Empowering girls to be smart, strong and bold was clearly represented by women of all ages and talents at the recent “Women of Inspiration 2012” luncheon and fundraiser held at the Girls Incorporated of Carpinteria headquarters. Five local women were honored as mentors and leaders within the community.
The luncheon began with welcoming messages from two Girls Inc. participants and national scholars, Andrea Delgado and Karina Jougla, who are continuing a tradition of excellence in the organization, which has produced 16 national scholars since 1995.
Delgado, a 17-year-old Carpinteria High School student who has been a member of Girl Inc. for 12 years, has used what she’s learned to become a class president and water polo swim team member.
“It’s really helped shape who I am,” said Delgado. “I participated in the Operation SMART program (Science, Math And Relevant Technology), which really opened my eyes that the science field doesn’t have to be male dominated and shaped my interest in becoming a pediatrician or pediatric nurse.
“I also participated in theater, which was really good for us girls and provided a creative outlet to give us a voice, to not be scared, to speak up if you’re concerned or even just give a speech in front of a classroom.”
That message rang true as both girls confidently strode to the podium to share their experiences with Girls Inc. and their excitement for the future.
Jougla, who has been involved with Girls Inc. for 11 years, was part of a team that traveled to a New York corporate camp to present a company idea, Water Girls, which has become a common thing with young entrepreneurs making the trek in recent years.
The impact of the programs and the affect of the mission exemplified by these two shining examples really hit home for executive director Victoria Juarez.
“It’s the mission that motivates me to the work that I do,” she said. “But watching Andrea and Karina on the stage today really hit home and reminded me, wow, this is how impactful Girls Inc. programs actually are when we have girls who have been with us since the age of 5.”
Next, the presentations began as guests enjoyed some country-style dishes, including a healthy chicken salad with radishes, tomato, fresh herbs and rolls. Introductory remarks were shared by Juarez, who introduced keynote speaker Kathleen de Chadenedes.
Chadenedes has a degree in Agriculture and uses those skills as a professional chef and advocate for sustainable agriculture. She is currently director of the Orfalea Foundation’s School Food Initiative and works with school districts to utilize as much locally procured food for nourishing meals as possible.
“I’d love to see a day when gardens have a home in our schools,” de Chadenedes said.
McCann — co-owner and vice president of Hazelwood Allied and McCann Mini Storage, 5666 Carpinteria Ave., and a volunteer with the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce, Girls Incorporated of Carpinteria and Santa Barbara, Junior League of Santa Barbara, Lobero Theatre Foundation and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — thought it was an incredible afternoon.
“I loved our speaker, Kathleen, who said that we need to balance the children today with the technology taking over,” she said. “They don’t really relate back to the earth, and having this whole program with gardening was wonderful.”
As board president of the Family Service Agency, Cooney has dedicated her time to the Santa Barbara County Human Services Commission and Aliso School, and was proud to be honored by an organization that she greatly admires.
“I’ve been volunteering in the Carpinteria schools and I have found young girls who needed after-school help,” said Cooney. “And I am came over to Girls Inc. and said could you help, and they said absolutely. These girls weren’t able to pay and Girls Inc. just stepped up and took them right under their wings.”
Garufis is very involved with many local nonprofit events in her position as president and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust. She is also a board member of Fielding Graduate University, Sansum Clinic, the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce and the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.
As a board member of Child Abuse Listening & Mediation (CALM) since 2002, Scott has co-chaired the organization’s largest fundraiser and is also a founding member of the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara. She recently became involved as a board member of The Children’s Project Academy and Casa Pacifica in Camarillo.
This range of talented local woman emphasized the impact that working together as a community can have on shaping young lives and building a promising future.
“We recognize that we’re working together and it’s just not Girls Inc.,” said Juarez. “We’re working with the Carpinteria Unified School District and working with the Boys & Girls Club as a community to ensure that the children in this community are going to be successful. And we’re part of the Carpinteria THRIVE Cradle to Career approach, which is about ensuring that all kids in our community are ready for college or a career once they graduate from high school.”
Founded in 1971, the summer camp for 33 girls has grown into a modern 16,000-square-foot facility that provides a computer lab, full-service kitchen, gymnasium, theatre and a SMART room for the study of science, math and technology.
“We serve over 600 girls annually and on a daily basis we probably serve close to 70 girls ... in our after school program, our mentoring program and our sports programs,” Juarez said.
More than half the girls are between the ages of 5 and 12, with more than 50 percent Latina and 44 percent Caucasian with 56 percent from single-parent households.
Girls Inc. of Carpinteria provides cultural arts programs that expand young minds to explore performance, music and writing for teen and middle school-age girls. Healthy lifestyles and relationships are fostered in a setting that encourages engagement in business, athletics, arts and self-reliance in varied skills, including computers, science and history. Each of these unique programs provides a path for future leaders and enhances self-esteem to make responsible decisions.
“The motto says it all — ‘strong, smart and bold’ — and that’s their goal to make every girl who comes here to Girls Inc. a strong, smart and bold woman when they grow up,” said Delgado. “And there’s so many opportunities! Instead of going home to watch TV after school, I think kids should really get involved in after-school programs like this. It gives you an ambition and a drive to succeed in the future.”