Princess Club Teaches Values And Manners

Princess Club volunteer Vickye James observes members during their regular activities. Started in 2012, the club helps to instill life skills, pride and self-esteems in young females. P-J photo By William Mohan

For seven years one organization has been helping to instill values and manners in young women.

The Princess Club originally started in June 2012 when Jamestown resident Brenda Stewart made an observation from looking out her window.

“I was sitting at the kitchen table I looked out, and every time I saw this girl pass by, she looked depressed all the time,” Stewart said. “I said I have to do something for these girls in this community to give them their pride and self-esteem. And we’ve working with them to do that.”

It was from this observation that Stewart found that female youth needed an outlet to meet potential peers and also develop life skills.

“I organized it (so) girls (can) be proud and have pride in themselves,” Stewart said.

She met with members of the Emmanuel Temple Church and other community members to organize the group.

One of them was Katherine Wolford.

“Brenda and I have been together from the beginning,” Wolford said. “This is her vision. This is a community project.”

Today, the group operates primarily during the summer months and maintains an annual career expo at the State University at Buffalo called Tech Savvy. Held every year, the program is designed to encourage girls to explore careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes. The event also provides insight into these careers with fun actions. The program is sponsored by support from Praxair and UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Summer activities usually last for eight weeks. Group meetings take place for two hours a week.

“We always start in the end of June,” Stewart explained.

At the same time, the group also receives funding and support form various community organizations. They include the Zonta Club, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, the Jamestown and Buffalo branches of the American Association of University Women and Emmanuel Temple and Emmanuel Baptist Church.

As a community project, Wolford is proud that the Princess Club receives help from other organizations.

“The best thing about it is we have other churches that are involved. We have children who come from every school district (in Jamestown) over the years,” Wolford said. “We make you all feel the same.”

“It’s every single school included,” Stewart said.

The goal of the Princess Club is to allow female youth to participate in activities structured to develop relationships. The activities are especially designed to enhance various skills while also offering inspiration to further education and develop peer support. Among them are self-esteem, life, leadership and healthy coping mechanisms.

Members range in ages from 4 to 9 and 10 to 15. The number of members in the Princess Club can range from between 30 and 40 according to organizers. Activities are also determined based on age.

Summer activities include painting, arts and crafts, cake decorating, homemade foods and tie dye T-shirts.

A new activity this year is older members speaking to their younger peers.

“We realized that they will be a help for us and also a help for them,” Stewart said.

“It’s a big help to me (as a single parent),” volunteer member Melissa Brown said. “They have pride and then they are motivated. I’d rather come somewhere there are other women who can help me to encourage her (Brown’s daughter). She can see other children like herself and know they are equally beautiful, smart and achieve whatever they put their minds to.”

Brown also cited the benefit of herself also being able to meet and discuss situations with other single parents.

“To have all these other adults and mothers and women around me to encourage her (daughter) and these other young ladies is a big help,” Brown said.

Activities at the Princess Club resumed on July 11 and will continue until Aug. 22. Donations can be made to the Princess Club courtesy of Emmanuel Temple Church at 1015 N. Main St. in Jamestown. For more information call 720-4405. Stewart also said a Princess Club Facebook page is in development.