It’s an achievement with admirable roots. Founded in 1972 as the Girls Club, it was created as a place for girls from around the county to be encouraged to be their best selves. Through learning about a variety of possible careers, developing workforce and life skills, and cultivating lifelong friendships, a number of members could be quantified, but to put a value on the number of lives impacted directly and indirectly by Girls, Inc. since inception?
Only lifetimes divulged and the hoped for drop-ins of former members could truly give shape to that narrative.
Pat Summit said it best, speaking at the Morristown Girls Club’s Annual Meeting in 1978:
“You will touch a lot of people. You will probably never know what doors you open, what opportunities you are giving a lot of young girls…”
…and through half a century, Girls, Inc. has steadfastly delivered ‘life-changing programs and experiences that equip girls to overcome barriers to growing up strong, smart, bold and inspired’. Once again, Pat knew exactly what to say to encourage others in spite of circumstances and the unknown.
For 48 of those 50 years, Girls, Inc. of Hamblen County has been a United Way of Hamblen County partner agency! They joined us as soon as they could according to our requirements: after they had been established for 2 years. Together we continue to make a lifetime impact in the lives of girls in our community.
The staff of Girls, Inc. is dedicated to providing a safe place for girls to develop supportive relationships with each other and the women on staff to help them navigate the varied difficulties in their lives, to learn new life skills that will prepare them to be successful post-secondary school and into adulthood. By making a difference, in some large or small way, for every girl and family they have served, they have prepared them to thrive and chase their dreams with enhanced self-confidence and ability.
Thank you for being a light in the community, thank you for serving alongside us all these years,
United Way of Hamblen County
In 1972, the women of the Morristown Pilot Club observed girls had a big need in their community. Girls ages 6 to 18 and from all income brackets needed a safe place to gather afterschool and in the summers. They needed good role models and mentors, plenty of encouragement to build positive life-skills, and a fun all-girl environment to help them grow strong, smart and bold. So they put their ideas into action and founded a Girls Club for Hamblen County.
By 1977, their idea had grown into so many girl members that a groundbreaking ceremony was needed for a new building to house them. At the 1978 Annual Banquet, guest speaker Pat Head Summit said of the Girls Club, “You will touch a lot of people. You will probably never know what doors you open, what opportunities you are giving a lot of young girls…”
Now known as Girls Inc. of Hamblen County, our club serves 500 girls each year. Girls from any Hamblen County school have the opportunity to come to the Center for fun educational programming by riding a Girls Inc. bus. Each year, those same buses take girls on educational field trips that widen their worldview. Fun, friendship, learning and growing is all happening at Girls Inc. of Hamblen County.
HOW GIRLS CLUBS STARTED
The very first Girls Club (now Girls Inc.) opened its doors in Waterbury, Connecticut in 1864 as a response to the needs of a new working class: young women who had migrated from rural communities in search of newly available job opportunities in textile mills and factories. This club provided recreational and educational programs for these young working women and also for the younger daughters of working class families who had no place to safely gather. The idea caught on and from 1895 until 1930, more centers popped up across the northeastern United States. In May 1945, nineteen clubs decided to formalize their mission into an organization—The Girls Clubs of America. In 1990, the organization changed its name to Girls Incorporated.
To inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold
That all girls in our care grow up healthy, educated, and independent with a strong foundation for successful adult lives.
So many girls need help overcoming the messages and pressures from family or community that make them doubt their self-worth. We help girls gain confidence encouraging them to set achievable goals, explore their interests, and dream beyond their realities. Girls Inc. staff mentors and community partners work daily to help girls discover that their potential is limitless. We know that caring people, a safe environment and targeted experiential programming will best empower girls to reach for success.
Our staff and community volunteers build lasting, mentoring relationships, and encourage peer friendships that support positive goals and aspirations.
Our programs are girls-only, physically and emotionally safe; there is a sisterhood of support, high expectations, and respect.
Girls Inc.’s research-based programming is hands-on, minds-on, and meets the needs of today’s girls with age-appropriate information and knowledge. That way, we can better support girls in making decisions that lead to healthy lives; academic success; and life skills that prepare for adulthood.
The Girls’ Bill of Rights
Girls have the right to be themselves and to resist gender stereotypes.
Girls have the right to express themselves with originality and enthusiasm.
Girls have the right to take risks, to strive freely, and to take pride in success.
Girls have the right to accept and appreciate their bodies.
Girls have the right to have confidence in themselves and to be safe in the world.
Girls have the right to prepare for interesting work and economic independence.