Miss Victoria dedicates time, resources to children
Jan. 23, 2014 at 8:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 22, 2014 at 7:23 p.m.
Miss Victoria Emilia Ureste said she learned a valuable life lesson while fulfilling her platform - when life gets hard, don't give up.
Because Emilia, 17, wants to be a neonatal nurse in the future, she'll be heading to Texas Tech University in the fall to begin working toward her degree. She dedicated her platform to children and chose to work with South Texas Assessment and Referral Services.
The clinic serves children born prematurely as well as children with developmental needs. The clinic, which is run by Dr. Marisol Ortiz, works with children from as early as birth through the critical neonatal period and then follows up with care at the center.
Emilia, who was crowned Miss Victoria in July, arrived at the clinic Thursday afternoon with several boxes of toys and more than 90 books - all wrapped in cheerful paper and bags. The gifts lined an entire wall inside the center as Emilia passed out a few packages to children at the clinic.
While everything worked out in the end, Emilia said getting there wasn't as easy. The Victoria East High School senior said she originally wanted to leave donation bins inside of a few local stores, but the stores were not willing to help.
"I could have easily changed my platform and done something else, but I stuck with it," she said.
"It was hard."
Emilia said she didn't want to disappoint the clinic or the children, so she continued to seek donations.
With an idea from her mother to instead reach out to other organizations, Emilia teamed up with the Decora Study Club. The club donated several books to the cause, as well as $100 for Emilia to purchase toys. She also received a book donation from a church friend.
"It was such a big relief that someone wanted to help me," she said. "It was like the light at the end of the tunnel."
Ortiz said the books and developmental toys are a vital part of the program. She said the toys help children work on movements, such as grasping and touching. She said playing with the toys is therapy for the more than 600 children the clinic serves.
"You would not believe how much better the kids do when they use the toys," she said.
Emilia said the entire process solidified her desire to work with newborn children.
"It's really strengthened it," she said.
As for pageants, she said she is not as sure about continuing once she starts college.