Dear Friend of Girls Inc.,
2020 has been a year of resilience — especially for those from marginalized communities who have historically lived with social and systemic inequities. Many of these communities are reflected in the youth we serve. But as the year comes to a close and we celebrate our respective holidays, I cannot help but be thankful for our Pacific Northwest community who reliably showed up for Girls Inc. youth amidst such prolonged uncertainty.
In the spring, we pivoted from our annual in-person Power of the Purse gala to a virtual event. Thirty Purse-o-nalities, 13 designers, 16 Leadership Council youth, 15 boutique vendors, 28 sponsors, and a record 915 virtual attendees all participated. We also formed ongoing partnerships with 3 different companies who are giving a percentage of all proceeds back to Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest. Come fall, over 350 of you celebrated International Day of the Girl with us, when we highlighted specific examples of our strong, smart, and bold programming. Throughout the year, over 60 folks volunteered in a variety of virtual capacities. We also welcomed 3 new Board of Directors members. Lastly, almost 40,000 people watched our KATU Season of Giving segment earlier this month.
Throughout all of this, our youth programming transitioned from in-person to virtual. Before COVID-19 began, over 80 individual Girls Groups were meeting weekly in partnership with over 40 school and community partners. When we went virtual, we condensed group participants into more centralized spaces to foster a regional community of support. We started weekly Zoom Girls Groups, began monthly Wellness Workshops, and continued engaging with key partners to serve over 90 youth. Our Eureka! team put on 37 learning events for over 100 young leaders with the help of 18 partners over the course of the year. They also distributed 70 summer STEM-activities kits to youth. We also expanded our Leadership Council to be a two-year program to provide more opportunities for in-depth, individual advocacy projects. Our 2019-2021 Council includes 17 incredible young people from over 14 different schools, from all across the Portland area. Wow. Thank you to everyone who made this year an impactful one for our youth.
In this newsletter, you’ll read about our Season of Giving campaign, the latest updates on our various youth programs, an introduction to our newest staff member, and resources for managing toxic stress and trauma in youth. I hope you enjoy and thank you again for being part of the Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest community. Happy holidays!
Cyreena Boston Ashby
Interim Executive Director
This Season of Giving, we hope you’ll consider donating towards Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest youth. Here are some examples of how your donation will support virtual programming:
Artwork by Girls Inc. youth, Gabby, age 10.
Girls Groups kicked off the fall term with individual outreach to youth and families across the region, in an effort to gather feedback and best adjust our programming to meet the needs of our school-age youth as they embarked upon another year of distance learning.
In tandem with individual outreach, we began hosting monthly Wellness Workshops in response to resounding requests for increased socio-emotional supports. In late fall, we hosted our first workshops with guest speaker (and star) Amisha Stanley, the Unicorn Yogi.
The workshops were such a success that we will continue them on a monthly basis though the end of the school year. More frequent weekly Girls Groups are slated to start up again in mid-January.
Since this summer, Eureka! has focused on pivoting to virtual programming while intentionally tending to what matters the most to the youth and families. We have held virtual Community Spaces for each cohort of Eureka! that opened up time for community, fun, and hands-on activities.
We also offered Community Forums in Spanish, English, and Vietnamese to gather feedback from community members, family, and youth. Our virtual efforts this year culminated in a Virtual Pajama Party in collaboration with Leadership Council where youth spent time enjoying each other’s company and reflecting on the past year, while making holiday candies and journals!
Leadership Council continues to meet on a bi-weekly basis and to look for new ways to engage and advocate for our communities in these uncertain times. Guest speakers sometimes join meetings and recently, the Council was joined by a panel of Oregon Judges and Justices!
WE ASKED HER WHAT MAKES HER STRONG, SMART, AND BOLD
Bre Johnson, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator
My strength comes from my mother. As a single mother and small business owner, she displayed such resilience and power in everything she did. I never let life’s struggles bring me down. She showed me that I could do anything that I put my mind to, so now I empower others to do the same.
I am smart because I am open to accepting knowledge and wisdom from others. I believe that our experiences are what makes us unique. Learning from those around us is how we grow into amazing human beings. Life will never stop teaching us new things.
I am bold because I am brave. I live unapologetically in my identity as a Black, Queer womxn. I never allow fear to limit me. I use my voice to speak for others who may be afraid to speak up. Most importantly, I believe in myself and stand strong in my values.
HELPING YOUTH RESPOND TO TRAUMA AND TOXIC STRESS
Trauma and toxic stress are complicated and look different in everyone. Sometimes we might not even realize what we are seeing in a young person is related to trauma.
As experts in youth development, we want to help you gain an understanding of trauma and toxic stress. We also hope to assist you in building skills to support the young people in your lives who may be experiencing stressors brought on by COVID-19, the burdens of racism, or any other ongoing difficulty or adversity. To help with this, Girls Inc. has created an easy-to-understand collection of videos and infographics.
As a caring adult, you too can help support young people impacted by trauma or toxic stress. Learn how to recognize the signs and how best to respond in order to support the young people in your life.