A Message From Our Executive Director

Well, it’s been an interesting 2017 so far. I hope you are all staying dry in the rain and staying safe! We are excited to launch into a new year with our girls and are welcoming them back to their afterschool meetings this week. It’s always fun to check in with the girls and reconnect after spending time apart. They’ll be busy this week setting goals and thinking about the semester ahead!

We know many of our girls had a great Christmas because some very special people made sure of it. I would like to express my gratitude to the Newcomers Club of Nevada County, The PEO Auburn, and various individuals who adopted some of our girls and their families for Christmas. We are so grateful to partner with these groups because they bring joy to our girls and families by providing Christmas presents while we are able to maintain our core programs. We simply cannot provide the kind of support that these groups bring to the girls. When one of our moms came to pick up her family’s gift she was clearly overwhelmed by the generosity. She thought she was leaving with one bag and when she realized the whole pile was for her to take, she was overcome with emotion. We feel so good about being able to connect a family that works hard, attends meetings, sets goals for the future, and gives back to their community with our generous community.  Thank you to everyone involved in these organizations!

The staff and board have been busy planning and we are getting geared up for a very busy and exciting 2017. Our board and staff retreat, held on January 9th, gave us an opportunity to focus on our personal and team strengths, set goals for the next three years and re-energize our team!  We have a fabulous group of people poised to support and advocate for our girls and I feel so proud to lead this amazing team. We have accomplished much, but there is more work to do!

You’ll receive a save the date card later this month, highlighting our major events for the year!  Please consider joining us and bringing a friend to one or all of our events this year! First up will be power of the purse on March 22.  This event, in its 12th year is designed to engage, educate and empower our community to get involved with our program. Some guests sign up to be volunteers, some to donate, and all leave more educated about our work and hopefully to serve as ambassadors in our community. And a lucky number of women leave with a lovely new purse!  We are recruiting table captains now so please call if you would like to learn more; 265-4311 and ask for Cindy or Jenn.

Many thanks to our amazing community for your support and guidance as we move into our 22nd year serving our girls. Together we have built a strong and critical community resource and we are reaping the benefits of your investment. Let’s see what we can accomplish together next!

Celebrating National Mentoring Month

Lisa and Hannah

January is National Mentoring Month. The National Mentoring Partnership estimates that 1 in 3 young people will grow up without a mentor. That means 9 million at-risk youth will turn 19 without ever having had a mentor, leaving them less likely to reach important milestones like graduation from high school and college. Studies have shown that at-risk youth who have mentors are 55% more likely to enroll in college and 78% more likely to volunteer in their communities. How does this national story play out in our community?

Whether it is a staff member or a volunteer that takes on the mentor role, spending one-on-one time with a Friendship Club girl enhances and supports her experience at The Friendship Club. And while group meetings and outings are excellent for information sharing, team building and developmentally appropriate conversations, the one on one time is where those lessons can be taken a step further. With a mentor in their lives, girls have a chance to have deeper and individualized conversations about topics of interest or concern. It is important to understand that positive relationship development is at the heart of our work and that learning to develop, maintain, and navigate the challenges associated with personal relationships is critical to the girls developing into competent young women. Mentors provide that unique opportunity to safely learn relationship building.

A caring mentor is able to help a girl feel more confident, while acknowledging her worth as a valuable human being. Over the years, our staff has been witness to subtle but profound changes that are all possible in girls who work with them one-on-one or with a mentor. In support of the statistic cited above, after a girl has spent prolonged time with a mentor and in our comprehensive program, it is common to see a renewed effort and energy towards schoolwork. A girl may begin to focus on her life, exploring potential career goals. It is very common to see a girl’s sense of self-esteem increase. And when our girls feel good about themselves, life takes on a whole new meaning!

Recent mentors agreed to share their insights. Asked “What has mentoring taught you about yourself?”, Lisa responded: “I am learning to be a trusted person in a girl’s life and someone she can have fun with, while at the same time balancing being ‘the adult’ in the relationship and teaching her to make choices that are good for her and her development.”

The Friendship Club Mentor Program is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference. Our mentors are carefully prepared for the experience through an in-depth training. And we offer group support forums during the course of the mentorship, to help guide the relationship and offer on-going education opportunities.

