January’s Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Jo Garrison


Mary Jo Garrison has been involved with Girls Empowerment Network since the beginning of Fall 2018. Last semester, Mary Jo co-facilitated our weekly Girl Connect program at Webb Middle School! She worked with the referral-based 6th-grade girls, and she has been thriving with them.

“Mary Jo has been a huge help at Webb Middle School Girl Connect. We were having some difficulties with behavior in our 6th grade referral group where girls were not following the guidelines. Mary Jo came up with a behavior management plan to help girls encourage each other to follow the guidelines. She created color teams and gave points out for girls who were following the guidelines. At the end of each group she also gave the winners of the competition candy! This has completely changed the dynamics of our group. The girls are supporting each other and helping each other follow the guidelines consistently. Mary Jo is awesome, and I’m so glad to have her as a volunteer!” – Chloé LaPorte (Program Coordinator)

What is it about the Girls Empowerment Network that makes you want to volunteer?

GEN provides a continuous, ongoing opportunity for young girls to have a special place and time for just themselves. A devoted time to be heard, understood, and validated… and I love witnessing their growth in emotional strength, confidence, and feelings of empowerment.

Did you have an experience volunteering that has resonated with you?

Yes! At the end of our Career Day we closed with a BUMP, and one of our wonderful girls stated her take away from the experience was that she realized a person did not have to be forced to take a certain job or choose a certain career, that she had the choice to pick a future that made her happy. Wow. I was so excited to hear that these girls understand that they have choices in life!

How has Girls Empowerment Network impacted you, and how do you believe we impact and empower girls?

Working with GEN reminds me that there are so many fantastic girls in our community that need a mentor in their lives. That just one person can say or do something that can potentially make THE difference in the paths they choose in life. I could be that person and that’s exciting. GEN opens girls’ eyes to the possibilities in life. It gives them tools they may not otherwise be taught to use their voices to feel empowered in their school, home, and community.

What would you say to someone who is considering volunteering with GEN, but is not sure if they should take the next step?

You have so much to offer, and there are many girls who need you. If each of us who have a desire to make a change act on it, our world would be a better place.

What is one piece of insight that you would share with your ten-year-old self?

Oh my…. you are so capable, so bright, so blessed, share that always. Giving is contagious and it catches on.

What is your go-to #GirlPower song?

This Girl is on Fire by Alicia Keys

Felicia Gonzalez