Thursday, March 09, 2017

North Avondale Library’s A.W.E.S.O.M.E. on Purpose Program Boosts Girls' Self-Esteem

Library Assistant Marie Nash (standing 3rd from left) and Branch Manager
Saundra Ross (standing far right) and their team of A.W.E.S.O.M.E. ladies

For over an hour every Tuesday morning, mentors from the A.W.E.S.O.M.E. on Purpose program meet at the North Avondale Branch Library with teens girls from adjacent Hayes K-8 School, discussing topics designed to boost their self-esteem and self-image. A.W.E.S.O.M.E stands for Advocate Worship Educate Service Outreach Mentor Experience, and is a nonprofit made up of adult women of various ages who give of their time to help nurture young girls.

During the February 28 meeting, A.W.E.S.O.M.E mentors and the 7th and 8th grade girls talked about goal setting. One seventh-grader said she wants to be a fashion designer, another desires to be a lawyer. Both girls talked of the importance of discipline, focusing on education, and preparing to be successful in their future careers. The mentors gave them positive feedback and shared some of their own personal experiences.

A.W.E.SO.M.E. On Purpose Founder Sequoia Benjamin said they are excited about the partnership with North Avondale Library and Hayes K-8 School that allows them to make a positive difference in the lives of teenage girls. The group has been serving young girls from Hayes K-8 since March 2016, and began meeting at the North Avondale Library in September 2016.

“We are so appreciative of Marie Nash and Saundra Ross for partnering with us and allowing us to use the space at North Avondale Library every Tuesday to mentor the girls,” Benjamin said. “The staff is phenomenal. Each of them are so welcoming and supportive of our endeavors.”

A.W.E.SO.M.E. On Purpose was founded in late 2013 and began actively mentoring boys and girls at Erwin Middle School in March 2015. Currently the program is only offered to girls at Hayes K-8, but Benjamin says the group plans to accept more student applications during the 2017-2018 school year.

“We look forward to partnering with more Birmingham City Schools in the future. We are seeking to grow the boys division as well. We look forward to hearing from anyone interested in volunteering with us to help our young boys grow as well.”

To partner or serve as a volunteer mentor with A.W.E.S.O.M.E. on Purpose, contact Sequoia Benjamin via e-mail at

The A.W.E.S.O.M.E. on Purpose girls mentoring program is among several groups that partner with North Avondale Library to help it fill needs in the community. In February the library hosted a Cowboy, Boots and Books program that introduced kids from Hayes K-8 School to real life black cowboys. North Avondale Library in 2016 won two Innovative and Cool Awards from the Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees for both the Cowboy, Boots and Books program and an adult coloring program called Love to Color @ My Library.

The North Avondale Library also hosts two book clubs, one for adults called Chapter Chatters and one for youth called The Children’s Picture Book Club. Last year, North Avondale Library patrons also built a community quilt won by a 10-year-old girl who lives in the community. It was a partnership with Juliette Watts, founder of Hands On Youth Activities Programs Inc., a nonprofit that has hosted quilting, flip-flops, and other hands-on craft workshops at the North Avondale Library since 2015.

For more information about North Avondale Library programs, call Branch Manager Saundra Ross at 205-592-2082 or e-mail her at Search Location: North Avondale Library on the BPL event calendar. Check out the photos of North Avondale Library's past events on BPL Flickr.

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