Role Model: Nakisha Varlack-Harris of Girl Power United

 Life is full of  confusing or scary experiences disguised as lessons. This can be hard to understand when we are young.  With the help of an older wiser mentor we can learn to be aware of how our choices guide us and see that mistakes are simply part of how we grow. When we don’t have anyone to show us the way we tend to flounder and become afraid of life.

One of the great joys of being an adult are the times I get to help or advise the younger people in my life. I love being able to share with them different options and healthy choices. It’s rewarding and fills me with a sense of security when they make smart choices. Nakisha Varlack-Harris understands the importance of mentoring and that is why she created Girl Power United.  Along with a wonderful group of volunteers she guides and empowers the future women of our world.


What was your inspiration or what necessitated you to begin this adventure? 
My vision for Girl Power United was ignited by my passion to inspire girls by enabling them to recognize their inner ability to achieve greatness and reach their full potential. My two daughters are also a source of inspiration as I prepare them to meet society’s challenges while reinforcing positive attitudes and behaviors. Simply stated Girl Power United was conceived out of a fervent desire to inspire and empower girls regardless of ethnicity, cultural, or economical standing.

Committed to liberation through self-empowerment, I strive to motivate, empower, and inspire girls from all walks of life. Girl Power United has enabled me to touch the lives of many young women while encouraging them to have the mindset to view their aspirations as possibilities.

What steps did you take to create your program? The first step of creating Girl Power United was having a vision and a purpose. Through this vision, we were able to expand the program by simply finding a group of girls that were interested in changing their lives by being empowered. Various activities and events were scheduled that kept the interest of teen girls within the community.

Obtaining our 501c3 status was also important for the purpose of being recognized as a tax exempt organization. Social media and the internet also played a major role in getting our message out to the public. Having a quality website and reaching out to the younger generation through social media was a successful tool in recruiting new members.

What obstacles were you forced to overcome?  One of the most challenging obstacles to overcome was obtaining the non-profit 501c3 tax exempt status. It required a great deal of time and attention. Through persistence and great diligence, we were successful in gaining recognition as a non-profit organization.

What must you do to stay operational?  To stay operational, Girl Power United must keep the interest of our teen members, but also the interest of our adult volunteers. It is important that our volunteers feel a sense of purpose. It is difficult to juggle family, work, school and other obligations that our volunteers have, but a few hours a month can make a huge difference in the life of a child.

Individual donations and corporate sponsorships are crucial for our economic survival. Each dollar donated is a powerful gift that brings us closer to our goal of empowering the life of another teen girl.

Who, if anyone, helped you succeed?  GPU is a non-profit volunteer led organization that focuses on positively empowering the lives of young girls between the ages of 12 and 19. The GPU staff and team of volunteers work to inspire teenage girls from all facets of the community to view their aspirations as possibilities to achieve greatness. The entire GPU staff continues to unite a coalition of empowered minds to produce the next generation of educated and successful young female leaders.

The Co-Founder and Executive Vice President, Charmin Rickards was also very instrumental in helping Girl Power United succeed. Ms. Charmin Rickards joined GPU as a Co-Founder in 2011 and eagerly took on a leadership role. Inspired by the vision and mission of GPU, Ms. Rickards embraced the core values and the worked diligently towards establishing a solid foundation. Her primary inspiration is to build and leave a legacy for her daughter as well as the desire to ensure that she is prepared through education, mentorship, and awareness. She believes that exposure to different programs will inspire teens and provide a resource to opportunities that may not have been available to them through other means.

Do you have any advice for readers who want to get involved or start a similar program?  To get involved is as simple as making a commitment to serve as a volunteer or signing up as a member. Additionally, for those that are interested in starting a similar program, the best advice is to never give up on your vision. Embrace the vision and put it on paper. Outline the steps that need to be taken and create a check list and follow it to stay organized. You will find yourself working through the checklist and coming that much closer to forming a successful organization. Get involved at GirlPowerUnited.org and on Facebook.com/GirlPowerUnited

Girl Power United, Inc. 4196 Merchant Plaza Suite 343, Lake Ridge, VA 22192

Email: Info@GirlPowerUnited.org  Phone: (757) GPU-0300

Check out this other article about GPU http://www.tidewaterwomen.com/featured/february-2013/heeding-the-call-mentoring-our-youth  …This interview is from a  book that includes 15 other amazing people who are creating positive change. You can read the full book and buy a copy for you or your school at Bookemon.com

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