Please contact Cindy Hintz, the Volunteer Manager at cindyh@friendshipclub.org to learn more about how you can honor National Mentoring Month by giving of your time, talent and energy to The Friendship Club!

 

Beards for a Cause

In December, The Friendship Club was approached by the Nevada City Police Department with a desire to raise funds for our girls and program. How could we say no!   We are honored that NCPD chose to support our mission and we’re excited to launch the “Beards for a Cause” fundraiser.

For the next 3 months these officers will be growing their beards to symbolize their commitment to our cause as they raise funds for The Friendship Club. Each officer expressed their interest in creating a strong, healthy community. They see the Friendship Club as a partner in this community development. We want our girls to see law enforcement as a resource and friend in their community, not just a badge or gun.  We thank them for choosing us!

To learn more or donate, please click here to view the Nevada City Police Departments donation page.

A Message From Our Executive Director

jenniferAs we wrap up 2016 and I reflect on our “Full Circle” year, I am in awe of what we have accomplished during major change at the Club.  As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. The door we have walked through has been transformative. Indeed, this path leads to a future we didn’t even realize might be possible a few short years ago. I am grateful for our senior staff for taking the changes in stride and working as a team to realize this transition. I am grateful for our alums and new staff for working hard and compassionately. I am grateful for our board for trusting this was the right time to make transformative change, and mostly of all, I am grateful to our donors for appreciating, supporting, and investing in our mission.

You have many choices as a donor and community member and we are grateful that you choose to volunteer and donate to this critical community program. We simply would not be here without you, and the girls served by this organization have shown their appreciation by growing into confident and compassionate individuals. You have invested in one life at a time and I hope you are close enough to us to see the impact you have had on our community. If you feel you haven’t seen us up close and personal, let this serve as a sincere invitation to come in, take a tour, meet a girl, share in what is a truly beautiful and community-building organization

2016 has put many challenges in front of all of us and 2017 may bring even more challenges, but I believe that nothing in insurmountable and that together we will continue to make changes that impact the future for generations to come.  Together we can accomplish anything!

We look forward to engaging you in 2017!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Jenn

2016 Volunteers of the Year by Cindy Hintz

Each year we are thrilled to honor a Friendship Club Volunteer of the Year. This person is a community member who embraces our mission to engage, educate and empower our girls, and they show it by constantly giving of themselves and their time, directly interacting with Friendship Club girls and staff. If you ask any staff member, a Volunteer of the Year feels like part of our “family.” They are familiar with our facility and that magic hour in the afternoon when girls begin to arrive either from a bus ride or safe transport by volunteer drivers. They are familiar with the hearty scent that fills the hallways as a nutritious and delicious supper is prepared and served. They take great pleasure helping girls tackle their studies during Homework Club and one-on-one tutor sessions each Monday. And they are one of many quality adults whose giving make The Friendship Club a safe place to be; a place to make and keep new friends, learn about healthy relationships and think about their future.

With so many wonderful volunteers, it is never an easy task to choose an honoree. This year was no exception. In fact, we were compelled to choose not one, but TWO Volunteers of the Year:

Cheryl Kelly was honored at our annual Holiday Reception on December 5th as a 2016 Volunteer of the Year and for her longevity volunteering with The Friendship Club over the last 10+ years.  It is easy to describe Cheryl in a word: “spark.” Cheryl lights up a room and you can feel her energy coming a mile away. I first met Cheryl when she came in to work with our high school girls to lead and teach the “Heroes Are Smart” curriculum that allows our girls to learn about themselves and understand others. Cheryl and I share a passion, believing the kitchen is the “heart of the home,” and you will often find Cheryl in The Friendship Club kitchen cooking and serving supper during the school year. In the summer, Cheryl loves to teach cooking clinics, exposing the girls to ethnic foods and diverse cultures. This last fall, as a member of the Sisterhood of the Nevada County Jewish Community Center, Cheryl organized a day long retreat for Friendship Club girls, their mentors and our staff. This restorative day offered fun activities and a luncheon, teaching helpful ways to communicate and navigate through social media, while participating in cross-generational learning. Cheryl’s desire to create a collaborative relationship between a talented and generous women’s organization such as the Sisterhood and TFC was not only unique, but very successful. We are so excited for what the future holds! And as Friendship Club girl, Abby, stated as she presented Cheryl with the award: “We are grateful to Cheryl, for the time she has dedicated to all of us, and for the love and compassion she shows our community.”

