Ola Onawole is our Not-Your-Typical Support Systems Program Manager. She shares why she's "Here for the Girls":
I grew up in a house full of girls. My mother, Wanda, was my favorite girl. She was everyone's favorite. She would smile so widely and brightly. She would dance in a way that welcomed joy into the room. She would cook in a way that pushed both hunger and sadness out the door. She would pick up folks from off of tough city corners and down-on-their luck avenues. The girl was friendly; the girl was kind; the girl was popular for being the fresh comfort our whole community needed.
She taught us about something I like to call exaltation or celebration.It wasn't something she said out loud. She taught us in the ways that she danced and in the ways that she laughed. She taught us in the ways that she cooked and befriended people.
We learned that this girl made it her daily goal to provide us (insert her children, her friends, her community) with:
- 1. a feeling or state of extreme happiness.
- 2. the action of elevating someone in rank, power, or character
Not to mention:
- the action of praising someone or something highly
So even when she was awaiting breast surgery in the hospital bed, she encouraged her 5 year old daughter to have a balloon party.
She was the ultimate party host in the way she invited guests to live life to their fullest potential and feel elevated every moment they spent in her presence.
So even when we lost her physical life to the cancer, there was this huge party of a funeral. The church was filled and People lined up outside. Everyone whispered about their friend Wanda who lifted them up higher than they could ever imagine. She was the girl of our dreams.
Wanda taught me the art of celebrating people. When I started working for Here for the Girls, I knew I'd found a new group of party girls. Girls who wanted to dance in the wake of their pain. Girls who needed a band leader. Girls who needed lifting up, encouragement, and downright positive praise.
This is certainly the place for it. In the faces of the staff and volunteers, I see reflections of Wanda. Staff and volunteer girls who are supporting the valuable mission of this organization with power and passion. In the faces of the young women diagnosed with breast cancer, I see reflections of Wanda. The girls who are celebrating life and smiling in the midst of illness.
Wanda is right here when I'm with the girls, and I'm here for her. I'm here for the girls.