Belle Vernon woman named Mrs. Pennsylvania; targets child bullies
Rebekah Foringer never feared stepping up when it came to protecting youths, even if it meant she herself was sometimes bullied during her public school years.
“I was the type who, when I would see someone not being nice to someone, I would step in and say, ‘Leave them alone, back off,'” Foringer said. “I realize it takes an awful lot of guts to do that, and sometimes it puts you in the cross hairs to be bullied too.”
The new national Mrs. Pennsylvania is still helping bullied children fight back.
The North Belle Vernon resident has chosen Childhelp, a national agency which advocates for the prevention and treatment of child abuse, as her platform organization for her reign.
“It's something we can bring more to light,” Foringer said. “We need to educate the parents that this is occurring, and to educate that children it's okay to come forward.”
Foringer said Childhelp “kind of fell into my lap.”
She sells Origami Owl Custom Jewelry, a company that has partnered with Childhelp.
“Being a teacher, it breaks my heart when I hear of things like this happening,” Foringer said. “I want to make sure all kids are safe. My goal is to educate the community as well as involve the community.”
Based out of Arizona, Childhelp develops curriculum for schools to educate teachers and students on child abuse and views bullying as a form of child abuse, Foringer said.
“Their goal - and my goal – is to start a chapter of Childhelp in Pennsylvania.”
Foringer said she hopes to recruit such organizations as the Greater Rostraver Chamber of Commerce, the Belle Vernon Area School District as well as local Lions and Rotary clubs to get involved.
One prerequisite for being named national Mrs. Pennsylvania is to have past pageant experience.
She served as Mrs. Pennsylvania United States in 2007 and has competed in pageants since 1994.
She was recommended for the national Mrs. Pennsylvania by officials in the pageantry industry. After a series of interviews, she was chosen for the state honor.
Foringer will compete in the national pageant Aug. 5-9 in Williamsburg, Va.
The contestants will compete in the evening gown competition, fashion sun wear, photogenic competition and interview process before a panel of judges.
And the talent competition?
“Once you're married, they considered if you're able to juggle job, children and marriage, that's talent,” she said with a laugh.
The winner of the national competition will represent the pageant across the country, promoting her platform issue.
Having won the state award, she has already made appearances at the Washington Township Firemen's parade, the parade for Perryopolis' bicentennial and served as pageant coach at Attitude in Motion dance studio in North Belle Vernon at its recital.
She also participated in a national Webcast for the pageant industry, along with two other pageant holders, talking about her platform.
“It's been an amazing honor,” Foringer said. “It's not like other pageants I've been involved with. It's based on promoting positive pageantry.
“They are very supportive of whatever our platform is. You can be a beauty queen, wife and mom.”
Foringer teaches technology education at Neil Armstrong Middle School in Bethel Park.
She previously taught wood shop for nine years.
Since the district's technology education program was redesigned, she has taught robotics for the past four years.
“Everybody says, ‘A beauty queen who teaches shop?”' Foringer said.
She takes that same do-it-yourself mentality home with her.
“We put a second floor on our home and we remodeled numerous rooms in our house” Foringer recalled. “I was pregnant with her daughter at the time. My mom and mother-in-law threatened to duct tape me to a chair because I so wanted to do something and they said, ‘But you're eight-months pregnant.'”
Foringer married her husband, Randy, in 2002. They have a son Andrew, 9, and a daughter, Avianna, 3.
Nearly 20 years after graduating from Belle Vernon Area High School in 1995, the 37-year-old pageant queen still is youthful looking.
“I was attending the Stroll on the Avenue (in North Belle Vernon) at Checker's Boutique and one woman said, “You can't be Mrs. Pennsylvania, you must be Miss Pennsylvania.'”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.