Miss New York CMN Fundraising Results!

The results are in and were tallied by the Miss New York Organization on Thursday, and I’d love to share the success of my Children’s Miracle Network Fundraisers!

During the month of March, I ran a raffle ticket fundraiser for a family four-pack of tickets to an Orioles vs. Yankee game in April. I loved the idea of combining my Maryland roots with my New York City home by a baseball game that had both cities’ teams! I had a great response from friends and family that bid on the tickets, and the winner was my lovely hairdresser!

In April, I hosted a Karaoke 4 Kids fundraiser at Keats Bar in NYC. Combining my love for singing (and karaoke!) and raising money for a worthy cause made it that much more fun. I loved singing with some old friends and some new ones I met that night! On top of the wristbands I sold for an extended happy hour at the bar, Keats Bar was very generous and donated a percentage of their bar sales to my CMN fundraiser as well.

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I am SO pleased to announce that with both fundraisers, I was able to reach my CMN fundraising goal of $500! Thank you to all my friends and family, as well as generous patrons, that helped me reach my goal and donate to such an amazing cause.

If you would still like to make a donation to my Miss America CMN Fundraising Page, please follow this link:  http://www.missamericaforkids.org/Donate/stephaniemeadowcroft

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Music & Memory in Rolling Stone Magazine

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Like myself, Elvis Costello first witnessed the power of music with his grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, as he discussed in an article by Kory Grow for Rolling Stone magazine…

“The experience of dementia and Alzheimer’s in my family has given me a chance to appreciate how the elusive and fragile mechanism of memory can be attended and even ministered through music,” Costello says.

His story parallels with my own story again, when he experienced the power of music a second time with his father, who developed Parkinson’s-related dementia…

“At times when little else penetrated his torments and distress, it was music rather than spoken word that reached him,” he continues. “On a few occasions, he emerged through an apparent fog to state the identity of a singer or gather a tune in a voice that was still surprisingly melodious and true at a time when his speech was reduced to a hoarse whisper. In the end, his passing was accompanied by a recording of his favorite song by his favorite trumpet player, Clifford Brown, an incredible piece of chance and mercy that would stretch credulity if written in a fiction.”

Music & Memory founder Dan Cohen appreciates the insights in Costello’s story.  He goes on to cite a Brown University study and share some of his experiences and hopes for the future of healing through music, acknowledging what I have experienced…

“Live music is better for the interactivity, for the spontaneity and being responsive to the audience, and recorded music is great for people in the middle of the night or on the weekend when no one is around,” he says. “Right now, every room has TV sets. That was never a problem. So why can’t every person have their own music?”

For me this article was self-affirming. I love finding articles and sharing other peoples’ stories of how music has affected their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Take a minute to read it and let me know what you think.

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/elvis-costello-talks-personal-reasons-behind-new-alzheimers-psa-w465152

Music & Memory in Rolling Stone Magazine

 

Healing Throughout the Hospital: Brooklyn Methodist Hospital

On Wednesday, April 5 I met with Adele Tonge, the Program Manager of the Educational and Volunteer Resources at New York Presbyterian – Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. After completing an application to participate in their Sparks of Life Program, I was invited in for an interview to discuss volunteering for this wonderful program.

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What is the Sparks of Life Program? In order to “fan the flames of healing,” volunteers share their talents with hospital units, whether it’s performing or sharing projects and stories. Volunteers can interact with patients on the pediatric, rehabilitation, geriatric and acute psychiatry, and oncology units. This program directly aligns with my platform, as well as The Foundation for Art and Healing’s Initiative: Healing Throughout the Hospital.

After speaking with Adele about my previous experience performing in nursing homes for over 14 years, as well as my passion for sharing music with those who need it most, I am excited to announce that I will be performing at Brooklyn Methodist Hospital on May 9th at 2 pm!

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I will have the chance to go around to different hospital units as Miss Greater NYC and share songs and personal stories with patients. I couldn’t be more excited to be branching out into a hospital setting and aiding in the healing process. Stay tuned for a blog about my experience after the performance!

For more information or to get involved with Sparks of Life, visit http://www.nyp.org/brooklyn/volunteer-opportunities/volunteer-programs/sparks-of-life-program

For more information on Healing Throughout the Hospital, visit http://artandhealing.org/initiatives/

Bringing Music Back in Their Lives

There is a lot of compelling information about the benefits of music for the elderly.  I have been a believer since 2001 when my grandmother came to live with us.  While there is a lot of research on this topic, I like to share personal experiences; my evidence that music is a beautiful thing that can awaken a part of the mind that’s been sleeping.  Too often that sleeping mind is left in solitude because it is thought to be unreachable, but it is not.  I’ve seen time and again how a familiar tune can awaken a sleeping mind and create a pathway to memories that appear to be lost.  How often have you yourself heard a song from your past that takes you right back to that moment in time?

