Girlfriends-Lbc, Inc: Raising self-esteem in girls

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girlfriendsEverythingLongBeach.com recently spoke with Kristi Heicke, President/Founder of girlfriends-Lbc., Inc., via email. They talked about the inspirations and challenges of running a nonprofit organization in Long Beach.

How long has girlfriends-Lbc., Inc. been around? Did it start in Long Beach?

girlfriends began its journey on November 16, 2006, in Long Beach. Meetings with the girls began in September of 2007. Meetings are held all over the Long Beach area at a variety of schools, also at El Dorado Park once a week.

Describe Girlfriends-Lbc., Inc.. Tell us a little about your nonprofit, your mission, the people you serve or your goals.

Whether you’re a young girl between the ages of 11 and 15 or a parent searching for wholesome resources you can trust and your daughter can rely on, you’ve come to the right place. You see, I started girlfriends two years ago when I realized the importance of positive role models and mentors in a young girl’s life. I have two daughters of my own and knew early on that I wanted to give them every opportunity to grow and mature into happy, healthy, ambitious adults.

And that’s what girlfriends is all about.

We gather together once a week to talk about what’s going on in our lives, problems we run into, and work through positive solutions. Sometimes we go on field trips or dive into creative activities as we learn about community service, how to handle money, how to stay safe, how to set and achieve important goals, or how to love and accept ourselves. Whatever we do, we do have a great time laughing, talking, and getting to know one another. The bottom line is that we are gaining essential life skills while forming lifelong relationships.

How is girlfriends-Lbc., Inc. involved with the community?

girlfriends engage many schools in the area, year to date we have been at 2 High Schools,16 Middle Schools,and 7 Elementary Schools.

girlfriends has participated in the Relay for Life Cancer for the last two years, Lakewood Sheriff’s Mug Rug, Belmont Shore Christmas Parade, and University by the Sea.

Each year we donate to a charity for Christmas; in 2007 we raised over a $1000.00 to the Women’s Shelter and 2008 we adopted a family from Bayshore Community Church and surprised them with $2000.00 in cash and presents.

What are some of the biggest successes Girlfriends-Lbc., Inc. has had?

In the last two-half years 450 girls have attended a Girlfriends meeting, our girlfriends Conference, or girlfriends Summer Camp.

In 2008, we had our first Girlfriends 2008, For Teens, For Families, For Life Conference for Parents and Teens.

We just completed our 2nd Annual Conference for 2009, this is the first conference that brings parents together with their girls. We talk about daily challenges, peer pressure, parents classes, self-image sessions, and much more.

What is the most rewarding part of running Girlfriends-Lbc., Inc.?

The most rewarding is working and meeting some amazing in kids. Each girl has brought so much to the group, with their style, their advice, dancing skills, and just the smile on their face.

My life has forever changed….these girls inspire me everyday of my life.

What are the challenges you face — as a nonprofit, as an advocacy group, or in your industry?

Starting a new non-profit most companies want to see longevity and history before they will take the chance and give you a grant.

girlfriends has struggled in the fundraising department, most of the girls come from less-fortunate homes. So it’s hard for them to raise money in the areas they live in. Also, for an organiation like girlfriends I can’t really throw a fundraising gala, you need money and people in the community to attend the fundraiser.

What are the future plans for Girlfriends-Lbc., Inc.?

The program goal for Girlfirends is to find a permanent facility to be the base of operations for girlfriends. I want a nice place for these girls to come after school, we will offer life skills sessions on a daily basis.

Each girl will participate in the first level of sessions and move their way to graduate. It will be treated like a college; we will offer internships, job placements, and girls will come back to become a mentor themselves.

How can people get involved with girlfriends-Lbc., Inc.? What do you need — volunteers, donations, etc?

You can visit our website at www.girlfriends-lbc.org. You will find a volunteer application, a donation area, and much more. I’m always looking for someone like would like to work with the girls; from knitting, cooking, sewing, and guest speakers. Come join the Girlfriend fun!!!

Girlfriends-Lbc., Inc. Details:

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