Cheryl in the kitchen
Cheryl in the kitchen

Gordon Sakaue was also honored at our annual Holiday reception as a Volunteer of the Year for the many volunteer roles he’s taken on with The Friendship Club. A retired teacher from Lyman Gilmore, Gordon walked through The Friendship Club door in November 2014. His passion for teaching was obvious, as he took keen interest in knowing we have girls who benefit from the help of a tutor for an after-school session. As I told him how the new tutor program was forming, he shared his insight about teenage students and I was so grateful for a few suggestions on how to structure the program for success. He returned a week or so later with an incredible surprise gift for The Friendship Club, two brand new chrome books! With so much schoolwork online, these chrome books are invaluable to our girls and tutors alike. Not only have we come to know Gordon as a gifted tutor, in Math, Japanese and German, he is at ease tutoring one-on-one when a girl needs focused attention, and each week he sits in the Homework Club to assist alongside our staff. Since 2014, we learned that Gordon is also a baseball fan, and he happily drives and chaperones to River Cats field trips in summer time. On a visit to The Friendship Club last summer, Gordon found us pulling all the camping equipment out preparing for camp at Jackson Lake. He patiently stayed to help fix and reorganize our dozen or so camping tents. On various afternoons while tutoring, Gordon would come to visit the kitchen. As he showed an interest in the food preparation and serving, I asked Gordon if he would like help us kick off our new Supper Program, and join the Supper Crew. Gordon now comes in once a week as a prep volunteer, grating, chopping and cleaning vegetables for the meals to be cooked that week. When he is finished, he moves right on in to Homework Club. Friendship Club girl, Marley, who is learning Japanese and appreciates Gordon’s help, presented the award saying, “Its great seeing men in the kitchen! We love spending time with Gordon and appreciate his support of The Friendship Club.”

Gordon helping with Homework
Gordon helping with homework

 

Exploring our Strengths Together by Cassie Davidson

Chelsy fast at work
Chelsy fast at work

The Friendship Club has been honored with a remarkable staff this year, who have been nothing but charismatic, fun, tenacious, outgoing and hard-working women. This past Monday, we had an opportunity to take part in a staff workshop and retreat that Jenn put together. This past November, Jenn had the amazing opportunity to take part in a conference that certified her as a strengths coach through Clifton StrengthFinder (and teen version: StrengthsQuest), which enables her to guide people in uncovering their true potential in all areas of life. According to Gallup, the developers of StrengthsFinder and StrengthsQuest, “Every person possesses a unique combination of talents, knowledge, and skills – strengths – that they use in their daily lives to do their work, achieve their goals, and interact with others.” They have found that when people take the time to understand and apply their innate strengths, the effect on them personally and in their work is profound: “People who use their strengths every day are three times more likely to be happier with their lives in general and are six times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.”

We appreciate Jenn brining this opportunity for personal and professional development to our team; understanding our top strengths will allow us to work as a more cohesive team while also enhancing our programs and impact on girls in the years to come!

 

Smith Vineyard Supports TFC this Holiday Season

Smith's tasting room
Smith’s tasting room

On Sunday, December 18th, Smith Vineyard will be supporting The Friendship Club as part of its 12 Days of Giving that gives back to local non-profits in our community. On this day, 20% of all proceeds made will support our valuable programs offered at The Friendship Club. So, head over to Smith Winery and stock up on your favorite wines for the holiday! The event will be held at their tasting room, located at 142 Mill Street in downtown Grass Valley. It will take place from 12-3 p.m. on the 18th of December.

The Friendship Club appreciates having Smith Vineyard’s support of our mission to engage, educate and empower young ladies in the community to be the best version of themselves.

