Being crowned Mermaid Queen of Canyon Lake may strike some as sweet and perhaps inconsequential, But in Karina Bowen’s case, behind that title stands the strength of Poseidon, god of the sea.
When the Woman’s Club Ways and Means Chair Lyne Hall announced last winter that the club would be seeking a group of women, Mermaids of the Sea, devoted to volunteerism, the foremost qualification was “generosity of spirit.” If in high school, the applicant would need to demonstrate community service over and above the 40 hours required by her school.
For Karina, who has been a member of the Canyon Lake Royal Court three times and also holds queen titles through outside pageants, community service is a way of life. In Canyon Lake alone she has given hundreds of hours helping with community events, both through the Royal Court and as a junior board member of the Family Matters Club.
Outside of Canyon Lake, she has given more than 500 hours working at events for the non-profit Big Mama Earth (founded by Canyon Lake resident Mike Miller), including the Green Kids Conference, County of Orange Green Fair, California Earth Day, Ocean Awareness Day and Girltopia.
In the past year, she held three drives to benefit other causes: collecting more than 550 canned goods for the Harvest Food Bank, collecting more than 1,600 books for the American Book Drive, and donating proceeds from her own jewelry-making business to two Canyon Lake clubs.
Karina says her most rewarding accomplishments last year were helping a special needs girl enter a pageant and take second place, and helping the mayor of Villa Park feed soldiers at Camp Pendleton at Thanksgiving.
Although she and her mom, Shawna Bowen, founder of the Family Matters Club, live in Canyon Lake, Karina attends high school in Villa Park in order to be close to her brother, who attends a special school for kids with learning disabilities.
Although academic excellence wasn’t one of the qualifications to be Mermaid Queen, Karina, a senior, maintains a greater than 4.0 GPA in the Honors/Advanced Placement program.
As Mermaid Queen, Karina will serve and represent the Canyon Lake Woman’s Club in its many philanthropic activities and events in the upcoming year. In her application essay she wrote, in part, “I look at my community service as a service I do not do for show or publicity, but simply to enrich and help the lives of others in my community. Doing so also rewards me and brings me a sense of joy and accomplishment. I am proud of my community and being able to give back to it by giving a part of myself. This reinvesting in my community brings a smile to my heart!”