Donna Christian-Lowe, husband J. Marty and son Mason Lowe are the host family for Tullahoma’s Kalah Vance and Music City’s Adair Rae Tishler.
From communicating with the family via text and email, the Lowes feel they have a lot in common with the families of the girls they are hosting.
Mason, who is 8 years old, said he thinks it will be “like having two sisters.”
Mason is familiar with the program, having accompanied his parents to state and national competitions.
Donna and her husband have served on the Soddy-Daisy committee as well as the state committee in the past. This year they are not on the committee so they have taken the opportunity to be a host family.
“This is our first time hosting as a family, but being on the other side of it we think we really have a good understanding of what this is ... what we are in for, a week of nonstop coming and going,” Donna said.
They plan to resume being on the board next year.
Donna won the 1989 Soddy-Daisy competition when it was called Junior Miss. Since she was a twin, the program board placed her in a host family that had twin boys.
“It was chaotic every morning with those twins ... it was just like my house,” she said.
Now she hopes to be able to help the girls they host find balance between practice for the scholarship competition and simply enjoying the experience.
“We know how important it is to make this as much like their home as possible,” Donna said.
Donna said she felt their experience within the program will give them insight into help as the girls prepare for each stage of the competitions, especially the interviews.
She also sees it as “my time to have my girls” since her son is her only child.
“We feel like this is really kind of a ministry,” Donna said. “When I look back on my time with Junior Miss, I think it really did change my life.”
The couple said they see being a host family as a great way to support the girls even though they are not serving on the committee. They said because they travel a lot, it usually makes it difficult to make such a commitment.
“This year we knew we were going to be in town ... we support the girls in a lot of different ways anyway ... so it’s part of what we do anyway just from a different stance,” Marty said.
For him, making sure the girls are comfortable and feel at home is important. He said there neighborhood, River Cove, is also a good, safe place for the girls.
Mason said it will be important for the host family to have “lots of smiles” for the girls.
The family members hope all the contestants come away with great experiences, whether they win scholarship money or not.
The Lowes said they hope to inspire others to become host families for the program in future years.