For Goodness’ Sake: Girls Empowerment Network

At RecognizeGood, it has and always will be our mission to share the GOOD in our community. In a time where our news feeds are refreshed more frequently than ever, we wanted to dig deeper and share the stories of our friends that are still out there on the front lines – the nonprofit staff and volunteers who don’t get weekends or holidays off, who cannot work from home and who still fearlessly take care of others.

Girls Empowerment Network ignites the power in girls by teaching them the skills to thrive and believe in their ability to be unstoppable. They do this by facilitating a self-efficacy building curriculum at schools, camps, and conferences for girls in grades 3rd-12th.  Originally called the Ophelia Project, Girls Empowerment Network works to prevent the systematic decline and sometimes permanent loss of self-esteem in young women that can lead to epidemic levels of anorexia/bulimia, self-mutilation, depression, low academic achievement, teen pregnancy, and drug abuse. With schools closing, we wanted to see how they were still reaching the 15,000+ girls that they serve. We spoke with Development Manager, Chelsea Dean-Martinez, to see how they were holding up.

The amazing group at Girls Empowerment Network has worked astoundingly to continue their mission in a virtual environment. They tackled going online once in-school groups could not meet. “We pivoted quickly. Our first focus was how do we keep serving girls, everything else came second,” Chelsea explains.

Her team has truly gone above and beyond, leading a video conference check-in with girls weekly, turning many activities into YouTube videos that families can watch at home as well as downloadable PDFs, and a portion of our in-school groups are meeting virtually. They have also launched a project called Coping and Connection where they call families to see how they are doing and connect them with available resources when needed.

It’s “all-hands-on-deck” as their team works from home, creating activity videos on YouTube, presentations for donors to keep their mission growing, and of course, checking in with each other and planning virtual meditations and dance parties to keep spirits high.

Girls Empowerment Network has even figured out how to have “Virtual Volunteers.” They are calling all creative and innovative thinkers to help get involved with their mission here.  This session will provide volunteers with an opportunity to share how they’re experiencing COVID-19, brainstorm how girls are uniquely experiencing this time of social isolation, and help inform next steps in volunteer and girl programming.

“We really came up with these virtual opportunities together as a team. It just took several brainstorming sessions where we really tried to think about what was most important, what was feasible, what was accessible for our community,” Chelsea states.

They are still reliant on donations; in fact, a generous family stepped forward with a $20,000 match that allowed them to kick off going virtual. If you are able to help them in any capacity, do so here. Stay up to date with everything and to participate in the challenges they have going on by following them on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

For more GOOD reading, check out our other For Goodness’ Sake Articles with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas, Mission Accomplished, Autism Society of Texas, BookSpring and HopeAustin!

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About RecognizeGood

RecognizeGood: THE Foundation (commonly known as simply RecognizeGood) is a local nonprofit that provides a means for individuals, businesses and other nonprofits to illuminate selfless volunteers, charitable acts and community service throughout the greater Austin area. There are several active RecognizeGood programs that work toward this mission from different angles, but the common theme is simple – the illumination of GOOD in our community.