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My favorite part of the performances I do is witnessing this transformation: To see a once drooping head lift – if only for a moment – as a tune carries them to another time, or when I begin to hear a hum in the room as they begin to sing along.   It feels good to know that I can make a difference in someone’s life, and these are the things I would like you and your loved ones to experience.

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These experiences of mine sparked an idea…the next time you visit your parents or grandparents play a few songs on your phone.  Search names like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, or my personal favorite George Gershwin.  Not only will the music fill the quiet air but if you watch you’ll see the ever-so-subtle change; a look in the eyes, a movement of the lips, or even a tap of the toes.  Making this a habit each time you visit will enrich the time you spend together.  And remember to be patient, and enjoy these moments because they were patient with you once upon a time.

If you find a way to bring music back into their life, you will bring life back into them.

**If you have an old iPod laying around load it with some of those songs, and please, if there is a nursing home in the New York area that you know isn’t yet utilizing the Music & Memory program – contact me, I’d love to talk with them about it!

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In Memory of My Dad

Early in the morning on February 20th, my dad passed away. I thank God that I made it to Maryland from New York in time to see him, to give him hugs and kisses, tell him I love him, and sing his favorite song one last time, “Oh Shenandoah.”

Sharing this with the world is highly personal, and some might ask why I would share the details of my dad’s passing with the Internet. But you could also ask, why even share the personal details of his battle with cancer at all?

My dad told me to tell his story, to use it to inspire my platform for Miss America. He wanted his story and our family’s story about our experience and struggle with his cancer known, to help other people in any way that it could.

My dad’s cancer diagnosis made me grow up a lot in the last two years. It helped me discover what was most important to me: My family. It also helped me discover the second most important thing to me: Music. I’m thankful for how I was able to marry the two most important things in my life together; to make something beautiful out of a heartbreaking situation.

That’s what I believe my dad would want me to continue to do, and that’s exactly what I will do: make music with my voice to bring about peace, joy, and happiness. To create a ray of hope where one might have been missing before.

I will continue to live out my platform in memory of my dad who fought his cancer so fiercely because he loved my mom, sister, and me more than anything in the world. My dad made my dreams his dreams. I’m going to pursue our dreams to their fullest extent, whether it’s on the Miss America stage or a Broadway stage, a nursing home or a hospital.

My voice will be heard, and I know he’ll be listening.

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Sponsors, Sponsors, Sponsors…Getting My Fitness On!

 

One of the most amazing aspects of the Miss America Organization is the community involvement.  Not only the good work that the titleholders do, but the support provided to the local and state organizations by the people and businesses throughout the community…our SPONSORS!

I remain in awe of the generosity shown toward the Miss America Organization.  Our sponsors’ selfless donations toward the all important scholarships, as well as preparations for titleholders to move forward and compete at the next level is inspiring.

When I won the title of Miss Greater NYC I became the recipient of a fabulous prize package because of this generosity.  In addition to a $1,000 cash scholarship to put toward my student loans I also received an amazing preparation package which includes 2 fitness sponsors to help me get in tip-top swimsuit shape.  Not only does this help me be my best, but also gives me the support needed to win additional scholarship money and ultimately capture the Miss New York crown!  So when I say I love our sponsors I mean it!

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305 Fitness [www.305fitness.com] has provided us with an extensive fitness package to get our hearts pumping with cardio classes!  I’ve already been a few times and I absolutely love it, hands down the most fun I’ve had working out!  (think Zumba meets Circuit training with a live DJ!!)

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The DogPound [www.thedogpound.com] is providing personal training sessions and even boxing classes! They train Victoria’s Secret models and Olympic athletes, so needless to say I’m expecting to be whipped into shape by the awesome workout regimens they’re going to teach me. I can’t wait to give it my best shot!!

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I think it’s safe to say I’m in good hands and will be ready to rock the swimsuit portion of competition at Miss New York this May.  Win, lose, or draw, the Miss Greater NYC Organization, the Miss New York Organization and my body thank these two fabulous fitness sponsors.

Did I mention I Love Our SPONSORS!!

#missgreaternycmao  #mgnyc  #missnewyorkmao  #sponsorshoutout  #Dogpound  #305loud

 

 

 

 

Here’s to the Best Year Yet!

On November 12th I won my final local title with the Miss America Organization.  After nine years the thought of “final” is bittersweet, but let’s focus on the sweet…I am thrilled that my final journey toward the Miss America crown will be spent representing the greatest city on earth and competing for the title of Miss New York on May 28, 2017!  Until then there is much to be done; from supporting sponsors, to competition preparation, to the ever important community service.

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If you’ve had a chance to read through some of my blogs you know that one of the points of the Miss America crown stands for service.  In that vein, my first service event as Miss Greater NYC was to visit 80th Street Residence, which I actually scheduled before winning Miss GNYC and talked about in my previous blog.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to share A Ray of Hope and the Miss America organization with this vibrant community.  They have asked me to return and I’m looking forward to making 80th Street a regular stop on my journey, and beyond!

