Name:  WENDI RUSSO

Title:    MRS USA UNITED NATIONS 2016  crowned Mrs United Nations 2016 

Name three words or phrases that best describe you. Supportive, Mentor, Charitable

Name three different words or phrases that you think someone else would use to describe you. Honest, Funny and my husband says I have a good heart-that I want to take care of  and help people

Describe any special talents that you may possess. The ability to see another’s true potential and to encourage them to strive to fulfill their dreams and abilities.  I can sell anything in 4 minutes or less.  I’m creative and have a flair for fashion.  I do voice overs part time for infomercials, radio and TV promotional ads.  I can speak for 4 hours straight during my on air TV shows.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why? I would be very organized in my closet because then I could find what I want in an instant!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years and how do you plan to get there? In 10 years I see myself being a leader in my community, continuing my charity contributions with teens and young children, I’ll be at the top of my career in the Home Shopping Industry and living with my family on the water and having a close relationship with God.  I am on that path now- I plan to keep my Faith in God that he has a higher plan for me.

How did you get started doing community service projects and activities? Nearly 15 years ago, I was very depressed and saw a therapist who encouraged me to volunteer to help others.  I believe she was trying to get me to get in touch with my ‘light’, to find the goodness in myself and to find my worth and value by helping someone else.  It worked!  I volunteered as a Mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters and saw this little girl every week and indeed it helped me to find “purpose” and to feel needed in some way.  I’ve been mentoring ever since.

How much time do you currently devote to volunteerism? Several hundreds of hours per year.  At the holidays I had a countdown to Christmas called “25 Days of Kindness” where I found 25 ways to impact my community positively- one each day and posted them on social media with my Mrs USA United Nations sash on.  Throughout the year I make donations to women’s shelters, help with fundraising, mentor young women through Dress for Success, to prepare them for employment or business ownership, participate in fundraising walks for Make-A-Wish for children with terminal illnesses, I help grant wishes to these children, donate toys to the Children’s Hospitals, Mentor through Dress for Success to help women get the support they need to find employment,  I also team up with my daughter to raise money with her lemonade stand for Children’s Cancer research.  We also hold Inner Beauty free pageants at the Boys and Girls Clubs in Minnesota to teach them public speaking, interview and modeling skills—they gain confidence from receiving awards and their own special crown.  I am involved with many other charitable events related to Homeless Teens in Need and Promoting and supporting causes related to Mentoring.

How do you usually find the community service projects and activities that you participate in within your community? I am connected with many charities in my area from over 11 years of volunteering here in Minnesota.  I also find service project from reading the paper, watching the news, through social media and on the internet searching for local, relevant charity events.  If I read of something of interest, I find out how to get involved.  I’ve also created service opportunities from seeing a need in my own community such as the Inner Beauty pageant I created.

What was your favorite community service project and why? Describe what value you think you brought to the project. My favorite community service project has been bringing “The Inner Beauty Pageant” to underprivileged boys and girls in Minnesota.  When donating school supplies to the Boys and Girls Club, the kids there clamored to put on my crown and wanted to enter a pageant.  They wanted to know how much it would be to enter one, I told them over a hundred dollars, and one little girl said “my Daddy doesn’t even have $10”.  I realized that these children would probably never be able to afford to compete in a pageant and miss that opportunity.  Because I feel that all children deserve to feel like Queens and Kings, I decided to create a free pageant for them!

Both boys and girls can participate, and they are judged by local title holders based on  introduction, modeling in an outfit of their own choice, and interview with the judges off of their paperwork.

Every little girl wins a crown, but they vary in size based on their placement.  I emcee the pageant, ask for crowns donations, collect trophies and prize donations, and each child is made to feel like a Princess and Prince!  The directors of the Boys and Girls’ Clubs have given this program accolades as a wonderful learning experience for their children and as a confidence booster for their kids.  I plan to continue holding them throughout the year in different locations. After each program, parents approach me saying this pageant has helped their child’s self esteem and confidence, which is the most valuable thing that I could have accomplished!

How do you plan to use your title to help others within your community? I plan to        continue my outreach to help children feel valued, special and with a purpose in life- as a

Mentor, Speaker, Volunteer and Advocate for Mentoring.  I want to encourage adults to “Become an Everyday hero and Mentor a child”, helping to change just one child’s life for the better.  Having an adult care for them, support them and make time for them, shows a child they are valuable- it can give them the confidence they need to achieve their true potential and greatness as adults.  If our youth are supported they will grow into healthy adults and become productive citizens with the ability to transform themselves and the communities where they live.  I plan to continue bringing attention to the need for mentors with Dress for Success program, Big Brothers Big Sisters and encouraging young men and women to find mentors in their lives and in their careers.

Describe why you think you would be the best representative of the Mrs. United Nations Pageants LLC as Mrs. United Nations 2015? I feel I would be the best representative for the Mrs. United Nations Pageant because I look at the Mrs. United Nations title as an opportunity to promote Mentoring Internationally and I plan to bring continued attention to the Mrs. United Nations title and to the United Nations pageant via social media and my appearances here in the United States. The United Nations pageant needs someone with high visibility and a positive role model to represent them to grow this system in the US and I will make the most of the title with charitable work which is the mission of the United Nations Pageant system.