Bre Elizalde began attending Girls Inc. of Carpinteria in southern California as a third grader and continues to be involved to this day. At the time, her mother had recently divorced and returned to work full-time, thus needed somewhere for Bre to spend the afternoons. Luckily Bre’s mother, who worked in the nonprofit sector, knew of Girls Inc. She was confident Girls Inc. would benefit Bre immensely, so she began taking her daughter to camp.
What she found at Girls Inc. was so much more than she imagined. The girls at Girls Inc. became her sisters, and the staff members were like second mothers. Girls Inc. provided Bre the space to pursue self-discovery. The compassionate staff, eye-opening programming, and valuable resources all helped her to stay strong in her sense of self when it felt like her world was turned upside down.
The girl-powered environment also contributed to her academic growth and personal development. She gained many honors while at Girls Inc., participated and spoke at a number of events, and was even selected to be a National Scholar — the highest honor a Girls Inc. girl can receive.
Bre credits the Girls Inc. experience with teaching her crucial life skills. Girls Inc. encouraged her to value critical thinking and her own creativity, which helped her tremendously as she navigated college. She often looked to the values instilled in her at Girls Inc. while working towards her Bachelor’s in Liberal Studies, intensive studies in Film, design and photography, and in training for her current job.
Today, Bre is the Interim Director of the Juvenile Justice Division with Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, which is located at Ventura County Probation Juvenile Justice Facility. As a strong, empowered woman, Bre takes the knowledge and skills from Girls Inc. to support incarcerated youth and guide them on a better path. She applies the social and emotional learning knowledge gained at Girls Inc. to teach girls about the impact of their decisions and how to be empathetic towards others.
The Girls Inc. experience has really come full circle for Bre. She remembers being a girl and needing a positive place to learn and grow. She is now providing other girls with the same kind of support and encouragement that benefited her as a girl and even an adult today. Bre is forever proud to be a Girls Inc. girl–strong, smart, and bold.
“Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.” – Helen Keller
Are you a Girls Inc. alumna? Share how Girls Inc. impacted your life and shaped who you are today on the Alumnae Group Facebook page or via email. Tell us about your latest accomplishments and how you are inspiring other girls.