Girls Inc. in full gear with upcoming events

By KIRAN MALIK-KHAN, Connect Weekly

Community ambassador, local business owner and author, Mrs. Francis Jean is the most recent nominee announced for Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta’s Women of Inspiration 2015-2016 series. Jean is responsible for launching and publishing Fort McMurray’s first community newspaper, The McMurray Courier, where she worked as the reporter, writer, editor and publisher. SUPPLIED PHOTO.

Community ambassador, local business owner and author, Mrs. Francis Jean is the most recent nominee announced for Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta’s Women of Inspiration 2015-2016 series. Jean is responsible for launching and publishing Fort McMurray’s first community newspaper, The McMurray Courier, where she worked as the reporter, writer, editor and publisher. SUPPLIED PHOTO.

Strong. Smart. Bold. Wood Buffalo’s young girls, and women have Girls Incorporated of Northern Alberta to thank for when it comes to aspiring to these three qualities.

Girls Inc., as it is affectionately known boasts the three qualities as its tagline. A social profit organization, the group caters to girls from eight to 18, and is an “opportunity for young girls to get-together to talk about things that affect them, to discuss issues of the day, and to learn coping skills,” explained Ann Dort MacLean, Executive Director. Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta.

The group is busy with last minute preparations for their fourth annual Zombie Run, a fundraiser in support of the United Way of Fort McMurray. It will be held on September 26 at the Birchwood Trails, and promises to be a spooky good time.

“We wanted to have a unique fundraiser, so four years ago a board member, who loved Halloween, came up with the idea of Zombies running on the Birchwood Trails,” Dort MacLean, recalled.

The event gained in popularity quality, getting bigger, and better every year.

“We are so happy with the community’s response. The United Way does so much for us, so it’s important for us to show our support,” she added.

The Women of Inspiration series presented in partnership with Syncrude Canada, is another one of Girls Inc.’s popular program. Every year 12 outstanding local women are inducted, and honoured for their many contributions to the region.

Mrs. Francis Jean, well-known business owner, and author, was the most recent nominee for the 2015-2016 line-up, along with Sheila Chutskoff, owner of Oranj Fitness, and Viki Dawe, science teacher at Westwood Community High School.

Dort MacLean, explained, all these women, and past inductees have one thing in common, it’s their “connection to community.”

“They do so much, they become the community. That’s what we want our girls to learn. Mrs. Jean, Sheila, and Vicki, and their predecessors in the series have embraced community, and that’s what we want the girls to see that they have local role models.”

“They do so much, they become the community. That’s what we want our girls to learn. Mrs. Jean, Sheila, and Vicki, and their predecessors in the series have embraced community, and that’s what we want the girls to see that they have local role models.”

“Whether it’s running a business, in the classroom, or in a gym, these women our amazing. Our girls learn of them, and their attitude goes from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can be extraordinary,’” enthused Dort MacLean, who has been with Girls Inc., for over 20 years – ever since it was founded.

In addition, speaking of extraordinary, every year three outstanding local post-secondary students are picked to receive the Women of Inspiration scholarship. The 2014-15 scholarships of $5,000 each were awarded to, Melanie Dene, Maria Higuerey, and Serena Dixon. A future lawyer, Dene is a student at the University of Regina, First Nations University of Canada. Higuerey is planning to attend the University of Alberta, and Dixon is pursuing a degree in social work from the University of Calgary.

“It’s getting harder and harder to select winners. We have some phenomenal applicants every year. We have winners from all walks of life including a mom this year, and last year. We want to see where they are going, and how we can help,” continued Dort MacLean.

For more information, and to nominate someone for the Women of Inspiration, visit http://girlsincofnorthernalberta.org/.

– Connect Weekly –