Category Archives: Blog

Kelly Boyer-Volunteer

Celebrating GAW Volunteers | Kelly Boyer

“It’s fun for me because I get to talk about tools in a way that I don’t in my own home – And the component of people is the most important piece for me. I love that we get to help women feel strong.”

Kelly grew up using power tools and as a result has gained confidence and strength to tackle challenges throughout her life as well as seek opportunities. Recently, she was elected as one of the youngest Goffstown Select(wo)men and is passionate about helping women find their inner power. She has always been actively engaged in the community and served two years in Americorps programs prior to becoming involved with Girls at Work. She heard about the organization from a good friend who said it would be a perfect fit for Kelly and her wife. Since Kelly has started volunteering with Girls at Work she has been essential in growing the Women’s Build program. She has helped spearhead the introduction of a series of Women’s Build classes that began this past January and is the Lead Instructor for the program.

Kelly didn’t realize the impact that she was going to have on women through teaching. She says, “I can help other women find that power that society tells them they shouldn’t have.” Kelly acknowledges that the classes at Girls at Work are not “normal” because the opportunities for women and girls to build are rare. She reflects on a really cool experience when teaching and someone came up to her after class and said, “I was absolutely terrified of power tools and now i’m not.” Kelly talks about how being apart of Girls at Work is “a good reminder that everyone has different life experiences and approaches things in different ways.”

Kelly offers a bit of advice for those interested in getting involved with Girls at Work. “It’s not about the tools. It’s about the process of using critical thinking skills and what happens internally. You have to do this, this is not a normal experience that women get to have. There is a place for everyone at girls at work and there is no limit to who can be involved.”

GAW Celebrates our Volunteers | Christine Keenan

ChristineKeenan-VolunteerChristine Keenan first heard about Girls at Work when Elaine Hamel (founder and program manager) posted about a women’s build back in November 2014. Christine signed up for the class and learned how to build a garden bench. She took that bench home and danced around it because of how proud she was to have accomplished something she didn’t know she could do. She learned about the mission of Girls at Work and how they support at risk girls and jumped at the idea of getting involved. Over the next couple of years she volunteered helping with classes, building signs, and attended New Hampshire Construction Career days to attract women to the organization.

When prompted about her continued involvement with GAW she said, “How could I possibly say no, when you know it just takes a bit of time to help and have a positive impact on a young girl? I have had similar experiences growing up as some of these girls and I know the importance of how this program helps them.” Christine can see the difference that the organization has on these young girls. She says, “It gives these girls a new way of looking at their world in a positive way because they are put in a position to see positive role models and then they can imagine opportunities for themselves.”

Christine values so many memories and experiences with her time at GAW. She really values the connections that she has made with people from various backgrounds and hearing their stories as well as the mission of the organization. In her time volunteering in the workshop she really enjoys “seeing how it has unfolded and seeing the difference between the first two hours and then watching the girls as they walk out a little bit taller.” Above all Christine loves sharing the moments with girls and women when they accomplish their project because she can see their faces light up with pride.

Christine has personally benefited from the programs values throughout her time at GAW. “I’ve gained confidence to build other things and pursue other personal goals that I put on the back burner, such as doing art. Now I have secured a spot featuring my art at Oglethorpe Fine Arts & Crafts in collaboration with Artisans by the Bay in Meredith starting in May.” She is thankful for all the wonderful people she has met through the organization as well. You might meet this amazing volunteer when you take a Women’s Power Build class coming up this year.

For anyone who is interested in volunteering with GAW Christine offers her advice. “Stop thinking about it and just do it! You have nothing to lose and you will gain much more than you would have ever imagined by being apart of it.”

Seaport Warm-Up Fundraiser

Seaport Warm Up Official-FBMentally Escape the Seaport Chill for a Good Cause
Thursday, April 5
4 pm – 6:30 pm
at the SUPER COOL Reebok HQ: 25 Drydock Ave, Boston, MA 02210

Stanley Black and Decker Women’s Network, Reebok and Nutre Meal Plans have partnered up to give you a momentary escape from the cold weather and support a great cause! The Winter Warm Up is a fundraising event benefiting Dress for Success and Girls at Work!

