Thursday, April 23, 2009

Keynote Speaker for Turn Around's Take Back the Night

I eagerly anticipated today as it was my first appearance as Mrs. Maryland Galaxy! I was the Keynote Speaker at Take Back the Night hosted by one of my pageant sponsors, Turn Around Inc. Turnaround, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals and families affected by domestic violence and sexual assault/abuse, through counseling, education, support services and advocacy. I am so thankful for their support for the last two years and that I am able to support them as well through their Speaker’s Bureau and as one of the founding members of W.A.V.E (Women Against Violence Everywhere).

When I arrived at the YMCA, all of the W.A.V.E was excited to see me. I will admit it was awkward arriving as Mrs. Maryland, but a great feeling too. A mother brought her daughter to me (the girl was maybe 4 or 5 years old) because she wanted to see “the princess”. The precious girl also gave me a hug!

Many other people wanted to take pictures of or with me, which I have sort of gotten used to. It was such a great feeling to see so many people come out to support this great cause even though it was somewhat chilly outside! We watched a great self-defense demo by Jeannine from Krav Maga before I was up to speak.

I must say that I was nervous, but quickly clicked into “interview” mode when my speech began. I was very proud of myself for not saying “um” and “uh”… My husband, Mardis, who is my biggest supporter and fan, can also at times be one of my biggest critics as well. I was ready to hear the “what you need to work on” speech afterwards, but he only stated that I spoke very well, in a professional and engaging manner. He told me that I was even able to infuse humor into such a serious subject at an appropriate time (when I talked about leaving home, I also mentioned that I packed my book bag with every single one of my Michael Jackson cds). I was elated to be able to read my poem, "Silent No More".

One of the teens in which I share a Circle Journey , a book of release and hope shared between a sexual abuse survivor and myself, came to see me speak. It was such a humbling feeling to know that I had encouraged her enough previously to make her want to attend such an event. I love her dearly... she is one of the reasons I continue to share my story...

We then left to rally on the 33rd street, which had many onlookers who either joined in or observed what we were doing. Overall, I had a great time and cannot wait to do it again next year!

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