The Goodwill of Mrs. America and Mrs. Hawaii

Mrs. America 2011-2012 Lara Leimana Fonoimoana - and Goodwill’s GLAM! Squad Volunteer.

Here she is, Mrs. America - Lara Leimana Fonoimoana.  She epitomizes humility and a grateful soul.  In 2011, she ran for Mrs. Hawaii as a gesture of goodwill  - to encourage a healthy lifestyle and actively fight to end Childhood Obesity.  Lara won the Mrs. Hawaii crown and was the first runner-up in the 2011 Mrs. America pageant.  She was genuinely happy for April Lufriu, who won the Mrs. America crown.  Her platform brought attention to The Foundation Fighting Blindness a publicly supported charity raising money to fund research for macular degeneration and other diseases.  When April was chosen and won the title of Mrs. World, the very deserving Hawaii-resident, Lara Leimana Fonoimoana became Mrs. America

Lara has done many events as a model/spokesperson & GLAM! Squad Volunteer and here’s what she had to say;

What does Goodwill mean to you?

Lara – Goodwill is a place that I can always count on to find the items that I’m looking for that is within or under my budget.  Having two young children, I know how much money is spent on clothing and how fast they go through clothing.  My children are fortunate to have lots of cousins that allow us to recycle a lot of their clothing, but sometimes we either have duplicate ages or gaps between the kids and Goodwill is such a wonderful alternative to getting affordable clothing.  I also feel so much better knowing that when my children have outgrown their clothes and there is no family member to give it too, Goodwill is always the place I take it too knowing that there is another family that will find use for it.  There have been many items that I have donated that were gently used or not even used at all, and many times when I shop at Goodwill I find the same gently used clothing donated from someone else.  I love the fact that shopping there helps programs that support youth-at-risk, adults with disabilities, Pacific Islanders, people coming off of welfare and joining the workforce and post-incarceration individuals.

What does the Mrs. America crown mean to you?

LaraI feel incredibly grateful to have been crowned Mrs. Hawaii and then crowned Mrs. America.  It was my first pageant that I ever did and I was very proud that my husband was the reason for me pursuing the crown.  He pushed me to enter and supported me through the journey.  The night I was crowned, my daughter’s eyes beamed with pride and I knew right then and there that our lives were going to change. The platform that I took on as Mrs. Hawaii was Health and Fitness with a mission to end Childhood Obesity.  Having the Mrs. Hawaii crown allowed me to go into communities and work with State and local programs that believe in the same values as I do.  I now have the opportunity to speak to young children about the benefits of fruits and vegetables in their diets and it seems as though my voice has been strengthened with the help of the crown and banner.  The Mrs. America crown has opened more doors and will allow me to bring awareness to communities across the nation.  My plan is to take my local program that I am putting together called “Shake it Up” and take it national and hopefully global.  “Shake it Up” incorporates the Polynesian dance as a form of exercise and the use of raw shakes as a form of nutrition.  I realize that without the crown and banner, I may have not had all of these opportunities to work with various charities and to speak to the youth about Health and Fitness.   I am truly grateful for the Mrs. America title and look forward to making a positive difference, even if it just impacts one person!  

[note: Lara will be mentoring GLAM! Squad volunteers in support of the event - Bank of Hawaii presents Goodwill Goes GLAM! Talent Showcase & Treasure Marketplace which takes place in August, 2012.  Visit www.higoodwill.org for more information.]

Gov. Abercrombie places the Mrs. Hawaii crown on Shana (top left), Sarah Tenney VP of Marketing Communications & Development and Amanda Stevens (The Goodwill Hunter), PR & Communications Manager congratulate Lara and Shana (bottom left), Amos Kotomori (designer & pageant expert) and Gov. Abercrombie with Lara and Shana (right)

When Lara became Mrs. America, Mrs. Hawaii first runner-up, Shana Peete became Mrs. Hawaii.  This is truly monumental as Shana is the first African-American to be crowned Mrs. Hawaii.  Shana, a talented attorney, has done a number of events as a model/GLAM! Squad Volunteer.  We had the pleasure of interviewing Shana.

What does being Mrs. Hawaii & being a part of Goodwill’s GLAM! Squad mean to you?

Shana - What a pleasant surprise it was to be honored with the title of Mrs. Hawaii.  I’m proud to represent our great state and bring to light causes I’m passionate about such as the work of Goodwill Industries of Hawaii. I have worked as a mentor to women in the past (conducting credit counseling and job preparation workshops at a halfway house for soon-to-be-released inmates) and appreciate the job placement services Goodwill provides among so many other services. In 2011, I was fortunate to aid in a [Goodwill] fundraising Fashion Show in Hawaii and another in California.  It was fun and felt so good to help the community.  I look forward to more experiences like this and more chances to work with Goodwill.

(Editor’s Note – Goodwill’s mission is helping people with employment barriers to reach their full potential and become self-sufficient.  Learn more at www.higoodwill.org.)