Several people have asked me, “How can I help you with your platform?” The next few posts on my blog will all be dedicated to different ways YOU can get involved in Embracing the New Normal: The 21st Century Family Unit.
During my year, I have actively been involved with Our House in Little Rock. Our House is the ONLY program in Arkansas that meets all the needs of homeless families. Our House is also the ONLY licensed child development center for homeless children in Arkansas. Our House serves over 1,400 men, women and children each year. Of those, at least 75% move out of homelessness. WOW. Isn’t this organization remarkable?
Through my volunteer work with the Little Learners program, I have been able to share my story and work first hand with children and adults that come from similar circumstances.
Now here is the part where YOU can help! Every Wednesday, Our House posts on their Facebook page a “Wish List” for that week. The items vary from week to week! If you live in the Central Arkansas area and have or want to purchase any of the items listed I will pick them up from your house and personally deliver the items to Our House when I volunteer weekly! This is such a simple and easy way to help this organization in a BIG way! Please join me in helping these families and children! Below is this weeks “Wish List”. If you would like to donate, you can email me at email@example.com or message me on Facebook!
When I decided to compete in the Miss Arkansas system again in July I made a promise to myself that no matter what happened during this year, I would be myself. I come from a “nontraditional” family. I was raised by my grandparents and single mother. After my grandparents passed away my mother faced a life-threating illness and ended up being incarcerated because she lost control of her finances. My personal experience made me stronger and taught me valuable lessons about love, family and responsibility. Over the past year, I have been praying that God will use me in a big way, bigger than I could ever imagine for myself. When I won Miss Greater Little Rock I knew this was a chance for me to make a difference. I had a platform to stand on and I wanted to tell my story. I choose the platform Embracing the New Normal: The 21st Century Family Unit because I want to be an advocate for children who live in “nontraditional” families. I want to enrich their lives and give them the opportunity to reach their full potential. I believe it is important that children know how to handle the emotions they may feel from being considered “different” and understanding that they can succeed in life no matter what their home life looks like. I want to share my personal story across the state and show children that each family is unique and special in its own way.
I am so excited about these next few months and cannot wait to see how God uses me. I also want to say a big “Thank You” to my support system who has believed in me and encouraged me to not be afraid to be myself. Please be in prayer for the children I am working with. I pray God will use me to touch their lives and that they will know how much he loves them.
Mary Ellen Hunthrop
Miss Greater Little Rock 2015
WOW! Almost a week later and I am still in shock that Moving for Miracles Stuttgart raised $1,041 for Children’s Miracle Network!!! A huge thank you goes to the people of Stuttgart for welcoming me with open arms and sending their children to participate in the event. The other “princesses” and myself enjoyed spending the day loving on and dancing with your little ones. Another thank you goes to Krista Keller for opening up her dance studio, CenterStage Dance and allowing us to use the facility for the event. I taught dance at CenterStage while finishing my bachelors degree and consider Krista a dear friend and cannot thank her enough for all she has done for me the past three years. I would also like to say thank you to Sarah Murry for donating the ballet slipper cookies and chocolate chip cookies for the event. Mrs. Sarah’s cooking is always FABULOUS and it was such a treat to have her donate refreshments for the event. My last thank you goes to all the volunteers that helped make this event a HUGE success, Jessica Ray, Kalyn Goshen, Carrie Beth Roberts, Christian Weatherley, Maraye Tudor, Hannah Oliver, Cori Keller, Celeste Smith and Sarah Smith. I could not have put on this event without your help! Thank you so much for volunteering your time and Saturday for Moving for Miracles Stuttgart!!! I am so excited that I am getting closer to my goal of raising $5,000 for Children’s Miracle Network!! If you would like to help me reach this goal please visit the link below! Every little bit helps and it is greatly appreciated!
Mary Ellen Hunthrop
Miss Greater Little Rock 2015
The Miss America Organization has had a long time relationship with Children’s Miracle Network. In 2007, the charity became the official national platform of the Miss America Organization. Over the past 7 years more than $10 million has been raised to benefit CMN Hospitals around the United States. The partnership with CMN extends to women competing at local, state and national levels of the Miss America Organization. Each contestant has to raise $100 for CMN to compete at a local pageant. After winning a local title the contestant has to raise $250 for CMN to compete in Miss Arkansas. When I won the title of Miss Greater Little Rock I decided very early on that I was going to raise much more than $250. My individual goal is $5,000. I tried to think of creative ways to raise money for CMN and then it hit me. Why not do a dance day for girls and donate all the proceeds to CMN? I have been dancing since a very young age, I started assisting in high school and when I went to college I started teaching classes on my own. Dance is very near to my heart and so is Children’s Miracle Network so I thought it would be a great idea to combine both. I shared my ideas with a few others and they thought it was a great idea. My friend and mentor, Paula Montgomery-Swindle, came up with the name Moving for Miracles. I asked my sister queen, Halle Erwin if she would like to host this event together and she gladly agreed.
I am in graduate school at the University of Central Arkansas pursuing a masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology. While I am in school I work a part-time job teaching dance at The Studio By Lauren. Lauren (who I met through the Miss Arkansas system) said we could have the event at the studio. This past Saturday, October 18th, Halle and I held the first Moving for Miracles. It was a day of fun for young girls age 3-12 to come learn a dance, play dance games and watch special performances while raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network. I have been asked by several people to have another event and I am excited to announce that Saturday, January 10th, will be the second Moving for Miracles at CenterStage in Stuttgart, AR (more details and times to follow). I am so excited to be sharing my love for dance with little ones while raising money for Children’s Miracle Network. Halle and I are also selling T-shirts for the events and 100% of the proceeds will also benefit CMN. The t-shirts are $18 and I have youth and adult sizes.
