Lunch for the Girls 2017: Fatuma’s remarks

My name is Fatuma Mberwa and I am eighteen years old. I attend the University of Nebraska Omaha. I am majoring in Public Health. I received both the Buffet and the Girls Inc. local scholarship.  It is because of Girls Inc. I’m standing here today as a Muslim girl in college. Girls Inc. has had a significant impact on my life as a Muslim Somali Bantu. It gave me and my sisters a safe place to go and learn and have fun at the same time. Girls Inc. has given me the confidence and courage to stand up for my rights. As a girl in my culture, going to college is frowned upon because we are supposed to get married by the time we are eighteen. It is a big deal to branch out and put your education before marriage and family. I’m able to do this because I know I have my Girls Inc. family to hold my hand throughout this journey.

Because of Girls Inc. I was able to see myself as teacher, an artist or a doctor and at the same time keep my religion and cultural norms. For example, when I needed a hijab swimsuit to cover up as I learned how to swim, Girls Inc. was there for me.

As I embark in my college journey, I know that I have the skills and courage to change the world and educate my Muslim community because I’m a Girls Inc. girl. Thank you for supporting Girls Inc. and fueling the fire for girls like me.

Lunch for the Girls 2017: Taylor’s remarks

My name is Taylor Byrd. I’m 16-years-old and I’ve been attending Girls Inc. for 9 years.  Girls Inc. is a home away from home for me and many girls. At Girls Inc. I’ve been a peer teacher for B.E.L (Board of Educated Ladies) where we teach other youth in our community about sex education. I’m in success prep, a job prep skill building program where I practice skills from the program at a summer job and earn a paycheck working at Girls Inc. I’m a Sparks Positivity near-peer leader where I help teach the younger girls learn about compassion and kindness. And this will be my 5th year in the Eureka! STEM program. This past summer I finished my second externship at Avirture, a software company in Sarpy county. During the 4-week externship I worked on bugs and errors and used visual studio code to fix the bugs. I love coding and computer programming. I got to sit in meetings to discuss the day’s progress. I got a glimpse of what I want to study when I go to college.

This year I also stepped out of my comfort zone and joined the fitness club with Mr. Joe.  We all know that sports and fitness is important for our health but not all of us like to do it or enjoy doing it.  For me, this was important because on my grandmother’s side of the family they have a history of diabetes and I’ve seen what that looks like. I know that staying healthy is the only way I will avoid diabetes.  In our fitness club we learn that nutrition and exercise go together. Mr. Joe makes sure to add healthy cooking using items we had in our garden at Girls Inc. and items we would have at home. He showed us how to make vegetarian spaghetti and limit frying our foods. I know it’s hard to eat healthy but being at Girls Inc. I’m reminded each day why it’s important. I’m grateful that we have Girls Inc. in our community to keep us healthy and smart.

 

Lunch for the Girls: Destinee’s remarks

Destinee

My name is Destinee Juber and Girls Inc. helped me reach my potential.

I went to Girls Inc in 2011 and 2012, during my days in foster care, and at the time I was a completely different person. I was a mess of a girl that was constantly making terrible choices. I’ve struggled with PTSD and depression for the better part of my life. However, back then it controlled me; I let those words define me as a person. I didn’t know anything else, until the staff at Girls Inc. showed me compassion and wanted to help me.

Each day after school I was routinely the first girl to enter the building for many months. Sometimes the hopelessness was overpowering and my heavy heart brought my shoulders down with it. Other days I’d strut down the hallway with undeniable confidence. I was given a special job to do, in effort to help me grow. I grew each and every time I watered the garden, trimmed the oregano, and fed the worms. I delicately took care of that garden and kept a certain fascination with the worms. At the time they were one of my few friends. You’ll find that my heart was longing for an opportunity, for a chance at life. But I chose to go about it all wrong.

One day I decided I needed more and I was tough, I was an adult. I’d show them. I defiantly walked out of the building and down the devilishly crooked street. I can hardly believe that I, myself would just walk out in the dark, in Omaha, but I had to prove I was grown. I wandered foolishly as the darkness of night stalked my every move. 3 hours later a group of teenagers took me in and had the police pick me up. I was scared and angry that they would betray me like that, but they saved me from being kidnapped or making yet another idiotic decision.

With shame I was hauled back to my foster home and continued to act defiantly because I wasn’t going down without a fight. After things died down and I had received my punishment, I was sure I’d never re-enter that brick building. But these gracious and amazing people looked past my foolishness and decided I had potential and they stuck with me. I was given a second chance I have yet to forget. It was so powerful I only wish I could express in words how grateful I am. It was magical for that lost 12-year-old girl.

After a few months of gardening and time with my amazing and ever-faithful mentor, I was changing. My mentor taught me so many skills, from all things engineering, problem solving, and good habits. I excelled in school, proudly challenged myself in my STEM groups at Girls Inc, and felt as if I truly belonged. Believe me, I was 12, I had my days, but they always stood by my side. The doors they opened were questionable for me. I was confused as to why they wanted to help me and not just push me away. The truth is they really do care, because if they didn’t I can assure you they had many opportunities to prove me wrong and they chose to stand by me. Mental health was one barrier that kept me from reaching my potential and they embraced it. If I had a hard day, they gave me a reason to push through it.

It’s a great feeling to know you will always have someone in your corner! To this day I keep in contact and let me just say this world does not deserve to have such wonderful people all in one place.

I am Destinee and I am strong, smart, and bold!

