Bess aims to mentor girls

FAIRMONT – For Charity Bess, wearing the crown and title of Miss Minnesota International is just a part of the job description.

Bess did not get to be a Girl Scout, but she is enjoying her time as a troop leader and incorporating it into her Miss Minnesota International platform.

“My dad was in the military growing up, so we moved around a lot,” Bess said. “I’ve lived in Germany, Seattle, North Carolina, New York City, Memphis … So we were never in place long enough for me to get involved with a troop.”

Bess met with area Girl Scouts on Friday afternoon in Fairmont, and was also the presenter at the races at the Fairmont Raceway on Friday evening. Today, she will appear at the grand opening of Ivy Blu in downtown Fairmont.

Mentors have played a big role in Bess’ life, and now she wants to pass that on.

“I met the CEO of the River Valley Girl Scouts and they said they were looking for more adult volunteers,” Bess said of how she became involved with Girl Scouts, which was shortly after relocating to Minnesota from New York City.

“I was studying the performing arts. I did some commercials and off-broadway performances, but I came to the University of Minnesota to finish my journalism degree,” Bess said. “I also have a sister who lives here, and I wanted to be closer to my nephews.”

It was in Minnesota that she also got involved with the International pageant system.

“This is my first pageant system,” Bess said. “With the International system, I get a chance to work with the community; that’s one of our duties, and I like that about this pageant system.”

Much like other pageant systems, Bess needed to win for her county, then became Miss Minneapolis International before winning Miss Minnesota International in March. In July, she will represent Minnesota in the national and international competition in Chicago.

“There will be about 50 to 55 women throughout the country and world, and they all have different platforms, from breast cancer, to abuse, and mine is mentoring. But these are all things that affect women.”

Bess’ involvement as a Girl Scout troop leader is the perfect fit for being both a mentor and for promoting positive values for girls.

“I do what I do to empower girls of all ages,” she said. “I specifically chose the younger ages because it gives a chance to build relationships. I remember it was around the third grade when your view of the world started changing … As these girls become women, they learn that they won’t be friends with everyone, but there are mentors that can be really great friends in the future.”