Saturday, January 26, 2013


I started this journey 4 years ago. That was when I first joined the Miss Staten Island Pageant at only 17 years old. I was determined to make my vision of becoming Miss Staten Island a reality. For the past year (and 2 months) I have been living out my dream. It is impossible to describe this experience in few words, but for the sake of saving space, I will have to try.

As Miss Staten Island, I have made over 100 appearances. As I’ve always said, “It’s not about the crown, it’s about what you do with it.” It was a blessing to have been chosen to represent this borough, and I took the opportunity to make a difference.

My platform, “The Make-A-Wish Foundation: Kids For Wish Kids,” was one of my main focuses this year. Through my various fundraisers including Macy’s Million Reasons to Believe, “Wish For Change” in the public schools, and my enormous “We Dance For Dreams” performance, I have not only raised money for the organization, but also encouraged kids to get involved in volunteering. I am incredibly proud to say that during my reign I have raised nearly $20,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation; a feat which I had never even imagined. In addition to this, I have raised $1,400 for Children’s Miracle Network and over $1,000 for other charities. In June, I was fortunate enough to place in the Top 10 at Miss New York. It was an honor to hear them call my name, and it is a moment I will never forget.

I can confidently say that I’ve done everything I could to make Staten Island proud this year, but I couldn’t have accomplished any of this without some very special people.

Mom – Like you said, “You can’t do this without the support of a mom behind you.”
Thank you for helping me through every step of my journey.
Dad – Thanks for keeping me calm (well, sort of) when things got really crazy.
A.J. – Thank you for putting up with your big sister hogging all of the attention.
Nick – Your never-ending support means more to me than you can ever imagine.
Friends and Family – All of your encouragement has made me who I am today.
Miss Staten Island Organization – Thank you for all that you do to make your
titleholders shining representations of Staten Island.
Staten Island Community – Thanks for welcoming me with open arms.

A special congratulations to all of the new titleholders!!

Miss Staten Island 2013: Amanda Lee Alicea
Miss Richmond County 2013: Alyssa DePaolis
Miss Staten Island's Outstanding Teen 2013: Ashley Marie Davis
Miss Richmond County's Outstanding Teen 2013: Gianna Roccaro

I'm sure that you will all do a wonderful job representing this borough. Take advantage of every opportunity and be the beautiful role models that you all are. Congratulations, once again!

I look forward to what will come, but I know that nothing will ever compare to being Miss Staten Island 2012. Thank you all for giving me what I’m sure will forever be one of the greatest years of my life. I love you all!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Precious Preemie Fashion Show

On Sunday, January 6th, I attended the March Of Dimes' Precious Preemie Fashion Show for the second time. The first time I attended this event was the day after I was crowned Miss Staten Island. What a crazy feeling to be at the same fundraiser a year later knowing how far I've come!
Along with Miss Richmond County 2012, Stephanie Accardo, I entered The Vanderbilt. We were taken behind a curtain where all of the models were getting ready. Most of the families recognized us from the previous year, as well as from other events. It was great to be able to see them again. The kids have grown up so much!
After taking some pictures, we entered the ballroom and the program began. First, we were called onto the runway. Last year, we were asked how we felt about just being crowned. This year, we were asked to tell the guests about our year. I spoke about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and how I've raised nearly $20,000 for them this year. It's been a wonderful year and I can't believe how much I've accomplished.
The models then had their turn on the runway. The theme was Candyland and some of them got really creative with it! It was inspiring to them strut down the runway as the announcer told their story of survival. From a few days in the NICU, to over 100 days, they all had a unique journey and it was beautiful to see.
I'm honored to have had this event be my first and one of my very last appearances as Miss Staten Island 2012. I'm so happy to have been a part of the Precious Preemie Fashion Show's 10th anniversary and to have been helping the March Of Dimes, a very special organization.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Guyon Rescue

