I remember the very first day I walked into Girls Incorporated of Alameda County. It was after my interview and acceptance process for the EUREKA! Teen Achievement Program. I had just completed the seventh grade, and though I was shy on the outside, deep down I was ecstatic about spending my summer on a college campus. Walking into the mid-size activity room was a shocker. I didn’t expect to see faces that I knew, but I counted about five people i recognized. Relieved, I let out a huge sigh, smiled, and headed to an empty chair next to a friend of mine.
Girls Incorporated is a national non-profit organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. The organization works with girls aged 6-18 throughout the country to provide programs and services in six core areas:
· health and sexuality
· leadership and community actions
· sports and adventure
· self-reliance and life skills
· culture and heritage
My program, EUREKA!, successfully exposed teens to these areas in a fun and fulfilling way. Summer after summer our fears were being broken and our confidence was improving drastically. Engaging in this experience allowed me to learn new things, conquer my fears and embark on adventures I never imagined were possible.
My participation had turned into a passion. I ventured off to the city of Atlanta for college. It was there that Girls Incorporated and I would meet again. I volunteered, on behalf of Girls Incorporated (GI) of Greater Atlanta, to implement the “Be a Leader” campaign. My goal was to increase the awareness of Girls Incorporated programs in the Gwinnett County area. I did this by conducting weekly seminars on the importance of resisting peer pressure, alcohol and substance abuse, and media/society norms.
The whole experience was amazing to me. I was able to give back, personally and professionally, to an organization near and dear to my heart, while making a difference and honing in on new skills.
After graduating from college, I managed to end up back within the walls of Girls Incorporated of Alameda County. I applied for a position with the EUREKA! program and surprisingly , I got it! I was thrilled to be home and to be working with the organization that I credit for giving me confidence—physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. I now had an opportunity to get paid, to do what I love to do—which is to help build confidence in young girls.
This past summer was one of the best. Not only did I bring a degree home (first in my immediate family to do so) but I spent it with a group of amazingly talented and beautiful girls.
To this day, I am still involved with the organization. It will always hold a special place in my heart. I encourage you all to find a similar passion. Use your skills to help out in your community. Not only is it excellent hands-on experience, it also makes a difference by building up your community. Every child deserves a better future and they need more positive role-models to look up to. As the old saying goes, “Do what you love and love what you do… and the money will follow.” I am a walking testament of that saying. I challenge you, young legends, it is now OUR time.