Monday, December 30, 2013

A Triple Appearance Saturday!

December had some pretty busy days, but the weekend of Dec. 7th & 8th was most certainly the busiest weekend of them all! It started with a packed Saturday of three consecutive events.

I begin my day with a visit to Applebee's in the Staten Island Mall. It is there that the Staten Island Children's Campaign hosts its annual Breakfast With Santa fundraiser. The Children's Campaign is a charitable trust sponsored by the Staten Island Advance to raise funds for organizations that provide programming for needy children in our borough. It is a tradition for the Staten Island titleholders to attend this breakfast each year.
I had fun with my sister queen, Alexa, playing with the children and visiting with Santa. One little girl even drew us a picture -- of us!
After our early morning, it was off to the World Of Women Holiday Party at Zion Lutheran. This is the event that Alexa and I had completed the Toy Drive for a week earlier. We spent the afternoon painting little girls' nails, applying temporary tattoos, and playing games with Bubbles The Clown.
Alexa and I then parted ways before my final event of the day. I made my way to New Jersey for a wine tasting that was to benefit Pediatric Oncology Experimental Therapeutics Investigators' Consortium, or as it is more commonly known - POETIC. POETIC is comprised of a network of ten leading academic medical centers. Their mission is to promote the development of promising therapies for the treatment of children, adolescents and young adults with cancer. Since my platform is all about promoting action against pediatric cancer, it was an honor to have been asked to attend this event. They raised thousands of dollars for the organization and I met so many people that I look forward to connecting with in the future.
Though it was a busy day, it was well worth it and I enjoyed every moment! I am grateful for days like these because I can confidently say that I am using my crown to its greatest extent. After all, "It's not about the crown - It's about what you do with it!"

Sunday, December 29, 2013

BELLA Magazine's Winter Wonderland

This December, I attended BELLA Magazine's annual "Winter Wonderland" event at the Grand Oaks Country Club. I was fortunate to have met Courtenay Hall, the magazine's editor, as Miss Staten Island 2012 and attended this event last year, as well. A portion of the proceeds from Winter Wonderland 2013 were donated to the Florina Rusi- Marke Comprehensive Breast Center at Staten Island University Hospital.
Winter Wonderland was a cocktail party, fashion show, and shopping event. My mom and I started the night by mingling and doing a little shopping. I bought some beautiful earrings that matched my outfit perfectly - so I just had to put them on!
I also got an opportunity to meet the special guest and Real House Wife of New York, Aviva Drescher. I have to admit that I have never really seen her show, but it was a pleasure to meet her. Aviva is an extremely genuine and sweet person.
The fashion show, which was sponsored by Diane & Co., the stars of the hit show "Jersey Couture," was incredible!
After enjoying all of the gowns, I won a $250 gift card to their store in a raffle! Guess what that money will be used for.. : ) I also won a gift certificate for a facial at Glo Bar! I was shocked and very excited!
We had a fun night at BELLA Magazine's Winter Wonderland for the 2nd year in a row. I hope that I can return next year, once again, to see what they have in store! Thank you for having us, Courtenay!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

360 Entertainment's Annual Toy Drive

Every year, 360 Entertainment holds a toy drive for the holiday season. This year, the company collected toys for World Of Women to distribute to families in need.
Alexa Moley (Miss Staten Island's Outstanding Teen) and I arrived ready to help out. It was definitely a cold day - okay, more like freezing - but we did our best to keep warm! 360 also had special guest GinaMarie Zimmerman helping out.
We were also joined by our Star Princesses. The Star Princess Program is set up to act as a mentoring system for young girls ages 6-12. My princess, Natalie LaForgia, hopes to one day compete in the Miss America Organization herself! I was happy that they had a chance to join us and see exactly what it means to have a title. Our duties don't end the night we are crowned!
We even got a visit from Cassie, our friend and a Miss Staten Island contestant. It is always so great to have the support of pageant sisters at events and it just goes to show what the Miss America system is really all about!
We spent the day collecting/sorting toys, taking photographs with generous volunteers, and dancing with Woody and Elmo -- yes, you read that correctly! Alexa and I, as well as our many guests, had a blast! Thank you to Anthony Muscat and the crew of 360 Entertainment for having us!

St. Jude "Give Thanks" Walk

With so many events, it's hard to keep up! But, I've done some pretty fun things in the past month and I am so excited to share them all with you!

Last month, I attended St. Jude's "Give Thanks" Walk in Brooklyn. This walk was set up to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. In a single day, across the nation, this walk was held and we came together to help St. Jude change the way the world treats childhood cancer.
I was excited to take part in this walk because I had learned so much about it from Kim, a woman who I met at Dock's Clam Bar on Staten Island. It was even bigger and better than I had imagined it would be! I arrived at the walk, accompanied by my dad, and made my way into the crowd.
I spotted a big banner that everyone was signing and began the day by leaving my mark there, as well.
The opening ceremonies kicked off the start of the walk and, soon, the crowd was making its way toward the Brooklyn Bridge. Unfortunately, I couldn't walk too far because of my recent hip injury, but that didn't stop me from cheering on the walkers!
At the conclusion of the walk, I was fortunate enough to hang out with some of the Z100 Morning Zoo cast members (Elvis Duran & Uncle Johnny) and Eric Trump! Their team, "Eric Trumps Cancer," partnered with my team, "Dock's Clam Bar Oysterettes." Eric & Elvis' team made over $172,000! They did an amazing job!
I had a great time with my dad, my team, and my fellow participants at this walk. I look forward to working with St. Jude more, in conjunction with my platform, in the future!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Astoria Girl Scout Visit

As Miss Greater New York, I had been invited by a friend to visit a Girl Scout Troop in Queens. We set up a visit for the end of November; I had no idea that I would actually be attending the troop's meeting as Miss Staten Island!