Come join your Seaport colleagues for a time of
FUN, FUNDRAISING and NETWORKING

100% of Donations Benefit Girls at Work and Dress for Success 

Jog: $10-$29.99 | Admission, 2 Raffle Tickets, 1 Drink Ticket, 30% off Reebok Merch

Run: $30-49.99 | Admission, 5 Raffle Tickets, 1 Meal Ticket, 2 Drink Tickets, 30% off Reebok Merch

Sprint: $50. or more | Admission, 7 Raffle Tickets, 1 Meal Ticket, Open Bar, 30% off Reebok Merch, and Special Thank You Gift

Can’t Attend- Please Make a Donation to Support this event.

Click HERE for tickets or to donate. Thank you.

Seaport Warm Up Official

eTown recognizes Elaine Hamel – Girls at Work for “ECHIEVEMENT AWARD”

Girls are Powerful!Girls at Work, Inc. empowers girls with the tools to overcome adversity and build confidence to face current and future life challenges.

Their vision is a world where every girl feels confident and capable.

Only a handful of the girls they meet have had the opportunity to learn how to use power tools safely. They pride ourselves in providing girls with a safe and supportive environment to step out of their comfort zone and to build with other girls. Not only do they discover how capable they are, they also discover  how exciting it is to work as part of a team toward a common goal.

Click here to read more and hear the full interview.

Author Rachel Cisto

Guest post: Why I need feminism

By Rachel Cisto

I am a feminist.

I’ve never said that out loud. It’s not because feminism is a new, radical idea. I’ve never labeled myself as a feminist because these days, just the word “feminist” elicits whispers and strange looks from women, or jokes and cries of ‘man-hater!’ from men.

Which I find quite strange, since the dictionary definition of feminism is “the belief that men and women should have equal opportunities.” People are shaming me for wanting to be treated like an equal? Men think I hate them because I want to be treated the same? Most of the issues I find are from people who don’t seem to understand that.

Author Rachel Cisto

Rachel Cisto

And it’s those reasons that make me a feminist. I need feminism. Women like me need feminism.

I need feminism because my male coworkers will get viewer emails talking about the stories they cover…and mine will say “your hair looked horrible” or “honey, you need a stylist”.

I need feminism because the public will base their evaluations of me not on my journalistic ethics or the way I cover my stories, but on the fact that I’m not a size 0 – and society is 100% okay with that.

I need feminism because I’ve overheard boys at my sister’s — co-ed — sports games muttering something about how it was so wrong that she won…instead of the boys.

I need it because I’ll do the same job as my colleague at the desk next to me…for a dollar less. And I’ll get a dollar less not because I’m bad at my job, but because my colleague is a man.

I need it because the last time my family bought a car, the salesman shooed 18-year-old me away when I tried to argue about an unfair price by saying “It’s your daddy’s car, sweetheart. Why don’t you let the adults talk? I think there’s some girly magazines in the front lobby.” That same salesman, later in the ordeal, told my mom that “the men didn’t need her opinion”.

I need it because I’ve met politicians and sources who look down on me because I’m a young woman, as if my gender will affect the way I write my story. One of them even wrote me back after they saw the finished piece to say “you did that pretty well, for a girl.”

Ouch.

I need it because the dress code for women is often more strict than the one for men.

I need it because when I moved from rural New Hampshire to Hartford, the first thing anyone asked me was if I was going to start carrying pepper spray. Or if I was going to take self-defense classes. And someone taught me how to hold my keys like a weapon. Someone else shamed me for not being afraid of the city at night.

But, trust me, feminism isn’t all about women either.

MEN need it because almost every insult you can think of has something to do with their masculinity. “You throw like a girl.” “Look at that girly-man wearing pink.”

Even when men are body-shamed, it’s done by comparing them to women. They’re made fun of for having “man-boobs”, as if having them connected to women in any way makes them less of a man. They say it as if being a girl is degrading.

