Because I am a Girl Recap!
How do you define a good time? Is it when your belly hurts from laughing and sharing stories or your heart feels joyful because you got to connect with people? Is it the hugs on the way in or the hugs on the way out? Is it the circle of trust that you find with old friends and even new friends? Is it the safety you feel when you’re surrounded by a group of people that clearly have your back, or is it the heartfelt exchanges that happen in a small circle? Is it the feeling that you get when someone tells their story and you find the courage to share yours? Is it the music or the entertainment that allows you to relax and dream, or is it the moment that you realize that life is grand and every person is extraordinary?
“Because I’m a Girl”went off beautifully. The Fabulous Women and the Boys & Girls Club of Petaluma hosted the gathering on Saturday, October 12th, 2013. The guests were immediately encouraged to feel at home by all of the volunteers, Cary Haris, and David Solo. Girls and mothers attended with a little idea about the vision for day. They knew that we would try to teach some life strategies, share the wisdom of confident speakers, and help pull out compassionate ideas for kindness. What they didn’t know is just how we would deliver those messages of love.
The day opened up with a powerful video that showcased influential women in history paving the way for success for this female generation. Oprah Winfrey, May Jamison, Ellen, and Madeline Albright were just a few. “This Girl is on Fire, Roar, Brave, Kind and Generous”……Those were just some of the songs that set the tone for the day. Girls were given a backpack filled with goodies and a shirt and wristbands to proclaim their strength and compassion. They got to take bold and silly photos with their mothers and friends, and they got to scribble messages about who they want to “BE” in the world.
Whether it was Wendi Thomas talking about the affects of alcohol and drugs, Paul Gilman and Tami Shoemaker addressing the reckless behavior with social media, Alyssa Byrnes’ parents talking about the “Buddy System” or Andre Salvage helping the girls understand their intuition and boundaries, every girl was quickly armed with knowledge and empowerment. The powerful monologues presented by Allison Ashley and the seniors at SonomaAcademy rocked the audience to the core. Each girl creatively expressed their demons and victories. They owned their experience with eating disorders, cutting, and anxiety over perfection. They rendered us speechless with their brave stories and profound wisdom. They were able to talk about the pressure to be perfect and have everything all figured out. They helped us understand that we can sometimes be our worst enemy and also our greatest hero.
Perhaps, a favorite moment for the crowd was the speech of the beautiful Maria Del Carmen Mediola. She was not only an ambassador for the Boys and Girls Clubs but also for all young women in the room. She confessed her time in a gang and all of the negative energy that held her back in her life. With courage and the support of the Boys & Girls Club, she found her self-worth and her purpose. The room was silent but the solidarity was loud and clear. Maria took a moment and proclaimed her place in the world. We knew that we had just witnessed a moment of grace.
Ashley Johnston, a former contestant of “The Biggest Loser,” talked about her journey to find health and peace. She reminded us that painful feelings can hold us back without even knowing it. The goal is to walk through life’s’ challenges to become strong and healthy. Once we do so, the pain can be put in its rightful place, and we can fully embrace all the possibilities that are available to us. Tara Broadwater and Riley Scott showed how you can take a gift like dancing and swimming and turn it into a passionate career. Elece Hempel, Lynne Moquete, and Michelle Levine closed the day with a challenge to practice kindness and honor sisterhood. Every girl in that room clearly understood that mean spirited girls don’t go very far in the world and that kindness is as much for the giver as it is for the receiver.
With little left to cover at the end of the day, Krista Gawronski tackled the topic of heroes. She highlighted the bravery of CJ Banaszek and asked everyone to find their courage when they are going through difficult moments…… especially the ones that are out of their control. She quoted CJ when he wrote a poem about his Leukemia. “Everything happens for a reason……. but I know that something brilliant will come of it.” She also made the girls raise their purple brave bands and make a pact. The girls were sworn to uphold their beautiful worth and never to buy into the bullies in the world. “Let their judgments and mean spirit be a reflection of who they are….. not who we are. Tell yourself, I don’t buy into it for one minute because I am amazing just the way I am.”
When you throw a party or an event, you’re sometimes graced with a nice card in your mailbox that says, “Thank you. I had a lovely time.” Our proof that this event was a success wasn’t letters or cards. It was the multiple face book and Instagram messages from young girls and mothers that attended the conference. One girl proclaimed her beauty from within and said that the event helped her understand why girls are sometimes mean. An anonymous message to our group said that she wasn’t going to find ways to hurt herself anymore. Another message came through from a mother sharing the excitement and inspiration that her daughters had. As soon as they got home from the conference, they drafted a proposal to start a kindness group in their school. Those are our thank you cards, and for every volunteer, speaker, facilitator, and generous sponsor that went out of their way to help, please take in our praise. We could not have done it without you! The question was raised by many guests and mothers…. “Will we do it again next year?” Perhaps…….but there is just no way to duplicate the genuine moments of love, compassion and expression. It was a gift like no other.
Thank you for Coming,
The Fabulous Women and The Boys & Girls Clubs of Petaluma
To see all the lovely and fun photos from the day visit Victoria Webb at: http://www.lgimages.smugmug.com
Thank you to our Wonderful Sponsors:
Bergin Glass Raleys
Alex and Ani
Basin Street Properties
Clover Organic Farms
Innovative Screen Printing and Embroidery
Love 2 Dance
Looking Glass Photography
Petaluma Valley Athletic Club
Pure Energy Productions
Noodle & Boo
Sonoma Preferred Caterers
The Ashley Family
The Law Office of Sandra Acevedo
Visual Story Media ~ Allen Fitch