Reed City resident crowned Ms. Senior Michigan 2021

Beth Grothe: 'When my named was announced as the winner, it was disbelief — it was surreal'

REED CITY — Following six weeks of rehearsals and a two hour pageant ceremony where contestants showed their talent, shared their philosophy of life and presented themselves as elegantly as they could to judges and the audience, Reed City resident Beth Grothe was crowned Ms. Senior Michigan 2021 on June 23.

“When my named was announced as the winner, it was disbelief – it was surreal,” Grothe said. “It was a great experience.”

That experience involved going to Rochester every Wednesday for six weeks to mingle with current and former contestants, rehearse the program for the final pageant showcase and practice their talents.

"Every Wednesday, for six weeks, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., we rehearsed," Grothe said. "They wanted you knowing your talent so that you feel comfortable on stage, so when it came show time, you could put on a show. They wanted you in that comfort zone, and with a lot of practice that does come — that confidence.

"It was basically 24 hours of rehearsal and practice and then the following week was the pageant itself," she said. "That was two hours from start to finish. Each contestant went through each of the pieces of the pageant — the talent show, the philosophy and the gown walk."

Grothe said she has entered contests in the past, but the thing she loved about this particular one is that it is for women over 60, and it requires a talent rather that a swimsuit competition.

“I’ve done pageants before and they never had a talent portion,” she said. “I’ve never felt that comfortable in a bathing suit, so when this opportunity came up, I checked into it. When I found this one, it was so warm and welcoming and their reason for having it is much greater than any pageant I have ever done before.”

Grothe explained that the pageant focuses on community outreach and involving senior women in the community.

“They have this group called the ‘cameo group,’ which is ladies that have been in the pageant prior or have been prior queens, and they have formed a strong sisterhood,” Grothe said. “They try to reach out to their communities letting them know that they are still playing an active role in the community and work to get other seniors involved, as well.”

In addition, the group helps with each pageant, performing and helping behind the scenes coaching and encouraging the contestants, she said.

“I will stay involved with the cameo group, that is something I will definitely continue to do, helping out with the senior pageant,” Grothe said.

As a requirement of her crown, Grothe will be making appearances and guest speaking at a variety of venues and events throughout the next year. She plans to take part in the Reed City Evergreen Parade this winter as well as participating in fundraisers.

“The evergreen Parade is in the works, as well as an appearance on 9&10 TV,” Grothe said. “I will also be at the Diversity Dinner in Sterling Heights later this year and at the Mecosta Senior Center in October.”

REACHING THE YOUTH

In addition, she said, the contestants are expected to participate in outreach in their own communities.

For her part, Grothe hopes to continue to work to bridge the gap between the youth and the seniors in her community.

“I have been working with the youth for many years helping to teach the Certified Nurse Assistant program at Mecosta Osceola ISD,” Grothe said. “There was so much I gained from the youth there, and it was wonderful to see that ‘Ah ha’ moment when they realized that the elderly still have so much to offer. I hope to continue to bridge that gap between the youth and the elderly with nursing home visits.”

The other thing that is very important to Grothe is getting music into the elementary schools.

“They have lost so much funding that they don’t even have music teachers anymore in the elementary schools, and that just breaks my heart,” Grothe said. “Music reaches everyone – it is universal, and to bring that to these children is very important.”

Grothe said that her plan is to use the connections she has made in the local music world over the past 25 years as a member of a Christian Contemporary singing group to start a program to bring those musicians into the schools.

“There are a lot of people in the community that I have known for the past 25 years that play instruments,” she said. “I want to bring someone in two times a month and bring that to the elementary students and give them the opportunity to get in touch with music. If we can begin to reach the youth and have them understand from an early age, maybe it can set some thing on fire for them like it did me when I was introduced to music.”

FUTURE PROJECTS

Winning the Ms. Senior Michigan Pageant automatically qualified Grothe for the Ms. Senior America pageant, which she is currently participating in.

The contest is being held over ZOOM this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been two ZOOM meetings so far, she said. One to introduce themselves to the judges and one meet and greet with all the contestants.

“You get all dressed up and get in front of the computer, and for five minutes they are firing questions at you,” she said. “We had the ‘meet and greet’ a couple of weeks ago and that lasted for three hours.”

Grothe added that she feels pretty good about how it has gone so far, but no matter what happens, she feels like she already got the best of it just winning the Ms. Senior Michigan Pageant.

“Whatever happens beyond Ms. Senior Michigan, I feel like I got the best of it because I love my state and that was a very good experience,” she said.

As if winning a beauty pageant wasn’t enough, Grothe was also recently presented with the Reed City High School Distinguished Alumni Award.

“I got a wonderful luncheon with the school board and the principal and was the guest speaker at the high school graduation, and they gave me a beautiful plaque,” Grothe said. “It was very nice.”

Grothe was nominated by her husband, who got many of her former students and their families to send emails about her as part of her nomination.

After a 42 year career in nursing, Grothe is now retired and hopes to be able to spend time with her children and grandchildren.

“We have four grandchildren, and I am now helping to babysit them,” Grothe said. “That was something I wanted to do – take a step back from my profession and do some other things.

Retirement isn’t going to slow her down, however. In a year or two, she said, she plans to apply to be an airline stewardess.

“They are now hiring women my age because we can work part time,” she said. “When I was 27, I applied and got down to the final interview and didn’t make the cut. It is still something I am thinking about doing eventually.”