It’s not about being “better” than men. It’s not about taking the world from them, or making women superior, and it’s certainly not about hating them.

It’s about treating everyone with respect. It’s all about being equals.

(Originally published in The Hartford Courant).

* * *

Rachel Cisto, of Weare, N.H., is a senior at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn., majoring in journalism and minoring in politics and government. She is a reporter for the University’s Student Television Network, the Campus Correspondent and editor-in-chief of Her Campus Hartford, and a mentor for FIRST Robotics Team 1922, from John Stark Regional and Hopkinton High School.

 

Still shot from NO MORE ad

“Know More.” No More.

 

Still shot from NO MORE ad

Still from NO MORE Super Bowl spot

The latest spot from the NO MORE campaign will debut during the Super Bowl, one of the most watched programs on television, with an estimated 110 million viewers this year. The program that’s notorious for its humorous commercials, half-time show mishaps, and competitive display of brute force, will shake things up with a little dose of reality this time.

In the middle of the Budweiser Clydesdale puppy and Doritos commercials, a somber spot will be aired. In the opening is the sound of a phone ringing; the camera pans to show a home in disarray from an apparent struggle. Then we hear the audio of a 911 call from a domestic violence victim pretending to order a pizza. The public service commercial will be one of dozens run by NoMore.org this year.  More commercials in the lineup, featuring FL players can be seen here.  The “Speechless” segment of the campaign highlights the emotional reactions of athletes and other stars when they are asked to talk about domestic and sexual violence. The deep sighs, tears and awkward silent reactions emphasize the message “Domestic violence and sexual assault are hard subjects for everyone to talk about.”

NFL Players Say NO MORE | Joyful Heart Foundation

It IS hard to talk about; it’s awkward and painful and too painstakingly real. I watch optimistically as NFL athletes and A-List celebrities promise “no more ignorance,” “no more ignoring the issue.” I can’t help but wonder, is it enough? It won’t be tolerated, but how will it be prevented? How do we ensure that the next generation of girls will never have to witness the vulnerability of their mother, sibling or peer being damaged by the wrath of violence? How do we ensure that these same girls are not the next generation of victims themselves?

Many of the young girls participating in our programs are far too familiar with violence against women; they witness it first-hand and often are victims themselves. Many victims of domestic and sexual violence become trapped in the cycle of abuse because they are dependent on their abuser and they lack a support system that could offer a judgment-free escape.

The World Health Organization lists the following as risk factors for being a victim of domestic and sexual violence:

  • Low education
  • Witnessing violence between parents
  • Exposure to abuse during childhood
  • Attitudes accepting violence and gender inequality

Builders in our program have the opportunity to escape their own realities in a safe environment as they gain hands-on experience building and using power tools.  Girls at Work hammers down the idea of gender inequality before our builders even have the opportunity to entertain such a concept. Each workshop offers an opportunity to build confidence and unleash the girls’ inner power. Girls leave our builds less vulnerable and with a greater sense of self-worth: That is the greatest defense against a very serious problem.

We can rejoice that the media decides to shed some light on these issues. There is an overwhelming call to end violence against women, but how do we stop it before it begins? This is a mission that requires an infantry, because the reality is that even the $50 million dollars of advertising during one of the most watched programs on television isn’t going to solve the problem. It is wonderful to see organizations coming to the defense of women, but we need to focus on teaching young girls how to defend themselves from their own vulnerability.

If you are among  the millions who see this campaign spot this weekend, we ask you to know more. Know more of the staggering statistics of violence against women. Know more about the organizations (like Girls at Work) who are not only taking a stand against violence, but are providing resources and prevention. Know that it will take more than just a conversation to address this painful issue. Know more. No More.

Girls at Work, Inc. logo

Girls at Work, Inc. is a non-profit organization that offers our services to organizations that work with girls from group homes, low-income families, with incarcerated parents or parents in rehab. (While our focus is at-risk girls we don’t turn anyone away.)  We also work to build partnerships with youth organizations that focus on girls at risk. We rely on funding and sponsorships to help subsidize the cost of our program. Please consider donating to our cause!

