Sunday, January 21 , 2018, 3:44 am | Fair 48º

 
 
 
 

Girls Inc. of Carpinteria Volunteers, Partnerships Inspire Next Generation of Young Women

Mentorships and collaborations with businesses benefit not just the girls, but the volunteers, too

 

[Noozhawk’s note: Second in a series sponsored by the Hutton Parker Foundation. Click here for the first story.]

Lori Pearce’s mother raised her to believe she could be anything she wanted to be. She encouraged volunteerism and provided support. Her father, a military man, was a true believer in hard work paying off.

Now Pearce, the director of business operations and information technology at NuSil Technologies in Carpinteria, dedicates time to spreading those values to a new generation through Girls Inc. of Carpinteria.

“I know how hard it is for girls, especially when you hit that evil junior high time when it’s important to be strong, to be independent and really think about their education,” she said. “The young ladies who come out of these programs blow your mind away.”

Girls Inc. is a national nonprofit organization with more than 80 affiliates throughout the United States and Canada. Their mission: to inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold. Its Carpinteria affiliate has served Santa Barbara County since the 1970s.

The program relies on donors and volunteers who staff a variety of activities, from after-school homework clubs to gymnastics, summer camp to the Eureka! Program.

“It takes a large base of volunteers working together to put on events, who support us in the community, reach out to donors,” executive director Victoria Juarez said. “They volunteer to work with our literacy program and serve as mentors.

“We rely heavily on partnerships with great organizations and businesses.”

Many of the volunteers are active businesswomen with families of their own. They carve out time for the girls in Girls Inc. programs because they see their investment in them as an investment in the community.

“I want to give back to the community that gave me such a great opportunity growing up in Carpinteria,” said Lucy Musson, nontechnical program manager for LinkedIn.

As a young girl, Musson played basketball at Girls Inc. As an adult, she popped in to serve as a reading buddy. Over the past three years, her duties have morphed from reading to homework helper to volunteer with the Bold Futures Mentoring Project.

“What I get ... is so much more than what I give,” said Claudia Cordova Papa, a volunteer with Bold Futures, a mentor, and owner of her own skin and nail care spa.

“Just to see how taking the time to interact with them, being that really great listener, helping them overcome their fears, then seeing them blossom, I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing that, being there, listening and motivating them to not give up, seeing how much that helps their self esteem and their confidence.”

Through its partnerships with local businesses, Girls Inc. has been able to introduce its youth members to a variety of potential futures. The partnerships with businesses of all sizes and fields, from Seascape Realty to Freudenberg Medical, provide workplace tours, mentorships and access to internships through the Eureka! Program partnerships.

“It is difficult to find time,” Pearce said. “However, I schedule it. It’s important to me. I love it. It’s part of my life.

“I know that once it’s on my schedule, I have a firm commitment to being sure I’m there with the girls.”

Pearce has also rallied the troops at NuSil, which produces medical- and space-grade silicon, to bring STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to Girls Inc.

“We had meetings for weeks ahead of time, collaborating on things we thought would show that science was fun,” she said. “We made foam fingers and exploding volcanoes and magic sand. Everyone was very enthusiastic.”

While foam fingers aren’t the point, they get the message across: women can be leaders, innovators, inventors, scientists. They can be business owners and mentors. They can lead.

“I’m a firm believer that, if you mentor young women, they will show up, and show up in a really big way in our community,” Pearce said.

Click here for more information about Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, its programs and offerings, how to sign up or to volunteer. Click here to make an online donation.

F.Y.I.

The Thomas Fire still burning in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties has been devastating to many in the community, and its impacts also have been felt among the Girls Inc. of Carpinteria family. As mandatory evacuation orders were being lifted for much of Carpinteria, the organization issued this statement:

“The last two weeks have been an incredibly challenging time for our community with the Thomas Fire, one of the most destructive and relentless wildfires in our state’s history.

“At Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, ensuring the safety of our members and staff is our No. 1 priority. Girls Inc. staff made more than 100 wellness calls to our families, and all are safe and ready to receive communication from staff via text.

“We continue to monitor the Thomas Fire, and our leadership team meets daily to assess contingency plans that best support the needs of our girls and their families.

“Our current plan includes cleaning our campus in Carpinteria and assessing its air quality to ensure we can safely resume our programming.

“During this time, we will offer our planned winter break programming at the Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara campus in Goleta from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 18-22. Transportation will be provided for our Carpinteria members to and from Goleta. Any changes to our current plan will be communicated to our families immediately.

“We would like to express our gratitude to all the firefighters and first responders working tirelessly to keep our community safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with these heroic individuals and their families.

“There is no doubt that the spirit of resilience is powerful among our community, and we are proud to see everyone coming together to support one another during this time.”

For any questions regarding Girls Inc. in Carpinteria, contact executive director Victoria Juarez at [email protected] or 805.684.6364.

Noozhawk contributing writer Jennifer Best can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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