Fifteen women will take to the stage Thursday, competing for the crown and title of Ms. Pasadena Senior.
Among them, there are business owners, a professional clown, aerobics instructors, a ballroom dancer, a music video actress, an aspiring author and a computer instructor.
Between them, they have countless hours of charitable work and a long list of affiliations with churches, universities and community service groups. Their ages range from 64-94 years old.
At the end of the evening, a new Ms. Pasadena Senior will be crowned. With the title comes a $500 cash prize, a specially-designed pendant valued at more than $2,000 and other prizes. The new queen will also represent the city at community events throughout the year.
Meet the contestants:
Beverly Koronet, age 88
Philosophy of Life: My philosophy of life is to be positive or help others to be so. I wear silly hats and outfits and tell funny stories to make people smile and laugh.
Once, I visited a nursing home in clown makeup. I found residents staring with empty eyes, silent, moaning, crying and screaming. Then they saw me, and suddenly they were laughing, shouting with glee and smiling. Their sadness was forgotten. The next day I visited without the makeup, and they remembered me and smiled and laughed. Oh, the power of laughter, and the magic of a smile!
Volunteer Work: Goodwill Ambassador for the new residents at Brookdale, work at Temple garage sales and Dress for Success
Community Involvement: Help with synagogue services, supply cake for Brookdale Church service, supply cookies and cake for children's activities, give bagels to residents, supply items to Interfaith Caring Ministries (donations)
Special Interests/Hobbies: Read, dress up in character for special functions
Olivia Dehart, age 94
Philosophy of Life: I was one child out of 15 in my family, and although having a big family was fruitful, I couldn't help but want to discover more about myself later in life. So, I found myself infatuated with all types of beauty. Through my long journey we call life and a lot of penny pinching, I was able to open my own beauty salon, Olivia Hairstyling, in 1960. The salon was my passion, but nothing filled me with greater happiness than working alongside my daughters. My journey could not have been possible without my deep faith in God who gives me strength. My faith deepens with each day as I turn 95.
Special Interests/Hobbies: Playing cards and canasta
Sylvia Ramirez, age 79
Philosophy of Life: I was born and raised in a very destitute environment and saw at an early age the loving affection people showed by helping each other with their daily problems.
I decided then to practice Jesus' commandment "Love one another, as I have loved you." Leaving behind self-interests, I find my heart full of joy and love for other people. It doesn't mean doing something that others regard as pleasing; it means doing what you love that makes others happy. I have always conveyed love in whatever I have done and get my strength from the joy of the Lord.
Volunteer Work: Church activities - take friends, grandchildren, and neighbors to doctor's appointment.
Community Involvement: Saint Juan Diego Church, Madison Jobe exercise class.
Special interests/hobbies: Singing, dancing and gardening.
Katie M. Herranen, age 92
Philosophy of Life: I have a positive outlook in life and a zest for living. My deep faith in God has enabled me to walk through adversity with courage in life. I have a love for people which brings me joy. My love for dancing has been revived by taking ballroom dance lessons each week. My journey in life continues to be enriched by my everyday experiences and love of life!
Volunteer Work: Have taught Sunday school at church.
Community Involvement: Longtime supporter (30+ years) and involved in activities of the Bayfest fundraiser in El Jardin neighborhood.
Special Interests/Hobbies: reading, listening to music, Ballroom dance lessons.
Irene A. Benavidez, age 73
Philosophy of Life: My philosophy in life is the mnemonic "GRACE": G for God the Almighty, whom will see you through all things in life; R for Responsibility, which you should always take for your actions; A for Accepting what we have no control over; C for Capturing all the precious moments; and E for Elegance - you always want to present yourself well, for it is how you will be remembered.
Volunteer Work: Husband's caregiver for 10 years - Retired early to take care of husband.
Special Interests/Hobbies: Sewing, gardening, crafts, cooking, collection dolls, dancing & playing with grandchildren & great grandchildren.
Alice Moore, age 82
Philosophy of Life: Learn from the past. Then let it go. Don't worry about the future. It will take care of itself. Live each day as best as you can. It's a gift. That's why it's called the present.
Volunteer Work: St. Peter's / San Pedro's resale shop manager
Community Involvement: Church song leader, water aerobics instructor for Providence Town Apts. and East Harris County Senior Citizens Center.
Special Interests/Hobbies: St. Peters / San Pedro's Church - senior mobility and an avid reader.
Laura Tant, age 78
Philosophy of Life: I choose to see each day as having the possibility of fun, happiness and rewarding experiences, and I ask God for guidance in relationships and decisions. Loving and being loved is very important to me, as is forgiving and being forgiven. Showing respect for others, as persons of worth, always opens doors. When facing life's sometimes harsh realities, I choose to work for the most positive approach and solutions.
Volunteer Work: Data entry for attendance at First United Methodist Church on Fairmont, Secretary of Deepwater Neighborhood Association
Community Involvement: Very involved with Church and Sunday School at First United Methodist Church on Fairmont.
Special Interests/Hobbies: Traveling, reading, bookkeeping for husband's business, dancing.
Sharon Billingsley, age 64
Philosophy of Life: My philosophy in life is to be the best mother, aunt, sister, grandmother and great grandmother that I can possibly be. I believe that family is a gift from God, so I strive daily to be there for mine, each and every day. My only hope is that I have instilled the love of family in my children.
Volunteer Work: Played music and sang at nursing homes
Community Involvement: Member of the Pasadena Music Club at Madison Jobe (sang there) and sang at churches.
Special Interests/Hobbies: Playing the guitar, fishing, dancing, pod, crocheting, and vacationing.
