Midlands Gives is a day for the midlands to give back to their community; for 24 hours on May 3rd, we come together as one community to raise awareness and funds for our local nonprofits.
Auntie Bellum’s staffers have chosen a few of the many midlands charities to highlight in the week leading up to Midlands Gives.
Meeghan’s Choice: Girls Rock Columbia
This year, Girls Rock Columbia will celebrate four years of changing our city for the better. They are a part of broader organization dedicated to teaching girls and trans youth music education, empowerment, community-building, and social justice all over the world. Here in Columbia, these folks break down gender stereotypes, foster a unique, safe, creative, and inspiring space for local girls in our community, and challenge Southern conservative social politics. Everyone knew they were building something special for girls in Columbia, but I’m not sure we all understood how it would impact the organizers and volunteers.
The first year of camp, Jennifer Gunter and I, both Southern historians, jumped at the chance to build a HERSTORY workshop about women and music, but neither of us were fully prepared for how transformative our experience would be. I was stunned by the cooperation, kindness, and engagement. I had never before been a part of a group like this. Women and girls were changing our world one chord, one beat, one note . . . one song at a time. It had a lasting impact on me. Here are a few testimonies from other organizers and volunteers about the moment they fell in love with Girls Rock, and please think about donating to this vital organization tomorrow – and then head down to El Burrito for a massive celebration.
Ashleigh Lancaster: “I was standing on the back porch of New Brookland Tavern in the rain when I first heard about Girls Rock. The idea of a camp that gives tiny humans a rock instrument and teaches them to feel powerful and included in a music scene resonated with me. Loudly. I had been going to shows and supporting music since I was a young teen but despite all the hours I spent at shows and supporting music, I still struggled to find where I fit into the scene. Watching campers bloom during the week of camp is amazing but there is no doubt that the changes happening within my fellow volunteers is the most impactful part of being involved in this organization.”
Nancy Pope: “I fell for Girls Rock in stages. First when [volunteer] Kristin Morris told me about it. Second, when I visited their first year of camp at Eau Claire High, and watched little girls (of all sizes, shapes, and colors) having a blast working together. Third, when I participated in the Volunteer Showcase and felt like myself again, making music with my new friends at band practice every Sunday. And again, when I watched this year’s Volunteer Showcase as an audience member and felt the joy of supporting other great women in their experience. I plan to visit camp again this year, and plan to keep falling in love with Girls Rock, again and again.”
Beth Dickerson: “I fell in love with GRC w/ this daily chant at camp: What’s your most powerful instrument? IT’S MY VOICE! IT’S MY VOICE! IT’S MY VOICE!”
Katie Chatman: “It was my first day at camp and I just remember thinking I had never been anywhere so supportive and positive. It’s not just a safe environment for the campers but for everyone involved. After the first week I was so proud of what had been accomplished and excited for the next year, I knew I had to be more involved.”
Heather Green: “I am lucky enough to have participated in Girls Rock Columbia from our first camp in 2013. I’m not sure if I believe in fate but I’ll be forever grateful for landing in a community who truly inspires and supports each other while empowering young leaders. I’ve said it before, but every time I see a young camper reach out of her comfort zone and try something scary and new, it pushes my (almost) 40 year old self to crawl out of my own comfort hole and push myself further. In many ways, the Girls Rock Columbia campers and volunteers saved me from being caught in a world attempting to tell me who I am and what I’m about – Being a camp volunteer has made me a stronger advocate for others also feeling defined by the world around them.”
Mila Burgess-Conway: “This is my second year as the workshop chair, and although it’s A LOT of work, it’s worth it! We are instilling self esteem, teaching advocacy, equality, empowerment, and all of the amazing values that many of us did not learn until we were much older. I love GRC because it’s almost as if we’re reaching into the future. We get to plant seeds of hope into our campers, and they will carry them forward. My motivation and excitement comes from believing that the waves we have created these past few years will be felt far after we are all gone.”