Monday, February 24, 2014

Brew For Autism

At the end of January, I was invited to attend "Brew For Autism." This event, hosted by Pour Standards and Richmond County Beer Club, was created to increase awareness of autism and raise funds to support the work of Autism Speaks.
I've attended many events in support of Autism Speaks. This organization works to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders. This disease has become all too common in today's society. According to the Autism Speaks website:
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
They say that around 1 in 88 American children are on the autism spectrum. This is a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years! That is why I support Autism Speaks and the work they are doing.
This event was a complete success. The Great Hall in Snug Harbor was completely transformed - complete with beer tastings and food. In fact, they featured over 25 home brewers from around the city! I could tell that all the guests were enjoying themselves and though I did not partake in the beer tasting, I definitely took the opportunity to do some "food tasting." The wings were delicious!
I was able to mingle with the guests and even saw some people I knew. It was also nice to meet the men and women who helped put the event together. There were so many people involved in the production of the event and I know they all care a great deal about our community.
I had a fun afternoon supporting a fantastic cause. Thank you to Pour Standards and Richmond County Beer Club for having me and for making it your mission to give back to those who need it most!

NY1 Interview

It has been an extremely busy month! Between Miss Staten Island events, my full-time and part-time jobs, and preparing for my upcoming benefit, I've been all over the place! Nevertheless, I am back to fill you all in on what I've been doing across the island.

Last month, I had the amazing opportunity to interview with NY1 as part of the "Staten Island Week In Review." To explain how this all came about, I need to back up a bit.
I have been working hard to plan "The HOPE Project," a benefit for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. This variety show, which will be held on March 29th at the College of Staten Island, will serve as a way to both promote my platform and raise funds for research to combat childhood cancer.

In order to ensure that 100% of the proceeds from this event could be donated to the foundation, I searched for sponsors to cover basic expenses. However, it is certainly not easy to raise over $5,000 quickly! I realized that friends and family who wanted to help, but could not be sponsors for $250, $500, or $1000, needed a way to give lesser amounts - because these little sums do add up. That is when I found GoFundMe (a crowdfunding site) and created my own page:

It was then that I was contacted by Courtney Cohen, the PR Coordinator for GoFundMe, who said, "we are currently looking for powerful stories to share with the media...we wanted to see if you would be interested in sharing this story." I was so excited and happily agreed. It was only a week later that I was emailed with the NY1 Interview invitation!
I had never been interviewed in a television studio before and I couldn't have been more excited. When I first began in the Miss America Organization, I wouldn't have ever been able to speak in front a camera, let alone on NY1. I have to say, I am very proud of how far I've come.
If you haven't yet, you can see my interview here. And, if you are interested in learning more about the benefit, or would like to attend, visit my ticket website:
Thank you so much to Courtney from GoFundMe and to NY1 for welcoming me into your studio. I had such a wonderful morning and it was an experience I will always remember!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Visit To I.S.2

This past year, I began working at Physicians First Messages, Inc. - a medical answering service located on Staten Island that provides services to physicians nationwide! My boss, and owner/operator of the company, is John Calhoun. He has been very supportive of my duties as Miss Staten Island and is as excited as I am about the entire experience. That is why when he asked me to do a favor his wife, I happily agreed.
John's wife, Carol, is a teacher at I.S.2 where she is known as "Ms. Mayora." On January 17th, I arrived at the school with my brother, A.J., and was met by Principal Stallone.
I began my visit by popping into some classrooms to say hi to the kids and answer any questions they might have off the top of their heads. The most common questions were, "How did you get to be Miss Staten Island?" and "What do you do as Miss Staten Island?" I was happy to explain to them exactly what the Miss America Organization is all about.
Then came the real reason for my visit: an intimate assembly with the 7th grade girls. I decided to speak to them not only about my journey in pageants but about determination, self-worth, and confidence, as well. With some follow up questions, I definitely felt like I was able to have an impact on these young girls.
As the girls warmed up, I answered silly personal questions like "What's your favorite food?" and "What kind of music do you listen to?" I do love these types of questions, though, because it lets me show kids that I'm a normal person. For example, my favorite foods include chicken wings, pizza and sushi, and I listen to pretty much all styles of music.
They then moved on to more hard hitting questions. I had the opportunity to open up to them about my difficulties with bullying in junior high school, discuss my opinions of the portrayal of women in advertising, and even tell them what I would do if "the pageant asked me to lose weight in order to compete."
I was incredibly impressed with the students and teachers in this group. I got the chance to connect with the girls in what felt like a very private setting and - though they didn't even know it - they gave me great interview prep! Thank you so much, John & Carol, for bringing me into I.S.2! Your students are truly amazing, Carol. I had a wonderful time!