VOLUNTEER OF THE WEEK: Buys goes from pageant queen to the volunteer scene

Published 8:00 am Sunday, March 27, 2022

This week’s Vicksburg Post Volunteer of the Week is Anne Elizabeth Buys, who volunteers with the Miss Mississippi Organization. The Miss Mississippi Organization is part of the Miss America Organization, a competition that not only showcases each candidate’s talents but also their leadership skills, communication skills and their intelligence. Buys is a native of Vicksburg and is a 2019 Summa Cum Laude graduate of Mississippi State University with a degree in Broadcasting. She is currently a Public Affairs Specialist and Outreach Coordinator for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg. Her faith is the number one thing in her life as she actively serves in her church on the worship team at her church and as a youth leader. She enjoys serving her community and being involved in philanthropic work and helping to enrich the lives of those around her. 

How did you hear about the Miss Mississippi Organization?

The Miss Mississippi Organization has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I haven’t missed a competition since I was 2 years old. My father, Mark Buys, is a former Executive Director and my mother, Judy Buys, is a former contestant and Fourth Runner Up. Miss Mississippi has just always been a part of our lives. Every year, my extended family would come for “pageant week,” and we’d all attend, or, if I was in it, they’d all come to watch. We’d go to the show, come home and recap the night, and then on the final night, my dad would record the show on a VHS and we would come back after the after-party and rewatch it. These nights usually ended around 4 a.m. after we had talked and laughed until our eyes closed. It’s just been a tradition — a tradition that just continues to get sweeter.

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How long have you been volunteering with this organization?

In 2004, I was a Junior Dancer in the Christmas show. A few years later, I was a princess in the competition, then I began to compete in Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen in 2010, became Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen in 2013, was a dancer in Miss Mississippi the following years, competed in Miss Mississippi in 2016 and 2017, and after serving as Miss Mississippi in 2017, I came on board to the production side of things. It truly has been a wonderful and rewarding opportunity to give back to the organization that has given me so much! From writing the script, running stage right, to being Miss Mississippi’s right-hand girl the first morning of her reign, every moment has been special in every way.

What is your favorite memory while volunteering with the Miss Mississippi Organization?

I truly have two! The first would be getting to see my sweet, beautiful cousin Gwendolyn experience being a princess for the first time. She was too young at the time when I was Miss Mississippi, but a few years later, she was able to take the stage and I was able to be with her all week and watch her shine. Seeing her enter the organization is one of the ways this experience brought so much joy to my heart. 

My other favorite memory was actually the Sunday morning after this year’s pageant. I was asked earlier in the week to meet the new Miss Mississippi that Sunday morning and meet the press and assist her between interviews. It turned out that Holly Brand, who was Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen the year I was Miss Mississippi, won and I was able to spend that first morning with her. I truly have been able to watch her grow into an incredible young woman and for things to come full circle like that was so special. 

What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?

I firmly believe that we are placed on earth to serve others and give back. Many times, when people think of this, they think that going to the extremes is the only way to give back or make a difference, and that’s not always true! People are able to make a difference right where they are. One incredible way to give back is by simply volunteering for something like Miss Mississippi. This is an organization that transforms the lives of young women and has been doing so for decades — and what makes this organization is the people — people who give their time, expertise, wisdom, advice, passion, and money to make it what it is. If they have passion for something or want to know more about it, just reach out to the pageant office or me and we’d love to tell you more. My advice would be to not hesitate or question yourself. You’d be a part of an organization that empowers young women and through their Social Impact Initiatives, they’re making a difference in thousands of people’s lives, and that in my opinion, is priceless.

What are some of your tasks while volunteering with the Miss Mississippi Organization?

There are truly so many jobs. There is absolutely something for everyone. Production, technical aspects, wardrobe, catering, “errand runners,” sponsoring, you name it. So if someone is passionate about the arts and wants to jump in on the production side, come on. If someone is more on the tech side, there’s a place for them. If someone is interested in fashion, they can assist with wardrobe. If someone wants to be a part of providing meals, they can do that too. If someone wants to be a hostess for a contestant, they’d be in for a treat. There is just truly something for everyone. 

What have you learned from volunteering with this organization?

I have learned that giving back is the most rewarding thing. I have learned so much from this organization. I’m so thankful that the Lord chose this to be a part of my path as He has molded me in so many ways through it. I’ve learned the value of service. Serving others is one of our greatest callings. Making a difference in people’s lives is invaluable. And through the organization, I’ve been able to do just that. Through my platform, Water for Life, I’ve been able to meet the needs of others locally and globally by providing the gift of clean drinking water. While the crown has been put away and I am no longer competing, people are still drawing water from a well in India, and that’s why I continue to volunteer. I volunteer to help keep this organization moving forward and to play a vital role in motivating and encouraging young women to make a difference, give back, chase their dreams and never back down from what they know they can accomplish. 

Any additional comments?

I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has played a part in my journey through the organization. You all have touched my life in countless ways and you showed me what a leader in the organization looks like — and I strive to make the same impact on others the same way you have me!

If there is a volunteer who should be featured, please submit their name and contact information to volunteer@vicksburgpost.com.