Girls Inc. of Dothan works to inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold

Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 2:38 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Girls Incorporated is a nonprofit working to provide experience and opportunities for girls to thrive. There are affiliates all across the United States and Canada, including one right here in the Wiregrass.

“Our mission is to inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold,” Jaime Hale, the executive director of Girls Inc. of Dothan, said.

Girls Inc. of Dothan is encouraging girls all across the Southeast to carry these three characteristics throughout their life. They do this by offering center based and outreach-based programs for girls in kindergarten to eighth grade and give them a safe, supportive environment.

“We provide them with programming that is going to help educate them and give them the skills that they need to grow up and be productive citizens, to be healthy adults, to be economically independent and then we also provide them with adult role models to kind of help inspire and empower them,” Hale said.

Hale has been a part of the Girls Inc. mission for over 20 years.

“The fact that I have been here for 20 years shows how fulfilling this job is and how amazing it is,” she said. “It is truly a blessing. They bless me more than they know. They teach me more than I probably teach them, but it is truly a blessing and an honor to be part of this organization and to impact the girls lives in our community.”

Girls Inc. Made its way to Dothan in 1969 and has grown immensely since then by now mentoring hundreds of girls each year and they plan to continue to make that impact. The Dothan affiliate served almost 400 girls in 2022 and they expect that number to increase this year.

Mary Beth Bigham is the program director.

“My primary responsibility is finding programming that supports our mission here at Girls Inc. to make sure all girls are strong, smart and bold,” Bigham said.

She said their pursuit in empowering girls is vital for everyone.

“It’s extremely important,” Bigham said. “I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t. We’re raising future leaders, community leaders, people that are going to make change in this world so what’s not important about that?”

One way Girls Inc. of Dothan is setting these future leaders up for success is by adapting to the needs of girls they serve.

“That’s the beauty of this organization,” Hale said. “It’s been in existence since 1864, so the needs for girls in 1864 are vastly different than they are right now in 2023.”

They provide assistance opportunities for mental health and other topics girls face on a regular basis, such as bullying.

“As you can imagine with social media and the internet the way that it is right now bullying, it takes on a whole new lens than it did back when I was a child and mental health is also important,” Hale said. “I think COVID kind of helped bring that to the surface.”

One of their latest innovative projects is the trauma informed program called ‘RISE.’

“Basically, we assume every child that we deal with has experienced trauma, so we interact with them in such a way where we are not re-traumatizing them,” Hale said.

‘RISE’ is in its first year in collaboration with The Exchange Center.

“We’re giving them character building skills that they need to properly self-regulate, to respond properly to things that happened at school, to help them learn how to deal with conflict resolution,” Hale said.

Another resource they offer is free, in-house counseling for the girls once a week.

“Which is a safe space that they are familiar with and all of that kind of to rid that stigma of counseling as well,” Hale said. “So that way they don’t see it as like, ‘it’s a bad thing to go to the counselor.’”

Girls Inc. molding strong, smart and bold women by encouraging one girl at a time and they ask you to join them.

“Because all it takes is one caring individual to change the trajectory of a child’s life,” Bigham said.

If you want to register your daughter for Girls Inc. of Dothan you can give them a call. Any girls from kindergarten through eighth grade can attend the center, there are no requirements. The office number is (334)793-2321.

If you are interested in donating your time or dollars to Girls Inc. of Dothan you are asked to give their office a call.

Bigham said there are always opportunities available for people to get involved. One of the special events being the father daughter banquet that is coming up and the Summer program. She said they are now in full force into the Summer program registration and spots are filling up fast.

The staff said they always appreciate donors and volunteers at the center for activities and to assist the girls with tasks such as their homework.

Girls Inc. of Dothan is always looking for motivated individuals to serve on the board of directors as well. Again, if you are interested you can give the center a call.

Click here to read more about Girls Inc.

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