By Nicole Renard
Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2013
Hey friends!! I hope you are all doing well. Thank you so much for reading this! I just got back from another amazing trip from one of my favorite places in the world Mobile, Alabama. My days there were spent doing lots of things every single day and I’m so excited to share them with you all. When I arrived in Mobile I was able to attend Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s Day of Service at the Parkway Senior Center and help chop down a tree! Sandy is the newly elected Mayor of Mobile and instead of having an Inauguration party he wanted to spend his time renovating this site. What an example of a servant leader!
On Sunday we all got dressed up for the Distinguished Young Women’s Annual Fundraiser, Sunday Night Sensation, where we had a wonderful meal prepared by Chef Filippo Milone. He even took me back in the kitchen! The live auction was so much fun and we ended up raising a lot money for Distinguished Young Women. My dear friend Jean Elizabeth Miles, the Distinguished Young Woman of Alabama, came all the way down from Auburn to surprise me, so it was a joy spending my evening with her and all the other Distinguished Young Women family.
The rest of my week was full of sponsor visits! I traveled all over Mobile county delivering goodie baskets and taking pictures with our sponsors. Putting faces to the names was so nice and it was incredible to meet the people that have supported this program for so long. In the evenings I would bake with my host family, which you all know is my favorite thing to do. All the Distinguished Young Women board members got to try my tasty treats at the Meet and Greet we had at the headquarters one night.
On Saturday, I woke up bright and early for my official photo shoot with FusionPoint Media. We shot the Holiday card photo and the cover of next year’s program book! I won’t give it away but I will tell you to get excited because I LOVED the pictures! Huge thank you to James Edward for doing my make up, Carlisha Hartzog-Bagsby for being my personal stylist and Seth Laubinger for taking the beautiful photos. After the shoot I was off to New Orleans with my host family! They are so good at making sure I get the best experience every time I come to Mobile. We started off having beignets at Café DuMonde. YUM! I made the mistake of laughing right when I took a bite and powdered sugar went EVERYWHERE! I had it all over my face as well. Everyone could tell who the tourist was at my table. After we did some shopping and walking around I had a true taste of New Orleans with my dinner that consisted of gumbo, jambalaya, Creole shrimp and crawfish etoufee. Yum yum and yum. There was a party in my mouth.
Sunday started all of the Veterans Day activities. I was honored to speak at the Flags of Glory ceremony at the Mobile Memorial Gardens where I was able to meet the Commander of the new Navy Ship, USS Coronado. Later that evening I visited Bellingrath Gardens with the breathtaking cascading mums and ended the night with a dinner honoring the Veteran of the Year and the Patriot of the Year.
Veterans Day came quicker than I thought and I was a little sad because it was my last day in Mobile. In the morning I rode in the Veterans Day Parade and then attended a wonderful luncheon at Fort Whiting. That afternoon I was able to speak to a couple hundred fourth graders about the Be Your Best Self program and inspire them to set goals and dream big. This was my favorite event! It was at the USS Alabama Battleship. Then my day was over…WHEW! I’m tired just writing about it!
I’m so excited and blessed that I was able to spend so much time in Alabama and get to know all of the sponsors. I am so thankful for their participation and know that none of what we do would be possible with out them. They are the reason I am at the college of my dreams! I can’t wait for Thanksgiving and then I will be going back home for Christmas where I will get to see my family! I know these weeks in between Thanksgiving and Christmas are tough with school but push through and think about how nice it will be to relax once you are on break. I believe in you!! Thank you for believing in me.
Wishing you the warmest and sweetest of holidays,
Nicole Renard is a college freshman at Chapman University in Orange, California majoring in TV Broadcast Journalism. Originally from Kennewick, Washington, Nicole was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Washington for 2013 and the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2013. Learn more about Nicole here!