Posts

Miss Tustin: My New Sisters

Hey everybody, I’m Miss Tustin,  Danielle Weniger and you may recognize me from some previous blog entries. But I wanted to write today because I wanted to share my experiences from orientation this weekend!

image5Coming to Fresno, I had no idea what to expect, since Miss Tustin was my first pageant ever. However, walking away on Sunday (or driving away and passing out in the car) I couldn’t help thinking about all the fun I had, all the amazing titleholders, teens, executive directors and Miss California staff that I met. Now, I honestly can’t wait for June!

image3Over the course of this weekend, I had two goals. Well three, if you count having a great time and learning some stuff. But 1) was to take a selfie with every contestant. And 2) was to give everybody a bow. That might sound a little weird, but one of my favorite hobbies is crafting! I actually spent about 4 hours over the week making 57 bows, and I THINK I got one to everybody, which makes me insanely happy. Now for #missamericaserves, after I volunteer at a local charity called Operation Warm Wishes with their reading day (perfect for the theme of literacy!!) I will be starting to make as many bows, headbands and other cute accessories for girls at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in Orange.

image1 (1)Another goal I had, was to learn every contestant’s name. With the prevalence of social media, I practically knew all these girls already! So after about a month of (not stalking) looking at their Facebooks and Instagrams, I felt that I already knew everybody. It was so surreal to finally meet all these amazing women, and now I am so happy to call them my Miss California Sisters.

image4Whether I was taking selfies with them, eating lunch together, standing in line for coffee (or one of the many workshops) or even waiting on the elevator with them, I practically fell in love with all of these girls and what they stand for. After talking with them and getting to know them, I feel like a new chapter of my life is beginning, and I cannot wait to continue it in June!

Thank you so much for reading, and I urge you to read more about these wonderful ladies on the Miss California Blog, because you will be amazed with the amount of talent, service and all-around amazingness that fills the Miss California Class of 2015!

-Danielle Weniger, Miss Tustin

Miss Tustin: My Life in Tustin

Hey everybody! Since I have been able to make a few appearances since my last blog entry, I thought: “What better to talk about as Miss Tustin, than what I do AS Miss Tustin in the city of Tustin!”

I am a born-and-raised Tustinite, so I was SO honored and blessed to have been crowned Miss Tustin, especially after everything this city has done for me. Not only did I go to Preschool, Elementary school, middle school and high school here, but basically my whole life was centered in Tustin. From Girl Scouts to Little League Baseball (with the boys!) to church to volunteering, Tustin was and is my life. So, here are some of the things I have done so far as Miss Tustin.

The Superheroes of Tustin

miss tustinMy very first appearance was at the Superheroes of Tustin luncheon, and the title may sound silly, but it’s not far off. At this luncheon, non-profits, schools, churches and all sorts of committees nominated their most valuable and irreplaceable volunteers. Trust me, the work that these men and women have done is definitely worthy of the title “Superhero”. Some of the people were even volunteering with the luncheon to set it up, not knowing that they were being honored that day! Performing here in front of these amazing men and women, and getting to interact with them and learn what they are doing for Tustin was such an amazing experience, and it was such a great start to my year.

The Boys and Girls Club Mixer

IMG_2955I also got the chance to visit the Boys and Girls Club of Tustin. This was so fun for two reasons. One: I got to see all of the amazing work that our kids are doing here, especially since our club just got a grant from Chick-Fil-A to get brand new computers and iPads for the kids. And two: I was able to acquaint myself with the members of the Tustin Chamber of Commerce, because they were sponsoring this event. What was really great to see, is that almost half of the TCC members that were there, were at the Superheroes of Tustin luncheon being honored, and that goes to show how involved Tustin is. Plus the kids were so great, and even gave me a tour of the whole place! (They had an animal room and oh my gosh the chinchilla was so cute and soft, and I got to hold a tarantula!)

The 46th Annual Tustin Easter Egg Hunt

miss tustin eehFinally on Saturday, I was able to help out at our local Easter Egg Hunt! What was really fun, is that up until I think I was 10, I participated in the Easter Egg Hunt EVERY year. It was so surreal being able to see all these adorable little children running around, having a great time, and me being able to be a part of it. I love working with kids, and being able to watch them have fun, and play games with them was so great. Especially knowing that someday, they might remember me or my crown and say that they want to participate in the Miss Tustin pageant one day too! Thank you so much for reading!

