Since before the 1940s, the Ladysmith Ambassador program has enriched the lives of young women in the community.
This year, that custom continues with 16 program participants who, during the next five months, will be engaged in local events, and participate in skill building activities.
Program co-ordinator Lauri Virtanen has been involved with the Ambassador program for seven years.
“It helps them to have a better understanding of the community and to get into that volunteer spirit,” she said.
“It’s not a beauty pageant. It gives them that confidence when they go for job interviews, sometimes it makes them step outside the box and try something they didn’t think they’d ever do and leads them onto another path.”
The Ladysmith Ambassador program is open to all girls ages 16 to 19 and runs from September to April.
During that time the girls are sponsored by local businesses and clubs to participate in valuable programs like Toastmasters, and spend dozens of hours in community service.
At the end of the program, three participants are chosen as ambassadors, and will not only go on to represent Ladysmith for the following year but receive a $650 bursary, made possible by the Ladysmith and District Credit Union.
Virtanen said program organizers are hoping to one day offer a $1,000 bursary. The ambassadors are chosen by a committee that has no prior knowledge of who they are. The girls are judged on poise, talent, speech, and through a one-on-one interview.
“They’re looking for someone who they feel will be a great representative to the town of Ladysmith, someone they feel is genuine,” Virtanen said.
The ambassadors will hold their annual fall fashion show on Nov. 8 to raise money for the program.
Each of the 16 potential ambassadors will walk the runway in everything from prom dresses to PJ’s to thrift store duds.
“It’s just a fun night for the girls to get out, there’s no judging,” Virtanen said.
The fashion show takes place 7:30 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church.
Tickets are $10 and can be picked up from the candidates or Grants Jewelers.