Girls Inc. received its single largest donation recently of $50,000, which will be used to create a new program geared toward helping girls gain valuable experiences.
The donation was made by Owensboro residents Dianne and Kirk Kirkpatrick, who have been involved in Girls Inc. for many years assisting with its local ATHENA Awards presentation.
According to Kirk Kirkpatrick, he and his wife have been watching from the sidelines and have witnessed firsthand how impactful the nonprofit is for young girls.
“When you look into the eyes of any of our girls, you see the strength, initiative and intelligence that Girls Inc. has helped to instill in each of them,” he said.
Having helped with the program for so long, the Kirkpatricks have watched many of the girls grow up and become strong, smart and bold young women.
“It became so inspiring to see these girls that I first met when they were 7 or 8 years old, and now they’re graduating from high school and the incredible turnaround that they’ve had; they’re so focused,” Kirk Kirkpatrick said. “That’s what Girls Inc. has been able to do and you see it. The results are there right in front of you every year at these ATHENA Awards.”
Kirkpatrick said he and Dianne discussed the possibility of donating to Girls Inc. this past summer. He said the couple donated to many nonprofits in the community on a regular basis, but wanted to give in a way that would make a true impact in an individual’s life.
What better way, he said, than by providing inspiring opportunities for young girls that could help further their goals and interests in a certain area, whether it be animals, theater, writing and so many other subjects.
“I think all of us have had an experience, whether planned or not, where we ran into somebody or saw our first Broadway show, or saw a professional football game for the first time or met an author that we loved, and how it really changed our life,” he said. “I think everybody has some event like that … so we wanted to provide it for worthy girls.”
The goal of the new program, he said, is to provide these experiences for the girls. For example, he said if one of the girls is theatrically inclined and interested in learning more about theater, she could potentially receive an opportunity to travel to New York, see a Broadway play, meet with a female director and go backstage to see how it all comes together.
For a girl interested in animals, she might get the opportunity to go to the St. Louis Zoo, he said, and follow around a zoo keeper and see the zoo from the viewpoint of someone who works there.
“A lot of the girls have never even been on an airplane. This is not just a travel vacation thing; this is hopefully an inspiring moment in their life that they will use to tap that passion inside,” he said.
Since announcing the donation, Kirkpatrick said there has been an additional $15,000 donated to help fund the program.
“We want everybody to be able to at least have a dream, and that’s what we’re going to be asking all our girls to do. If you could have an experience, what dream experience would that be? Let them think for themselves about where they want to go, what they want to do,” he said.
Girls Inc. CEO Tish Correa Osborne said she and the organization are humbled by the generosity given by the Kirkpatricks and “overwhelmed with gratitude.”
“Something like this takes you to your knees in gratitude,” she said. “I have always believed that part of the beauty of Girls Inc. is that we understand that girls already have superhuman capabilities to excel and succeed at whatever they desire. We need to provide the opportunities, to open the doors to the world and experiences that can be theirs. This gift is precisely that.”
Christie Netherton, The Messenger-Inquirer