Megan Gold, Miss Oklahoma
Guest Blog Post – Megan Gold, Miss Oklahoma
Growing up, my grandpa was my hero. On an afternoon visit to his house, my family discovered he was eating Vienna sausages and M&M’s for dinner. My grandma had passed away, and Grandpa was no longer able (or motivated) to make himself nutritious meals. Grandpa, like many seniors, hid his struggles from us. My family made a call to the local mobile meal program where there was a waiting list of over 800 seniors. I knew it was time to get involved not only for grandpa but for other seniors in similar situations.
Despite the large waiting list, the mobile meal program offered to help in any way possible. While they couldn’t provide hot meals, they were able to provide Grandpa with frozen meals. Of course, my family was so grateful. Soon after, volunteers delivered the first batch of frozen meals. “Mr. Wilson, how do you plan to heat up the meals?” they asked. “I’ll just put them on the stove,” he said. Grandpa was quickly moved to the top of the list and became a recipient of a hot, nutritious daily-delivered meal. But I still wanted to help make a difference. I began delivering meals alongside my family to give other families the same peace of mind our local mobile meal program gave us.
Grandpa passed away a few years later, but his legacy has lived on. At 13 years old, I watched the Miss America Competition and was inspired to begin competing in scholarship pageants. I entered a local competition in my hometown and was required to declare a “Social Impact Initiative” or something I wish to bring awareness should I win the crown. While I didn’t win that time or the time after that, I knew who I wanted to advocate for- people like Grandpa.
This past June, after nine years of competing, I was named Miss Oklahoma 2022. A dream come true not for the crown but for the opportunity to make a difference.
Since I was 13 years old, I have volunteered with my local mobile meals program. I have cherished the friendships and memories made with the seniors I have met. However, as Miss Oklahoma, I have a unique opportunity to elevate the issue of Ending Senior Hunger in communities across Oklahoma and the country at the Miss America Competition in December of this year. To date, I’m the first candidate to declare Ending Senior Hunger as my Social Impact Initiative on the national stage.
The job of Miss Oklahoma is filled with lots of driving (40,000 miles across Oklahoma in a year!), speaking and meeting people of all ages. Nearly every day, someone mentions the importance of my Social Impact Initiative and their personal connection to the issue. Many are grateful for a mobile meal program that took care of their loved one in a time of need.
I’m proud to help amplify the voices of those fighting on behalf of our seniors during my year as Miss Oklahoma. Each and every day, volunteers across the country knock on the doors of our seniors. Along with a nutritious meal, they provide a much-needed wellness check. This gives our seniors something to look forward to and encourages them to continue taking good care of themselves. These volunteers, along with my friends at the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, are the true heroes. They are on the front lines of this issue every day, working to ensure our seniors are not forgotten.
This issue affects all of us. We all know a senior, and we will all age someday. Our seniors deserve our help; they deserve to age well, living independently in their homes. They took care of us, now it’s our turn to take care of them.