Maria F.

High school junior, Maria, first joined Girls Group in 2019. When she was in 7th grade, her school counselor invited her to a Girls Group informational session and the rest was history. Walking into her first Girls Group session, Maria noticed two things: all the participants were girls and that the girls looked like her.

When Maria joined Girls Group at Tappan Middle School, the group was 95% girls of color (drastically different compared to the general population at Tappan). Maria shared that this had a huge impact on her, she felt seen, safe, and understood by her peers.

Maria appreciates that she has a space like Girls Group that is her own and not something she has to share with her siblings. She continued to engage with Girls Group throughout the pandemic and is currently an active participant at the Girls Group Wraparound Program. She also enjoys the Saturday Programs, Summer Programs, and Spring Break Programs.

Maria has experienced a lot of difficult transitions throughout high school. Girls Group has been a grounding and stable factor in her life. She said she is glad that she has Girls Group because of the support, programs, and, of course, the food we provide. Maria shared that she enjoys the fun experiences and how every group session is different.

Maria enjoys interacting with new people, learning new things, and building relationships with staff during her drive home after program. She sees these rides as a safe space to build relationships with Girls Group staff and peers, stating “car rides are a place to get advice and talk through things without fear of judgment”.

Maria credits Girls Group for shaping her world views and exposing her to new ideas. With support from Girls Group, Maria got her first job, something she says has been crucial to gaining financial independence. Girls Group has witnessed Maria grow into a strong, independent young woman. Everyday, we are proud to see her become more confident in herself and her identity, and we know her journey is just beginning!