SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Loads of inspiration during the Girls Inc. 18th Annual Celebration Luncheon Friday, emceed by Girls Inc. teen member, Sofia.
Women -- and a fair number of men -- filled a ballroom at the Hilton in Santa Barbara.
Sarahi Larios Cruz, a junior at Dos Pueblos High School and member of Girls Inc., was teen speaker.
Cruz shared some of her life challenges including experiences of overt racism both in a grocery store and in a school counselor's office.
Cruz also shared some of her amazing accomplishments, including taking several AP courses and thriving, and embracing her heritage and her family. She delivered an emotional tribute to her mother, in Spanish, which left many in the audience wiping away tears.
The 2019 Strong, Smart, and Bold Award went to Marsha Bailey, Founder and CEO of Women's Economic Ventures (WEV). The Santa Barbara-based organization is nationally recognized for its high- impact and innovative programs that helped start or expand more than 4,500 local businesses. Bailey launched WEV in 1991.
Gregg Renfrew, Founder and CEO of Beautycounter, was keynote speaker. (In 2001, Renfrew started the Wedding List, which was Martha Stewart's first acquisition.)
"Well I do think that at the end of the day the thing women lack most is confidence," Renfrew said. "I do think we have everything we need to be successful within ourselves right out of the gate. And I wish more people were saying that message to girls -- and to boys -- but really to women and girls around the country. I've found over the last number of years that it doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, white or black, young or old... we all lack confidence and I think if we stick together and support one another we can do really great work together."
Renfrew also revealed, with love and humor, that she is still upset with her mother (who was in the audience) for naming her Gregg.
At one point, Renfrew invited the girls and teens in the audience who are members of Girls Inc. to join her on stage. She pointed out that each person in the audience was there to show their support for each and every girl up on that stage.
Renfrew drove home a list of practices that the girls should incorporate in their daily lives from that point on:
*Write thank you notes.
*When you meet someone, give a firm handshake and look them straight in the eye.
*Don't play with your hair.
*Wear at least one thing that makes you feel good about yourself.
*Take your shoes off at the front door.
*Keep harmful chemicals out of your home.
*Think of yourself as an everyday activist & vote with your wallet.
*Don't look to boys to validate you.
Leo Bunnin, owner of Bunnin Automotive Group, performed the live auction. Toward the end of the event, he took center stage with Cruz and announced that he is giving her family a free car for one year. Cruz was incredulous and responded with tears.
CEO Barbara Ben-Horin reiterated the Girls Inc. mission to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold. Ben-Horin, along with President Tracy Jenkins and the Board of Directors, put together a really inspiring, energetic celebration honoring and empowering local girls and teens involved in Girls Inc. and the people in the community who support them.
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