Delores Elaine Schoeneman, age 70
Philosophy of Life: I believe in my country. I have attained wisdom through helping others by the love of God. Just as men and women serve in the military, we all serve in different capacities. From childhood through adulthood, we can all serve, regardless of circumstances. I believe in respecting our armed forces and our American flag. My prayer is that our Lord God's face shines upon America and blesses all of us.
Volunteer Work: Visiting the sick in the hospitals and homebound and also calling neighbors and friends.
Community Involvement: The church, Madison Jobe Senior Center, and Pasadena Music Club. I like to help distribute food, and I am prayer chain participant.
Special Interests/Hobbies: Music, dance, exercise
Juanita Washington, age 67
Philosophy of Life: Become a dreamer, and go after your dreams. Set goals to achieve your dreams. I want to instill into my two children and six grandchildren that they can accomplish anything that they are willing to work hard for. Do not give up on your dreams; they set the tone for the way you live your life. Believe in yourself, Believe in your dreams. But most of all believe in God! God is very present in all areas of your life.
Volunteer Work: I work heavily in the church with the homeless and those in need of spiritual guidance. Provide Sunday morning breakfast for children, the homeless and to the women's shelter.
Community Involvement: Attend Care Chapel Mission, Sunday school teacher, choir member and mission president.
Special Interests/ Hobbies: Singing, reading cooking and couponing. Also helping out my children and grandchildren
Valnetta Rae Gwin Spann (Val), age 74
Philosophy of Life: At this stage of life, I thank God for the many blessings I have received by giving back to the community as much as possible. For example, I teach basic computer skills to seniors, which helps them to adapt to modern technology' hopefully making their lives more fulfilling. I also do clown performances for children; I incorporate into my act messages that will hopefully help them lead a good life. These messages include "Say No to Drugs" and how important it is to "Attend and Do their Best in School."
Volunteer Work: Computer instructor for seniors in their homes since 1987, and at Madison Jobe Senior Center since 2007; beauty pageant judge.
Community Involvement: Member of Parkwood United Methodist Church, wedding coordinator, choir member and occasional soloist, volunteer at retirement and nursing homes.
Special Interests/ Hobbies: Recently acted in a music video for up and coming band from La Porte. (Buxton - Miss Catalina). Working on writing a book about my great-aunt Valanta Eggert: Head of Houston's censor board, suffragette, first woman juror in Texas and possibly in the USA in the 1920's. I do clowning, face painting, magic and balloon sculpturing for various local events, i. e. children's birthday parties, grand openings and special benefits.
Esperanza Rodriguez, age 65
Philosophy of Life: No, I am not aging; I'm getting more experience, not only in life, but in knowing myself better. My parents used to say, "Do good in school and get smart!" For 12 years of school, I was recognized for perfect attendance and being an honor roll student. Yes, I still went to school with a headache or stomach pain. But I pulled through. Today I'm blessed with lots of support and love from my wonderful husband and family. I help others with problems. I had a landscaping company for six years, a limousine company for 12 years and a wrecker toll company for three years. Today I'm in the medical field. I give Jesus all the credit for everything.
Volunteer Work: Going to Ronald McDonald House in the Medical Center, playing games with cancer children, dancing with them, cooking and reading, spending quality time with them. I enjoy opening hearts to people teaching the word of Jesus. I've enjoyed volunteering, mentoring, helping my sister Janie with children in Atascocita Elementary School. This school is for children with special needs.
Special Interests/Hobbies: Reading the bible, teaching aerobics, dancing and having family gatherings. I also love shopping and traveling.
Gail Karasick, age 69
Philosophy of Life: "Live...Love...Laugh and be happy" are lyrics taken from the song "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along." The older I get, the more meaningful life becomes. I live life each day, not being afraid to try new things or experience life to its fullest. Loving each day is important to me, as there are no guarantees for tomorrow. Laughing often with friends and family keep me young and happy to be alive. I share my days with others, living, loving, laughing and being happy, and I put my faith in God to handle the rest.
Volunteer work: Working with the Girl Scouts Fundraising, pass out roses during "Random Act of Kindness" week.
Community Involvement: Attend St. Thomas Church. Participate yearly in Alzheimer's walk and other functions.
Special Interests/ Hobbies: Enjoying my granddaughters, quilting and audio books.
Teresa B. Burkholder, age 69
Philosophy of Life: Welcome to my world of faith, love, hugs and miracles. As long as I can remember, I have lived by faith. Faith has carried me through the most difficult storms in life. Love others even when our hearts are broken. Spread joy and laughter making the world a better place. Sometimes a hug makes all the difference for we never know what others are going through. Every day is a miracle. Life goes on.
Volunteer Work: "Saddle Up for Jesus" founder, church events, organizing and volunteering in numerous fundraisers for a number of different organization, helping the elderly and infirmed, Prayer online ministry volunteer.
Community Involvement: Christ the Good Shepard Catholic Church, Ronald McDonald House, Girlfriend's Gala, Ambassador Greeter and Entertainer at Mardi Gras Special People's Ball at Moody Gardens, Fundraiser Red Nose Day.
Special Interests/Hobbies: working at my ranch, horses, designing my own clothes, sewing, antiques shopping, painting as an artist, writing, dancing and country music.
Betty O' Bannon, age 88
Philosophy of Life: When I wake up every morning, I am so richly blessed. I love to pass my blessings to someone else. It is something you can share. You can speak to someone, smile or have a cup of coffee. I love to help the unfortunate. You never know what struggles they are going through.
I enjoy each day God has given me. It gives me more blessings to help someone on their way. It is truly more blessed to give.
Volunteer Work: Highlands Community Center, drove for the American Red Cross
Community Involvement: American Red Cross
Special Interests/Hobbies: Also known as "Miss Minnie" when I used to perform onstage with my husband who has since deceased, going to Opry's, enjoying country music, and watching my grandkid's sports.
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