When meeting Molly Downey, Minford’s River Days candidate, you immediately find a very special young lady with a strong heart for others. Downey’s event was called.,”P. E. A. R. L. of Hope and it was held on May 11.
Molly’s platform is near and dear to her heart, as her family has a little foster sister. they picked her up, when she was just four days old. They got a call and they had to decide whether they could take her within two hours. After a quick family decision, they went to pick up the baby. The Downey family had had foster children before, but it was more the respite family situation, where they keep them for a week or so over the summer. They were approaching time to renew their license and were discussing what they all felt, and that is when this opportunity came about for them. Downey says that some people think that she is like a little clone of her, it was as she says, “meant to be.”
By being a foster family, Downey says they had seen all the issues that these kids have, “we’ve got to help these kids, it was like a ‘knock’ on our hearts, because of the tragedy of these kids in Scioto County. Right now, there are probably, they say, 240, but I would say we are pushing 280, I can’t say that exactly, because it raises up daily. Right now, we only have 26 foster families, but I recruited eight from my event.”
Downey’s event was called The P.E.A.R.L. of Hope, Pray, Educate, Accept, Reach Out and Love. “I had five speakers on each acronym of Pearl and it pertained to them some type or way that really meant something to them. Pray, was Rob McKinney, who is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church and he runs the foster parent organization for Scioto County, where foster parents can meet up and get advice from each other. Educate, was Judge Alan Lemons, and I became really good friends with him and his court system, I’ve actually been sitting in on court cases with kids, and seeing behind the scenes. Accept, was Andrea Bowling, a teacher at Minford and she has two foster kids and she found out she is going to have to give these kids back and she has to accept that fact. Reach-out, there were two speakers, Kenya Johnson, the Costa Director at the Scioto County Courthouse, where she works with a kid and she follows them for a couple of years and talks to them, spends time with them and this helps give the kid a voice in court; and Tiffany Justice, from the CAO (Community Action Organization), she talked about the mentor-ship program and how you can reach out and help them get jobs and such. Love, was Lori Davis, from the Bear Hug Effect, she spoke about how her nephews came to them and how they came with their trash bag. Because, whenever a child is removed from home, they are given a black trash bag to put their belongings in, if they have any.” Downey added about the Bear Hug Effect that those backpacks have comfort items for preschoo,l all the way up until they are 18. Stuff, she says that will uplift them, when they are removed from their home, give them something that they have ownership. “Most of them go to school and they don’t have what they need and I wanted them to feel the same, that they are no different than the other kid.”
Downey continued, “Everything I did, was with money raised, I did not have to take anything out of my pocket. The event was like a dinner/discussion and the first speaker, McKinney, spoke on the letter P. and then he blessed the food. Smokin’ Joes made the food, so everyone had a big meal, then there was a silent auction and there was an amazing turnout and I think I raised over $1,500 at the auction. There were over 150 people at my event, every seat was full. I also, got donations from people out of town, like COSI and Alabama Theatre, just to auction off and the proceeds go to the kids in our county. That money went back to the Bear Hug Effect. I collected over 50 backpacks on my own, I went and spoke at some churches and they donated them and I even collected diapers and strollers, because I was really impacted, when we went to get my little sister, they only had a blanket and a crib, but by the time we got home our porch was full of items from our community. But, I wanted someone who had to go, to be at ease and get these things when they pick up the babies.” Downey will continue to collect backpacks and money through the summer, as it is such a passion for her.
One of the more unique things that Downey did at her event, was she had each of the River Days’ Candidates, do something called ‘Art for a Cause.’ Downey says, ”Each of them got a canvas and each of them did a drawing of what they wanted to paint. They drew whatever they wanted on it and I, actually sent it to a company and they auctioned them off and all the proceeds went back to foster kids nation wide.” She said that she and her pageant mom found this activity on the internet and that Dr. Cynthia Hamm in Minford, sponsored this project and all the essentials it took, to carry it through.
“I delivered everything to the Bear Hug Effect. One thing I learned from this, is every kid is special and they all have to have a different environment. Some may need a family that don’t have any other foster kids and others may need a place that have other kids in the home.”
Downey spoke, “There were just a few other girls from Minford that ran for Miss Minford and each of them could have easily done a great job. At Minford, the kids vote and you actually did an interview like at River Days with adults, and I already knew what my platform would be if I was chosen.” Downey has been a varsity cheerleader for four years and also a varsity four year single player in tennis. “I started playing, when I was six.” Her freshman year, she played on the boys’ team, due to scheduling conflicts, but has since been on the girls’ team. She also belongs to the Bible Club, Spanish Club, Art Club, and the Math Club, until she began doing post-secondary education.
Downey’s aspirations for her future is to major in early childhood education, following her mom’s footsteps and other family footsteps. She did say it is what she has been around all her life, but that after being in Judge Lemons’ court, being in law could be her second choice. She says that she has enjoyed doing the Miss River Days things, but that if you didn’t enjoy it, it would not be fun, because of all the things they do before the pageant and parade. She absolutely loves it. She has drawn the country theme for her float, and is calling it, “Nashville meets Minford.” And, she is dressing up like an older county singer.
Downey, along with most of the other River Days’ Girls, have chosen great platforms this year and will put the judges at the pageant to the test, in choosing one of them. Downey seems to have what a lot of people call a ‘heart of gold,’ good luck to her and all the girls. Downey has a Facebook page, like the other candidates: Miss Minford 2018
Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928