On Friday night I read the touching and inspiring story of Miss Colorado USA Blair Griffith. Blair and her mother were evicted from their home last November, just a month after she received her crown. This was the latest of the misfortunes the 23 year old has had to deal with.
In an interview with TODAY’s Meredith Vieira, Blair recalls when her life began to take a downward spiral. Eight years ago, when Griffith was in eighth grade, her father, who had encouraged the young tomboy to enter the pageant world, took ill. When he died of prostate cancer, “that’s when things really started to take a downward turn,” Griffith told Vieira.
Soon, the stress of being a single mom to two children took its toll on Griffith’s mother, Bonita; she suffered a heart attack that required surgery, and was unable to work. Bonita Griffith lost her insurance when her insurer declared that the heart attack was the result of a pre-existing condition. That meant that she had to pay her medical expenses, including $800 a month for medications, out of her own pocket.
Blair said that she didn’t know that she and her mother would be evicted until the sheriff showed up at her door. She watched, stunned as the sheriff’s officers, armed with an eviction notice, tossed all of their worldly possessions into trash bags. “It was just very hard seeing everything, all of my belongings, my dresses that I wanted to compete in at Miss USA, thrown into a trash bag and nowhere to be found,” (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/41778312/ns/today_fahion_and_beauty/).
She and her mother are living with a family friend. Of her situation, Blair said, “You do sit there and go, ‘Oh gosh, not again.’ But at the same time I think it’s almost like a test .. to see if you can handle it, and what will you make out of your situation.”
Homeless, Blair now faces the prospect of losing her job at Saks Fifth Avenue when the branch she works at goes out of business next month. Through it all, she has maintained a somewhat positive or at least philosophical outlook. She told Denver’s 9 News, “I have no place to complain about anything that’s going on in my life. There’s so many people that are going through the same exact situation. I hope to inspire people” (http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/miss-colorado-trying-times-20110224-122948-067.html).
Blair is an inspiration to her mother. “I’m just amazed that whatever we have gone up against, she stands there, she handles it and she moves on.”
And she is an inspiration to others. She openly speaks about her circumstances at schools and events. The message here is that no one is immune from homelessness. Circumstances can change and if it weren’t for the family friend who is providing a roof over their heads, it is possible that Blair and her mother would be living on the streets. This is the reason why we cannot look at the homeless and make assumptions or look down on them. I am sure that it never occurred to Blair that she would lose her home.
When I watched the news feature, “No Place to Hang Her Crown” the first thing that struck me about Blair was how she was laughing as she stood in a classroom. You would never suspect that she was going through a tough time. And she has a very positive outlook. She counts herself and her mother as being luckier than many. “We’re doing good by the grace of great friends who let us come in and stay in their homes,” she said. “We have a place to stay right now. Of course, we’re just trying to work to get our lives back together again to be able to afford our own home.”
Right now Blair is busy preparing for the Miss USA pageant which will be held on June 19 in Las Vegas where she hopes to share her message of hope.
“My message when I get there is just that I want to be an inspiration to everyone and show you that no matter the hardships you’re facing, if you stay focused on your dreams and your goals, you can achieve them.”
What poetic justice it would be if this inspiring and aspiring beauty queen were to win the coveted Miss USA crown.