On September 27, nearly 400 supporters of Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara gathered at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort for the 16th annual Celebration Luncheon.
After a lively reception, guests adjourned to the ballroom where they were welcomed by CEO Barbara Ben-Horin, who shared how Girls Inc.’s mission is to empower all girls to be strong, smart, and bold and how this mission defines its curriculum. She presented an award to Pamme Mickelson, executive director of Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Center, for providing horsepower equine therapy through a partnership the organizations formed in 2016. Ben-Horin lauded the program, pointing to the results she has seen among girls who have participated in the program, which is designed to improve patience, concentration, perseverance, and emotional control. Ben-Horin also presented an award to Leo Bunnin of Bunnin Santa Barbara for generously servicing at no cost Girls Inc.’s fleet of 18 vehicles, which transport girls from 30 schools to Girls Inc.’s facilities.
Feminist activist and attorney Brenda Feigen gave a wide-ranging speech on gender discrimination and other issues, touching on landmark court cases, including some in which she participated. Then Master of Ceremonies Itzel (last name withheld pursuant to Girls Inc. policy), took over the show. She charmed the audience at “hello” and continued to do so throughout the program. A sixth grade student at Franklin Elementary School, Itzel has been coming to Girls Inc. for seven years. She eloquently recited the Girls Inc. Bill of Rights, which at its base teaches girls to think for themselves, and added her own insightful and precious commentary. Itzel thanked Girls Inc. for teaching her that nobody can stop her from being what she wants. When asked what difference she wants to make in the world, she replied that she wants to see mothers, especially single moms, appreciated more.
Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, with centers in Santa Barbara and Goleta, is part of an organization serving girls across the U.S. and Canada. Through research-based programming, an all-girl environment, and mentoring, Girls Inc. seeks to help girls overcome gender, economic, and social barriers. For girls TK through 12th grade, it offers after-school programming and a summer program. It also offers a separate gymnastics program.
The cost for full-time participation (three or more days per week) in the after-school program (transportation included) is $100-$110/wk and the summer camp $210/wk for TK-6 and $100/wk for grades 7-12, with a 25% sibling discount. Last year, $535,000 in financial aid was awarded to 443 girls in these two programs.
For more information, go to girlsincsb.org.
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By Gail Arnold