Claire Sowards admits she and her friends don’t anticipate landing at Our Friends Place, a facility for homeless, abused, neglected and impoverished girls and young women, anytime soon. The Lake Highlands High School junior is grateful for the blessings that have come her way, and she recognizes that some girls face difficulties she doesn’t.
That’s why Claire wanted to help.
When Claire, a Girl Scout since her days at Moss Haven Elementary, was looking for a project for her Gold Award, she says Pauline’s Place, a mission of Our Friends Place (OFP), was an easy choice. Pauline’s Place is a transitional living center for young women aged 18 to 24 who want to break cycles of poverty and abuse and build from adversity. Claire gathered 15 of her friends and 9 caring adults for a project to get the young women off to a good start.
“I helped set up a registry at Target and emailed it out to friends and contacts who were able to donate items for the apartments,” she told me. “I organized volunteers and we set up the kitchens with dishes and silverware, and the bathrooms with towels, and the bedrooms with sheets and bedspreads and mirrors and lamps and pictures on the walls.”
The girls didn’t interact with the residents – they hadn’t been selected yet for move in – but, still, they garnered a sense of what this new life might mean.
“I heard many success stories about Our Friends Place,” said Claire, “and I gained a new respect for those less fortunate than I.”
And organizing volunteers for a multi-faceted project?
“I learned that it takes a lot of work to pull off service projects like that and I gained a new respect and understanding for people who put on big events like that all of the time,” said Claire, “but I learned that I can be a leader. I also learned patience and perseverance, since it took over a year longer than expected due to delays in the construction of the home.”
Pauline’s Place is in East Dallas, but the exact location is private for the safety of the residents. If you’d like to make a donation, you can visit the Our Friends Place website here.