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Member Spotlight

Girls Inc. 2017 Mary Sampas Literacy Award:

Lilly Ross, 9 years old

The Mary Sampas Literacy Award is given annually to recognize a member who has demonstrated not only a love for books but has achieved an ease and fluency in the field of literacy academics. This year’s award represents a love of knowledge and a hunger to know more about the world we live in. The recipient is a master of self education; reading everything from historical fiction, to sci-fi adventure and zoological non-fiction. Her love of reading has bred an expansive collection of facts, which she often uses to supplement the lessons being taught at Girls Inc. Her contributions are always thoughtful and show an understanding and comprehension of the books she reads, far beyond her years.

While love of reading certainly qualifies a member for the award, this year’s recipient took her love of books and words to a new level. To celebrate National Poetry Month, Girls Inc. held a poetry-slam with original contributions from members. The winner of this year’s award stepped outside her comfort zone, as an audience and consumer of literature and became a truly astounding poet. Her bravery in trying something new and the beautiful words she wrote, decisively marked her as the winner of this year’s award. With her eloquence, her inspiring words captured the essence of what it means to be a Girls Inc. Girl. In her inaugural poem, titled Be You she writes, “Be the color in a world of black and white […] Be like a tree that stands strong and tall […] Be like a book and be full of adventure […] And always remember to be you.”  Girls Inc. is so proud to call this young lady one of their own, and with great privilege and honor, tonight we award Lilly Ros with the 2017 Mary Sampas Literacy Award.

Girls Inc. 2017 Member of the Year Award:

Daphne Pratt, 11 years old

In her own words…

My name is Daphne and I am 11 years old. I remember my first day of Girls Inc. 2 years ago. Even though it’s only been a couple of years, it feels like I have been here my whole life. I have grown so much since then and I believe that it could only have happened at Girls Inc. I have such amazing role models here. A role model is a good example of how to be a leader. One thing Maritza at Girls Inc. taught me is that it is okay to be afraid. Maritza taught me this by telling me a story about when she was afraid and how she overcame her fear. I am not going to lie. I was afraid to say this speech and I’m still afraid. But I’m facing my fear of public speaking. I’m able to do this because of my inspiration, Maritza, my role model.

To be chosen Member of the Year means so much because it is not every day that you get chosen out of hundreds of girls to gain this honor. My hard work has paid off.

As I said before, I have grown so much and have become a much bolder and braver girl since starting Girls Inc. Before I came to the program, no one had ever heard me sing. I love to sing, but have always been too afraid to sing in front of anyone. I didn’t want them to laugh at me or say my singing was bad. Last summer, there were signups for a Girls Inc. talent show and I put my brave foot forward and put my name on the list. I got up in front of everyone and sang to them. As soon as I stopped singing, I broke out into tears of joy. I was so proud of myself for facing my fear. One of my other great challenges is public performance. I can’t dance I would say. I’m not good at it. I think I’m probably the worst dancer alive. I said this until I started dancing. I did dance at Girls Inc. and I surprised myself. I thought I couldn’t dance until I did. If I hadn’t learned at Girls Inc. to try something new, I wouldn’t have found a new talent.  Again, and again this school year, I have been faced with similar scary obstacles and challenges. And with the help of Girls Inc. and its staff, I have met them face on.

Girls Inc. has been helping the girls like me in the community for the past 100 years. I think it’s pretty amazing that there’s people who care so much about helping the Lowell community. I am positive that everyone at Girls Inc. is looking forward to growing the organization and its impact on young women for the next 100 years. I can’t wait to see how many girls it will help and I cannot wait to help them do it.