When Joy Came to Stay

Miss Orange County BlogSeven years ago, I never expected the life altering announcement my parents presented to me and my siblings: they were adding another foster child to our family of seven. Although there is an element of excitement with a new addition, this was not the case when thinking about the extra responsibilities that would be asked of me once this six-week-old arrived in our home. 

Upon picking her up from the Department of Human Services, she did not reflect a child coming out of a middle-class environment; rather, she looked more like a baby from a third world country.  She was swollen, had open sores, was unkempt, and most of all, displayed absolutely no emotion. Although my family tried to welcome her with unconditional love, she cried all day and night, many times to the point that her eyes could no longer produce tears.  My older brother, Jordan, and I didn’t want to be home because the screaming was too much for us to handle. My mom juggled a sixth month old, a two-year-old and a kindergartener all while trying to calm this new baby. Honestly, I am not sure how my parents managed to have my brother and I in traveling sports teams, three young children, and a baby who couldn’t seem to find contentment. 

My sister after we adopted her

My sister after we adopted her

One day, something finally clicked. My mom remembers that it was a Tuesday to a Wednesday. She just stopped crying and her eyes began to light up. The curling screams were replaced with fits of laughter; and where the seemingly burden of life once dominated her eyes, joy now fills her every move. This defining moment forever changed the climate of our home as her newly discovered joy pushed back the dark cloud of uncertainty that once shrouded her heart and ours.   When it came time to legally adopt my little sister, my parents reflected on that transformational day and appropriately gave her the name Kiana “JOY” Reed, for now joy fills her heart where it was once being filled with sorrow.  

Our story reminds me of another often told of a little girl seen throwing starfish back into the sea after they had washed onto the shore due to a large storm. There were thousands of starfish, and each time she walked up to one, she would pick it up and throw it back into the sea. After doing this for some time, an older man came and asked her, “Why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!” Upon hearing this, the little girl stooped down, picked up another starfish and threw it back into the sea saying, “I made a difference to that one.”

Miss Orange County BlogOften we are faced with extremely large problems, such as the more than 400,000 children in America’s foster care system, and focus on the seemingly insurmountable odds that stack against us when it comes to finding a solution.  Because we feel inadequate to being part of the solution, it is easy to abdicate responsibility to others who we feel have the capacity to find an answer to the problem.  We may even question why someone doesn’t do something about it without stopping for a moment to realize that we are “someone” who can absolutely make a difference.  Adopting my little sister may not seem like we made much of a difference when it comes to solving the overwhelming issues within the foster care system, but I am confident that it made a profound difference in the future of a child who may not have been born into our family, but was born for our family and discovered eternal joy as a result. 


Kyla Reed

Miss Orange County


Book Miss California Bree Morse

To Whom It May Concern,

Bree Morse Photo Courtesy of Derek Van Oss

Bree Morse
Photo Courtesy of Derek Van Oss

Miss California has been a prominent symbol of our state’s pop-culture for more than 90 years, and is a representation of contemporary, scholastically-driven, well-informed young women everywhere. She is a national spokesperson and advocate who travels the country addressing diverse audiences, increasing awareness and promoting her chosen platform as well as the Children’s Miracle Network. She is an active part of the California community, with an aptitude to engage with various organizations and causes. Her interests afford her the opportunity to attend, host, and present at events throughout the state.

Booking Miss California for your event

Booking Miss California puts a spotlight on your event, gaining media exposure and public relations benefits for your organization as well as an affiliation with an iconic American brand which is rich in history and social significance. The Miss America Organization is a not-for-profit organization that has maintained a tradition of empowering American women to achieve their personal and professional goals, while providing a forum in which to express their opinions, talent and intelligence.

The Miss California Organization makes every effort to accommodate your request. Appearances are determined by Miss California's schedule, appearance fees and the nature of the event.

This year’s Miss California

The 91st Miss California is Bree Morse, a 23-year-old Orange County, California native. Morse is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach with her bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing, and has developed experience in business communications, public relations, and social media management. In the months since her crowning in June of 2015, she has embarked on a number of appearances representing both the Miss California Organization, and the respective appearance organizations with graceful professionalism. In September she competed for the title of Miss America, and although she did not come home with the crown, was a beautiful representative of our state.

