Newburgh Girl Power: Celebrating a Year of Friends and Fun

Newburgh Girl Power Graduation Celebration

On Thursday, June 18, Newburgh Girl Power gathered for their graduation celebration at the last meeting of the school season to celebrate their community supporters, volunteers, board members, families and of course, the girls. The brightly decorated upper room in St. George’s Episcopal Church in the heart of Newburgh filled with fresh homemade foods, community leaders from Cornell Cooperative 4H, Safe Homes, YWCA, Planned Parenthood and Team Newburgh.

Newburgh Girl Power, a dynamic, grassroots organization for girls aged 9-18, was started in 2012 with a mission to  “provide a dynamic youth experience through self-exploration, positive mentoring and support, personal empowerment, and leadership building skills in a culturally competent approach." Growing leaders and inspiring confidence are among the primary goals of the group which meets weekly after school and for special events throughout the year. This year's activities included building robots and coding with 4H, as well as hosting a MLK event, participating in a 5k and helping out at a community clean-up in the city of Newburgh.  Program Director, Doris Lopez, an accomplished, educated Newburgh native, has assembled a wonderful team to support this mission and is infinitely resourceful in finding opportunities and valuable, enriched activities for the girls through community supporters.  She has created an environment that is safe, both physically and emotionally, and respectful, which motivates girls to participate and thrive. 

KayLani, who has been a member for 2 years is the perfect reflection of this. She wears a smile that is ear to ear as she greeted guests at graduation. What she likes best about coming to the Newburgh Girl Power group is the interactive activities and, “hanging out with each other." This is a sentiment shared by all of the girls.

Certificates of appreciation and participation were presented to support groups from the community, Lauren—a volunteer from Bard College—and each of the girls. On each printed page, their community service hours were dutifully listed. The graduation also served as a welcoming of a new Board member, Claudette Aldebot, a Senior Associate of Cultural Markets/ New York Life Latino, who became inspired to serve Newburgh Girl Power as a volunteer.

The star of the celebration was Samantha Galan, the group’s first graduating senior. Samantha, who described herself as a shy, quiet girl when she joined the group 1 year ago for the social activities, has gained confidence, and blossomed from her participation in this organization.  Doris beamed as she presented Samantha with her certificate and flowers, praising Samantha’s soaring success on her “Senior Talk” at NFA , a requirement for graduation. Samantha will be attending SUNY Orange in the fall with a plan to study visual communication/ graphic arts, a decision she said was inspired by her experiences with Newburgh Girl Power.

selfie time! at Newburgh Girl Power graduation

Doris is currently organizing a “Girls Conference” for October 10th, 2015 at Mount St. Mary College (MSMC). This community event will include workshops, speakers and activities with a focus on Empowering Girls. Look for information on the Newburgh Girls Power, MSMC  and Happy Hudson Valley websites as the date nears.

headlining photo from Newburgh Girl Power Facebook page: girls at the Safe Harbors 5k Fun Run 2015