After months of preparation, I am happy to report that I ended up a semi-finalist at the 2021 Mrs. America pageant, held at the Westgate Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A highlight of my 10-day trip was presenting this custom-made dress at our Dignitary Dinner, attended by over 200 guests and included Mr. and Mrs. David Siegel, owner of Westgate Resorts!
I commissioned this original gown from Olga Ngalula of Mke Mwema Creative Fashion in an effort to highlight the work of a refugee woman owned business in Georgia, and speak to the efforts of the International Rescue Committee. I am happy to report that the gown was a hit, and I even got to speak on stage in front of the entire audience, sparking many questions about this unique piece of art made from imported fabric from the Democratic Republic on Congo, Olga's home country.
I was able to hand out many cards sharing the mission of #TogetherForAfghanistan during my long stay. I believe my time as Mrs. Georgia America (which is far from over!) has been a wonderful opportunity to raise funds and support for the refugee families resettling in Georgia. And today, I humbly ask you to donate what you can and share this fundraising campaign with your network to help us inch closer to our goal to raise $50,000 for the International Rescue Committee in Atlanta.
If you're looking for a specific way to support women and children, I am reaching out for $40 Venmo donations to replenish my car seat and stroller fund. Many of the Afghani families being resettled in the US have small children, and large families. Because of lack of resources and adequate access to family planning in their home country, pregnancy rates (and unfortunately infant mortality rates) are high. Every time I visit the IRC offices, I never show up empty handed. Venmo your $40 donation to @Darcy-Castro to help purchase a stroller and car seat for a family in need.
Lastly, I've been asked why we should donate our funds to refugees when the need in many of our communities is already so great. The simple answer is because Juan and I believe we have a moral obligation to help the people of Afghanistan that sacrificed the safety of their own families to help the US in the Afghan campaign. As a military family, we feel that we made a collective promise to the Afghani people, and we feel compelled to help fulfill that promise, even if that means it is here in the US. There is plenty of love and resources to go around, if the heart can grow wide enough.