~ serving to help girls develop positive self-esteem to counter the negative messages they receive from today’s society. Media images and social pressures are powerful forces in a young girl’s life. Our message is: Believe in yourself, Girl!  Focus on your unique strengths and gather with others in support and celebration!

This month we kicked-off the 7th season of GNO Workshop!  The night was filled with excitement as 14 girls gathered in community to support Safe Passage, our year long service project. Safe Passage is a non-profit organization in Guatemala City serving the children and families living in extreme poverty around the City’s garbage dump.

We learned about a young woman named Hanley Denning from Maine, who founded Safe Passage in an abandoned church, by selling off her own worldly goods to fund a program that would come to serve 550 children and over 300 families, more than a decade later.

beadsWe learned about a woman named Irina who joined Safe Passage and learned to read at the age of 36.  She and her 5 children participate in the Early Childhood, Adult Literacy, and Social Entrepreneurship programs like CREAMOS, a collective of 30 mothers that make jewelry from recycled materials. Turning trash into beauty, this business has empowered women to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and for their children.  Creamos means, “we create” and “let’s believe”.

We were inspired to try making our own hand-made paper beads.  The girls created bracelets, earrings and necklaces, each design, unique and beautiful, like the girls themselves.  It was an evening of fun, creative self-expression as well as a wonderful opportunity to help others. Together we raised $200 for Safe Passage!



Hanley Denning spent her life working tirelessly on behalf of at-risk children.

She believed that first and foremost, every person must feel a sense of self-worth to be able to form the caring relationships that lie at the very heart of one’s ability to learn and grow.

Hanley died in an automobile accident on Jan 18, 2007.  Ironically, our workshop coincided with the anniversary of her death. What a beautiful way to celebrate her life and the empowering work that continues today. She believed in the power of self-love and community.  At GNO, we strive to foster these same values.

Thank you to all the girls who participated, to Cara and Lee-Ann, and special thanks to Patty, who brought Safe Passage to our little corner of the world.

Becky Paul

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