The 35th Ms. Mature Irving pageant rehearsal was held at the Heritage Senior Center on Friday, Sept. 22.
The pageant celebrates the beauty, personality, and energy of senior women. Each year, ladies ages 60 and older are invited to join the competition. By the end of the pageant, someone “young at heart” is selected to represent the city of Irving at special events while also representing senior women in Irving in a positive light.
During rehearsal, the contestants practiced their stage walks and speeches. This year’s 35th annual Ms. Mature Irving pageant has four contestants.
Alene Ford is originally from a small, rural town in East Texas. After moving to San Antonio, she studied pre-health and sociology, and became Miss Black San Antonio. She moved to Irving in 1999 with her husband and son.
Alene recently completed training in Baylor Scott and White’s faith-based caregiver program.
“We go into senior homes that are isolated,” Ford said. “We talk to the seniors, or we may take them to the drugstore. This is something new for me, but I do enjoy community work.
“I’ve always been an entrepreneur. If I don’t have a job, then I will create one. Throughout my life, I had a restaurant, a thrift store, and a deli.
“When I moved [to Irving] I became active in Bear Creek Community Church. I am currently a director of the Green Door ministry where I produce fundraising for back-to-school supplies, uniforms, and whatever else. I also offer year-round services for the community of Irving at the Green Door Ministry.
“I still have a lot of hobbies that I want to do. I am still enjoying and exploring things around Irving. I want to write a book and cookbooks. I still have some things that are still in me.
“My best friend [Marilyn Wolford] won last year, and she kept insisting that I should join this year. It turns out that I would like to encourage other people in my age group,” she said. “We can still inspire other people by doing things like exposing ourselves and letting other people know that we are viable people that can be helping the community.
“I want the opportunity to give somebody else inspiration.
“I’m most excited to be among other people that will be cheering for us during the pageant. I was here last year when the crowd was cheering, and it just seemed like a happy place,” Ford said.
Susan Wiese is the youngest of nine children. She has five children and eight grandchildren. She was born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama. She moved to Irving 31 years ago.
“For the pageant, I will be singing. I was encouraged by the winner of Ms. Mature Irving 2016, Marilyn Wolford,” Wiese said. “She saw me at the concert I was in for Veteran’s Day. She came up to me and told me that I was ‘Ms. Personality and you need to be in my pageant.’
“My husband told me last year that I should also do the pageant, and because I had two people encouraging me to join the pageant I said, ‘Okay, I think I will.’
“That’s the reason I decided to join. I believe that happiness is a choice, and we should choose it. Loving is a choice, and if we do that every day, then we’ll be happy.
“I just want to do my best, and if I’m elected, I want to serve Irving to the best of my abilities. I want to promote the city in a professional manner,” Wiese said.
Monica Walters was born and raised in Kenya. She has been living in Irving for 17 years, and has five children and nine grandchildren.
“I am a caregiver,” Walters said. “I’ve worked in nursing homes and many other places. I am retired, and most of the things I do involve helping the church, the Holy Family of Nazareth.
“I love to travel and doing aerobics in the pool. I also love giving service to people.
“I decided to join the pageant because one day when I was walking to the swimming pool, Pat Davenport stopped me and told me about the pageant,” Walters said. “I didn’t even know what a pageant was, so I told her that I couldn’t join what I didn’t know. She talked to me and told me to just come and have fun, and that’s how I ended up here.
“I’m excited, because I am going to dance in front of a lot of people. If I win, I want to work with people to see and help with the future of the community and how it can be improved.
“I think for now, it’s a great opportunity being here in front of people and doing whatever we can. We want to encourage people to know how to lead together. We should serve one another and that can make us go a long way.
“Service to me is necessary. If somebody needs help, I will find a way to get involved. Serving was my main job before I retired. As a caregiver, I would help patients do whatever was difficult for them to do. Serving others means everything to me,” Walters said.
Louise Childs is originally from Alberta, British Columbia.
“I was in it once before, and I enjoyed it. I came in second. My friend who had been a winner in the past encouraged me to join the pageant again,” Childs said. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people. I love performing in the community theater.
“I came to Irving about 20 years ago. I ran a daycare, and I had 38 kids that I looked after.
“Before retiring, I use to do work for the provincial government. I did this for about 30 years. When my daughter told me that she was going to have a child, I made the decision to move to Texas with my husband.
“I’m mostly excited for the thrill of performing in front of the audience, getting to know all of the ladies, and meeting nice people,” Childs said.
Sponsored by Heritage Senior Center of the City of Irving Parks and Recreation Department, the pageant will take place at the Irving Arts Center on Oct. 6, at 7 p.m.