By: Carly Campbell
GirlForward's mission is to provide adolescent refugee girls with individual mentorship, educational programs and leadership opportunities, creating a community of support that serves as a resource and empowers girls to be strong, confident and independent.
The STARS Program Presented by Vista Equity Partners honors the service of over a dozen nonprofit community organizations by offering an exclusive preview of the Trail of Lights.
As a 2016 STARS Sponsor, Vista Equity Partners spread the holiday cheer of the Trail of Lights to the constituents of GirlForward. Their sponsorship allows participants an exclusive look at the Trail with a private tour of all the lights, magic & fun! If you're interested in becoming a STARS Sponsor, visit our STARS at the Trail information page here!
GirlForward girls represent many different countries, cultures, religions and experiences. The end of the year is a great time to learn about holiday celebrations in the United States - since all of our girls are newcomers - but also to share different holiday traditions from around the world. The girls - and our volunteers - really enjoy learning about different ways to celebrate and participating in each others celebrations.
I don't think any of our girls have visited the Trail of Lights before, so I think it might be difficult for them to even know what to look forward to! But I do know that our girls love taking photos (they are teenagers, after all) so probably taking photos with their friends with all the lights and decorations.
This season is a really important time for us to raise money to help make sure we can continue doing our work in the new year. It's the generosity of individuals and groups that allow us to match girls with wonderful volunteer mentors and run a summer program every year to help girls learn English and get ready for school - which many of our girls have never been able to attend before. To give to GirlForward and learn about other ways to get involved, you can visit girlforward.org.
GirlForward started in Chicago and our Austin chapter is still brand new! But we're growing so much. We currently have 32 girls in our Mentoring Program, and in the new year we are looking forward to adding even more girls.
Thank you Austin! 2017 Austin Trail of Lights was filled with smiling faces, amazing performances from our community and of course millions of twinkling lights! From spinning under the Zilker Tree, around the carousel and Ferris Wheel to visits with Santa - check out a few highlights!