Then and Now!
Young women of Lowell formed the War Community Service Center in the winter of 1917-1918 to sponsor dances for servicemen stationed at Camp Devens. In addition, classes in charm, hairdressing and theater were offered. In 1919, following the end of World War I, the center evolved into the Girls City Club, a Lowell community services club. By 1928, two hundred young women were enjoying its educational and recreational opportunities. In the 1930’s, membership began to include high school girls and eventually junior high students as well. Membership surged and the Club moved to a larger quarters on Middle Street. Here the program was greatly expanded and many classes were held in cooking, sewing, dancing, and games. To this day, there are still women and men who remember the dances held for World War II trainees at Girls City Club during the late 1930’s and 1940’s.
In 1945, Girls City Club along with 18 other community service organizations across New England, became a founding member of Girls Clubs of America, Inc. and transformed into the Lowell Girls Club. In the same year, with the help and generosity of many people in the Greater Lowell area, the Lowell Girls Club purchased the historic buildings it now occupies on Worthen Street. One was a resident built by the Locks and Canals Company; the other was a former Methodist Episcopal Church. Both are of considerable historic significance, as noted in the Lowell Cultural Resources Inventory. By the 1980’s, both buildings needed renovations and space reallocation. In 1983, a Capital Funds Drive was initiated. A total of $600,000 was raised and the renovation work, which included the construction of a connecting link between the two buildings, was completed in late 1985
In April of 1990, the national organization changed its name to Girls Incorporated to better reflect the seriousness and educational value of its mission. In March of 1992, the Lowell Girls Club became Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell to maintain its affiliation with the national organization and to reflect the fact that our members come, not only from the city of Lowell, but also from the surrounding communities. In the same year, the organization received a Parker Foundation grant that funded a complete refurbishing of the building exterior as well as the gymnasium. In addition, Girls Inc. of Greater Lowell received a HUD grant that supported the renovation of one basement area that now includes a drama room, a STEM lab, and an engineering room.
Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold.
By the mid 1990’s, through creative and innovative programs in a safe and nurturing environment such as Girls With Goals, Money Management, Action For Safety, Photovoice, and Healthy You instilled the independence and personal responsibility girls need to success in a changing world. Several of these programs have received national awards. The organization operates year-round with an After School Program, School Vacation Program, and a Summer Program with activities and educational classes that range from cooking, science, and sports to art, literacy and leadership.
Starting in the summer of 1992, the organization offered satellite programs with the first one for children of the Portuguese community at Saint Anthony’s Church on Central Street in Lowell. Now, there are Outreach Programs in several elementary and middle schools across Greater Lowell.
To this day, we continue to evolve with the needs of girls and young women and customize our innovative, research-based programs in the out-of-school hours that value the potential of young people. Our philosophy and programming are designed to equip girls with valuable skills and resources, to prevent unhealthy behaviors, and to compensate for educational, cultural, and recreational activities our members frequently do not get at home or in school. We work with at-risk girls to boost their self-esteem, increase their interest in math, science, and technology, promote literacy, encourage them to get into sports, introduce them to money management and career development, reduce pregnancy risk, direct them away from drug use, and provide them with a variety of skills and interests that will help them positively in the future.
At Girls Inc., we are dedicated to the empowerment of girls and women, and helping improve the conditions in which they live. We believe every girl deserves the opportunity to grow up with champions who support and inspire her, and let her know that anything is possible.
[Graphic designed by Jen Costa]
From 1917-2017, Girls Inc. has had a vision of a world where every girl values her whole self and her inherent strengths, has opportunities to develop her potential, breaks past serious obstacles, and leads a healthy, educated, and successful life.
We are asking you to help us celebrate the last 100 years with an eye to the next 100 years. Help us to reach and expand our goal that will continue our vital programs while growing to reach more girls in the Greater Lowell area. Together, we can increase the number of girls who have the opportunities to develop their unique strengths, to break past barriers, experience the intellectual stimulation and emotional nurturing that our organization can offer, achieve their full potential, and help others, as they were helped, along the way.