Global Girls honors women who give back

“There is a special place in hell, for women who don’t help other women.” Debra O Brown, director of community relations at NBC 5 Chicago, reminded the women attending the first annual Global Girls awards gala of this Madeleine Albright quote. Brown was accepting an award for her work empowering young African-American women in Chicago.

The Women and Girls Inspiring Change gala honored women leaders throughout Chicago who work every day to give back to not only children, but to their communities. The March 31 extravaganza, produced by Global Girls Inc., was co-sponsored by the International House Global Voices Program at the University of Chicago.

Said Martha Penn, founder of Global Girls, “Women’s work is valuable!”

Global Girls honored 12 outstanding women who work to empower women and children. Many of these women have formed partnerships with Global Girl Inc. through their schools and organizations to work towards common goals and initiatives.

“They have been a wonderful partner,” said Monika Black, co-founder, of Las Caras Lindas. Black was surprised to receive her award. She was deeply humbled that Global Girls honored her and her organization. Las Caras Lindas mission is to build cultural diversity in ensuring that children are educated about the world around them, aside from what’s inside their everyday communities.

Veronica Thompson, principal of Paul Revere Elementary School, was another honoree. Principal Thompson feels that Global Girls shares her school’s vision. This is the first year Paul Revere has partnered with them. Global Girls understand the work that her school does every day in helping their children channel any negative energy or funnel their emotional needs through the arts. Revere, she says, is a “typical urban school with typical challenges, but it’s a sacred place. It’s a safe haven for our students.”

This is what has made Global Girls so effective in and around Chicago. It has geared much of its focus towards the social and emotional welfare of children, while incorporating communication enhancement skills through the arts. They have influenced many young women in pursuing dreams in theater performance and other career goals throughout their lives. Casina Rice, a 12-year Global Girl alumni, is in her second year of medical school. Many of these girls have credited the organization for having an impact in their lives, and enabling them to take on challenges they may not have pursued otherwise.

Children from the partnership programs are invited to audition for the Global Girls’ Everyday People Theatre. The group holds seasonal performances, workshops throughout the year, and travels statewide.

Global Girls got its name because its founder, Marvinetta Penn traveled as a professional singer and dancer – falling in love with many countries in Africa and southern France. Penn feels that it is necessary to furnish girls with the things that give them real hope and opportunity.

The Global Girls Every Day People Theatre has opened for the 2010 Ms. America Pageant in Indianapolis, and has traveled to Africa on a few occasions. Last summer, the group performed at the 2011 Taste of Chicago, wrapped up their own series on CAN TV, walked in the Greater Chicago Food Depository Walkathon and ran three summer programs that employed over 40 teens.

In addition, these young leaders are involved in charitable projects, such as feeding other children. The organization is considering buying the 50 year-old Mayfair Academy, located on the south side. The academy will be home to the organization’s dance instruction departments.

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