By Ed Pierce
|Christina Erde was crowned as Mrs.|
Maine American 2022 during the
pageant last weekend in South
Portland. Winning the title qualifies
Erde to compete in the national
Mrs. Maine American Pageant 2022
in Las Vegas, Nevada in August.
SUSAN COSTA PHOTOGRAPHY
Being crowned as Mrs. Maine American for 2022 was a dream come true for a Windham wife and mother but now Christina Erde will take her message of resilience nationally when she competes in the 2022 Mrs. American Pageant this summer.
Erde qualified to represent Maine at the national event during last weekend’s Mrs. Maine America Pageant in South Portland by winning the title of Mrs. Maine American 2022.
How she got to this point in her life is a testament to the human spirit and belief in herself after she endured some trying personal circumstances in her life.
“I saw this as a great opportunity for personal growth as well as a unique platform to promote mental health awareness, a cause that is very near and dear to my heart,” Erde said. “Four years ago, I was hospitalized after suffering a severe mental breakdown. It took me a long time to feel comfortable talking openly with others about my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I felt that if people knew I had a mental illness, it would affect their view of who I am as a person. No one should ever have to feel this way. Just because you have a mental illness doesn’t mean you are less than. If anything, it means you are strong. You are capable. You can live a fulfilling and meaningful life.”
She said that experience has made her resilient and determined to assist others in similar situations.
Married for 16 years, Christina and her husband, Sam Erde, have two young sons, Colin and Noah.
Growing up in Windham, Erde, 37, attended Windham Christian Academy from kindergarten through her high school graduation in 2002.
“My family moved to Otisfield when I was 10 years old, but we continued to commute to Windham for school,” she said. “I attended Central Maine Community College where I studied culinary arts and restaurant management.”
The new Mrs. Maine American works as part of the support staff at Windham Primary School where she supervises lunch and recess for students. She also works part-time on weekends as a waitress at Rose’s Italian Restaurant.
“I began volunteering four years ago at the primary school when my oldest son was in kindergarten. I then became part of the staff the next year when he was in first grade,” she said. “I have absolutely loved getting to know the children and families in our town through working at the school. I have also met many local folks as well through working at the restaurant too.”
Normally preferring to work behind the scenes, Erde decided to compete in the pageant after speaking with Cynthia Peters, who won the title of Mrs. Maine 2017 and encouraged her to enter the pageant.
“I have never competed in a pageant before but when she shared her experience and how much she enjoyed it and gained from it, I thought ‘You know what? I’m just gonna go for it.’
Two weeks after meeting Peters, she sent in an application and was awarded the title of Mrs. Windham to compete in the 2022 Mrs. Maine America Pageant.
Supported by her husband and her family, Erde’s advocacy for mental health and message of resilience resonated with judges.
“As I share my story with others, I hope to continue to break the stigma surrounding mental illness and give hope to those who may need it. I am an advocate for mental health and NAMI Maine,” she said. “NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine is dedicated to building better lives for the one in four Mainers who are affected by mental illness.”
In all 14 married women competed during the the 2022 Maine pageant at the Double Tree by Hilton in South Portland on April 3.
Besides being honored as Mrs. Maine American, Erde also was First Runner-Up in the Mrs. Maine America pageant and was awarded the Mrs. Maine America 2022 Director's Award and the Mrs. Maine America 2022 Marriage Longevity Award.
She said she is thrilled to be attending nationals and is looking forward to more volunteer opportunities within her community. She plans to continue the work of her personal platform of mental health advocacy. as she believes mental health topics should be discussed more openly to remove stigma, educate, and bring hope to all those affected.
Erde will now advance to compete in the 2022 Mrs. American Pageant from Aug. 12 to Aug. 19 in Las Vegas, Nevada. <