Meet Ericka, a lovely young woman I met five years ago and had the pleasure of mentoring. She is now a junior in High School at The Milton Hershey School in Pennsylvania and is making plans for college. Most importantly, she is flourishing. This picture was taken when I visited her recently at school and we enjoyed an afternoon visiting a local cave followed by a girls’ lunch. I am so proud of her!
In 2001, Enterprise Community Partners, in partnership with the Enterprise Women’s Network, established the first all-girls youth mentoring program in Baltimore City. The Girls Mentoring Program establishes a support system for girls while enriching their educational experience.
I am so very proud to be a mentor and that’s why I’m donating a percentage of my business profits to support this program that is so close to my heart.
I’m a small business. I can’t write a huge check every year, but I can allocate a small portion of my profits every month to this hands-on, sustainable program. Because this program is 100% staffed by volunteers, it doesn’t take much—that’s the thing about it. This is a program where I know that my donation isn’t going to pay marketing, administrative or management fees. My donation pays for tangible items that go right to the girls—a field trip to the country, lunch on a college visit or transportation to a museum.
In this very special mentoring program women from all backgrounds and ages are matched with girls from William Pinderhughes Elementary/Middle School. As mentors, we usually meet twice per month on a Thursday afternoon at the girls’ school in small groups. We work with the girls on various group projects or informal interactive presentations while we enjoy a snack, chat about family, school, friendships and current issues that have their attention. During the school year we also get together for at least three fun-filled excursions/field trips where we visit a college, spend a day outdoors or visit a museum. Our time spent with the girls helps build their self-esteem, encourages them to make healthy choices, develops their coping strategies and helps them achieve academic success. It is truly the most rewarding thing I do in my life.
I love this business. I love weddings and flowers and cake, and dancing and diamonds and I do’s, and most of all I love LOVE. Of all the things I could be doing with my life, being a part of the wedding industry has made me feel especially blessed. As a florist I am one of the very best parts of a wedding celebration (other than the betrothed). Weddings, by their very nature are a celebration and brides are celebrating in high style and to the tune of thousands of dollars—signature cocktails, five-course meals, French lace, Swarovski crystal beading, cover bands, brides in carriages, grooms on elephants, elegant couture, theatrical lighting, towering confections, award winning photography, and my favorite part—flowers, amazing beautiful flowers. And while I’m not complaining (really, I’m not), there are moments when it all feels just a little bit over the top. Maybe there’s just something not right about so much money being funneled into one beautiful day? But, oh my gosh—it’s such a big day and who doesn’t dream of that perfectly lovely, beautiful, and memorable wedding day?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have that gorgeous wedding AND still give something back to the world at the same time? Now my brides can be a part of something really special and still get the beautiful floral pieces they dream about for their wedding because 5% of the profit from each wedding I book goes directly to help support this important program.
If you’d like to become a mentor, meet some wonderful like-minded women and work with one very special girl who really needs you—really, she does—then please email me, call me, or visit the web site to get more information about how you can truly change a young girl’s life.
If you don’t have the time to mentor a girl, consider making a donation of your own. Even small donations make a big difference. In the past, we’ve taken the girls on a golf outing, taken them to New York for a Broadway play and behind-the-scenes tour, been to a ball game, visited a nursing home, gone bowling, visited a farm, and so much more. Your donation might cover lunch, an event ticket or transportation to a meaningful activity.
Throughout the year I will update with news about these beautiful young girls and the amazing women who choose to spend valuable time with them. Please check my blog and facebook page from time to time to hear stories about making a difference!
Girls having fun on a field trip to The Visionary Arts Museum