Miss America Volunteers "Day of Service" 2012...

For the past 6 years, Miss America Volunteers from around the country gather together at Planet Hollywood to dedicate a "Day of Service" to the 53 Miss America contestants vying for the title of Miss America by offering a helping hand to Habitat for Humanity/Las Vegas. This event serves as a reminder to the volunteer efforts our Miss America contestants, as they give of themselves during their "Year of Service" to our state organizations.

This year was no exception as the lobby filled early "Friday the 13th", January~ 2012 with friends and family anxious to honor their state title holders by donating their time and talents for this special project. Greeting each other with hugs and smiles this years participants poured into our awaiting greyhound bus as we left the hotel for the Habitat site at 7:30am. We were fortunate to have from the Miss Kentucky Scholarship Organization, pageant volunteer, Bryan Lloyd on board to keep us entertained during our trip by telling us the local "Las Vegas Strip" folklore..."Remember what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!"

Once it our site, we registered and signed our Habitat T-shirt generously donated by Thomas Whitfield from Virginia, our "Habitat angels"~Miss America 2004, Ericka Dunlap and Miss America 1948, BeBe Shopp welcomed our group and warmed us up for the day! Picture perfect I might add, beautiful blue skies and 65 degrees. Habitat for Humanity Las Vegas Volunteer coordinator Bobbi Hardy, Project Manager, Roger Cooper and our Site Superintendent,Darryl Allen welcomed us back and made us realize how much this project means to them. They told us how much they look forward to our visit each year. Paul Brown from the Miss New York Organization was asked to speak on how he took this experience back to his pageant volunteers and shared it with the his state organization. Paul explained we are truly changes peoples lives by supporting the Habitat for Humanity mission to contribute to provide safe, affordable homes for the people of our communities. We were then divided up into small groups, some of us hit the roof, while others went inside to begin indoor projects, hammers and nails started flying. You should of heard the noise... We began to raise the roof!

On a ladder, BeBe Shopp, was something to see...She hit each nail right on the head...She said, "I am here to work and we are here to help!"
On the roof, Ericka Dunlap, was swinging and hitting those nails with gusto! and noise, did I mention the noise...no one seemed to mind one bit! At the half way point in the morning, Vicki Morrison handed out lollipops and much needed water, she is always a bright spot in our day.
With lunchtime just around the corner, we were so excited to have our 2nd annual "Taco Party" by Qdoba, Mexican Grill with all the fixin's! I saw alot of folks go back for seconds and I highly recommend stopping by your local Qdoba's and check out their yummy menu!

As the day began to wind down a young man walking by stopped and introduced himself even complimented us on the work we had done, "Very Impressive"! He explained he was writing an essay about the area we were working in, A few of the volunteers and I became fascinated with his information and I asked him to address our entire group of volunteers with some of the local history. He told us we were working in an area called the "Moulin Rouge" back in the 50's and 60's . Top performers regularly played in the Las Vegas hotels, great singers and musicians such as Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Pearl Bailey, and Louis Armstrong would perform often on the strip and after their show didn't have a place to wind down and gather together. The Las Vegas Strip's lounges and casinos did not allowed black entertainers in so they headed for this area we were working in called the "Moulin Rouge". Frank Sinatra would show up there with other Rat Packers so they could enjoy the company of their good friend Sammy. Often, they would perform without pay to the integrated crowd. This "3rd show" drew many people from the famous Strip and downtown resorts. The Moulin Rouge was the place to be". It was a real eye opener for us to hear the history of this location and to be apart of that history to pass on the the mission of Habitat for Humanity for all mankind.

At the end of his presentation we offered thanks for being able to make a difference in this community and presented our signed Habitat T-shirt to Bobbi Hardy, our team Habitat for Humanity Coordinator. "Signature Sponsor" Coordinator, Teri Galvez received a signed notebook by the Miss America Volunteers, for her to remember her fellow Habitat volunteers are rooting for her this spring as she makes a bid for the Republican National Committeewoman for the District of Columbia, Go Teri!, a thank you for her efforts in coordinating Lowe's sponsorship again this year.
Our day was almost complete, as Ed, our Greyhound bus driver drove by the Las Vegas "Gold and Silver Pawn Shop" from the popular reality show.That was a spot many of us wanted to see and some went to visit the next day.

To our Signature Sponsor, Lowe's Home Improvement word's cannot express the the joy you give us each year. Your support makes our "Day of Service" a "REALITY" for the many hearts you touch. Thank you for your continued donation to the Habitat for Humanity cause, Kelly Persons,Andy Mottesheard,Kim Beal, Tami Griffin and Dena Jackson. Please join me and "Like" Lowe's Home Improvement on Facebook for their generous support for our "Day Of Service".

And as always thank you to our "Habitat Angels", Miss America's, Ericka Dunlap'04 and BeBe Shopp "48 for taking time from their schedules to be with us each year.

Eighteen states participated from around the country, volunteers from Maine, Florida, Massachusetts,Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia,Hawaii,Kansas,Kentucky,Missouri,Mississippi,Nebraska,New Jersey, New Mexico,New Hampshire, New York,Pennsylvania,Washington thank you for your participation and making this again a memorable experience.

Special thanks to our photographers, Lisa Perez Miller from the Miss Kansas pageant and Stanley Boyes from the Miss Connecticut pageant for capturing this event on flim.

We've got your hammer, Please join us in 2013.

Respectfully, Valerie Clemens-Miss Maine Organization
"Day Of Service" Coordinator

"It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us and together we are always able to accomplish what none of us could achieve alone".

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