Lodi Girls Can Dream It & Be It

The young ladies helping the Lodi Soroptimists with the planning of "Dream It, Be It." Back row: Lillyanne, Zoe, Kaylynn and Kasandra. Front Row: Jenifer and Roxana. Picture compliments of Lodi Soroptimist.

The young ladies helping the Lodi Soroptimists with the planning of "Dream It, Be It." Back row: Lillyanne, Zoe, Kaylynn and Kasandra. Front Row: Jenifer and Roxana. Picture compliments of Lodi Soroptimist.

Terri Lee is a woman who is passionate about creating opportunities for women and young girls. I didn’t ask her specifically, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that is a big reason she joined the Lodi Soroptimist. Soroptimist International is a service group dedicated to supporting young women and girls, and they have a local branch full of women who volunteer their time to do just that. These lovely ladies are also one of the eight proud recipients of the ABCD Love Your Block grant, and they’re planning to use that money to do some pretty cool stuff for high school girls in Lodi. With their grant money, they’ll be holding a specialized Career Conference for girls called “Dream It, Be It.”

The girls' "Dream It, Be It" bracelets. Picture compliments of Lodi Soroptimist.

The girls' "Dream It, Be It" bracelets. Picture compliments of Lodi Soroptimist.

The more I learned about the “Dream It, Be It” event, the more intrigued I was. It doesn’t have the feeling of a traditional, boring career day. As I was learning more, one of the things that stood out to me was that the girls will not only be given practical career advice, they’re also going to learn important life tools to help them succeed no matter what the girls choose to do with their lives. That’s one of the same things that gets Terri fired up for this event. “The curriculum I’m most excited for the girls to learn is rising above obstacles and turning your failures into success. We’ve all had, especially as we continue to get older, problems, failures…. I have things I still haven’t gotten right. So I want them to know they can go past that. Their failures don’t have to stop them. They can still succeed. I don’t expect them to know exactly what they want to do or what they want to be when they grow up but I think the tools that we give them with this program will help them no matter what they decide to do. They’re basic tools that I’m afraid not enough girls are getting.” Isn’t that the truth. We all fail at times, but some of us bounce back better than others. We want kids in our community to be able to bounce back and keep moving forward! If you’re too afraid of failure, you’ll be too scared to take those important leaps of faith that improve your life! If we want our kids to have promising futures they need to know how to rise above failure, so I love that the “Dream It, Be It” program is emphasizing this skill.

Three of the girls working on their dream collages to take home. Picture compliments of Lodi Soroptimist.

Three of the girls working on their dream collages to take home. Picture compliments of Lodi Soroptimist.

“Dream It, Be It” is actually a national program, but it’s brand new to Lodi. Terri saw the program at the Soroptimist conference and knew it was something that could really benefit girls in Lodi. “We saw some little interviews with the girls who had attended and they were all so excited and had such good things to say about it that I thought, this is perfect. We need to do this, the need is out there.” Another cool feature is this program combines the resources the of Soroptimist International with the unique characteristics and needs of the community the program is serving. Soroptimist International created the blueprint for the program, which they gave Terri and her fellow club members. Terri and these ladies then brought it in girls from Lodi and Tokay High to get their feedback on the material, and to learn about what specifically these girls wanted more of. “At our last meeting we had a couple of girls, one from Lodi High School and one from Tokay High School, and they sat down and we went over the curriculum and they got really excited. We got their input on what they thought was important, what they would like to do, what they would like to learn, who they would like to hear from, what jobs they might be interested in.” explained Terri.

“When women learn, families live healthier.”

The program will have a few components to better provide individualized attention to girls. Girls will fill out a questionnaire when they begin about their strengths and interests, and then those answers are matched with specific jobs that would meet their interests and skills. I have to interject here how much I would have loved to have something like that when I was in highschool. We know now better than ever before how impactful it is for kids to find a role model who looks like them and/or shares a similar background, so Terri and her team are in talks with a diverse group of women leaders in Lodi who will act as different speakers and leaders throughout the day. And Soroptimists don’t want this event to end when the doors close at 3:00PM. To help girls carry the lessons of this day forward, they’re putting together a resource guide for each participant. “All the people who are there helping that day, with their permission, we’ll have their name and contact information with what they do,” explained Terri. “So if one girl says, ‘Oh I really want to be a hairdresser!’ we can give her someone’s name and phone number and she can call her to job shadow or get some career advice.” Smart stuff right there.

Three of the girls painting inspiration rocks for the conference. Picture compliments of Lodi Soroptimist.

Three of the girls painting inspiration rocks for the conference. Picture compliments of Lodi Soroptimist.

All in all this looks to be a really cool event. It’s well thought out with specific details that cater specifically to girls in Lodi, paired with career advice and real life tools. It’s no wonder ABCD Love Your Block chose the Soroptimists as one of their grant winners! If you love the idea of this event and want to be involved, Terri is accepting donations both of time and money to ensure this event is a success. When I asked Terri why “Dream It, Be It” was so important to her, and what she wanted people to know she said, “When women learn, families live healthier. It doesn’t matter whatever ethnicity you are, whatever economic status they are, it doesn't matter. Everybody needs some sort of help and that’s what we’re looking to provide.” I love it, and am so looking forward to this event!

"Dream It, Be It" Career Conference

Free Event for 9th - 12th grade girls

Saturday, September 29th, 8:00AM to 3:00PM

St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Lodi

For more information, registration, or to support this event please contact Terri Lee at terrilynn123@aol.com