Children need good role models to set them on good paths for their lives. They need people to remind them that they are worthy, that they are smart and that whatever the bullies are telling them isn’t true. Many kids receive this coaching at home, but not all do. And sometimes, it’s easier to hear these things coming from someone other than your parents.
Our Girls Rock, Too! has been working on this with girls in Bulloch and surrounding counties since its founding on May 1, 2012 by Stacey King Grant. Stacey, 35, a graduate of Portal High School and Georgia Southern University, grew up in a supportive environment, but knows that this isn’t always the case.
“Growing up in a rural area, there were not many positive programs exclusively for young ladies to attend. However, I was surrounded by a positive, loving community which led me to be the strong lady that I am today,” Grant said. “Being surrounded in this environment has had a significant impact on my character development. I was always told that I was beautiful, smart and could accomplish anything. I believe that with the support of a positive community and strong esteem developing programs, we can embrace the young ladies of our community.”
OGR2 is a volunteer-based organization is simply to help girls between ages 7 and 18 to be comfortable being themselves and the volunteers, including Grant and Veronica Cheers, Rosaland King, Connie Presas, Ros Roberson, Erika Whiters, Alicia Gibbons and Leighanna Massey. These ladies help to encourage the girls with monthly programs, annual camps and other activities.
Currently, the program includes the positions of Director, Assistant Director, Event Coordinator, Scholarships and Fundraiser Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, Food Services Coordinator, Public Relations Coordinator and Secretary. Each of these positions are volunteer based unless a donor specifies that their donation go towards the volunteers. The organization is working to apply for grants to be able to compensate their volunteers. In the past, they have help fundraising campaigns, but they hope to move towards a model of grants instead of fundraising.
Grant said, “The mission of Our Girls Rock, Too! Inc. is to Uplift, Empower, Educate and Embrace young ladies to become comfortable in their own skin and to love themselves through self-esteem/self-image building exercises.”
By teaching these skills to young ladies, the women of OGR2 are applying the “teach a man to fish” principle that’s found within the Bible. Instead of only giving them encouragement from outside of themselves, the volunteers are teaching them to find their own encouragement and confidence from within themselves. OGR2 is also teaching the girls to uplift one another.
Grant has been married to Akeem Grant, 36, for five years. Akeem is a math teacher at Langston Chapel Middle School. After 10 years of service to the students of East Georgia State College, most recently as the Director of Student Life, Grant has made a career change to full-time mom of Harleigh, 4, and Teagan, 1.
Grant also does empowerment speaking, speaking to women and girl’s groups and churches about empowerment. Her signature program, “Build a Girl” is modeled after the popular store, Build-A-Bear.
You could say that OGR2 is like the older sibling that Grant gave birth to nine years ago. If you have the privilege of knowing her personally, then you also know that Grant treats each of the girls within the program as if they were her own.
“My goal has always been to be a guide and a mentor for the young ladies in the program and community and to create an environment of love and lifelong friendships,” Grant said.
As a young girl, Grant was well-supported but she faced bullying from classmates for different things.
“I found myself being bullied for my clothes and even for being smart. As a result, I became in need of the encouragement that my community would one day provide,” she said.
Our Girls Rock, Too! was an idea Grant had to help battle the bullying that has become more rampant in the area’s young people today. She feels that offering positive programs in the area can help put local youth back on track.
The program serves the primary area of Bulloch County along with Candler, Screven, Bryan, Jenkins and Evans counties. However, girls are not turned away if they live outside this area.
In the nine years that Our Girls Rock, Too! has been active, more than 500 girls have been reached. The monthly programs that they have at the Statesboro YMCA are three hours long with breakfast and a program and then lunch. Girls are typically split up into two groups: ages 7-12 and ages 13-18. The program topics range from self-esteem, cyber bullying, empowerment to painting, financial workshops, sport or just bonding. They incorporate community guest speakers for the monthly programs and invite guest speakers from all over the world to participate for their annual conference.
The short-term goals for OGR2 is to increase the program offering for high school girls and to provide the participants with more trips.
Grant’s desire to give back to the community has earned her several awards in the area. She has been recognized with the Northland’s Cable Hometown Hero 2014 Award, the Amazing Grace Ministries Community Service Award 2014 and the Women of Inspiration Leadership Award 2014. In 2021, she received was elected into the Statesboro Herald’s Top 20 Under 40.
As someone who obviously likes to pour herself into others, it’s no surprise that Grant feels thankful to be a part of OGR2.
“Community service is my passion. This opportunity of service has allowed me to grow, inspire, lead, teach and empower the next generation of strong women in the South Georgia community. For that, I am thankful,” she said.
Grant knows that the organization may not be able to help every single girl in our community, but is focusing the group on helping as many as they can.
“I know that I may not reach every girl, but to reach even one can be life changing. I want to help open doors for young ladies to discover their talents, accept their beauty, excel in education, and value the importance of embracing and uplifting each other to reach the common goal of success,” she said.
She hopes that they can broaden their service area more into the surrounding counties.
“I believe that through the help of my faithful community partners, volunteers and parents, my vision and territory will continue to increase to reach many more young girls in the future,” she said.
Our Girls Rock, Too! has certainly made an impact on the girls of the local community. If you’d like to register a young woman in your life, find out more about how to get involved or donate to the organization, reach out via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.ourgirlsrocktoo.org.