Twenty years ago today, Girls, Inc. opened the doors to their new and improved facility on Foothill Road in Carpinteria, and on Tuesday, April 22nd, they hosted a reception to thank those who helped make it possible.
Gathered in the courtyard, community leaders, past and present board members, and grateful patrons toasted the success and longevity of the organization, despite some bumps in the road getting it started over two decades ago.
When Girls, Inc. founding member, Dorothy Campbell, moved to Carpinteria, she noticed there wasn’t much for girls to do after school. Thus, she planted the seed of the first Girls Club, as it was know then, as a place where girls could participate in activities and learn new skills. Housed in a run-down little shack in downtown Carpinteria, the community pitched in to refurbish the small building and provide basic supplies for the program.
“We didn’t have a lot of money, and we didn’t know anything about fundraising”, Campbell recalled. “We were ecstatic if somebody came by with a $20.00 check”.
The club thrived, and soon, due to increasing demand, outgrew its location.
Local businessman and Girls, Inc. supporter, Win Van Wingerden spearheaded the search for a place the club could call its own.
Van Wingerden, and his family, had always held women’s causes close to their heart, and wanted to establish a constant connection within Carpinteria, their adopted hometown.
“When we began the campaign to raise funds for the new building, there was a tremendous amount of community support”, Van Wingerden remembers. “It says a lot about what people are made of in this town; that Carpinteria can support not just Girls, Inc., but all the wonderful organizations we have”.
As with any civic project, there were several obstacles to getting the new campus constructed. But, Campbell looks back fondly on the whole experience, calling it “wonderful fun”.
And wonderful, indeed, for the thousands of girls who have passed though its doors.
Once Girls, Inc. became linked with the national organization, their power to implement innovative programs, and offer financial and educational support to its members, grew rapidly.
Last night, many people happily reminisced about the journey to finally bring the new building to fruition.
Executive Director, Victoria Juarez, addressed the crowd and thanked the donors present for their generous and continuous support of Girls, Inc. She also spoke of the recent successes the girls have experienced in the ground-breaking Eureka college-readiness program. “Success is rooted in education”, Juarez told the guests.
Juarez was also pleased to announce, in partnership with the Santa Barbara Foundation, the creation of the Girls, Inc. of Carpinteria Endowment Fund.
“These girls are owning their future”, Juarez said. And the future looks bright for generations of girls to come.