What matters now? What’s always mattered – family, community, safety, kindness, generosity, and helping our friends and neighbors.
As unpredictable and terrifying as wildfires are, many of us have come to accept that they are an inevitable risk of living in our beautiful but often parched community. However, none of us could envision the risk, let alone the enormity of the risk of the January 9 mudslides – the death, displacement, and devastation to families, homes and businesses, and the loss of income for a countless number of people from the service worker to the business owner.
Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara is honored to help the students of Laguna Blanca Lower School. Beginning Monday, January 22, teachers and roughly 85 students in grades EK-4 have been onsite weekdays from 7:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at our Goleta Valley Center using the center’s classroom space and amenities. Our downtown Santa Barbara Center and Gym are also available to community groups and schools who have been displaced and need space for programming.
As always, the well-being of the girls we serve and their families is top of mind for us. You may know that 75% of the girls who participate in after-school programming at our Santa Barbara Center come from families whose annual income is $30,000 or less. Many of the girls’ parents are service workers who were unable to work during the Thomas Fire and have been unable to return to work again following the mudslides due to road closures, damaged businesses, and displaced families and employers. Be it a restaurant, gas station, retail store, the drycleaners, or a gardening, housekeeping, or custodial position, hundreds of people have lost valuable income.
We are grateful that each year generous members of the community have provided financial assistance so that hundreds of girls may benefit from participating in the life-changing programming Girls Inc. provides. Having a safe place for their girls to be and learn after school has always been important to the families we serve. But now, more than ever, it’s important for their peace of mind to know their girls are in good hands while they seek employment or hopefully return to work.
Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara will hold its’ annual scholarship fundraising event in the spring. This evening event, organized by the One Hundred Committee, will include dinner and be held at our Goleta Valley Center. Along with the myriad events, activities, and concerns of our community’s recovery, we will let you know when the date is set and I hope you’ll join us. The girls and their families need our help.
Best wishes to you and your families, and for our community.
The following resource list for displaced families has been compiled courtesy of community volunteer Connie Smith and Lis Leader, Director of the Human Rights Watch Committee in Santa Barbara. Resources include links and contacts for physical, emotional, and mental well being and healing support following the recent disasters affecting our Girls Inc. families in Santa Barbara County. This list is shared for informational purposes only and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. We will continue to add to this list as additional resources become available.
Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara is pleased to open the doors to its Goleta Valley & Teen Center located at 4973 Hollister Avenue to provide temporary residence to the Laguna Blanca Lower School students and teachers displaced by the recent mudslides in Montecito. The Girls Inc. facility has the necessary classroom space as well as an auditorium, full-sized gymnasium, commercial kitchen, art studio, science lab, library, and generous outdoor play space.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives, homes, injuries, and the disruption of school and services our community is experiencing,” says Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara CEO Barbara Ben-Horin. “Girls Inc. is pleased to help by sharing our Goleta Valley Center with the teachers, students, and families of Laguna Blanca’s Lower School for as long as necessary as our community begins to heal.”
Classes are scheduled to begin at Goleta Valley later in January. Until then, classes will be held on the school’s Hope Ranch campus, which occupies students in Grades 5-12. Girls Inc. after-school programs will not be impacted by the sharing of the space.
“We are incredibly grateful for the graciousness of Girls Inc. and their willingness to accommodate our students and faculty during this unfortunate displacement,” says Laguna Blanca Head of School Rob Hereford.
Laguna staff and Girls Inc. staff are working to prepare the Goleta space for Laguna’s students—many of whom are evacuees.
“Our goal is to continue to provide a comprehensive, well-rounded education in a comfortable, age-appropriate setting,” says Laguna’s Head of Lower School Andy Surber. “Right now, returning to the routine of school and learning with friends and teachers is important for our student community. We are so thankful for the kindness and generosity shown to us by Kristina Webster, Girls Inc. Director of Programs, and the faculty and staff at Girls Inc. who are sharing their spaces with us.”
October 11th, 2017 is International Day of the Girl. Girls Inc. is celebrating this year with a five-day focus “The Power of an Educated Girl,” which brings awareness to how as a community we can empower girls to lead healthy lifestyles.
Less than 50% of high schools offer comprehensive sex ed, which helps girls make informed, responsible decisions about their sexual health and wellbeing. You can help by advocating to educate girls by:
Creating a save space for conversation; Modeling healthy relationships and behaviors; Advocating for comprehensive sexual education; Promoting media and technology literacy; Appreciating, embracing and advancing diversity.
Engage with us on Facebook or Twitter to champion and create a positive, safe, and affirming culture where girls can grow up strong, smart, and bold. #InternationalDayoftheGirl #EmpowerHer #HerSexuality.