2019 Retreat Week Day 5

I am so happy to be home, see my family and sleep in my own bed tonight, but this was a special group of girls and I will miss them very much. We had our showcase for family and friends today. I was consumed with finishing all the details and going into overdrive to help keep their energy up, so I did not take any pictures. Video footage will be uploaded soon for people to view.

After each program I run, I have to think about our mission. Am I living up to it? Am I achieving with my girls what I have set out to do? And for the first time – this year (not to say any year that’s gone before has not), but it’s been made very clear to me that SIO is living it’s mission. When you are in the early stages of creating an organization and you don’t know what you are doing, it can feel very confusing. But this year, a lot of things came together. From our partnership with New Settlement Program for Young Women and Girls, to doubling & tripling our numbers. This week was not without some tense moments between us, but we became a unit, a little 2019 SIO family. There’s something so magical and powerful about women coming together to create something special. And learning from one another. It’s unlike anything I ever experienced growing up and I feel so grateful to be able to do this each summer.

For the next month I’ll be reflecting on and digging deep to discover how we can grow and reach even more young women throughout the Bronx and Upper Manhattan. Please stay tuned for updates on upcoming retreats, weekend programs and certainly information about next summer!

Thank you to Joy Leonard, Tamia, Karen, the families of New Settlement Program for Young Women and Girls. Thank you to Tim and Amanda at SUNY New Paltz Campus Auxiliary Services and Ken Goldstein the chair of the SUNY New Paltz Theater Department. Thank you to John, Olivia and Jack for being so supportive when I leave town to do this important work. And finally, thank you to my girls for their bravery, fierce outlook on life, humor, warmth and amazing creativity. Much Love, Noreen

2019 Retreat Week Day 4

I’m writing this post at 11:45 pm, so that should give a good sense of HOW busy we were today! I’m exhausted, so I’ll keep it short. The pictures tell the story of how awesome today was. This morning we arrived at the dance studio nice and early to work with choreographer, dancer and actress Hettie Barnhill ( https://www.hettiebarnhill.com/ ) . It was inspiring and fantastic.

Then, I had the girls take a LONG walk from campus into town. They were not so happy with me, because it was a bit hot. That said, the pictures tell it all. They were nervous at first, but kayaking was a blast and in the end they were begging me for more time on the water!

We ended our day with a BBQ at my dear friends Stephen and Kyle’s home. We made s’mores and even got spooked by Stephen! It was amazing. The pictures in today’s slide show tell it all. What a memorable and wonderful day with this 2019 SIO family of girls and young women! I will miss them SO much!

2019 Retreat Week Day 3

Today was AWESOME! Because tomorrow is so busy spending most of the day doing off campus activities, we did the bulk of our creative planning today. We spent the day in the paint shop, which was really fun! This group of girls is so talented and really rise to the occasion when asked to do something. I am so proud of them. I want to give a special shout out to my two staff members – Karen and Tamia who are just phenomenal. I could NOT do this without their help. From helping girls go find “lost” key cards to helping with set pieces and keeping the girls in check – they do it all! Karen took some beautiful pictures today of the prop the girls made for their piece. I am very, very grateful!