My first thought as I entered the school in Astoria was, "They may not even know where Staten Island is!" I don't know if that mattered, though, because the minute the girls caught sight of my crown, they were screaming and running over to me. I was excited to see that they, too, had crowns on, courtesy of their troop leaders, Robin and Allison.
Once the girls settled down (well - sort of), I joined them in opening their meeting. They always begin with the Girl Scout Pledge, a pledge that I recited when I was a young girl scout, as well! We then sat in a group and I spoke with them about myself, my platform, the pageant, and - yes - where Staten Island is. I could tell they were eager to speak to me, as they just keep getting closer to me throughout the conversation!
The highlight of the night was definitely allowing the girls to each make their own sash and try on a Miss America local crown! Fun fact: The crown I let them try on is actually my Miss Staten Island 2014 crown. The one I wear is still the Miss Staten Island 2012 crown!
To close out my visit, I signed little booklets for each girl entitled "I Can Be..." that contained a new badge for their Girl Scout Sash!
I had a wonderful time with the 6 and 7-year-old girls of this Astoria Girl Scout Troop. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet each and every one of them. Thank you Allison and Robin for setting up this visit for me! I'll come back anytime!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

SI Giving Circle

The Staten Island Giving Circle is a group of community members that are dedicated to helping others in this borough and beyond. I first met their founder, Evelyn, as Miss Greater New York 2013.
In November, I attended the group's monthly meeting to learn what they have been up to and what I can help with. Evelyn began the meeting by informing everyone about what had been accomplished in the past year. I couldn't believe what I heard -- they have helped so many people! The SI Giving Circle has some of the most generous and giving members.

They also had a visitor from the Philippines, with whom Evelyn had been working for typhoon relief. By the end of the meeting, the Giving Circle had come together to present him with over $1,000.
I am looking forward to working closely with the SI Giving Circle again this year as Miss Staten Island. Thank you for having me as a special guest at the November meeting, Evelyn, and for being so supportive of my journey!

MOD: Precious Preemie Fashion Show

Well - it has been quite the month! I have been all around the Island and I couldn't be more honored to have all of these opportunities. Let me tell you about one of my favorite events, one that is very close to my heart, the March Of Dimes' "Precious Preemie Fashion Show."

This annual event is held to raise money for the March Of Dimes, while honoring children born prematurely who have beaten the odds. Each year, Miss Staten Island and Miss Richmond County are invited to attend. This marked the third year in a row that I was able to represent the Miss Staten Island Organization. In fact, it was my first and last appearance as Miss Staten Island 2012.
Just as before, Stephanie Accardo (Miss Richmond County) and I entered the Vanderbuilt for a meet and greet with the children. We've watched many of these kids grow up since 2011 and it was incredible to see how far they've come in two years! There were two extra-special girls that I had connected with previously that I was very excited to see - Jamie and Jianna. Daughters of a former ambassador family, these two beauties are always a joy to be around.
The program began in the ballroom. After Stephanie and I said the pledge, the children hit the runway in their "Birthday Fashion," as it was this year's theme. As usual, I couldn't help but feel happy watching them strut their stuff.
Thank you, once again, to the March Of Dimes for being a avid supporter of the Miss Staten Island Organization. We appreciate all that you do and that you allow us to be a part of it. I look forward to the March Of Dimes walk in the Spring!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fort Wadsworth Toy Drive

It has only been three weeks since my crowning, but I have been quite busy! My first appearance with my new sister queen, Alexa Moley (Miss Staten Island's Outstanding Teen 2014), was the toy drive at Fort Wadsworth. We were invited by Melissa DiIorio Guercia and her mom, Karen. Melissa's daughter, Alexa, was a Star Princess in the Miss Staten Island Pageant!
This fort has the distinction of having the longest continuous military history in the United States and we were honored to take part in a toy drive which would benefit those children who have a parent in the military. We spent the beautiful day collecting toys and speaking with some of the brave men and women who reside at Fort Wadsworth. I even "adopted" two soldiers and will be sending them care packages over the next few months.
As an added bonus, I was able to connect with a family that I could work with in conjunction with my platform. I met Jaiyana, a little girl who lived at the fort with her family. She was diagnosed with pediatric cancer last year and is now a healthy, bright, adorable 4-year-old. Jaiyana and her family were recently given a trip to Disney, which was funded by Hearing Our Heroes. I know that as I continue to promote my platform, we can hear more success stories like this one. Jaiyana is a beautiful girl with an incredibly strong family. I am grateful to have met them and look forward to working with them in the future.
It was an great first "tag-team" appearance with my sister! Stay tuned to hear about some of the other things I've been up to!