Split the Plate is one of UUCW’s programs of outreach and generosity. Each month we give half of all undesignated offering monies to a non-profit organization as a way to help us live our Unitarian Universalist Values and serve our community.

During this cold snowy month of February, when love and inclusion and the warmth of sharing seem essential to every moment until we finally see spring, we offer a Split the Plate partner who exemplifies the best of these qualities. In its 20th year, 1,150 girls and young women, ranging from 5th graders to high school seniors, are part of PEARLS.

Personal Responsibility, Empathy, Awareness, Respect, Leadership, and Support.

PEARLS is an acronym for an organization that empowers young women with self-esteem, guidance, and support to reach for better, brighter futures together. Program leaders seek out girls by visiting schools, referrals through the legal system and foster care programs, and by word of mouth.

These program leaders, specially trained members of the PEARLS for Teen Girls staff, the majority with degrees in education or social work, focus on leadership and development for each girl’s special personality, gifts, and interests. The girls, who are primarily African American, meet virtually in groups of about 20, with their program leader and one of the senior girls who earn the title of Associate. All PEARLS asks of its girls is that they commit to attend these once-a-week meetings. This year leaders are collaborating with school administrators and donors to be certain the girls have access either from school, a nearby library, or home.

Pathfinding Together

“Girls first, girls led, girls voiced,” according to Christy Miller, Development director of PEARLS. ‘We don’t tell girls what to do, We open up the space for girls to find what they want to do. During difficult times like these we rely heavily on our partners for resources the girls need that we cannot supply,” she says.

This is how we can help. PEARLS has substantial support from leading businesses and foundations in the area and is a United Way agency. What UUCW can do is provide funds for modest necessities to help the PEARLS girls as they wend their way through these complicated school years. The filing fee for a college application? A textbook? A laptop? Your generosity can help as they take a hand, each of them, in preparing for their future.

To support PEARLS any time this month, go to the UUCW website’s Donatetab and select “Split the Plate” from the menu provided. Or you can text “UUCW” to 73256 or mail your donation to Unitarian Universalist Church West, 13001 W. North Ave., Brookfield, WI 53005.

For more information about PEARLS, contact February’s Split the Plate representative Judi Traband.

*Highlighted artwork was created by Andrea, a member of the PEARLS family who is participating in the College and Career Readiness program. She is considering a career in Art Therapy.