Gone are the full-length skirts worn during tennis practice.
So too is Haverhill’s first Girls Club on Merrimack Street, in what is now the heart of the downtown business district.
The club’s name is different now too, and the focus has shifted from sewing and cooking to computers and handling finances, even planning careers.
A century after it was founded, the city’s Girls Club is tucked into a neighborhood at the edge of the Acre section of Haverhill. There is less emphasis on the dominant skills of yesteryear’s young women, and a greater focus on girls’ education, on learning how to work toward careers.
The organization is now called Girls Inc., as in Girls Incorporated. The name’s businesslike ring is somehow appropriate, given the organization’s effort to propel its members to professional heights.
Despite the changes, the club’s mission remains the same — teaching girls life skills and instilling in them the confidence to use those skills to succeed.
For generations, the organization has given Haverhill’s girls and young women a place to socialize and learn, to be with their peers and adult female role models.
Last year, the club had a dinner to honor several of its successful former members. Some of them were moved to tears when they took the podium to talk about their experiences at Girls Inc., how they were motivated to reach their goals through a combination of good training at the club and counselors there who believed in them, encouraging them to reach for what they wanted.
Girls Inc. has some modern conveniences, computers for instance, but it does struggle financially to give its members what they need and deserve.
The organization’s building can always use some sprucing up. Volunteers and donations are always welcome.
Girls Inc. is celebrating its 100th anniversary in Haverhill. If you are looking for a place to give, what more appropriate time to donate to the girls, whether by offering a few dollars or some time?
Perhaps one day a girl who succeeded at the club will shed a few tears of joy thanks to your generosity.