Youth circle members learning to be leaders

Derik Vanderford Staff Writer

October 31, 2013

JONESVILLE — A local girls youth circle held a fundraiser as they observed Red Ribbon Week.

The Mary B. Thomas Girls Youth Circle Unit No. 16 partnered with the Brothers in Black civic group on Saturday to recognize Red Ribbon Week and hold the youth circle’s first fundraiser of the year at the old People’s Grocery Store parking lot in Jonesville.

Girls in the Mary B. Thomas Youth Circle held a yard sale and sold hot dogs, chips and sodas, while the Brothers in Black sold fish and seasoned fires.

“The girls had a wonderful time and the Brothers in Black had a wonderful time assisting the girls,” said District 5 Mother Advisor Sister Jacqueline Stewart.

Stewart said the girls of the youth circle — ranging in age from 6-18 — work in the community to help others. The girls meet monthly at Jonesville Lodge No. 460, located behind Foster Chapel Baptist Church, to discuss needs in the community and to learn about leadership and values. Stewart said the girls are taught to focus on etiquette, the importance of higher education, and to always put God first in their everyday lives. Stewart said the girls are always willing to lend a helping hand, and the advisers are there to oversee and encourage them.

“The girls are very civic minded,” Stewart said. “They are learning to become leaders. We teach them to always remain positive and to speak up for themselves. We focus on civic duties, and we teach and impress upon them the need for respect in their homes, churches and communities. Most of all, we impress upon these young ladies that they must first believe in themselves and love themselves before they can love others.”

Stewart said the young ladies strive to be “Companions on the MOVE (mentoring, organizing, volunteering and educating) in Pursuit of Excellence.” The advisers also strive to be “Companions on the MOVE (motivate each other; offer assistance when someone is in need; validate the mother advisers for hard work in the district; and encourage each other not to give up, keep pushing, and work together) in Pursuit of Excellence.”

Saturday’s fundraiser profits will go toward the rental of a van for the girls to attend the Harambee Festival to be hosted by Benedict College in Columbia on Feb. 22, 2014. The annual festival features a variety of music, stage performances all day, art exhibits, empowerment workshops, health screenings, the African Village of hard-to-find merchandise, and a children’s village.

Stewart said she went to the festival last year and can’t wait for the girls to experience it.

“It is just beautiful,” she said. “Benedict College has been doing it for the past 25 years, but this will be the girls’ first time going.”

Stewart said she hopes people who have never heard of the Mary B. Thomas Girls Youth Circle will learn more about what they are doing.

“If you see Mary B. Thomas girls around, just know we are there to help,” Stewart said.