Kendra’s Remarks from Lunch for the Girls 2017

My name is Kendra Trimble and I’m fifteen years old. I’ve been a Girls Inc. member for nine years. With the expansion of the North Omaha Katherine Fletcher center, we are very lucky to have an elevated track, fitness center and a yoga space. So, when Mr. Joe started his first fitness club last year, I was one of the first group of teens to join the club. When I joined the club, my goal was to lose 10lbs. Little did I know that I was going to learn about patience, how to set personal goals, learn different ways to relieve stress and enjoy working out with Mr. Joe. As I mentioned earlier my goal was to lose ten pounds; I’m happy to say that I lost fifteen pounds.  It took me half a year to do this, and that’s a life time for a teen. I definitely exercised patience and on top of that I learned how to eat healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I learned that I can accomplish a lot with patience and determination.

On top of fitness club, I’m a member of the Eureka! program and B.E.L. (Board of Educated Ladies)-our sex education peer teaching program. When I was younger I was a part of Operation SMART and Techbridge both STEM programs. At Girls Inc., staff have helped me with my resume building, interviewing skills, homework help and public speaking. I’ve become better in science, more comfortable in my math classes and most important they have helped me with my communicating skills. As you can see, Girls Inc. is molding me to be the next travelling nurse. That’s my career goal.

Thank you for being in my corner.

B.E.L. Reproductive Health Peer Educators Share

DSCN3255The B.E.L. (Board of Educated Ladies) Reproductive Health Peer Educators shared medically accurate information with family and friends on Wednesday night, December 18.

The girls presented information and research on how to properly fit a bra; skin care for adolescents; STI/STD’s; menstruation; teen pregnancy; breast self exams; contraception; and abstinence.

The girls, some in their first year of B.E.L. and others in their second year of the program (the girls with the slick blue satin jackets!), presented the information to DSCN3246parents, community health partners, and members of the Girls Inc. Board.

Mychael Shields, a 2nd year B.E.L. “veteran” presented a PowerPoint presentation about STD’s and STI’s.  She warned the audience “some of these images are graphic.” She spoke about how the girls learned about contraception options and which options help protect against STD’s/STI’s. After describing the options for girls who choose to become sexually active, she added, “Abstinence is the one form of contraception that is 100% effective and has no side effects.” She acknowledged that abstinence is the method “preferred” by Girls Inc., but that the staff at Girls Inc. want the girls to be informed and safe if they choose to become sexually active.

The girls also displayed anatomically correct models used as part of the B.E.L. educational experience. After one of the presentations using a penis demonstration model, one of the moms stated, “I had no idea my daughter even knew what a penis looked like. I guess this opens up the opportunity for us to have some conversations now.”  At Girls Inc. of Omaha, parents are considered girls’ first and best teachers. “If we can open the door to some parent-daughter conversations, then we are accomplishing something important,”stated Ms. CT Green, Director of Health Access at Girls Inc.

One mom said, “This makes me feel a little uncomfortable.” Ms. CT replied, “Well it doesn’t make us uncomfortable at all. At Girls Inc., the girls know we can talk about anything.” As Ms. CT described how she wanted the girls to have all the information they need to make informed decisions about relationships, their bodies, and their health, parents around the room were nodding in agreement.

The second cohort of B.E.L. girls are looking forward to receiving their own jackets very soon which will identify them as Peer Educators at Girls Inc. and in the community.

E-mail from Ms. Kainette

Ms. Kainette chaperoned four girls on a trip to Indianapolis to participate in Girls InCharge, a 3-day summer camp experience to learn about the working world, college life, and women entrepreneur role models. She sent this e-mail back to Ms. Roberta:

EmpressIn one of the photos, Empress Cozart is standing with Charlie Wagner, Market Manager at Sam’s Club in Indiana. Sam’s was the sponsor of the Girls InCharge Summit. He shared a story about his experience at the networking workshop during his speech. He told a story about how he decided to sit at a table with a group of girls to see if anyone would talk to him. He is a big guy and sort of intimidating at first glance; he towered over all the participants. He said to his surprise that Empress, a Girls Inc. of Omaha member, introduced herself by saying “Hi! My name is Empress,” and then he looked at her name badge and it said “My name is Empress, and I’m confident in everything I do!

He went on to share how impressed he was with her overall self-confidence and her ability to hold a conversation and share openly about her experiences at Girls Inc. and on a personal level. Girls Inc. of Omaha made quite the impression. Anne Hitchner, Regional Membership Director, Great Lakes Region Sam Club visited with me after the luncheon and told me how proud I should be of our girls and ho highly they spoke of not only me (lol) but also their experiences at Girls Inc. One of the girls shared “how she might be doing something bad and that Girls Inc. saved her.” Other members talked about all of the different opportunities they had been given as members to try something different or learn something new that they never would have experienced were it not for Girls Inc. Yet others shared how Girls Inc. has taught them how to be confident and that it’s okay to be yourself and that they [staff] really care about us.

I think I have an eye for recognizing leadership and in giving… chances until a girl has that “ah hah” moment where they begin to see the same leadership qualities in themselves that I do.

I am as thankful and proud of the girls as if they were my own – and in a sense – they are, and I want to thank you for this experience and opportunity to see them shine!Omaha Girls InCharge web

Alum Graduates from UNO with Business Degree

Alum Kelsey sent us a graduation photo and the nicest thank you note:

What makes life’s successes so great is when you have a wonderful group of people supporting you along the way.  I would like to truly thank you, your team, and everyone involved for your support personally as a girl growing into a young woman and as a student.  This past December I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a degree in Business Administration.  The beauty of this story is that I had people like you (Girls Inc.) that have been empowering me to be STRONG, SMART & BOLD since the age of seven.  Thank you Girls Inc. for your contribution to my life that not only impacted me while I was a member, but also now and in the future.  Thank you Girls Inc. for all you do for young girls all over the world.  We appreciate you!

Love,

Kelsey D. Wright