When Yocilin Solis was a little girl, she was very taken with the big, yellow house that was home to Girls Inc. in Lynn. She’d ride by on her way to church and imagine what it was like inside. Then, as a high school junior, she got an internship teaching marine science with the organization, and had her chance to experience the house in person.
“The moment I walked through the doors it was better than I imagined,” Solis told a crowd of more than 550 people gathered for the 35th annual Girl’s Inc. of Boston and Lynn celebration luncheon at the Hilton DoubleTree in Danvers last month. Since then, she added, “At Girls Inc., my voice has been nurtured to be heard beyond the walls of the yellow house.”
Solis, a senior at St. Mary’s School in Lynn and an incoming Yale University freshman, shared this story as she accepted one of Girls Inc.’s 2023 Joy Moyer Girl Hero Scholarships, one of the emotional and joyful moments that punctuated the event.
Speaking before and after Solis were the two other recipients: Grace Oladoja, a senior at Pioneer Charter School of Science, who plans to become a cardiac surgeon one day, and Christania Adeoye, a senior at Lynn English High School, who spoke of the challenges of immigrating to the United States at the age of 11 and finding her way in her new culture.
The hotel ballroom was a sea of vibrant red, as many attendees came decked out in the organization’s signature color. The emcee of the event was Carla Rojo, a reporter with Telemundo Nueva Inglaterra, who stepped in when longtime emcee, news anchor Latoyia Edwards, was unable to make it as planned. The event also included a performance by the Girls Inc. Chorus.
Executive director Deb Ansourlian spoke of the importance of helping the whole girl, from academic support and extracurricular opportunities to mental health and substance abuse services. Amy Lynch, president of Comcast’s northeast division, accepted the organization’s Strong, Smart and Bold Award on behalf of her company, and also addressed the importance of encouraging women to explore science and technical fields.
“We must ensure young women’s participation in STEM is the norm, not the exception,” Lynch said.
Athené Sirivallop – a senior project manager at Harvard University, Girls Inc. of Boston and Lynn board member, and a scholarship alumna – spoke of the support the organization gives to girls and encouraged those in attendance to find their own ways to continue that legacy. She recalled the luncheon at which she received a Girls Inc. national scholarship in 2002. In conversations with some of the women in attendance, she mentioned that she had been waitlisted for the honors program at Texas Southern University. They took an interest and, soon after, she received word that she had been accepted into the program.
“They took my rejection and turned it into an opportunity for me,” Sirivallop said. “How will you open the door of opportunity for this generation of girls?”
Program sponsors included Comcast, Someone Else’s Child Foundation, United Way of Mass Bay and Merrimack Valley, Girls, Inc., Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, EBSCO, The CE & FCA Foisy Foundation, Old Neighborhood Foods, GE Foundation, HP Hood, Chris and Nick Meninno, Sally P. Thompson, TQM Wealth Partners, Lynne M. Bohan, Delulis Brothers Construction, D & R Paving, First Republic Bank, M + T
Bank, The Parent Family Fund, Rockland Trust Charitable Foundation, Salem Five Charitable Foundation, Solimine Funeral Homes, and Sunstein LLP. Media sponsors were Northshore magazine and Align Graphic Design.
For more information about Girls Inc. of Boston and Lynn or to donate to the organization, visit girlsinclynn.org.