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On my next stop, in mid-December, I had the privilege of helping collect donations for Toys for Tots at Rockwood Music Hall with my sister queens and the U.S. Marines!  The NYC Holiday Benefit was a huge success, collecting close to $4000 worth of cash and toys, all of which goes to local children in the New York City community to help make their Christmas brighter.  This is the second time I’ve helped with this special event and I can’t think of a better way to experience the giving spirit of Christmas!  I’m already looking forward to next year when http://www.nycholidaybenefit.com  will celebrate their 10th Anniversary!!

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So stay tuned, I plan to make this the best year yet!  And watch for my next blog where I’ll be sharing information on our fabulous Miss Greater NYC sponsors!

        Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Great News!

I found a wonderful place on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to begin sharing A Ray of Hope!

Devoted entirely to dementia care, the 80th Street Residence is an Enhanced Memory Care facility where I will begin visiting and performing in December of this year!!

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The 80th Street Residence is partnered with Music and Memory and the Alzheimer’s Association, both of which I have been involved with for many years.  [ read:  Miss America Serves: Music & Memory and May is for Music & Memory: Fundraiser Results! ] I look forward to strengthening my ties with these organizations as I build my relationship with 80th Street Residence!

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The focus of my participation with 80th Street will be within their “Therapeutic Recreation.”  The programs they have developed provide ongoing opportunities for exposure to music, arts, culture and peer engagement, all of which align perfectly with A Ray of Hope!  As I discussed in Miss America Serves: Music & Memory, the importance of these programs and activities in seniors’ lives, in particular those with cognitive difficulties, should not be underestimated.

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I’m so excited to get started!  Once my foot is firmly through the door I plan to bring a few of my super talented friends with me.  I truly believe once you experience the joy of sharing your gifts with others you’ll be hooked, as I was so many years ago!

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You can read more about 80th Street Residence here: http://www.80thstreetresidence.com

Hello Again!

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since I last wrote a blog, but I’m back!  The past few months have been exciting, trying, and ultimately rewarding as I’ve transitioned from a college student to an “adult!”  A lot has happened, so before I get back on track with the true purpose of my blog I thought I’d post an update.

But where to begin? Quoting one of my favorite musicals, The Sound of Music, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start!

As I mentioned I am now a college graduate!  You think it will never happen but all of a sudden there you are…and the real world kicks in quickly.  When you study Music Theatre it’s not as simple as applying for a job, although I am very grateful to have signed with an amazing agency (shout out to Clear Talent Agency in NYC!).  It involves endless auditions and early morning calls, while also holding down 2 jobs to pay the bills in this crazy, wonderful, expensive city! And let’s not forget the student loans (!!).  But they lead me into update number two…

After graduation my next stop was the Miss Maryland competition.  I cannot say enough about my appreciation for the Miss America Organization; the scholarships I’ve received, the skills I’ve developed, and the commitment to community service it has instilled.  I finished my Miss Maryland experience as first runner-up, overall talent winner, and swimsuit preliminary winner, totaling $4,950.00 to put toward my student loans.  Not bad for a week’s work!

Next up was the great housing hunt.  I had a lovely studio in Gramercy through July which helped ease the transition, but it was nevertheless difficult.  At this point I’m in apartment #2, and hopefully I’ll only have one more move coming up around the holidays.  It sounds chaotic, but where else in the world could you move into a sublet with other actors for a few months and then do it all over again and have that be perfectly normal…did I mention how much I love this city?!

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So there you have it, 4 months tied up in a neat little bow, and now that I’m semi-settled into a routine it’s time to get back to giving back!  I’m looking forward to developing new contacts throughout the NYC area to work on spreading A Ray of Hope and helping others heal through music!  With the change of season there’s been a change for me, and I’m ready to take it on 🙂

 

 

 

May is for Music & Memory: Fundraiser Results!

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Today marks the official end of my “May is for Music & Memory” fundraising campaign through Avon. Many thanks to everyone who purchased beauty items through my Avon fundraiser!

I am proud to say that through everyone’s fundraising efforts, I have raised over $150 and all of it will go straight towards Music & Memory.

What can this money do for the Music & Memory Organization? Here are just two examples:

  • $50 will purchase one new iPod shuffle for a participant at a nursing home or an assisted living facility
  • $10 will purchase an iTunes gift card to fill a participant’s iPod with roughly 10 of their most beloved songs on a personalized playlist

Through any combination of the above amounts, many participants will benefit from the good of my Avon fundraiser. Whether it’s buying three new iPod shuffles for participants, filling existing iPods with 150 new songs, or combining the purchase of both new iPods and iTunes songs, I am ecstatic to know that I made a difference.

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Photo courtesy Music & Memory

I am also working towards making personal recordings of the songs I sing during my nursing home visits to place on participants’ iPods. Through personal experience, I know the songs that residents respond to well. My recordings would be free and allow more money to go towards buying iPod shuffles instead of buying songs.

In the coming weeks I plan to personally deliver my collection of donated iPods, as well as my fundraised amounts to a local facility in Maryland currently utilizing the benefits of the Music & Memory program. Stay tuned!