Throughout the duration of her year she will continue to be an advocate for her platform, “Alopecia Areata Advocacy,” Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and an ambassador for a number of the organization’s sponsors. As a result of her own experience with alopecia areata, she speaks on behalf of those living with silent diseases, and others struggling to accept their physical differences. Morse is a certified substitute teacher in Southern California and sees the immense value of Miss California’s scholastic emphasis. With the scholarship she has earned, she will return to school after her year of service to obtain a single-subject credential in English. Learn more about Bree at

If you are interested in booking Miss California for an event, please fill out our form on, or contact Chelle Hyde, Business/Tour Manager at, for more details.


The Miss California Organization

Official State Final for Miss America

Click here to download this information as a PDF and share with your favorite group or organization!

Speak Up – Giving a Voice to Victims of Sexual Assault

In college, I was constantly meeting new people and making new friends. I never expected that a simple “like” would change my life. He was someone I met online, through a dating application. We had mutual friends, so naturally I asked if they approved before I agreed to a date. It was a Tuesday night I will never forget, I was wearing sweatpants, a backpack, flip-flops and no alcohol was involved. I was raped on April 2, 2013 in a college dorm room on my university’s campus.

I immediately reported my assault to police and the university. After testifying for the UCLA Administrative Hearing and the Grand Jury, he was expelled from all University of California schools and is currently in prison. I hope that by speaking up and sharing my story, I can encourage others who are silent to also report. It is never too late to take back the power that was lost. Sharing my story is one of the ways I have been able to heal, and by speaking up I hope I can combat the negative stereotypes that victims and survivors face on a daily basis.

It is estimated that one in four college-aged women, and one in sixteen college-aged men have been sexually assaulted; these people are someone’s daughters, sons, boyfriends, girlfriends, sisters, and brothers. Sexual assault is such an anonymous crime – that needs to change.

What can we do to resolve this sexual assault epidemic? First of all, we need to talk about it. Have an open dialogue and not consider it such a “taboo” subject anymore. Sexual assault is something that can affect everyone regardless of race, age, gender, or sexual orientation; anyone can be a victim of this crime. Although men are sexually assaulted in about 10% of cases, they struggle with the same pain, isolation, blaming, etc. that women do, and are even less likely to come forward and report. Including them and opening this dialogue to include everyone, all survivors, is necessary to ensure that sexual violence ends, not only for women, but for men as well.

We cannot continue to hide behind politeness. Victims are being shamed into silence. They are afraid to report or disclose what happened to them because of they way their school, peers, and the media portrays other victims and survivors. In 80% of sexual assaults on college campuses, the victim and the assailant know each other, either as acquaintances or friends. Victims are afraid of making waves within their own friend group by reporting. It is imperative that we speak up, empower ourselves and become survivors. Sexual violence in this day and age is not acceptable.

Colleges have a legal obligation to keep students safe, and to provide a working, learning, and living environment where students feel respected. Colleges need to address the sexual assault epidemic, more than any other institution because it is an epidemic, more common on college campuses than in any other institution. Despite the large number of women and men that are being sexually assaulted on college campuses, it still remains the most underreported crime of any crime, and is only reported an estimated 3-5% of the time. I have no complaints about the way my university handled my case. They listened to my story and expelled my assailant. However, I know I am lucky. I am grateful that I was able to finish my time at my college without my assailant sharing the same campus as me. Some universities would like to ignore bad publicity around “rape” or “sexual assault” allegations. Unfortunately failing to act only exacerbates the problem. Perpetrators remain on campus and are sent the message that their actions have no repercussions. That does not mean those who have spoken up and have been ignored should give up. For more information on how to have accusations be taken seriously by your campus go to

The way society treats victims and survivors is also imperative to changing the culture surrounding sexual assault. The most important thing we can do to support survivors on campus and in the larger community is to believe them. Victims of sexual assault feel like their power has been taken away and when they report their assaults, or confide in friends or family, they are attempting to regain that power. Do not ask unnecessary questions. After my assault I was asked questions by friends that made me feel even more ashamed. Why were you there? What were you wearing? Had you been drinking? Why aren’t you crying? I was in shock and the reality of the situation is that every survivor goes through his or her own emotional healing process. President Obama’s #ItsOnUs campaign is revolutionary in changing the way people treat survivors. We need to make society a safer and more supportive place for survivors to come forward. It’s on all of us to create a culture where violence isn’t tolerated and where survivors are supported. This can be done by never, ever blaming the victim for what happened.

