“This is our sixth year of hosting and from the very beginning Tranquility House was chosen,” said Regina Wheeler, deputy director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We were asked to provide a list of local charities to [Pageant Coordinator] Kim Greenwood and, of course, there are a lot ... of [organizations] that do a lot of great good in this community. But Tranquility House really stood out because of its specific service and reach to women.
“A lot of times women find themselves in situations where they have the need for Tranquility House, [when they are] in a domestic situation that’s gone bad. With the pageant happening in November, it just happened to be a really difficult time of need for Tranquility House. A lot of people, of course, give to Bartow Christmas and other charities for children without thinking that there are moms who sometimes have to escape during the holidays and they have their children with them. And these are people who kind of fall through the cracks. So it just kind of made sense.”
As the Miss Georgia USA and Miss Georgia Teen USA pageants begin tonight, audiences will have the opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice Award, where they can support their favorite contestant as well as Tranquility House.
“The People’s Choice is a contest where the audience can go out during intermission and can vote, $1 per vote, for the girl that they think is just a standout,” Wheeler said, adding last year’s People’s Choice Award garnered more than $1,000 for Tranquility House. “So it’s just a unique award to be chosen by the audience and they’re going on beauty or perhaps it’s the lovely dress that she wears. But it really gives people an opportunity to vote for their favorite and then it does a great good. It’s amazing what a dollar or two can do for a charity like Tranquility House.”
Formed in 1985, the domestic violence center and its shelter meets the needs of women and their children by providing a safe environment for them to temporarily stay and work toward future goals like securing housing, education or a job, if needed. Typically, the individuals reside at the shelter for 30 to 60 days, during which a support group, legal advocacy and community resources are at their disposal. While men who are victims of domestic violence are unable to reside at Tranquility House, they are provided with other shelter options.
“We’re always honored that they choose us as their charity and they have again this year,” said Sandra Bruce, executive director for Christian League for Battered Women. “I think it is a wonderful way for them to give back to women. It shows women that are possibly in the situation like our ladies that they can aspire to do anything.
“The contestants donate items to us and we also get money from the votes for the People’s Choice. It just warms my heart,” she said, referring to the contestants’ desire to contribute items ranging from toiletries to clothing. “They are such generous, loving women. Beauty is within and this just proves that these are beautiful women inside and outside. They are just lovely and they are so giving and so generous to us each year.”
Tonight and Saturday, about 100 young women will vie for crowns in the Miss Georgia USA and Miss Georgia Teen USA pageants at the Woodland Performing Arts Center. According to Greenwood Productions’ data, Angelique Lewis is Bartow County’s sole representative for the two contests.
In the pageants, contestants will be evaluated equally in three categories: interview, swimsuit and evening wear. The winner of the Miss Georgia USA competition will advance to the Miss USA pageant, the precursor to Miss Universe. The Miss Georgia Teen USA winner will compete in the Miss Teen USA pageant.
Seats will cost $35 for the pageants’ combined preliminary show today at 7 p.m. The final shows, which will cost $40 each to attend, will be conducted Saturday at 3:30 and 8 p.m. for the Miss Georgia Teen USA and Miss Georgia USA competitions, respectively. Admission will be half-price for youth ages 13 and younger at every show.
Tickets can be obtained at the Performing Arts Center prior to each competition or by calling the Cartersville-Bartow County CVB this morning at 770-387-1357.