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History

Years Event
1916

67 Lincoln Street

Emma D. Harris donated her home at 67 Lincoln Street and it became known as the Worcester Girls Club for girls ages 16 and older.

1919

Community Chest of Worcester

The Worcester Girls Club became a charter member of the Community Chest of Worcester.

1922

Sister House Purchased

More than $20,000 was raised to purchase the “sister house” next door at 69 Lincoln Street. The two houses were joined to provide a combination auditorium and gymnasium and add extra classrooms. Membership: 100

1924

Junior Division Created

The junior division of the Worcester Girls Club was created due to high demand. Dora Dodge became Executive Director. Membership: 700. A branch club opened in the basement of the school in the Crompton Park area.

1929

Compton Park Expansion

Worcester Girls Club provided programs for girls under 12 when programming for this age group was rare. Due to demand, another facility around Crompton Park in the basement of Ward Street School was opened but moved in 1930 to the Vernon Community House. Membership: 500.

1931

Worcester Girls Club School of Music

The Worcester Girls Club School of Music was organized at the Lincoln House by the music teacher Mrs. Sanford. This gave thousands of girls, who otherwise couldn’t afford lessons, music opportunities for only 25 cents.

1933

Vernon Hill branch Closed

Funds were low during the Depression and the Board made the difficult decision to close the Vernon Hill branch was closed. Mr. Clarence W. Kinney donated a parcel of land now known as our Camp Kinneywood.

1936

First Regional Conference

Worcester Girls Club Executive Director Dora Dodge called the first regional conference and 7 people attended from Worcester, Pittsfield and Springfield, MA.

1940

National Organization Discussed

Discussions to form a national organization began and the first meeting was held at Lincoln House.

1944

Millbury Street Branch Opens

Millbury Street branch opened with 600 members.

1945

Girls Clubs of America Formed

Representatives of 19 interested organizations met in Springfield on May 18, 1945 to form the national organization, Girls Clubs of America (now Girls Inc.). Total assets of the organization were $72.64, and its headquarters was in the guestroom of founding President Rachel Harris Johnson of Worcester.

1947

New Clubhouse Funds Raised

A city-wide campaign raised more than $750,000 for a new clubhouse in Worcester. The construction was postponed in hopes that the building costs would decrease.

1948

Syrian-Lebanese American Club

The Syrian-Lebanese American Club on Plantation Street offered building space for the Girls Club to hold popular “extension classes” two afternoons and one evening a week.

1952

Young Homemaker of the Year

The first Girls Club national award was established, “Young Homemaker of the Year”.

1953

Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower

Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower became the first honorary chair and each First Lady has since attempted this honorary position with the organization.

1954

Winthrop House Completed

The new clubhouse on the corner of Providence and Winthrop Street is completed and named Winthrop House.

1955

Lawn Removed

The Girls Club was informed that the broad lawn of the Lincoln House would be stripped away to make room for a new highway; however, the Lincoln House stayed and continued to remodel its facilities.

1955

National 10th Anniversary

10th Anniversary of the national organization is celebrated in Washington, DC.

1959

Reader’s Digest National Career Key Scholarship Awards

Reader’s Digest National Career Key Scholarship Awards established. The professional association of Girls Clubs of America is created to raise professional standards and to ensure the professional growth of staff within the organization.

1960

Worcester Develops a New Throughway

The city develops a new throughway which makes the Lincoln House inaccessible to the girls who need it.

1963 to 1974

Donny DonDero

Donny DonDero was the National Executive Director through 1974. She was instrumental in raising needed funds, doubling the number of local affiliates and members, and tripling the amount of grants and contributions.

1967

Fit for Life

The first in a series of eight “Fit for Life” institutes prepared 576 instructors to teach fitness in their local Girls Incorporated affiliates.

1970

DeWitt Wallace Grant

The national organization celebrates its 25th anniversary with the announcement of a $1 million grant from DeWitt Wallace, founding editor of Reader’s Digest.

1972

First National TV Spot

First national TV spot aired which gave a boost to the organization’s visibility

1974 to 1982

Edith B. Phelps

Edith B. Phelps became the National Executive Director through 1982 and she brought national awareness to girls’ issues.

1974

Congressional Hearings

Girls Incorporated is called upon to testify at congressional hearings on behalf of girls in juvenile justice and youth employment.

1974

Physical Education Programs Developed

Physical Education programs were developed to include gymnastics, gymnastics team, swim team, wall climbing.

1975

Boys Added as Associate Members

Boys added as associate members one day a week for summer program.

1975 to 1979

Afternoon Bussing

Afternoon bussing program began in Worcester

1977

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Grant

The office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention presented a three year, $1 million project grant, to help develop national programs. Donna Brace Ogilvie, was named chair of the board.

