Farewell Note to My Successor

Farewell With Love ❤️

Farewell With Love ❤️

It’s so very hard to believe that a year has flown by as quickly as it did. Last March, as I was being crowned your inaugural Miss Junior Teen Illinois United States 2015, I remember wanting my reign to last forever. Now, one quick year later, I feel like it’s all been a dream; a magical, exciting, thrilling, learning experience, and fun dream. As a farewell to my successor, I say, enjoy every single second!

National Stage MUSO 2015

 

CLICK TO Learn More About Hashtag Lunchbag

Take it all in and then hold on for an amazing adventure. From being crowned, to rushing over to our coronation party by our sponsor Fiesta Mexicana, to sleeping in my new crown, to pinching myself in the morning, to my first photo shoot, to my very first appearance, to my first modeling booking, to my first time volunteering with my favorite humanitarian movement project to fight back against hunger at #HashtagLunchbagChicago, to my event with Miss Iowa World spreading awareness about the epidemic of Childhood Obesity, to my first speaking engagement in front of over 1000 students of the New Trier High School Class of 2019–I’ve been blessed and cherished it all.

And you can bet that as Miss Junior Teen Illinois United States 2016, you will too. Get ready sister queen!

Miss Jr Teen United States 2015 Top 5

Speaking of getting ready, then comes more fun. Before you know it, even though you’ve already spent hours in preparation of capturing your State crown, it will be time to get ready for the pageant’s National competition. That means more coaching with your sister queens, which was SO much fun and hard work. I know you can do it, with the help of your dedicated director, Ms. Susan. I was blessed to have great coaches in the industry like Sarah Glitzer of Spotlight Consulting, Nikki Huber, and even a workshop with Mr. Jorge Esteban Pageant Smart. Take advantage of all opportunities that your director sets up for you.

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After all that work and preparation we put in, I remember this–next to my awesome mother, my director was the loudest person clapping when I finished 2nd Runner Up in the Nation, thanks Mr. Derrick!!

I owe much appreciation to my interview and platform coaches Mrs. Kimberly Triani and Mrs. Sarah Glitzer! I was able to capture the award of Best Interview in all divisions of the Pageant!

I owe much appreciation to my interview and platform coaches Mrs. Kimberly Triani and Mrs. Sarah Glitzer! I was able to capture the award of Best Interview in all divisions of the Pageant!

You are sure to have the experience of a lifetime on the National stage. Pageant week at Miss United States will be beyond fun and exciting. Get to know your pageant sisters from all over the United States. We all share a bond and some of them I’m sure will be my sister queens forever. I’ll never forget the smile on Gracie Gipson from Tennessee after being crowned our Miss Junior Teen United States 2015 that night. Love you Gracie and congrats again on your accomplishment!

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Other special people to shout out to are Ms. Yadira and staff for keeping me Glammed up all year, Ms. Eva for capturing the year in photos, Mrs. Dawn, Ms. Summar, and the entire team behind #TeamIllinois 2015. Last but not least, thank you to my sister queens and pageant moms for all your love ❤️ and help.

 

Pageant sisters for life.

Pageant sisters for life.

I’ll leave you with this. Be yourself, have fun, remember how blessed you are, and do as much volunteer work with your platform as you can. My passions are ending hunger and working to spread awareness about the epidemic of Childhood Obesity. I pray that you are able to use your reign to work closely with organizations you are passionate about too.

ciara hashtag lunchbag chicago group shot

Farewell to my successor, as well as to all of the people who helped to make my year one of the best of my life. I love you all. ❤️

CLICK TO Learn More About Hashtag Lunchbag

hashtag lunchbag quote

Hashtag Lunchbag Chicago Volunteer

Come back to the blog to see who is next to wear the crown. Who knows, it could be you on May 8th, 2016!

 

What is Food Insecurity?

The day I was crowned I signed on to be a champion of a cause that is near and dear to my heart, fighting to help end childhood obesity. I chose this epidemic as my platform because of what I have seen with my own eyes in my Community, and what I know is going on all over the world. Half of my reign is over, and I’ve already had the chance to meet some great people and organizations dedicated to ending hunger, food insecurity, and childhood obesity. Today I’m blogging about some ways that food insecurity causes more kids in my generation to become obese and deal with their hunger.

So, What is Food Insecurity? – the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food and the anxiety over these food shortages.

Think about it, if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from then you might overeat any chance you get to. Many kids that are homeless look forward to going to school because they know that they will get to eat. Those school lunches that many of us take for granted and even tease about how nasty they taste — well some kids are just happy to get to eat. I’m thinking that is a good reason to support organizations like Let’s Move, that are also pushing for healthier eating and healthy school lunches.

hashtag lunchbag quote

There are others who consistently help homeless and needy people get a healthier meal. The charity I am passionate about volunteering at is called HashtagLunchbagChicago. What I love most is that at least 1000 homeless and hungry people KNOW that they will get to eat lunch every last Saturday of the month. They can count on it! Volunteers get together and make 1000 or more lunches, put them into hand decorated lunch bags, include a hand written message of encouragement–then head into the streets of Chicago to pass out the lunches. We become family and the family grows larger each month as we share it with others. I’m just happy to be able to do something small for people in need. Young people, we can make a difference.