In continuing my quest to ensure that the Hurricane Sandy victims had happy holidays, I made my way to Guyon Rescue on December 23rd. After raising a lot of money at the "Rescue Ball" on Dec. 12th, they were able to provide the families with Christmas gifts. Guyon Rescue wanted to make sure that Santa didn't leave anyone out!
The event was complete with the Wagner High School chorus, elves, tables of toys and a visit from Santa, himself! The families lined up along a fence and anxiously awaited their turn. One by one, the kids sat on Santa's lap and were given exactly what they had asked for. It was great to see the smiles on their faces.
I decided to walk down the line and speak to all of the families. One woman told me her heartbreaking story. She lost everything in the hurricane and is out all the time with her disabled son to make sure that he stays distracted. On that day in particular, she was going from one community holiday party to another, to keep her son's mind at ease. It is this strength that has been seen throughout the island since October. It is heartbreaking and inspiring all at once.
Food was provided for those who needed it - as it has been for the past two months. Volunteers are always on hand, cooking up a warm meal. The guests were definitely in high spirits, despite everything that had happened. The kids were excited to see Santa, and the parents were glad that they could still give their children the Christmas gifts they deserved. Grateful isn't even a strong enough word to describe how many of them told me they felt.
I'm proud to have been a part of Guyon Rescue's efforts. From the moment the hurricane hit, they have been at the forefront of relief efforts and have been making an enormous difference in our community. Thank you to all of the volunteers who put some joy back into this holiday season for Staten Island. This is truly what Christmas is all about.

Holiday Pop-Up Shop

Hurricane Sandy shook our community over two months ago and the restoration of Staten Island still continues. Equally as important, during the holiday season, was making sure that the victims had some "normalcy" back in their lives. After all, giving back is a key part of the holiday spirit.

On December 22nd, Fashion Delivers brought some joy to the Vanderbilt on Staten Island with the "Holiday Pop-Up Shop." Fashion Delivers is a charitable organization that takes new products donated by manufacturers and retailers and gives them to community charities across the U.S. and throughout the world. These donated items help survivors of natural disasters and other people in need rebuild their lives. Fashion Delivers gives companies with excess inventory an easy and efficient way to give back to society. In fact, back in 2005, they also helped the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The "Holiday Pop-Up Shop" was for victims of Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island who had a FEMA number and pre-registered for the event. From the moment I arrived, there was a line out the door and down the block. It's sad to see that so many people needed help, but it was wonderful to know that every single person on that line was going to get what they needed.
Small groups were let into the Vanderbilt by volunteers and police officers, and each person received a shopping bag. They were told that they could take one jacket per person and a comforter once they stepped behind the curtain into the "shopping zone." Aside from that, they could take whatever fit in their shopping bag - and everything was completely free! After about 15 minutes, the crowd would be asked to leave and a new group would be let in.
I had to see what the room looked like, so after a few groups transitioned, I ventured behind a large curtain to see what items they had up for grabs. I was shocked to see exactly how many things were donated: jackets, baby clothes, toys, bags, undergarments, and even jewelry! One of the volunteers told me that Burlington Coat Factory donated 750 jackets! It also made me really made me happy to see that it wasn't just the "necessities" being offered. People often forget that it's those little luxuries, like jewelry, bags, and toys, that can make things feel normal again.
Charles Garone, Director of Aquilon Shows (a traveling trade exhibitions company), organized the pop-up shop with the help of Fashion Delivers. I have to say, everyone involved did an amazing job. The event was unlike anything I've ever seen! The volunteers should be so proud of the impact they could have had on a single family by making their holiday season a little more joyful.
Thank you, Charles Garone, for allowing me to be a part of such a beautiful event. You and Fashion Delivers came to provide relief when we needed it the most. It is because of people like you that Staten Island continues to maintain hope for a full recovery. Thank you all so much for everything you have done.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

PS30 Girl Scouts

Happy new year, everyone! I am sad to say that it is almost time to crown the new Miss Staten Island -- only 23 days remaining in my reign. However, I still have a few blogs to bring to you and some appearances on the way.

Back in December, I visited the Girl Scout Troop 5091 at Public School 30. Their troop leader, AnnMarie, contacted me to ask if I would speak to her girls and I gladly agreed. I was a Girl Scout when I was younger and I thought that this would be a great opportunity for me.
 I had no idea, but it turned out that my visit was actually a surprise for the girls! When I arrived, they were very excited to find out that I was the special guest and after enjoying a few snacks, they began to talk to me about my experiences this past year. I was able to tell them all about being Miss Staten Island, the work that goes into it, my platform, and even a little bit about my personality and favorite things. "Miss Staten Island, what is your favorite color?" "How long have you been dancing?" "What kind of music do you listen to?"
After I answered all of their many questions, AnnMarie surprised the troop with gifts. Each girl received a sash that read "GS Troop 5091" and a crown! I then showed them the "pageant walk" and we strutted down the aisle of the auditorium.
I had a great time with GS Troop 5091 and I know that there could be some future Miss Staten Islands in that bunch with the way they walked! Thank you, AnnMarie, for having me. It was great to take a trip back to my Girl Scout days and I hope that the girls took away some valuable information from the experience.