For nearly 70 years, women have been organizing to mentor and guide youth in the Mid-South. This past year, 4,000 of Memphis’ young girls have been impacted by school-based programming and mentoring relationships because of Girls Inc.
“Girls face tremendous barriers today and issues that society places on them,” said Lisa Moore, president and CEO of Girls Inc. of Memphis. Moore began her career with the organization and worked at the headquarters in Indianapolis. She returned to the nonprofit last summer to take the helm locally.
“Fun, engaging programs and mentors help unearth their brilliance and provide an environment where they realize that and what they have to give to the world,” Moore said. She credits the staff and scores of volunteers for the success of their programs which promote fitness, creativity, confidence, mentoring, literacy, leadership development, and more.
While professionals have been serving as mentors for decades, a new avenue has surfaced for those that would like to assist in other ways. “What inspired me to start this is that there’s also a hands-on need to raise money to provide support,” said Amanda Eckersley, a Girls Inc. board member. Eckersley is leading an auxiliary group of young professional women to raise funds and awareness.
Even though Eckersley has been volunteering her time as a mentor, she admits that the organization has also made a difference in her life. “When I lost my mother in the summer of 2012, the only reason I left my house was for my weekly Girls Inc. session,” she said.
For 2014, the Young Professional Women’s Group (YPWG) is planning to host events such as a lunch and learn, networking mixers, and a “Red Heel Run” to engage the community. One of the group’s first champions is Jamesha Hayes, a Girls Inc. alumna and teacher at Freedom Prep Academy. “Talking to a girl for two seconds could change her life forever,” Hayes said.
While Hayes regularly volunteers as a mentor, she didn’t hesitate to join another venture to further the cause. “It’s necessary because we need something to rally around,” she said. “I want Girls Inc. to be a household name.”