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The hugs were tight and the tears were streaming on April 7 as Girls Inc. of Boston and Lynn supporters reunited in person at the 34th Annual Celebration Luncheon at the Hilton DoubleTree in Danvers. The sold-out event welcomed hundreds of community leaders, elected officials, businessmen and women, girls, and supporters of girls including Lynn Mayor Jared Nicholson, Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, Lynn school superintendent Patrick Tutwiler, and Rick Jakious, district director for Rep. Seth Moulton.

NBC10 anchor Latoyia Edwards, who celebrated her tenth year emceeing the event, kicked off the afternoon by telling the crowd, “I will walk through fire or fight a dragon to be at this luncheon because here is where I need to be.”

She introduced Alumna Speaker Syeeda Rahman, a sophomore in Suffolk University’s Honor Program and community engagement coordinator at multicultural marketing firm Archipelago Strategies Group. “Girls Inc. was an incubator that harnessed my natural skills into talent. My advisors not only heard my voice, but they also amplified it,” says Rahman.

She was followed by the trio of Girls Heroes being honored: Carolina Diaz, Annie Joseph, and Arlene Valerio Simo emotionally shared their Girls Inc. stories. Diaz, a senior at Lynn English High School, has been coming to Girls Inc. since she was in sixth grade. “I felt safe. I gained confidence. My opinion mattered,” says Diaz of her experience at Girls Inc. Simo has been an active participant at Girls Inc. ever since she moved here from the Dominican Republic five years ago. “Girls Inc. has made an impact on my life,” she says. Annie Joseph, also a senior at Lynn English, has been coming to Girls Inc. since middle school. “Girls Inc. has taught me that my past adversity as a trauma survivor may influence me, but it will not define me,” says Joseph. 

Gabriela Alvarez, Yolaine Pierre, and Victory Aziegbe were recognized as Girls Inc. National Scholars. “My heart is filled with joy and gratitude that you are here to celebrate the girls,” says Deb Ansourlian, executive director of Girls Inc. of Lynn. She presented the 2022 Strong, Smart, and Bold Award to the team at Girls Inc. of Boston and Lynn said, “They are amazing and make my heart sing.”

Stephanie J. Hull, national president and CEO of Girls Inc., wrapped up the event by telling the crowd, “What I see in the girls is the future. An investment in the girls is an investment in the future.”

Officials report that the total funds raised broke previous records. Girls Inc. of Boston and Lynn plans to provide the Girls Inc. experience for 1,000 additional girls in the next three years. Learn ways you can donate by clicking here.