Councilwoman Judy Waldman gathered three very special young ladies to honor them for their superlative contributions to their communities and recent wins in local Beauty Pageants. Although originating from a variety of cultural backgrounds and age groups, these three young ladies’ common bond is their commitment to public service and a future that looks increasingly bright.
The first young lady so honored by Councilwoman Waldman during a special presentation at the April City Council meeting was Katelyn Bourke, 17, a junior at Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School and a Miss South Florida Outstanding Teen 2014 winner. Having competed in pageants since she was six years old, Katelyn is no stranger to the spotlight and her desire to pursue a career in the dramatic arts best expresses that. Katelyn’s mother, Nancy Bourke, has a unique connection with Councilwoman Waldman as both have been challenged with breast cancer. “She’s going through a tough time right now,” said the councilwoman, “but I will be there helping her in the fight every step of the way.” Appropriately, Katelyn’s platform is Breast Cancer Awareness where she serves as Student Team Development Chair for Homestead Relay for Life and she is also very active with Bosom Buddies, a breast cancer support group.
Another young lady whose hard work and community involvement has earned her recognition is 18-year old Crystal Raquel Ruiz, freshman at Miami-Dade College and reigning Miss Homestead 2014. She has had the distinction of having been awarded the 2012 Homestead Citizen of the Year Representing the Future, the 2013 President Barack Obama Volunteer Service Award and several commendations from the City of Homestead to name but a few of her impressive credentials. Crystal is also the founder of her own charitable organization known as “Crystal Care Packages,” which, through donations, provides a week’s supply of new school uniforms bundled in a backpack to needy students in Homestead. Crystal will be representing Homestead during Miss Florida 2014.
The youngest of the three, 12-year old Sonya Gale Griffitts, serves as Pageant Princess to both Katelyn and Crystal. Sonya’s parents, owners of Homestead Transfer and Storage, play integral roles in the councilwoman’s charitable efforts by supplying boxes for her annual toy drive as well as having donated a truck for the Hurricane Sandy Relief Drive in 2012. The 6th grader at Ammons Middle School is in the IB program specializing in French and is an unabashed animal lover and, as such, aspires to volunteer in animal rescue. Due to her age, her princess duties will come to an end but her journey to become the next Miss Homestead Outstanding Teen and beyond is just beginning.
“We have before us today, three extraordinary young women that possess the grace, poise and dedication to make a positive impact in whichever community their journey in life takes them,” said Councilwoman Waldman. “They are true role models in our community.”