Girls building

Each build reminds us WHY girls should build

 

 

Girls building

There are so many reasons why I love to build with girls. I’m certain that if I had to make a list of those reasons, it would go on forever.

Each and every build clearly shows why building with girls is such an important and powerful experience:  it teaches girls so much about themselves and the inherent power they have within.

Last week, in our after-school program, one of the little builders was struggling through the instructional portion of our program. This is a common occurrence in so many of our builders and I am sure the reasons for this vary widely. I used the line “stay with me” at least a half dozen times. Each time, I gained the little builder’s attention for a few minutes, but soon she would drift off once again.

What surprises me most with this sort of “attention-challenged” little girl is what happens when she uses that first power tool. It is incredible to see how unbelievably focused she becomes. It is almost as if our little builders who struggle most with staying focused for instruction absorb more than those who seem overly focused on instruction. And with every tool the focus remains the same!

I spoke to some of the volunteers on hand to find out what they thought of this. My background is not in the world of academia or psychology, though at times I wish it was. But it was pretty refreshing to learn that many kids today are tactile learners, and that building is a really wonderful way to reach them. So the next time I find myself using the words “stay with me,” I will remember that I am looking at another incredible little builder.

I’ll be sure to add this to the list of why girls should build!

Elaine Hamel

Executive Director

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Why we’re thankful all year

With so much unrest in the world today, at times it is hard to see that there is clearly still so much to be thankful for.

As a little kid, my dad showed me, by example, that dedicating your career to helping others makes for an extremely fulfilling life; my mom showed me that it was important to always be there for my brothers and me; my babysitter (who was more of a grandmother to us) taught me about unconditional love (and also that I needed my butt kicked once in a while!) I’m not sure any of us can ever fully comprehend how significant these roles are in our development. But I do feel that working with young girls who struggle with abandonment has opened my eyes in ways that inspire me to fight hard for these young girls.

As a young adult I had the good fortune to stumble upon a little girl who most would consider pretty abandoned. Fast forward many years and now I can look back and realize that this relationship not only fulfilled my life in ways I could have never imagined, but it mapped out the course for my dream job of empowering as many young girls as possible through building.

It takes a great deal of revenue, dedication and time to keep Girls at Work, Inc. operating, but more importantly, it takes a group of committed individuals to help our organization grow to extend the reach to many more.

Today I am extremely thankful to have a committed and talented group of individuals who see the true value in our mission of watching girls grow as we empower them through building, taking them far out of their comfort zone. Because of the skill and dedication of everyone from our Advisory Team to our Board of Directors to our many volunteers, our momentum is now stronger than ever before.

Because of these folks, we just celebrated our most successful Musicfest yet! In the beautiful auditorium at the Art Institute, filled with our individual supporters as well as our business sponsors, Common Man, Gabi’s Smoke Shack, Molloy Sound and Video,  Charles Schwabb and Mike Bonacorsi, there was no denying the energy was magical. And as always, a wonderful selection of musicians managed by our dear Chelsea Berry filled the room with wonderful music that featured our “star builder gone musician” Ava Liponis who left people speechless! An incredible bonus to our event this year was not only the appearance of Governor Maggie Hassan, but the time she took to speak on behalf of the work that we do. How wonderful to have support from a Governor who truly cares about our youth and is willing to share her time with us on such a special night.

I am also extremely thankful to all of the organizations that work tirelessly to raise additional funds to support a partnership with us. With so many nonprofits operating on a shoestring budget, yet doing such critical work, we are proud to continue to join forces with such wonderful organizations as Child and Family Services, Circle Program and our newest partner Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Manchester, just to name a few. We are also very excited about our new after-school partnerships. Together we really do accomplish more.

So if you don’t have a young person in your life who is in a better place because you believe in them… Stop. Look. Listen. I would be willing to bet you would not have to look far to find one.

Wishing you all a cozy and warm season of giving.

Elaine