Most importantly, the way we can resolve this is by preventing it. I have a unique perspective on how we can do this. It is not our responsibility to not get raped. We do not prevent this by changing our clothes, carrying pepper spray, knowing self-defense, carrying whistles, etc.; that responsibility lies with the rapist. However I do think that we can change the statistics, lower the numbers of assaults per year and increase the number of reported assaults. The typical college-aged serial rapist will rape six times before he is first reported. I personally know that my assailant had sexually assaulted three women in his first year at UCLA before he was caught, there may have been more. But I know that there never will be more victims by that man because I spoke up and reported him. I held him accountable for what he had done and ended his chain of violence. This is how victims and survivors prevent this, by preventing this from happening to someone else by the same assailant.

Rape is not about sex, it’s about power. Victims feel like they have lost their power. One of the only ways to regain this power is to speak up, empower yourself, hold this person accountable for what they’ve done. Don’t ever be shamed into silence. Don’t ever let the actions of another person affect the person you want to become. That is when you become a survivor.

Show Some Love on Valentine’s Day

Bree (at right) with her mom and sister

Bree (at right) with her mom and sister

Before I get into the real reason for this blog, I just wanted to introduce myself and say thanks for stopping by our page! My name is Bree Morse and in January I was fortunate enough to be crowned Miss Orange Coast 2015. I’m excited for the year that lies ahead of me and to have the opportunity to share my experiences with you (you can follow me on Instagram at @missorangecoast)!

Valentine’s Day is soon approaching, and whether or not you have that “special someone,” there is probably a part of you screaming “Great. What do I do now?” Most likely, there’s also part of you hoping that an admirer will send you a special delivery of a 5lb box of See’s Candy. At least I’m guilty of both of these thoughts. In all actuality, Valentine’s Day was not always associated with secret admirers, flying babies with a bow and arrow, and excessive amounts of confectionery hearts. Originally a religious holiday, it wasn’t until the 1300’s that the holiday became associated with romance. In the 1840’s, along came mass produced Valentine’s Day cards that would soon establish February 14th as a prominent consumer holiday. I can’t imagine that they had the One Direction valentines at that time, but the tradition of letting someone know that you care about them has carried on ever since.

Don't forget your favorite Valentine-themed clothes!

Don't forget your favorite Valentine-themed clothes!

For as long as I can remember, Valentine’s Day has been one of my favorite holidays of the year. Every February 14th my sister and I would wake up even earlier just to have our mom French braid a heart into the back of our heads as we wrote out valentines to our classmates (One year I had Lisa Frank cards with matching pencils. At that point I thought for sure my life was made). After leaving the house with the perfect hair-do, it was off to school to pass out your notes of admiration then to see what you received in return. There was nothing better than the feeling of untying the yarn holding closed your craft-time mailbox to see kindness and compassion of your peers spill out onto your desk (the candy and pencils weren’t bad, either).

To this day, I cannot overstate the importance of making the holiday special for those you care about. My mom doesn’t French braid my hair in the mornings, but on that day I still find every single heart-adorned accessory and clothing item that I own to show my love for Valentine’s Day. So this year, regardless if you’ll be going to a fancy dinner with your Valentine or if your special someone is your cat (let’s face it, my cat Stanley is quite a catch), challenge yourself to go out of your way to let someone know that you care about them. It’s a kind gesture as simple as telling someone they look nice, that they made you smile the other day, or even giving them that prized Lisa Frank pencil. Although the 5 lb box of candy will definitely not be turned down, it’s the essence of Valentine’s Day that makes it so special – to love, and be loved. Who could pass that opportunity up?!

All my best,
Bree Morse
Miss Orange Coast