Friendship Club plays vital role | TheUnion.com

Friendship Club plays vital role

Rob Avery

I am fortunate to have a daughter who by all indications will survive her teenage years and will likely become a happy, healthy productive member of society. She will do this because of the lucky combination of a family that cares, good schools, a great community and good genes (my wife’s).

Her friends have similar stories and advantages and will very likely all succeed as well. I will, of course, always worry as parents do; however, I worry more about some of the other girls around us.

A few years ago, I joined the board of The Friendship Club here in Nevada County. We mentor girls that have not had the great fortune of my daughter, or perhaps yours. These are children, starting at around the sixth grade, who really need help.

Without some guidance they have the potential to fall victim to the lures of alcohol and drugs, to drop out of school, to become pregnant before they are ready and to waste the positive potential that they have.

They need help to become women, to become the parents of future girls who do not need our help.

What really hits me hard are the stories. We have girls that become the “grown up” of the house at 12 years, caring for both parents and siblings. We have girls that have not seen their mothers for years.

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These are children that in spite of all of their difficulties find the way to school, with homework finished, entirely on their own. I think of my own daughter when I hear these stories and I am grateful.

These are good kids. They are kind, smart, and compassionate. Sometimes they can feel angry because of their life circumstances, can be mistrustful of authority because of their experiences with various systems, and tend to be very self-reliant because they have been forced to be.

They are also courageous and resilient and eager for our support. They are often at that juncture where a choice can lead to a lifetime of either success or failure.

Our staff at The Friendship Club is truly wonderful. They have a unique ability to identify what makes each girl strong and to nurture it. They do this by being a role model, by providing examples of how to succeed and by teaching that each and every person has the ability to control her destiny.

We believe in them, they just need to start believing in themselves.

The Friendship Club is unique. We are able to tailor an approach to each girl, as every one is different and has a different story. Each girl has a mentor, an “angel” that becomes a friend, a confidant, a cheerleader.

We provide a safe place to go to get a meal, to make friends, to get help with school or any other problem they might have. We schedule camps in the summer to have fun and to learn skills to survive in life. We take them on tours of colleges. We teach them to become powerful, to control their own lives and futures.

Best of all, the story has a happy ending. We succeed. We are proud of every girl who completes our program and graduates from high school. Girls become the first in their family to go to college, to go to trade school, to start a business. They become a part of healthy relationships.

Especially exciting, our girls often express an interest in helping others like themselves. The girls value our program and want others to experience their success.

We do all of this only with the help of our community. We are a local story. The majority of our funding is locally raised. This stuff isn’t cheap. We rely on donations from our friends to keep our programs going.

We rely on volunteers to drive girls to the places they need to go. We need more confidant women to mentor more girls.

We need you.

Please contact The Friendship Club if you think you can volunteer or contribute financially; (530) 265-4311 or online at friendshipclub.org.

Rob Avery lives in Grass Valley.

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