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A pageant with purpose

SOUTHERN CRESCENT — Young women encompassing Henry and Clayton County high schools and middle schools strutted their best attributes at the Performing Arts Center, in Jonesboro, on Sunday evening.

The girls were competing in a pageant but it was not your ordinary pageant. The motto for the evening show was Miss Lady of Favor “Overcoming the Odds” Scholarship pageant, sponsored by Ladies of Favor, a Southern Crescent faith-based mentor group.

Each contestant had to stand before a five-judge panel and convince them why they were worthy of the title. The girls were judged on their poise, articulation, ensemble and talent. For each category, they could receive a maximum score of 90 points. The ultimate grand prize was a scholarship to attend the college of their choice. The winner will get the scholarship money in the middle and at the end of her reign.

“For some of the girls, this is the first time they've ever competed in a pageant,” said Rae Oglesby, public relations chair for Ladies of Favor. “We wanted to do something in honor of our sixth year anniversary and something that would be positive for our young girls to see.”

The show opened with the young women wowing the crowd with a dance number to “I Smile” by gospel artist Kirk Franklin, followed by the business wear category.

Each contestant wore a sash that represented her personality and favorite color. Contestant Amirah Sharif, 16, a sophomore at Forest Park High School, received a standing ovation for her spiritual stance, “My goal is to start a youth ministry for high school students, because I’m not ashamed of the gospel!” The crowd went into an uproar.

Former state Representative Yasmin Neal and V-103 radio personality Princess Monique hosted the program.

Ladies of Favor was founded by Gabrielle Starr, and is a nonprofit, faith-based mentoring program established in 2007. Starr said her goal was to reach out to young women of all ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations and make a difference in their lives.

“There are so many young women who are out here hurting and they just need to know someone is in their corner,” Starr said.

She added her program's mission is to provide a family-oriented support system to disadvantaged females ages 12 through 21 to get them to embrace spiritual growth, increase self-esteem, promote abstinence and improve their leadership skills.

“I am very proud of all the girls. I have seen their journeys and their transformation has been remarkable,” Starr said. “All the young ladies exemplified excellence. This pageant will get bigger and better each year. Every lady will aspire to be a Miss Lady of Favor.”