Each month, the Pocahontas County Family Resource Network offers an ABC – About Babies and Children – program, where expectant mothers and mothers with children under the age of four can go to receive education, training and care packages.
The program’s purpose is to strengthen and support families and help prevent child abuse. Program materials and care packages are funded through the Partners in Prevention grant, and when the grant was delayed, FRN employees grew worried.
“It normally doesn’t take this long for the grant to come in,” FRN coordinator Becky Campbell said, “so when it did, we began brainstorming ways that we could supplement it.”
It was as they were brainstorming that Miss Heart of the Community pageant director Shawn Smith offered to help out.
On Saturday, February 6, 2016, girls from across West Virginia will gather to take part in the Miss Heart of the Community pageant, and as part of their $10 entry fee, contestants will bring donations – such as diapers and baby wipes – to contribute to the FRN’s ABC care packages.
In order to receive the care packages, mothers must attend monthly classes, which last about forty minutes and cover a variety of topics – including breastfeeding, CPR, nutrition and the stages of relationships. During the month of April, a guest speaker from the Pocahontas County Family Refuge Center joins the conversation for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“We try to really key in on what these girls are interested in and what they want training in,” Campbell said. “You can tell by the feel of the room whether they’re interested or not. If it’s a class they’re interested in, you hear a lot of conversation.”
The majority of the mothers are food pantry customers, and one nutrition class – Quick, Cheap and Healthy – helped show the mothers how they could make six healthy snacks and/or meals for their family without having to spend a fortune.
The FRN works to accommodate working mothers, as well. If a mother is unable to attend class because of work, FRN employees are able to meet with them and go over the materials.
Following the discussion, mothers take a five minute survey and receive their care packages at the end of each class.
On the day of the pageant, the entry fee donations will be arranged into an animal display, and the contestants will compete in Valentine’s Day-inspired dresses, gowns and outfits. The pageant will consist of eight age divisions, ranging from younger than age one to age 15, and a Queen and a Princess will be crowned in each. Two Supreme Queens will be crowned among the 0 to 4 and over 5 contestants, and awards will be given for Prettiest Eyes, Hair and Smile; Most Beautiful; Best Personality; and Best Fashion.
The Miss Heart of the Community pageant will take place Saturday, February 6, at the Marlinton Municipal Building. Registration opens at 11 a.m., and the pageant begins at noon.