Miss Tustin: Living Through The Pain

IMG_2822

Danielle being crowned as Miss Tustin 2015

Hi everyone, my name is Danielle Weniger and I am so happy to say that I am your Miss Tustin 2015! As I am writing this blog post, I am battling a case of the stomach flu, so in between my (sorry for the TMI) throwing up, I thought it was fitting to introduce myself and my platform which, like the flu, has some pretty difficult and painful components.

FullSizeRender(3)

Danielle as a child with her mother and father

Growing up, my family never had a lot of money, but we were comfortable and we were happy. Except when I was in middle school, everything changed when my father suddenly passed away. Not only was this incredibly painful and difficult to comprehend as a 12 year old girl who had never heard of anyone dying except in movies, but it also caused my mom and I a lot of financial strain and we had to move three times over the course of a year as my mother tried to find a stable income to make up what we needed since my dad was gone.

Over the course of about a year, I held in all of my emotions, even through countless other deaths that littered my life (like both my grandmothers, two uncles, my dog and my next-door neighbor, all in the span of 3 months). I needed to stay strong for my mother, because I thought she needed me more than I did. This was probably the darkest time of my life as my mother was battling depression, and I refused to accept that I was too. Instead of facing my problems and my grief head on, I just bottled it all up, and instead of helping and healing, I actually scarred myself emotionally for the rest of my life, just because I refused to accept the natural bereavement, or grieving, process.

CampErin_2color

There are Camp Erin locations all over the US and they are free for any child who needs to attend.

Finally during the summer after my father passed, my mom signed me up for a bereavement camp named “Camp Erin”, and this place probably changed my life forever. Here, I met other kids between the ages of 4-18 who also recently lost a parent or a sibling – and meeting them opened my eyes to the fact that I was not alone. There were other children, from all over Orange County even, who were going through the same problems that I was. I didn’t have to deal with the pain alone.

At camp, I finally opened myself up and began my own grieving process that was probably a good 6 months late. Besides that, I also opened my ears. One was to a new healing technique called Music Therapy, and the other was to the children who were at camp with me. There were two music therapists who worked at Camp Erin that employed the healing power of music to help us through some of the darkest times of our lives. Here, my ears and my heart was opened, and I found out what I wanted to do with my life, because I wanted to be a positive impact in the lives of those similar to mine, because I never want anyone to feel as alone, scared and in pain as I did when my father died.

This is the Children's Grief Awareness butterfly, HOPE was created to spread the message of hope to grieving children

This is the Children’s Grief Awareness butterfly, HOPE was created to spread the message of hope to grieving children

This brings me to my platform of Living Through Childhood Grief. For me, there were almost no options in my home town of Tustin for me to even know what to do when my dad died. America is a death fearing society, and from a young age we are taught to fear and avoid death. However 50% of children will live in a single parent home by the time they are 18, and 90% of high school students will have lost someone close to them (whether a parent, sibling or friend) before they exit. The number is even as high as 69% of students having lost someone close to them in the past year.

Even with these staggering statistics, there are still little options for people to grieve in a healthy environment, and the options are even smaller for children who have lost someone, where their need could be even greater since they are still developing and learning about the world.

New Jersey State Legislators recently passed a bill, making November 19th National Children’s Grief Awareness Day, and I want to do the same here in California, to raise awareness for something so close to me. By raising awareness of the grieving process, and how it is different in every individual, and that children need support too, I hope that 1) our state community will be a more open place where no one will feel alone in their time of need, and 2) that people will understand that you cannot just “Get over it”, but instead will offer help and condolences. No one can take away the pain, or bring those who are dead back to life, but we can all show that we care.

Just like any other pain or sickness, grief hurts. But you wouldn’t tell somebody who was stooped over the toilet vomiting “It’s not that bad” or a person who broke their leg to “Get over it”, so why should we do the same for those in emotional pain?

Danielle Weniger
Miss Tustin 2015