The May 2015 focus of Orion Gives Back is Girls, Inc. of Memphis.
Lisa Moore, President & CEO of Girls, Inc. of Memphis, graciously took the time to answer some interview questions, and we are blown away by her stories! Read on and be inspired by the wonderful organization she leads:
Orion: We would love for you to tell us a story that will help our readers understand the impact you have in the Memphis community. Could you share with us one of your most memorable experiences surrounding a Girls, Inc. member that would be an example of this?
Ms. Moore: Girls, Inc. of Memphis inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold. The Girls, Inc. experience is filled with caring people who support girls; it is an emotionally and physically pro-girl place, and has programs that are research-based and interactive. This combination of people, place and program equips girls to unleash their strengths and thrive. Examples of this in action are limitless – here are just a few:
• A very shy girl joins Girls, Inc. and participated in a collaborative program with Hattiloo Theatre. She faced her fear of public speaking and has fallen in love with the stage. She has been in 2 Hattiloo productions and over 7 at her high school and is a great spokes person for Girls, Inc. She now plans to major in theatre arts.
• A group of girls look at a pile of lego pieces and motor gears and are told to make a robot and program it so that it follows a specific course to specifications. They look blankly and say “I can’t do this, I’ve never done this.” They are encouraged by Girls, Inc. staff and Medtronic mentors to persevere and try it. They work for weeks on their robot and programming, they put together a display board and practice delivering an engaging speech to detail the steps they took to accomplish their goal of the successful robot. They entered the city wide completion with lots of nerves, but feeling prepared. After the two rounds of robot runs and the verbal presentations were completed and scored tabulated – Girls, Inc. of Memphis was the winner! (the only all-girl team in the competition).
• A girl is supported all through high school to achieve her academic goals to attend college and make a life for herself. She welcomes all of the hand-holding support of the college entrance paperwork from ACT test prep and registration, to college applications, to scholarship paperwork provided by her Girls, Inc. TRiO counselor. She is accepted on scholarship to Tennessee State University. In her freshman year she is a victim of a senseless crime walking to campus from Wendy’s and was shot multiple times. She survives and Girls, Inc. staff immediately comes to her (and her mother’s) side with support. She recovers beautifully and vows to return to MTSU to complete her college education, that she would not be stopped. She shares that her Girls, Inc. family is why she was so strong and focused on reaching her goal of a college degree and committed to returning, which she did.
• A group of girls ages 6, 7 and 8 work together to develop a lemonade stand company. They develop a business plan including business name, budget for supplies, marketing plan and implementation plan. They use power tools for the first time to build a wooden lemonade stand to support their business venture. They sell their lemonade to happy customers. The profit they earned they put towards their summer Girls, Inc. out of town trip.
Orion: Girls, Inc. is now in its 68th year. Tell us about your biggest successes to date.
Ms. Moore: I’d have to say the fact that we opened our doors to girls in 1947 and continue to provide girls with quality, life preparing programming in 2015 is a huge accomplishment. Our researched based age sequential programming and knowledge of issues facing girls makes us the “go to” organization for girls and young women. We are one of the largest affiliates in the Girls, Inc. network, spanning 82 communities across the US and Canada. One recent success is Girls, Inc. of Memphis was selected (as a part of a 12 affiliate leadership team) to develop and roll out a comprehensive system of effectively tracking participation, program quality and outcomes for the 82 affiliates network wide. We were selected based on our high quality of programming and participation in the development of our outcomes system. It is a huge success as a youth organization to have a clear logic model, program curriculum approach, outcomes that directly align with our mission statement and a comprehensive system for tracking our outcomes.
Orion: What has surprised you most about working at Girls, Inc.?
Ms. Moore: The universal love and messages you hear from alumni of Girls, Inc. of Memphis is surprising. Girls, Inc. of Memphis was originally the Girls Club of Memphis, we went through a network name change in 1990. Whenever I meet an alumni from the Girls Club days or the Girls, Inc. days the alumni lights up and says how much they LOVED being a part of the organization. Universally you hear, “I got to be myself,” “I tried new things,” “It was a magical place with limitless possibilities,” “It is my family,” “I owe so much of who I’ve become to Girls Club/Inc.”
Orion: You have already made such a positive impact in our community. What would make it possible for you to do even more?
Ms. Moore: Girls, Inc. of Memphis completed a three year growth plan this year to take us into 2018. Our goal is to significantly increase the number of girls served by 2018. To make this possible we need additional financial investment from the community to increase the number of quality staff members and additional program spaces to accommodate the growth.
Orion: What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering at Girls, Inc.?
Ms. Moore: To all interested in volunteering at Girls, Inc. of Memphis I say “welcome!” On our website at http://www.girlsincmemphis.org you may click on the “volunteer” button and fill out the interest form. Dora Harris will contact you and invite you to an upcoming volunteer orientation session where you will learn more about the Girls, Inc. experience and ways you can make a difference in the lives of girls in Memphis and Shelby County.