Dear Friends of Benton Harbor Girls Association for Learning & Self-esteem:
I write with Good News and Bad News. First the Bad News: the Girls Academy was not able to move into its new building on Pearl and Catalpa in time for school to begin as planned. Between the requirements of the State and the Benton Harbor Building Inspector, the Project Manager was unable to obtain the necessary permits to allow the building project to begin. Hopefully, all this red tape will be completed soon. In addition to these holdups, the Capital Campaign to raise the $300,000 to $500,000 needed to finance the building project and an endowment has been slow in growing. Two fundraisers raised almost $10,000 and a grant proposal for $50,000 to the Rotary Club is being considered. We continue to explore many options. A slow process, but we are making progress. Every day we pray that God will send us a substantial donor who will put the Capital Campaign over the top.
Now the Good News: we can remain in the St. John building for another year. Although the SS. John & Bernard Parish needed the building for its offices, the new Pastor, Father Brian Stanley, found space for the Academy on the third floor of the building. The area provides two large classrooms, a large office shared by the Principal and Director, a large foyer for the secretary where visitors can wait in comfort, several other spaces for a table or desk and chairs at which the girls can work independently; all of these spaces, taken together, give us everything we need for the Academy and staff to teach our young women. More Good News: we doubled enrollment this fall; some of the building changes allowed us to increase our enrollment to 13 girls with two more on the wait list. Once we move into the new building, we will be able to serve 45-60 girls. We also added a part-time Principal, Andy Velez. Andy recently retired from River School in Benton Harbor, having spent 30 years in education and school counseling. In addition, he has a heart for these young women who live in very difficult situations, and he works so well with them. We are excited about Andy joining our staff.
No doubt, raising $300,000 to $500,000 will be a challenge. However, if 300 people donate $1,000 each, or 600 people donate $500 each, we could raise the funds quickly. Some other ways to donate to the building fund are: purchase and name a classroom or the library or the all-purpose room, etc., for $10,000 for each room. Purchase one or more engraved bricks for the entrance at $100 a brick. Not many of us are able to donate these large amounts, but most can afford to help the Girls Academy in some way.
With the Holidays approaching, Christmas, the season of giving, will soon be upon us. We are asking our friends to prayerfully consider making a donation, to the Girls Academy for operating funds or to the Capital Campaign for the Academy building, or both. For your convenience, a return envelope is enclosed. Mark the memo line of your check to indicate where you wish your donation is to go.
The Corporate Board and supporters of the non-profit Benton Harbor Girls Association for Learning & Self-esteem strongly believe that to improve our community, we must invest the time and money needed to develop the potential of girls who might otherwise become single mothers. If girls remain in school, where they have opportunities to grow as persons and learners, and are safe from sexual and other physical and emotional abuse, they are more likely to make good decisions, about drugs, alcohol, sexual relationships, pregnancy, and child rearing. Good choices lead to better lives for themselves, their families, and their children, thus breaking the cycle of poverty in their homes and community. Critical to a better future for the Benton Harbor area is breaking that cycle of early pregnancy, single mother hood, and poverty. The Benton Harbor Girls Association for Learning & Self-esteem believes that the best way to do this is through quality education and personal empowerment. The Girls Academy provides both. Won’t you help us in whatever way you can to ensure a better life for these girls? Oprah Winfrey maintains, “When you educate a girl, you change the world.”
Please visit our website: bentonharborgirlsacademy.org Or follow us on Facebook.
Peace and Love,
May God Bless you and your family this Holy Season and throughout the year.
The Benton Harbor Girls Association for Learning & Self-esteem Corporate Board and Spouses