1978

Today’s Girls, Tomorrow’s Women

The “Today’s Girls, Tomorrow’s Women” conference in WI brought together scholars, educators and leaders to explore girls’ issues.

1980

Vacation Week Structured Programming Begun

Vacation week structured programming began in Worcester.

1981

Girls Incorporated National Resource Center Opens

With generous grants from the Fleishman Foundation and Lilly Endowment, the Girls Incorporated National Resource Center opened in Indianapolis, IN. It is the nation’s largest research facility dedicated to girls’ issues.

1982

What Do We Know About Girls?

The first “What Do We Know About Girls?” seminar was held in Cambridge, MA.

1983 to 1993

Margaret Gates

Margaret Gates served as National Executive Director until 1993 with an emphasis on the development of unique, informal education programs.

1983

National Policy Statements

Girls Incorporated adopts its first set of national policy statements.

1984

Operation Smart, Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy, and Sporting Chance Developed

Work began on Operation Smart, a career-awareness and skills-development program in science, math and relevant technology; Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy, a four-part program to help girls and young women avoid early pregnancy; and Sporting Chance, a national sports program for girls.

1985

National 40th Anniversary

The organization celebrated its 40th anniversary with a National Conference theme: The 37 Cents Solution: Equalizing Girls’ Options for Economic Autonomy and the action agenda is published.

1985

Lincoln House Closing Considered

The Worcester community protests Board as they consider closing the Lincoln House.

1986

Operation SMART in Worcester

Began Operation SMART in Worcester. Task Force recommends capital campaign to renovate Lincoln House.

1987

Going Places

Going Places is published to articulate the philosophy and approach of Girls Incorporated programming.

1987

Friendly PEERsuasion in Worcester Public Schools

Began Friendly PEERsuasion with Worcester Public Schools

1987 to 1991

Capital Campaign Record

Capital Campaign raised over $3 million - the largest amount of any Girls Club in history.

1989

Friendly PEERsuasion Introduced

Friendly PEERsuasion, a substance-abuse prevention program for girls, is introduced.

1990

Name Changed to Girls Incorporated

Organization changes its name to Girls Incorporated. Collaboration begins with YWCA of the USA to deliver Girls Incorporated programs to girls. Renovations made to Camp Kinneywood.

1991

Truth, Trust and Technology

US Representative Pat Shroeder speaks at the release of “Truth, Trust and Technology,” a promising evaluation of the Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy program. The national attention establishes Girls Incorporated as an expert on teen pregnancy prevention.

1992

Girls Incorporated Scholars Program

Girls Incorporated Scholars Program is established. New Lincoln House opened.

1993 to 2000

Isabel Stewart

Isabel Stewart served as National Executive Director through 2000 and continued to educate girls of all races and ethnic groups to become economically independent young women and learn skills and have knowledge to meet challenges.

1993

It’s My Party

“It’s My Party,” a two-day conference is held for practitioners and policy makers on gender issues in substance abuse prevention.

1994

Training Department Established

Girls Incorporated established a training department.

1995

National 50th Anniversary

Girls Incorporated celebrated its 50th anniversary as a national organization. Strong, Smart, and Bold for the 21st century.

1996

SCOPE Begins

1997

Leader in Training Begins

1998

Seven Hill Collaboration

Collaboration with Seven Hill during summer program.
 

1998

Licensed School Aged Child Care Begins

1998

National Discovery Program Begins

1999

Archelogy Program

Work began on Girls Dig It, an Archelogy Program for girls ages 12-14.

1999

Worcester Public Schools Partnership

Partnership Program with the Worcester Public Schools began. Renovated lower level of Lincoln House. SSB Pre-teen began at Winthrop House

1999

National Girls Re-cast TV Begins

2000 to 2010

Joyce M. Roche

Joyce M. Roche served as Girls Inc. as President and Chief Executive Officer through 2010.

2001

TV Public Service Announcements

Girls Inc. aired TV Public Service Announcements to increase the number of girls reached and to expand the number of locations.

2001

Intel’s Computer Club House of Worcester

2002

First Annual Girls Celebration Luncheon held in Worcester

2010

Judy Vredenburg

Judy Vredenburg became President and CEO of Girls Inc.

2014

Central MA’s 2013 Non-Profit of the Year

Girls Inc. of Worcester was honored by GoLocal Worcester as Central MA’s 2013 Non-Profit of the year. They also received College Board New England Regional Recognition Award for outstanding commitment to students and the field of education by enabling underrepresented students with academic leadership potential to attend college.

2014

College Shower

Girls Inc.’s College Shower honors 42 high school seniors.

2016

100th Anniversary

Girls Inc. of Worcester celebrates 100th anniversary. Current membership: 1,400.