Girls Inc. of the Central Coast held its fifth annual Tastes and Treasures fundraiser on Sept. 20 at San Juan Oaks. The nonprofit raised $20,000 in an evening of live music, silent auction, and wine, beer, and margarita tastings.
The event’s success was due to the support of local businesses, according to Girls Inc. of the Central Coast Executive Director Patty Fernandez-Torrez. All raffle prizes, food and beverages were donated.
“It’s great to see so many community members coming out and supporting the organization,” she said.
Among the gathering of roughly 80 people was first-time attendee Louise Roy. She said she hopes to get her fifth-grade granddaughter involved in the organization.
“It’s something to inspire young people to stay in school, get educated, and go on to college,” Roy said.
A former educator, Roy said it was important for young women to have a positive group of girlfriends to gain support throughout their school experience.
“When they come to high school they can go astray, but if they have a group it can keep them on the right path,” she said.
Girls Inc. of the Central Coast was formed in 1999 in an effort to bring programming in the areas of education, careers, health and opportunities to high school age girls. What started in one high school has today turned into a nonprofit organization that spans elementary to high school. Programs include areas such as youth leadership development, factual information on female health and the reproductive system, and learning to develop healthy relationships.
Tenille Ramirez also attended the fundraiser. For her, part of the appeal of supporting Girls Inc. comes from seeing positive changes in the young women who go through the program.
“They are growing,” Ramirez said. “It is giving them the confidence and support toward college and a career.”
Girls Inc. members greeted guests at the entrance and addressed the crowd. Current members shared their stories of how the program has affected their lives.
“Girls Inc. is a program that helps you meet new friends, develop goals, and guides you to your future,” said 11th-grade member Magaly Del Rio.
Reflecting on the evening, Roy said, “It’s a very positive environment.”