HATTIESBURG, MS. - This week's Kindness in Action recipient is Bonnie Warren. Warren, a former pageant director, brought the Miss Hospitality pageant to Hub-City in 1979.
“The Miss Hospitality pageant is unique because it helps recognize young women and promote young women who are in leadership roles in their community" says Warren.
Mississippi is the only state to host a Miss Hospitality pageant. Since 1949 its been held in Starkville and on the coast. In the late 70's Warren and many others knew Hub-City could be an excellent host.
She says, “The first year that we had it, I had so many people tell me that they never been to Hattiesburg and they think it’s a great place.”
Warren and other members of the community wanted to showcase the beauty of Hattiesburg as the host-city. Since 1979 the pageant has been held at the Saenger Theater.
“I was just excited because it gave an opportunity for economic development." Warren adds, "It brings I think the numbers now to $450,000 dollars every summer when we bring these young women to town and over 600 visitors during that particular time.”
All the contestants come from different towns, cities, and counties from across the state. They are each involved in their community.
For one week each contestant stays at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and becomes involved with the Hattiesburg community prior to the pageant.
Warren says, “They are caring and giving, and learning to come together for one week, there is just so many things that they are able to gain from being part of this pageant.”
She hopes Hattiesburg, as the host-city, continues to preserve and showcase Mississippi communities across the state through the bright and talented women.
"It makes you want to go to their community, and that is what its all about. I know you think that you have one Miss Hospitality, but really all of them are Miss Hospitality" Warren says.