Reflections Skin Oasis 12 Days of Christmas Supports TFC

reflections-12-days-of-giving-flyerMargie Carr, owner of Reflections Skin Oasis, is providing support to local organizations over the 12 Days of Christmas. Today, Tuesday December 13th, is the day that 10% of all purchases will support The Friendship Club!  Stock up on your beauty needs, purchase a gift for a loved one, or give the gift of pampering with a gift certificate for one of the wonderful services provided! We thank Margie for her continued support of The Friendship Club. Margie not only contributes financially to the club, she also brings awareness about our work to the community, has provided makeovers for our graduates, and has even employed a past Friendship Club girl.

Please come out today to support TFC and to thank Margie for her long-time dedication to our girls!

A Message from Our Executive Director

jenniferThis week we celebrate Thanksgiving and I am reflecting on the past year. I have much to be thankful for and I want you to know how personally grateful I am to all of you for your investment in time and donations and to the amazing team we have at The Friendship Club. Today, I would like to thank our incredible board of directors; a dedicated group of volunteers who believe in our girls, our mission, and our community. Every nonprofit organization relies on their board of directors to provide necessary oversight and due diligence, to secure resources to ensure the organization thrives, and to share their expertise, connections, and ideas to move the organization forward in service to community. But more than that, a board of directors is the heart of the organization, keeping mission at the center of our plans and goals, keeping the community benefit at the forefront of our work, and providing the moral and emotional support to the organizational leadership so that the organization can thrive. Average turnover for an Executive Director in the nonprofit sector is 18 months – this is a challenging role with competing demands, stressors, and a changing landscape of financial resources in the face of ever increasing needs. A healthy organization needs at its helm a committed team to face these challenges together; a team that is not afraid to roll up their sleeves and do the work, a team that is encouraged to share their ideas and move the organization forward. I feel grateful that The Friendship Club Board of Directors is exactly this combination. The perfect mix of expertise and heart. They are people who do not move ahead without thought, but who move ahead nonetheless.  They are people who love and support our girls, who are personally connected to them, believe in them, and are always thinking, how better can we serve them. To Marty Lombardi, Lauren Stowe, Nanci Mason, David Jones, Machen MacDonald, Jamie Hogenson, Erin Sullivan, Cristine Kelly, Jacquelyn Chavez, and newest member Alex Gammelgard, I say thank you for your service and thank you for your support. Together we have built an incredible team.

Together we all thank YOU, our incredible community, for your continued support of our girls. You have made our Full Circle year possible. We are reaping the benefit of seeds that were sown long ago when we met Tiffany, Chelsy, Jessica, and Cassie and welcomed them into The Friendship Club. They thrived in our program as participants and are back now to influence and encourage the next generation as staff members. This could not have happened before 2016 and it is how we will move into the future. Thank you for the role you have played in investing in these young women. Please enjoy a healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

In friendship,

Jenn

Responding to Girls’ Needs at The Friendship Club

Alumni gathering over dinner at TFC
Alumni gathering over dinner

Part of making a positive impact on the girls in The Friendship Club is responding to their needs whenever we see new needs arise.  Last year, we stepped up our efforts to recruit volunteer tutors and provide more girls with one-on-one tutoring in any subject they struggled with. This was in response to a growing number of girls who were struggling to pass certain subjects and felt they needed additional support.

At the beginning of 2016, we launched our new alumni program to provide ongoing support to our girls after they graduate high school and forge their way into the world with the hopes of being happy, successful adults.  Tiffany Scudero, one of our Youth Development Assistants and former Friendship Club girl, is now leading the alumni program and they are meeting once a month to talk about issues they want to learn more about, like budgeting/financing, healthy and affordable cooking, parenting and family planning so they are prepared and financially stable when they decide to start a family, etc.

This school year, we launched our Homework Club in response to an increasing number of girls who were failing classes in school not simply because they struggle to understand what they are being taught, but because they do not have anyone at home with the knowledge or time to help them complete their homework.  Also for some girls, they do not have a space at home, let alone a quiet one, where they can concentrate on their homework.  Now every Monday after school we have girls who are picked up by a volunteer driver at their school and brought to The Friendship Club to have a quiet place to study and work on their homework.  We have staff and volunteers available to help them should they have any questions or need guidance.  If you are interested in supporting any of these new programs with your time or treasure, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@friendshipclub.org or (530) 265-4311.