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May 12, 2010

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May 12, 2010

Taking the Reins has been described as an “urban oasis”—the miracle is that this is really the special sense I get whenever I am there. I love the charmingly funky barn and the new organic garden (enriched by compost from the manure of the horses!) and the always-welcoming classroom space where the girls work on their writing, artwork and digital photography. But most important is the staff and band of supporters (largely but not exclusively female) who are so dedicated to empowering girls—and that dedication really inspires the girls to gain confidence with themselves, to learn discipline in their riding and active care for the horses—in other words to act strong and entertain big dreams for themselves. No wonder that one of the first girls in the startup years of the program a decade ago is the first in her family to not only graduate from high school but now is graduating from UC Berkeley! Moreover, there's a real social advantage to an “urban oasis”: unlike a summer camp program, it is a far more accessible program of enrichment for underserved urban girls (some of whose parents might be reluctant to send them away to camp even if that were affordable). It offers an intensive, stimulating program for their development that, especially with the informal mentoring provided by all the staff, the girls can, and do!, integrate their new-found sense of strong selves into the rest of their everyday experiences in public school classrooms (often too big), on the street (often intimidating), and in their home environments (which too often place more attention on the future of sons rather than daughters).

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've followed one young woman from this program finish community college and then enter Berkeley (her first time away from home) I've kept in touch and witnessed how bouts of fear are managed with her formative lessons in confidence from Taking the Reins.

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

April 6, 2010

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April 6, 2010

In the past ten years, as I've become increasingly involved in Taking the Reins, going from taking a friend's daughter to her riding lessons, to volunteering, and now serving on the board, I have had the twin pleasures of watching this unique program for girls grow, and watching the girls themselves grow from shy, tentative middle school girls to young women who have learned that the futures ahead of them are theirs to plan and control. Starting with a program rooted in horseback riding,and expanding to include creative writing, photography, and organic gardening, Taking the Reins can truly be said to cultivate lives.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Seeing girls with few aspirations realize they can do things like go graduate from high school, get a job or go off to college - and then do it!

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Incredibly dedicated and generous of time and spirit.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Buy the fabulous 100-year old barn and property that's home to the program and a magical urban oasis to the girls, staff and all who visit, to ensure that Taking the Reins can provide a superb, life-empowering program for girls for many years to come.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

March 5, 2010

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March 5, 2010

I have seen the impact that Taking The Reins has on young teenage girls. They learn caring, community, compassion and creativity. With the lack of funding in the LA school system and with parents struggling to make ends meet, Taking The Reins provides a safe and enriching place for the next generation of women.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing young girls flourish.

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If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Impact many many more girls.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

February 5, 2010

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February 5, 2010

Taking the Reins is the only program of its kind in LA - committed to turning urban girls into courageous cowgirls capable of handling a horse and life's challenges. It provides a safe, open space where girls can develop physically, mentally, and emotionally. Dedicated staff mentor teen girls to advocate for themselves and be in control of their destinies. I have watched shy and under-served girls gain self-confidence and set higher goals for their life aspirations because of this program. I've been active on the Board of Directors since 2004 and now serve as Board Chair.

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The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the self-confidence demonstrated by our girls when interviewed by Allie MacKay/Channel 5 on the KTLA Morning News or Kathy Vara/Channel 7 at our annual family day BBQ event.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Seeing the organization grow from a program in 4 horse stalls to being on the verge of establishing a permanent place for girls.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Dedicated, hard-working, tireless.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Acquire our current property near the LA River and establish an urban farm for girls; expand programs to serve more girls; establish an endowment to fund scholarships.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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