It was an electric atmosphere at Overture Center as about 350 people gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day and support Girls Inc of Madison — and even if you missed it, you can still get involved and make a difference for the program.
Madison365 is proud to be the media sponsor of the event.
About 100 of those in attendance were the girls themselves, representing several of the 23 schools and community centers served by Girls Inc of Madison. Girls Inc serves about 800 girls in the Madison area by encouraging them to be smart, strong and bold through taking risks, expressing themselves and mastering physical, intellectual and emotional challenges.
“I love Girls, Inc. because it empowers women and girls,” said O’Keefe Middle School student Lamya Foy, like many of her peers clad in bright red shirt and headscarf at the Women’s Day event.
“I like Girls Inc. because it can teach us about being young women at an early age,” said Theresa King, also a student at O’Keefe.
“Girls, Inc. teaches you about things that you didn’t even know that you have,” said fellow O’Keefe student Ladene’ Truitt. “They bring you out your comfort zone and try new things and stuff.”
The International Women’s Day event opened with a reception allowing the girls to take selfies, show of their artwork and chat with their supporters.
Dinner got underway with a welcome from Eunique Jones Gibson, a photographer and “creative visionary” serving as MC for the second consecutive year. She was also the keynote speaker in 2016.
Becky Steinhoff, executive director of the Goodman Center — which runs the Girls, Inc program — laid out some of the successes of the program, including survey results that show, among Girls Inc participants:
- 78 percent are happy with how their body looks
- 74 percent plan to go to college
- 75 percent say they’ll stand up for someone being picked on
- 100 percent believe they can do anything boys can do
A keynote address from Telisa Yancy, Chief Marketing Officer at American Family Insurance and one of the most powerful Black women in America, and a speech and performance by rapper and producer Zhalarina Sanders, inspired and energized the crowd.
The event also contained another big announcement: Lea Culver, who served on the board of directors of the national Girls, Inc organization, will match every donation over $100 until Aoril 30. That means your donation will be doubled until then.
Many girls said they were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support at the event.
“It means that they care a lot and that they want to support us and make us great,” said Lamya Foy.
“It feels good that I know I have people by my side, and have best interests in me,” said O’Keefe student Theresa King.
“I’m glad that they’re supporting women,” said Kalia King.
Truitt said the turnout lets her know “people care about each other, and people want to make me successful in life. And that I’m not just nothing, and that I can do something in life.”
To support Girls, Inc — and have your donation matched — visit https://www.goodmancenter.org/donate.