Mattie and lisa

Mattie Reese is a freshman majoring in nursing at Philander Smith College in Little Rock. She's happy, confident and a shining example of the importance of Girls Inc. and the power of mentors.

Mattie says she never had a mother figure and her father left when she was 15. What she DID have was her Girls Inc. family beginning at the age of nine. "My mentors at Girls Inc. were my mother support," Mattie says. "They helped me become a beautiful, strong, smart and bold young lady."

Lisa says that since Mattie's graduation from Manassas, a community of women has surrounded Mattie to help her transition from high school to college.

"Mattie has no family support and has been living on her own for much of her childhood, going from friends’ and mentors’ homes over the years," Lisa said. "Girls Inc. alumna, staff and friends hosted a ‘trunk party’ to set her up with dorm room supplies. One mentor, a former Girls Inc. staff member, drove Mattie to college and still hosts her for holidays and breaks."

When there was a snag with her financial aid package, Mattie assumed she was coming home before she'd even started her first semester. Two staff members drove to Little Rock to help, and she was able to start her freshman year. She completed her first semester only to find that she had an unpaid balance of $1,723. Lisa turned to her friends on Facebook.

"Within 24 hours, 16 women that had never met Mattie were so inspired by her story that they pledged enough to cover the balance," Lisa said. "As a community of women, we have stepped in for Mattie. Some have given her shelter, food and clothing. Others  have offered advice and support navigating her educational journey. All have given their love. Mentoring comes in many forms, and all are valuable!"

"It's awesome - they did it for me!" she said. "They want to see me succeed even though I had a lot of trials and tribulations. I thank them every day for their motivation. It makes me work harder."

Mattie says the ongoing support from her team of mentors has inspired her to pay it forward by helping other young women.

Happy Jones

Happy Jones has been passionate in her support of Girls Inc. of Memphis for enough years that she's unclear on when she started. But for her, that's beside the point.

"Girls Inc. has been around a while, and it keeps on growing," she says. "Now they've got the farm and all that-it's remarkable. And they need to keep going."

Because of supporters like Happy, Girls Inc. of Memphis is going strong, adding a Youth Farm in Frayser and expanding in Memphis, including a brand new presence at Booker T. Washington School.

Happy's life also provides a stellar example of what it means to be strong, smart and bold.

In 1969, the year after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the city's sanitation workers were about to strike again because the city would not recognize their union.

"We got a couple of buses and rode around to see the sanitation workers' houses, and how they lived," Happy said. "It was pathetic."

The next day, the same group of women went to City Hall to address the mayor and city council. They insisted the issue was poverty and racism, not unions or management.

"They folded - right at that meeting," she said. "They recognized the union and we didn't have another strike. THAT'S how powerful the women were who were on that ride."

Happy—whose given name is Dorothy—says that her older sisters came up with her nickname. “They named me Happy before I was born. They said the new baby was going to be called Happy. So that was that.”

She was born in Memphis, attended Lausanne for lower and middle school and went to an all-girl boarding school in Farmington, Connecticut for high school.

“My folks chose it, and I’m delighted I went, because I got another world view,” Happy said. “There were more people up there who were liberal.”

She came back to Memphis to attend Southwestern but didn’t graduate.

“I got married and had three children and began to make trouble.”

She registered to vote on her 21st birthday and soon got involved in politics, helping run local campaigns for Republicans.

In 1968, The Commercial Appeal named her one of the 20 most influential political figures in Shelby County. Her notoriety probably helped in the concerned women vs. City Hall incident, but her activism made friends and family uncomfortable.

“I would go out to something at the Memphis Country Club and somebody would come up to me and say, ‘You used to be my friend.'”

She was eventually forced out of local Republican Party leadership. But she made new friends. And today she’s a Democrat.

For a mother of three grown girls and someone who likes to “make trouble," Girls Inc. seems like a perfect match.

“I support them because I support the mission,” Happy said. “What they’re doing is mentoring girls who might never have the chance to be exposed to the things that Girls Inc. is exposing them to. That’s why I think it’s an excellent organization.”

If you are a Girls Inc. (or Girls Club) of Memphis alum, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Contact Barbara Hayes at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 901-523-0217 and share your contact information with her so we can keep you invovled.

 

THANK YOU!

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Thanks to our generous donors, we raised an incredible $10,903.44 on #GivingTuesday this year. That's more than FIVE times more than what we set out to raise - enough to pay for a week of programming for 508 girls!

 

Those girls will receive the positive, pro-girl programming at the hear of the Girls Inc. Experience and will get the chance to grow and reach their full potential.

 

That incredible sum was raised from a total of 64 donors - 34 of them made gifts for the first time. We asked for a minimum gift of $21.64, the price of one week of Girls Inc. of Memphis programming. But for these GivingTuesday heroes the average gift was $165.20 - way to go!

Didn't get around to giving? Don't worry! It is never too late to give a gift to help girls grow.

Give now....



Girls rule!

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Tuesday, Oct. 11 was the International Day of the Girl. Check out this clip from WMC-TV5's coverage of Girls Inc. of Memphis girls taking part in First Lady Michelle Obama's live stream event focused on girls education!

And since we're on a roll, you might as well check out THIS clip from WREG News Channel 3!

Michelle GIM WREG

 

Testimonials

I’ve always been good in school and loved being involved in Girls Inc. I participated in a collaborative program with Hatiloo Theatre and it was then I found my voice. I realized what I want to do…I want to act! Since having my eyes opened through this experience, I’ve been in 3 Hatiloo productions and 5 White Station High School productions. - Kelsie


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Girls Inc. of Memphis
Administrative Office
910 Vance Ave.
Memphis, TN 38126
901-523-0217
 
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