Empowerment & Leadership

Maya finds her source of hope during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Meet Maya, 16, a Girls Inc. of the Valley girl from Springfield, Massachusetts. She is also a member of the Teen Advisory Council of Girls Inc., which engages girls in advocacy and community organizing.

A good deal of Maya’s stress at this time has revolved around her educational opportunities. “As school has been closed, there is a lot of anxiety about getting the needed credits to pass and taking the AP exams.” That is not all. The COVID-19 pandemic really made an impact when Maya’s after-school job informed her that they were not sure if they would be able to move their business online. As a result, Maya’s stipend for the work program she participates in is currently frozen. 

The situation at home

Like many Girls Inc. girls, Maya is also vested with a good deal of responsibility at home. In addition to her course load, Maya says, “There is the need to take care of my younger siblings and clean the house while my parents work.” Yet the multiple roles Maya plays only emphasize how positive her outlook is: “My situation is not nearly as bad as other families in Springfield, where the primary caregiver is now unemployed and their main source of nourishment comes from school breakfasts and lunches.”

Girls Inc. supports

For support during this time, Maya knows her local Girls Inc. team is there for her. “Two staff members have called and texted to check up on me,” says Maya. Her Girls Inc. of the Valley mentors asked Maya if everything was alright and how the transition to virtual learning at school has been. They wanted to hear about how her home life is right now too. Most importantly, they always concluded the call or text conversation with one request of Maya, that she “contact them if I needed any sort of help.”

The power of friends

Connecting with her peers has made all the difference to Maya during this time. “My source of hope has been my friends,” she confirms. Girls Inc. of the Valley has launched virtual programming and begun organizing virtual activities and get-togethers for the girls. Spirit Week socials on platforms like Zoom and Tik-Tok bring the girls together in order to reconnect and have fun as they shelter in place. While Maya has not had the opportunity to participate in these virtual program or get-togethers, she knows the resources are there for her. “I have heard from some of my Girls Inc. friends who attended,” she says. “[It is] a nice escape from the situation at hand.”

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