Something magical always happen when two volunteers get paired with each other and it just works. This is no different for our awesome volunteer pair Johnna McCowen and Samantha George. This winter cycle the two are leading their 5th and 3rd program, respectfully. Johnna and Samantha were paired together when Johnna signed up to lead her 3rd Girls Inc. program and Samantha on her 1st program. They have volunteered together each cycle since. Johnna and Samantha both feel a strong connectivity to the Girls Inc. mission, and this is very apparent in each program they have led. Their love for the girls and the Girls Inc. mission radiates through them. Read this amazing volunteer pair’s thoughts and experiences on their work with Girls Inc.!
Why did you choose to volunteer with Girls Inc.?
Johnna: “The real question for me is how couldn’t I choose to volunteer with Girls Inc.? I love the meaning behind the 3 words we inspire these young women to be: strong, smart, and bold. I am blessed to be a part of showing girls that they are valued and strong while encouraging their academic enrichment!”
Samantha: “I knew I wanted to be a part of Girls Inc., because of their mission statement: We inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Having been an aftercare teacher (and a young, self-conscious girl myself), I’ve seen how hard it can be for young girls to grow up to become strong, confident women. More often than not, these young women are taught at an early one what to think, but not how to think. Every day, girls are bombarded with negative images and stories that they don’t really understand, and are never given an avenue to talk or ask questions. The girls have a chance to ask questions and challenge old stereotypes, all the while forming their own opinions about who they are and who they want to be.”
What have you enjoyed about volunteering with a friend?
Johnna: Volunteering with Samantha has been an amazing experience! Our personalities mix so well that they are effective in providing the girls with opportunities for their futures.
Samantha: She [Johnna] is always smiling, no matter what, and takes the time to listen to each girl so that everyone feels heard. She and I have developed a strong friendship outside of Girls Inc., and for that I am incredibly grateful.
What was your favorite part to teach in your program?
Johnna: My favorite part to teach was during the Redefining Beauty Program. During this program it was eye-opening to see the girls change their outlooks on what really defines beauty.
Samantha: My favorite part of teaching Girls Inc. is the very last session we have with the girls. Not only is this a ceremony that the girls look forward to having, but it’s also a moment when we get to reflect and see how everyone has grown. As a co-facilitator, there is nothing better than seeing the love and effort you have put into a program pay off. It reassures you that what you’re doing really makes a difference.
Why do you think Girls Inc. is beneficial to girls?
Samantha: I believe the programs at Girls Inc. are beneficial because it’s getting more and more difficult for young women to find a safe place to ask questions and learn about themselves without mixed-messages. I believe that no girl is born with low self-esteem – I think it’s taught through images, stories, or messages that are confusing. It all goes back to being taught what to think, but not how. The programs at Girls Inc. offers some time for young women to learn positive messages, and reflect on their lessons. They can start to form their own opinions, and are encouraged to do so.
Do you have tips for other Volunteer Program Facilitators?
Johnna: If there is one thing I learned about working as a team with my past facilitators, it is making sure you are both taking on responsibilities and that your main focus is providing the girls with the experience Girls Inc. has envisioned.
Have a friend, co-worker, or family member you would like to volunteer with? Encourage them to apply today!