The Century Link Center was filled with hundreds of guests from all over the Omaha area on Tuesday for the annual ‘Lunch for the Girls’ hosted by Girls Inc.
This event was held in order to recognize all of the many wonderful ways Girls Inc. positively impacted the lives of young girls all over the local community by show casing the talents and accomplishments of many of the Girls Inc. program participants. During this event, members of Girls Inc. performed poetry, step routines, and gave testimonies of the things they have learned and experienced during their time in Girls Inc.
Despite the importance of the talents showcased at this event, a large majority of attendees came to hear First Lady, Michelle Obama, who was this year’s ‘Lunch for the Girls’ speaker.
During her time in front of the audience, Obama spoke about the power of positive thinking and believing in oneself as she encouraged the young ladies of Girls Inc. to “follow their dreams.”
“Just keep believing in yourself,” Obama said. “I believe it is important to practice who you want to be every single day… you can be First Lady if you want to, but remember there’s also the presidency.”
The crowd of attendees cheered and clapped at nearly every point Obama made during her speech, especially when she became slightly emotional as she expressed her sincere belief in each individual girl in the Girls Inc. program.
“Just keep on working, keep on achieving, and keep on using everything you’ve learned at Girls Inc. to get to where you want to go,” Obama said. “There’s always going to be haters around you, but you should focus on the people who are positive because the things you learn and the people you meet at Girls Inc. is all that matters and no one can take that away from you.”
Girls Inc. literacy program director, Tess Larson was designated as the liaison to the press for this event. Larson has been working with Girls Inc. for seven years now and she feels that this year’s event was really successful in displaying to the community what Girls Inc. is all about.
“It is important for the Girls Inc. girls to see the support that they have in the community,” Larson said. “It is also important for the people in the community to see that our First Lady supports what Girls Inc. does and that she really cares about [this organization].”
Along with the positive message the First Lady delivered in her speech, Larson hopes that attendees left this event with a deeper understanding of the types of qualities Girls Inc. seeks to help members of their program to develop.
“I hope attendees saw that girls can be strong, smart, and bold,” Larson said. “I hope everyone saw that Girls Inc. has really strong supporters and that we take a very holistic approach [to learning].”
College of Business Administration junior, Symone Sanders was among the many attendees at this event. As an alumna of the Girls Inc. program, Sanders always makes it a point to try to attend this luncheon each year. Although it has been nearly four years since Sanders has been a participant in the Girls Inc. program, she still recognizes the profound affect that Girls Inc. has had and continues to have upon her life.
“I always tell people that I was always good, but Girls Inc. made me great,” Sanders said. “I am not a natural public speaker and this luncheon was one of the first opportunities for me to showcase my abilities and what I learned when I was given the opportunity to introduce President Clinton at this event a few years ago.”
Sanders also feels that it is important for people to know that the lessons and assistance that program participants receive from attending Girls Inc. does not stop after you have passed 18 years old as Sanders still relies upon this organization to assist her in getting job recommendations and preparing for internships.
“[Girls Inc.] really makes it so that they are there for you,” Sanders said. “They say they service girls ages 6-18, but I’m 22 and Girls Inc. is still helping me out.