Trinity UMC of Morristown is teaching girls ages 8 to 12 how to “live like a lady.”
“We formed 'Living Like A Lady' to address the needs of girls from our community who might benefit from mentoring and other activities, to help and encourage these young ladies,” said Terri McIntyre, program organizer for the Morristown District church.
McIntyre identified enough adult mentors and students to start the program in late February. Volunteers include a fourth grade teacher and college professor. McIntyre retired from teaching at the very same school where most of the children attend. This connection alone helps the organization locate participants. Brandon Moore, Trinity’s youth director, also recommends girls to the program.
The program received a $2,500 Change for Children’s grant in 2008. McIntyre said the five adults provide a safe environment for the girls. Trinity had previously organized a boy’s program, which had also received a Change for Children grant.
Every Thursday at the church, the girls in the LLAL class participate in skill-building activities in etiquette, manners, hygiene, and physical health. They also explore topics such as fashion, career goals, family life, personal safety, and first aid, McIntyre said. She plans to teach cooking, sewing, and crafts. Occasionally, the girls and their mentors will attend a cultural event or meet female role models such as Morristwon Mayor Sami Borell. At the end of the second year, McIntyre said she plans to take the girls to the tea room in town as a “graduation” celebration.
“By then, they will be able to sit there and have manners that are appropriate for that,” she said.
Currently eight girls are paired ith five women mentors. In some cases, one mentor is assigned to two girls. The girls were selected by tachers or counselors. Most of them, McIntyre said, are from lower-income, single-parent homes. Some suffer from physical or emotional abuse, she said. The church mailed invitations to each identified girl. McIntyre hopes to continue the program throughout the summer months.
“We haven’t used much of the (grant) money yet, but we will use it for crafts and if we need to, the snacks, and field trips,” McIntyre said. “We will also have fundraisers and to get all these girls to church camp.”