inspiration.

Since, I have been busy with incredible experiences and opportunities to take advantage of all that comes to our small state with the great honor of being the first in the nation. I have been fascinated by the intricate world of politics for a few years now, so I am very thankful to have been so involved in the nomination process this year. We may be small, but we are mighty and I think sometimes we forget just how powerful New Hampshire is in selecting our country’s presidential nominees. Since July, I’ve worked on multiple campaigns, interviewed three candidates and their representatives for newspaper articles, and been able to attend events celebrating the value of New Hampshire votes.

Saturday, I started my day at a long six hour rehearsal for the quickly approaching Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen competition, but was humbled to be able to join thousands of other passionate politic junkies at the Democratic Party McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner. There, I listened to eight candidates speak. Regardless of which candidate we were there to support, it truly was amazing to see so many individuals join together for their shared belief: belief in hope. Everyone there was supporting hope for the country and future.

Tuesday, the day we had all been waiting for finally came. I was thrilled to have to day off from school to do just about everything except catch up on sleep. My alarm woke me up at 2 am but I have never been so excited to jump out of bed. By 4 am, I was already waiting in a long and eagar line to participate in the audience of MSNBC’S Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Willie Geist, and of course the honorary candidate guests of the day, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden at the Center of New Hampshire. If you are an early bird and tuned into the show, you might have seen a familiar face once or twice! I heard some of the nation’s most respected political analysts and it was such an honor to be a part of something so vital to the entire country. One of the things that stuck out to me the most about both the show and the Democratic Party Dinner, was just how many out of state travelers visit the granite state to join us in this politically busy time. We are so lucky, and I will always remember how it feels to be on the front line of all the happenings.

After the show, my day was still far from done. I then had the amazing opportunity to truly get my voice heard, despite my inability to vote just yet. I headed to Radio Row where I got to speak and interview with broadcasters from all over the country! I also met with one of our less publicized presidential candidates, Mosie.

As the rest of the country begins to follow in our footsteps for the next couple of weeks, I will remain incredibly grateful for these amazing opportunities and the once in a lifetime experiences I gained from them.