As part of the community service requirement for 2015 Arizona Princess, Zoephia Decker-Knealing, to attend NAM Nationals in 2013 as an All-American contestant, she started a new PJ & Book drive for kids in need for Pajama Program. In her first drive, she collected around 500 items, including cash. Zoephia was inspired and wanted to do more, so along side her home, she started a foundation, and called it Zoephia Foundation (Zoephia’s name means bringer of light and wisdom). They focus on literacy projects like reading at shelters but Zoephia also reads and volunteers in the lower grades at her school. They also do used magazine drives for shelters and continue to support Pajama Program with their annual pajama and book drive every fall. They have also been working on a PJ & Book Fun Run. Thus far, Zoephia and her mom have donated 1000 items, including cash to Pajama Program and are one of their largest supporters in Arizona. Last year, Zoephia received an award and a personal phone call & email from the Founder & President of Pajama Program, Genevieve Piturro.
On Tuesday, August 4th, Zoephia invited the other Arizona queens to participate with her at Read-to-Me. UMOM Read-to-Me is a weekly event where volunteers can sign up to read to homeless children serviced by the UMOM New Day shelter after dinner. This time helps kids get much needed reading time and gives their parents time to work on job skills or attend other programs at the shelter. We were also met & joined by Lucia Wheele who is the Arizona Director of Pajama Program. 2015 Arizona Pre-Teen, McKenzi Lindhag, Teen Alondra Mitchell, Jr. Teen Vanessa Strait, and Princess Zoephia & their “momagers” got to read to kids. While there are tables to sit at, volunteers can also sit around the room on blankets and the kids come in after dinner and join the readers. The kids often prefer the blankets. The pic with the table of books are the books the girls were able to hand out for kids to take home. Many of the books are ones donated by the finalists who competed in the Arizona NAM State Pageant. School supplies were also distributed. Kids were able to take home 3 books that evening!