For over 17 years, Junior League of Boston has partnered with the Germaine Lawrence residential program for teenage girls helping more than 400 girls in a one-on-one mentoring program. Youth Villages – Germaine Lawrence campus (YV-GL) is an 86-bed campus in Arlington, MA where girls ages 13-18 live, receive specialized treatment, and attend school. Before arriving at YV-GL, many of the girls ran away from home trying to escape traumatic home environments. During their stay at YV-GL, the girls do not spend time with many adults other than paid staff; JL Boston members provide positive female role models that might otherwise be absent from their lives.
Last year, I worked with a girl who had a severe eating disorder and came from a traumatic home environment. The state had removed her and her brother from the home because it was not a safe place for children to live. She was living at YV-GL and I would visit her every two weeks. We did photography together, went shopping in Harvard Square, saw movies, and played games. She learned about healthy eating from her treatment at YV-GL and worked on self esteem. She was a strong willed 16-year-old girl with a good heart who needed someone to be there for her. If her weight slipped below her target, she was not allowed to go off campus with me. She worked hard to maintain her earned privileges. At the end of the school year, she completed her treatment and was able to leave. She is now in the Youth Villages Transitional Living program, which gives children aging out of foster care and children’s service a specialist who helps them find stable housing, achieve stable employment and develop tools to successfully live on their own. She is still doing very well.
Last year, YV-GL reached out to JL Boston to partner with a new running program, “Run Club.” Run Club gives resident girls at any fitness level a productive outlet for their energy while helping them develop goal setting skills. Because this program is such a close fit to our focus on the wellness of adolescent girls, we joined YV-GL to kick-off the Run Club in the 2014-2015 JLB year. We expect that running with the YV-GL girls will expose them to healthy habits and positive female role models. Run Club was faced with rain for one of the first meetings, and the group played basketball in the gym at Germaine Lawrence campus. The girls stayed active and involved. In November, the group went for a hike and jogged around Fresh Pond in Cambridge.
– Pamela (Giasson) Lynch has been a member of the Junior League of Boston for 5 years and has volunteered with Germaine Lawrence since 2010. She now continues to support Youth Villages – Germaine Lawrence campus on her own through YV-GL Women of Excellence Breakfast and Spring Charity Gala event committees.