Some things in life take a lot of thought and searching, other things come pretty easily. When I entered the Miss New Hampshire’s Outstanding Teen Pageant, finding a platform I was passionate about was quite simple. I spent first through seventh grade trying to “catch up.” Tests deemed me below grade level for reading, and it took me a long time to meet the standards. I persevered because of the dedication and work from friends, family, and my teachers. Because of my own struggle, I knew that I wanted to get children involved with reading at a young age and make it enjoyable. Through my platform, “Literacy for Life,” I have had the opportunity to work with Heifer International, Boston Children’s Hospital, several schools and have even traveled to the country of Bolivia in South America. I am proud to be affecting my community and making a global impact at the same time.
Heifer International is an organization that works locally and globally simultaneously. Their “Read to Feed” Program encourages local children to read, and it gives them a chance to make a difference somewhere else in the world. The “Read to Feed” program is like a read-a-thon where students get donations for every book they read. The class pools their donations and then purchases an animal to be placed in a needy village by Heifer International. So far my classes have raised enough funds to “purchase” dozens of rabbits, ducks, seedlings, pigs, honeybees, chicks, and even a lama, all delivered and donated to needy families in other countries. I am excited to be a program leader for this great organization, and I look forward to hosting more classes this year.
I have also been able to use my platform to assist the Miss America’s National Platform, the Children’s Miracle Network. With help from my Student Ambassador Club at Rundlett Middle School, I was able to collect more than 150 books in just two weeks this past spring. These new and gently used books were much appreciated by the family center at Boston Children’s Hospital. Doing a book drive is fun, but isn’t necessary for you to help others share in books. Check your own book shelf at home. Do you have any books that you can donate to your local library, school, or United Way?
One highlight of my work with literacy so far is my mission trip to Santa Cruz Bolivia in April of 2012. Before traveling, I hosted a fundraiser by selling colorful wrist bands which read, “CARE 4 BOLIVIA.” I brought the proceeds with me and purchased books in Spanish from Bolivian bookstores. (I contributed to local economy too!) I donated a portion of the books to each of the seven orphanages I visited in Santa Cruz that week. Seeing the poverty there was an eye opening experience for me. However I was touched by how thankful the children were for the books I brought.
I have also spent many fun afternoons in pre-schools and kindergarten classrooms as a volunteer and guest reader. Because I am passionate about what I do, it is never a chore to volunteer my time. If you’re involved in the Miss America or Miss America’s Outstanding Teen programs, I hope that you are able to find a platform that brings you as much happiness and satisfaction as mine does for me. The community service I am doing is definitely one of the most rewarding parts of being a local titleholder.
Thank you again to fourpoints magazine for selecting me as their 2013 Cover Model! Stay tuned for my next blog, as I share my experience at my official photo shoot in Detroit this month!
Click here to read another blog by Cover Model Brooke Mills!