If you would like to donate and help me reach my goal, here is the link to my CMN page where you can donate directly if you would like! http://www.missamericaforkids.org/donate/maryellenh.
Please help me reach my goal of $5,000 to benefit Children’s Miracle Network!! Also, if you would like more information about Moving for Miracles or like to sign up please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Ellen Hunthrop
This past week/weekend was a busy one! It started out on Thursday morning when I attended E-Stem in Little Rock. I was very excited about this visit because this was the first school I had visited since being crowned Miss Greater Little Rock and also because it was my dear friend, Ginny Luffman’s classroom. My platform is “Growing up in a Non-traditional Family: Embracing Diversity”. I read the book Yoko to Mrs. Luffman’s kindergarteners. Yoko is a young kitten who comes from a different family than the other children at her school. The children realize she is different and comes from a different home when she brings sushi for her lunch. This causes all the other children to make fun of her. Her teacher comes up with a solution, to host an International Food Day. Each student has to bring a dish from a different country and everyone has to try a bite of everything. I love this book by Rosemary Wells because it expresses children’s small but important difficulties, well let’s face it all of our difficulties, being accepted by others even though we are different. My hope is to reach young children and instill in them at an early age to embrace and love each other despite their home life, the color of their skin, the food they eat, their parents financial income, or the clothes they wear to school.
After reading to Mrs. Luffman’s class I headed back to Conway for my graduate class that day. When I got out of class I headed straight for the Conway Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. I wanted to attend the business expo to spread the word and pass out flyers for Moving for Miracles (more on that later). Everyone at the expo was so welcoming and kind. I ended up meeting several people that wanted to help me on my journey to Miss Arkansas and with Moving for Miracles. At the end of the day I was even interviewed by 107.1 my country to talk about the event.
Friday morning, I headed to Stuttgart to talk to the preschoolers at Noah’s Ark Preschool in Stuttgart, Arkansas. I read a few books to each classroom and talked with the boys and girls. I think their favorite part was pretending to be “princesses” and “kings” while they tried on my sash and crown.
I love wearing my crown and sash and it means so much to me but it is so rewarding to see the joy on a child’s face when they get a chance to wear it instead of me. I’ve had a few parents tell me not to let their children hold the crown or even had strangers look at me like I was crazy when I hand it over to a child, but I love it. To be honest, my sash is already dirty and my crown is already missing a stone (oopsie). That crown and sash while although are very important and dear to my heart, are materialistic things. It is what the sash and crown represent that is the most important thing about them. I think the dirt from the playground adds a little character to my sash and the jew missing is okay because at the end of the day I look at those things and smile. Loving on children and letting them try on the sash and crown is one of my favorite parts of this wonderful job.
I am having so much fun as Miss Greater Little Rock even though this journey has just started. I can’t wait to see what the next few months hold. If you would like me to come read or speak to your child’s classroom please send me an email at email@example.com.
Mary Ellen Hunthrop
I’ve had several people ask me over the years “Why do you compete in the Miss America Organization.” My response was always, “to further my personal skills, gain friendships and help pay for my education (which is still true). I first competed for the title of Miss Arkansas in 2012. After competing for one year I made the decision that I wasn’t going to compete anymore. I sold almost all of my stuff and hung up my heels. Little did I realize that the next two years would change my life forever. I went through more heartache in those two years than I have in my entire life. I am forever thankful for that first year of competing and the next two years that followed. Although, it was the most difficult time in my life I grew so much from it and it made me become the woman I am today. While I am still not perfect, nor will I ever be, I am proud of the woman I am today.
This past July I felt God placing something on my heart. I wanted to compete for the title of Miss Arkansas again so I started praying about my decision. I woke up the next morning to a text message from one of my dance students. It was a video of me walking in my evening gown at Miss Arkansas 2012 followed with a message about how much she loved me and admired me. It clicked, I had to compete again. Not only for myself but for all of the young hearts I could touch and lives I could impact. In July, 11 days before the Miss Greater Little Rock prelim I decided to compete. It was the quickest I had ever gotten anything together for a prelim. I pulled out my wardrobe from competing years before and my good friend, Lauren Howell and I came up with a dance routine immediately. I spent every night in the dance studio practicing and every morning in the gym. I was more motivated and confident in myself than I ever have been. For the first time since deciding to compete I BELIEVED IN MYSELF, and wanted the job of Miss Greater Little Rock so badly. I captured the job and have loved every minute of it since I was crowned!
Now when I am asked why I compete in the Miss America Organization my answer is a little different. I compete in this organization to show young children, teenagers and adults every where that you can become something no matter where you came from. You see, I was raised in a household with a single mother, my sister and two grandparents. My family isn’t picture perfect. It used to bother me as a child but now I have learned to embrace it. I have learned over the years “family” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone and that’s OK. I want to be Miss Arkansas to reach girls who don’t come from the best circumstances, don’t feel worthy and the ones that are told their dreams will never come true. I am here to tell you, YOU CAN DO IT!
I am so excited to see the journey God takes me on this year! I am so proud and excited to be Miss Greater Little Rock! I hope you will follow my journey with me and that this blog will allow you to learn more about who I am.
Mary Ellen Hunthrop