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.

We have been telling you about current our partner, PEARLS for Teen Girls, throughout the month of February. Over the last twenty years, PEARLS founder Colleen Fitzgerald has watched her idea blossom into a highly respected United Way agency

PEARLS offers the kind of nurturing love and caring that makes our work at Split the Plate worthwhile. PEARLS for Teen Girls is improving quality of life and strengthening our community one girl at a time by empowering young women with self-development tools and guidance to strive for better, brighter futures. They are living PEARLS values: Personal Responsibility, Empathy, Awareness, Respect, Leadership, and Support.

This year 1,150 girls and young women from throughout Milwaukee county are meeting virtually with specially trained women, their program leaders, each week. They talk about everything from hair and nail care to career planning.

A partnership manager and a college and career readiness coordinator work with each program leader as part of the nonprofit organization that offers these girls a way of spending their teen years seeking their own strong paths forward. Girls come from both public and private schools, through referrals from foster care and the court system, and from families who celebrate their PEARLS girls, past and present.

PEARLS is an ecumenical and multicultural organization, diversified among both the girls and the staff. Role models abound for girls who are eager to begin writing their own future. Each girl makes just one commitment, to come to meetings weekly. “We don’t compete with school courses, ” one of the staffers said. “Our curriculum focuses on leadership and development of each girl’s own special personality traits.’

It wasn’t part of long-term planning, but everyone, PEARLS girls and staff alike, is getting fast track training in the world of ZOOM and social distant learning along with the rest of the world. Virtual gatherings and learning present a new set of challenges. Access to some of the modest resources like those Split the Plate offer will make a difference.

Over the last 10 years, ninety-six percent of the girls who stay in the program through high school continue on to college.

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.