Good Cause of the Month: Girls Inc.
Meet the charity changing the lives of girls around the state
Last month, we told you about an event worthy of your time and philanthropic treasure in our February Good Cause of the Month. This month, we're continuing the series. Keep an eye out for a Good Cause every month here at NHMagazine.com, from events to attend to volunteer opportunities to nonprofits you should get to know — and, by the end of the year, your do-gooder cred will be off the charts.
For today's Good Cause, we'd like to introduce you to Girls Inc. of New Hampshire. The group is the only Girls Inc. affiliate in the country that serves an entire state, and serve it they do: from one-on-one mentoring to outreach programs in local schools, the staff and volunteers of Girls Inc. have touched the lives of thousands of kids in their 42 years in the Granite State. Read on to learn all about their work and history and to find out how you can get involved.
What They Do
With a mission of "inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold," Girls Inc. programs combine education, independence and healthy living to empower girls in grades K-8 and beyond. Much of their work happens at the Girls' Centers in Manchester, Nashua and Concord, but outside of those population centers, Girls Inc. provides outreach programming: staff and volunteers work in classrooms in all corners of the state presenting individualized curriculum to fit each school, from anti-bullying lessons to help solving a class's problems with cliques.
At the three Girls' Centers, after-school programs come in all shapes and sizes. Girls can get homework help or bond one-on-one with adult mentors and teen "big sisters," families can enjoy a free dinner together with the group, and special programs like the Young Women's Leadership Academy are offered to impart specialized skills to the young students. Girls Inc. girls come from all socioeconomic levels and every school in our three largest cities.
According to Girls. Inc of NH COO Jennifer Indeglia, Girls Inc. provides a kinship to both the girls who avail of its programs and the adults and teens who administer them.
"It's a family atmosphere," she says. "If a girl comes in and doesn't have sneakers, we'll get her sneakers. We're all very supportive of each other."
Staff members and volunteers will sit down with girls and their families at the free dinners offered nightly at the Centers, and coordinators are always on the lookout for extra ways to help — from teaching a single dad how to braid his daughter's hair to transforming the Centers' industrial kitchens into a catering service for local day care centers during the otherwise slow school day.
Thanks to its long history in the state and extensive network of programs, Girls Inc.'s impact on New Hampshire families is far-reaching. Former participants in the programs often volunteer at the Centers when home for breaks from college, and, in her 18 years with the organization, Indeglia has seen women who she once mentored bring their own daughters to Girls Inc.
In a state where the entire Congressional delegation is female, role models and empowerment for our young girls aren't in short supply — and Girls Inc. hopes to keep it that way.
How You Can Help
Volunteers are always welcome at Girls Inc. A few opportunities to consider include:
- Guest speakers. If you have an interesting career (women in STEM, here's looking at you) or an inspiring story to tell, contact your local center about sharing your wisdom with the Girls Inc. students as a guest speaker.
- Event helpers. Girls Inc. puts on several major events throughout the year, and they always need help running the show.
- Support volunteers. Got a weeknight open every week or a stray hour free now and then? Talk to your local center about coming in for occasional help with homework, meal prep, or whatever your area of expertise may be.
- Mentors. To make a deep impact on the life of a local girl, consider becoming a mentor. After being trained by Girls Inc. staff, you will be partnered with participating students for one-on-one and small-group bonding on site at your local Girls' Center.
Gentlemen, you're welcome to help too. Though mentorship positions are only open to women, men are welcome to volunteer in other capacities. As Indeglia says, "The girls need to know and be around great male role models as well." So, from soccer coaches to kitchen staff, positive male role models are always invited to Girls Inc.
As a nonprofit, Girls Inc. also welcomes donations. Every dollar helps, so, if you'd like to give financial assistance, you can do so here.
Finally, you can always participate in Girls Inc. events. The next happening on the calendar is Girls Inc.'s annual Auction Gala. From now through April 5, you can peruse the group's online auction and bid on items that strike your fancy. Then, come 6 p.m. on April 7, head to the Radisson in Nashua for the non-virtual version. The silent and live auction features some amazing prizes, from Red Sox box tickets complete with field access during batting practice to trips to Nantucket and a "Mother-Daughter Day" package comprised of two tickets to see "Annie" at Boston's Wang Theater and gift certificates to make a day of it at a Boston spa and restaurant.
To learn more about Girls Inc. and all the ways you can get involved, visit their website here.