By: Tayloe McDonald, Director of Strategic Planning and Public Affairs
Last Saturday, the Girls’ Center was transformed into a holiday boutique, a gift made possible through a generous donation of brand new merchandise from Natural Life. With great care and thoughtfulness, fourteen members of Girls’ Leadership Council “shopped” for their family members and themselves.
After pizza and shopping, we headed to The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, where leadership there generously provided complimentary tickets to The Icons of Fashion exhibit. For seven of our girls, it was their first time ever being in a museum of any kind. You can imagine what a magical experience it was to see our girls experience art for the first time. Wonder, curiosity and joy abounded!
When we got back to the Girls’ Center, Cathy Harrison, an art instructor new to town, led us in an hour and a half lesson on how to draw fashion figures and designs like the pros. Attention span is not typically in great supply for adolescents in general but you could have heard a sewing pin drop as our girls sat with rapt attention to every word Cathy said while the girls created. Each girl was given detailed step- by- step guidance and encouragement and each girl received a design portfolio and supplies to take home.
As the session was coming to an end, Jennifer, mother to Alyssa, sat next to me. She shared with me that after one of the Girls’ Leadership Council meetings, she and Alyssa had a life-transforming conversation. A month earlier, Al Letson, national producer of State of the ReUnion and local superstar, came to speak to the girls about relationships from a man’s perspective. After that meeting, Alyssa sat with her mom told her that she had so much respect for her mother that it pained her to see mom surrounding herself with men who treated her poorly.
It was a moment of such authenticity and connection, that Jennifer was able to See the Girl. Her girl. And in doing so, she saw herself. Jennifer’s own mother had kicked Jennifer out of the house when she was just 12 years old and as a result, Jennifer had been in and out of detention through her teens. She shared with me that her greatest fear was that the adversarial mother-daughter pattern would be repeated in her relationship Alyssa. But now she sees that it doesn’t have to be that way. Jennifer told me that she’s leaving this unhealthy relationship and that the conversation she had with Alyssa had given her the strength to do it.
When we see the girl, transformation takes place. Girls’ Leadership Council provides our girls and all of us who experience it, the opportunity to be seen, heard and valued. Below are some examples of how your donation to Girls’ Leadership Council will make a difference to Alyssa, and all our girls. There are more stories to share and we want you to be a part of them!
$50 Covers the cost of lunch for the all the girls at a Girls’ Leadership Council meeting.
$100 Provides transportation for a girl to Girls’ Leadership Council for one year.
$250 Enables a girl to participate in Girls’ Leadership Council for one year.
$500 Delivers a year of art supplies to girls in Girls’ Leadership Council.
*Names have been changed for privacy.