The fear over food shortages can also make people buy less expensive food that isn’t very good for them. They can tend to buy foods with higher calories to avoid dealing with hunger, for example. Also, it’s harder to find a variety of quality and healthy food in poorer neighborhoods. That could explain why poorer kids can become obese and still deal with hunger. I learned that in health class and it’s a huge problem that has more than doubled in the last 30 years. We have to do something about these things. Otherwise, mine will be the first generation to be out-lived by their parents.

What do you think that people of all ages can do in the fight against childhood obesity, hunger, and food insecurity? Please share and thanks for reading my blog. Love, Ciara 🙂

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Feeds America’s Hungry

The Letter Carriers’ 23rd annual food drive, Stamp Out Hunger, was held on Saturday, May 9. Letter carriers all over our nation collected non-perishable food donations as they delivered mail along their postal routes. That’s a whole lot of work! In my opinion these letter carriers are heros. Ending childhood obesity, including hunger awareness, is my platform. So, I decided to help the letter carriers this year. Thank goodness for my Miss Illinois United States sister queens, director, and official coaches. The whole team went into action to participate.

Take a look at what we did to help Stamp Out Hunger feed thousands of hungry Americans. 

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive 2015

Have you heard of Stamp Out Hunger? If not, here is what I learned about the community service project.

Fun Facts:

  • It is the nation’s largest single-day food drive, and is held annually on the second Saturday in May in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.
  • Letter carriers like Chevell Evans are honored to be able to help people in need. Mr Evans accepted our donations and helped us get them into his postal van. I loved the really cool and fun t-shirt he wore.

Ciara and Stamp Out Hunger Letter Carrier

  • Hunger affects about 49 million people around the country, including millions of children and senior citizens. And one in four households with a member currently serving in the U.S. military turns to a food bank for food assistance.
  • People are encouraged to leave a bag full of non-perishable foods such as canned soup; canned vegetables; canned meats and fish; pasta; peanut butter; rice or cereal next to their mailbox before the regular mail delivery on Saturday.
  • Carriers will bring the food to local food banks, pantries or shelters, including many affiliated with Feeding America, which is a national partner in the drive.

NOTE: If your donation was not picked up, contact your local post office or simply place your donation by your mailbox on Monday instead. – Director of Community Services

When I think about how many children and families will be able to eat because of the food drive, it makes me really happy. Being able to give back to my community is an honor. Have you ever participated in Stamp Out Hunger? If not, will you next year? 

Love, Ciara

Join Relay For Life Team Miss Illinois United States Organization

Did you know that Relay for Life has been in the fight against Cancer for 30 years? That’s a very long time. I learned that the fact that cancer survivors and the people that take care of them never rest, the movement doesn’t get to rest either. The Miss United States Organization is a Relay for Life National Partner and our team is proud and honored to be able to relay this year.

The Miss Illinois United States Class of 2015 Sashes

Join the Miss Illinois United States Class of 2015 Queens Team

Please help us celebrate the 30th year anniversary of Relay for Life by doing one or all of the following:

  • Spread awareness of Relay for Life by giving us a retweet below, share on your Facebook page, or use word of mouth.
  • Donate Now. Support our Team with a donation, dedicate a Luminaria, or join our team and relay with us!
  • Start your own team or locate an event near you to support.
  • Become one of the 1 in 100 people to participate or volunteer in Relay For Life events to fight back against cancer!

History of Relay For Life

In May 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington. $27,000 was raised to help the American Cancer Society fight the nation’s biggest health concern cancer. A year later, 340 supporters joined the overnight event. Since those first steps, the Relay For Life movement has grown into a worldwide movement, raising nearly $5 billion to fight cancer. There is still more work to be done.

Thank you very much for visiting my blog and learning more about Relay for Life and why I relay. Have you been touched by the disease of Cancer? I will relay in honor of cancer survivors, my step-father and young fighter Carolina. Please visit her page on Facebook called Carolina’s Cause. Why do you relay?  Love, Ciara

Fairdale Pulls Together as a Community for Tornado Clean Up and Rebuilding

My Miss Illinois United States director coordinated a road trip to the town of Fairdale, Illinois. As soon as we learned of the devastating tornado and how the people were suffering, Mr. Derrick said “Let’s go help the people of Fairdale.”

We all jumped to it and made plans to go. What we found when we got there was nothing short of amazing. The kind people of Fairdale were very busy pulling together as a community for tornado recovery. Also, volunteers from surrounding towns and as far as Chicago, were all there lending a hand too.

