Girls to learn about careers from women

Wendy Byerly Wood Content Manager

January 13, 2014

What started as one mother’s project with her daughter is being expanded Tuesday and opened up to 50 girls from ages 10 to 12.

GIRLs EmPOWERing Girls symposium is designed to allow young girls to hear from women about the jobs they do that might have been considered a man’s job in the past.

“I have a 6-year-old daughter, and I want her and have always wanted her to know she can do and be anything she wants,” said Misty Matthews, office manager at the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce. “So I had scheduled some time for her to meet a woman firefighter as a first step.”

During the conversation with a second woman for Matthews’ daughter to speak with, “I realized this is something a lot of girls should have the opportunity to do,” she said.

So she spoke with Vicki Roberts, a friend who also has a daughter, and the duo partnered up to make the GIRLs EmPOWERing Girls symposium happen.

The event will take place at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, 628 CC Camp Road, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. There is room for 50 girls to participate.

“What we’re hoping is the parents will drop them off so they will come out of their shells a little bit and feel free to ask questions,” Matthews said. “We did put postcards in (a couple of grades) at Elkin Elementary School to attract some girls, but is open to girls anywhere.”

The symposium is free, and will include dinner for the girls and the speakers thanks to sponsors. Prism Medical Products is the primary sponsor, Elk Pharmacy provided some funding, Fairfield allowed the group to use its space, and Heaven Scent provided a discounted rate on its food.

Nine speakers will talk to the girls for about five minutes each, then Matthews hopes there will be time at the end for the girls to talk one-on-one with the ladies if they have further questions.

Speakers include Amelia Payton, an attorney; firefighter Theresa Knopps; author Sarah Byrd; entrepreneur Kimberly Seipel-Parks, who owns West Depot Creative; Mayor Lestine Hutchens; teacher Angela Oliver; police officer Mendy Peles; Dr. Adrienne Classen, who owns Kids Count; and Pam Blackburn, who served as interim CEO of Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, but will be speaking about the role of women in the military.

“I would love to do it annually,” Matthews said of the symposium. “If we get a group of girls who really found it interesting, then have a different type of event to bring them together and do a different project together.”

The event is not a money maker, said Matthews, who said the chamber also is a sponsor of the symposium. The sponsorships are just to pay the bills for the meal.

Those interested in attending should RSVP by 3 p.m. Tuesday by calling Matthews at the chamber at 526-1111 or emailing mmatthews@yadkinvalley.org.

“Working at the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce, I have been blessed to know so many great people who made a good life for themselves and are putting their time in the community to help it be a wonderful place to live, work and raise children,” Matthews said, who credited her job connections with being able to make the symposium possible.

Reach Wendy Byerly Wood at wbyerly-wood@civitasmedia.com or at 835-1513.