Team Miss Illinois United States collected supplies to donate.

Our team unloaded the supplies we collected, and decided to walk door to door and hand them out. Since everyone was hard at work we wanted to make sure that they all got something without having to go somewhere else to collect them. It was very emotional and a beautiful feeling to give back to the community. A kind family let us borrow their red wagon. My mom said she had one growing up too. A dedicated volunteer named Mr. Travis helped us carry things too. There are so many people to thank and I wish that I knew their names.

Lending a hand with the Fairdale recovery mission.

One of the volunteers from out of town actually knew everyone’s name on the 2 blocks we visited! Her name was Ms. Regina. She walked with us for most of our day there, introducing us to families and sharing stories of survival and hope. This amazing single mother of 4 was brave enough to save her entire family. Since there are no Tornado Warning Sirens in Fairdale, her dad called to warn her in time to get her kids into the basement. Her little boy held onto his sisters for dear life. Not pictured here is her beautiful 16 year old daughter. Just one year older than me, she has her hands full helping in the recovery now.

Mother Shares Her Survival Story

There were so many amazing stories, too many to share here. I want to tell you about a few of them though. One little girl had a birthday coming very soon. She had on a pair of Frozen shoes. We just happened to have brought Frozen blankets with Olaf on them! She was so happy and it made all of us very happy too.

Fairdale Birthday Girl Loves Her Frozen Olaf Blanket

This family showed us a video of them getting into their basement just in time to save themselves. They shared with us that they also saved their pet dog and this adorable goat. With us being from the city, we were surprised to learn that some goats love to be held. This one sure did.

Fairdale family was able to save all pets.

This home was one of many scheduled for demolition. While we were learning about it, we looked up and spotted a cat! The pet was hiding in a hole up by the roof. Even though they immediately started rescue efforts, they didn’t capture the cat before we left. We all hope that he is found before the house is torn down.

Fairdale home scheduled for demolition.

Fairdale Cat We Hope Got Rescued

You can learn about more survivors and ways to help by visiting the Facebook page created to help the people of Fairdale recover after the tornado. I also learned that people can adopt a family that was affected by the tornado. I asked my mom about doing that and she said, “yes of course!”

This was one of the most eye opening experiences of my life. I was amazed at how positive and hopeful everyone was. We even got to play with kids on the playground that was untouched by the tornado. I appreciate everything I have and all of our blessings. These people lost so much and they are all rebuilding and helping each other. I’m proud to be your Miss Jr Teen Illinois United States because otherwise I may not have been able to experience helping the wonderful people of Fairdale, Illinois. 

If you would be kind enough to retweet below to share awareness of what we learned in Fairdale, Illinois. Thank you so much!

Love, Ciara

Miss Jr Teen Illinois United States Volunteers at Hashtag Lunchbag Chicago

ciara hashtag lunchbag chicago collage

Hashtag Lunchbag is a humanity service movement dedicated to eliminating hunger in Chicago and across the globe, one lunch bag at a time. All lunches are made and distributed by volunteers. I’m proud to say that I was one of many volunteers who helped to feed over 400 people. I hope to inspire others to help the hungry and the homeless in their community. I know that I was inspired by the team of attorney volunteers from the Black Women Lawyers’ Association who took the time to talk to me and the other girls. They partnered with Hashtag Lunchbag as the Community Service Project during their 2015 National Summit in Chicago.

Did you know that there is a connection between hunger and obesity? Well I learned from some experts that there is! My Miss United States Organization ‘Beauty With A Purpose’ platform is to be a champion in the fight to end childhood obesity. So, I was thrilled when I saw that Hashtag Lunchbag Chicago makes sure that each lunch includes healthier choices like fresh fruit, water, and even lettuce on the sandwiches. When the hungry kids and adults receive a nutritious meal, it really does make a difference.

ciara hashtag lunchbag chicago group shot

Each of us were responsible for helping to decorate 400 lunch bags, making sure to include an inspirational note for each person to read. I really hope that whoever gets my notes will know that someone cares. I put my heart into every single note. I noticed that all of the volunteers wanted to inspire the hungry and homeless people. You could tell by the wonderful notes. It was fun working alongside the attorneys from the Black Women Lawyers’ Association, the kids, the absolutely amazing coordinators and dedicated volunteers. I would especially like to thank Ms. Ebony Jones-Washington, Hashtag Lunchbag Chicago Coordinator and her entire staff for having me.

ciara decorating hashtag lunchbags

This organization believes that everyone has the power to share good deed experiences with friends and followers, and by encouraging them to also pay it forward. Sharing on your social media is the only way to make sure that our hungry brothers and sisters will continue to receive the lunch bags. You can start by retweeting below. Share, share, share… #HashtagLunchbagChicago #BeautyWithAPurpose