As teens, we think that we have the whole world ahead of us, but what if that were to change suddenly out of our control? This is what happened to Jakita Walter when she endured a life-changing occurrence that lead to her becoming a young mother at the age of 12. Jakita’s world turned upside down and she had to learn how to navigate growing into a young adult while raising a child. Like any Mother would be, Jakita’s mother grew concerned for her daughter and she wanted her to have someone to talk to while she went through this difficult transition. That is when she sought out the help of a 19-year-old Lauren Herndon. Realizing that there were more girls who could relate to Jakita and be a listening ear, Lauren gathered 20 girls and they met in her basement and Far’falla Girls was born.
With over 150 mentees ages 13-19, Far’falla Girls has mentored girls from various churches, youth centers, and runaway centers. As of 2014, the program extends its reach and was launched in a CPS High School. While giving these young women a voice to be heard, Lauren and her team seek to help these young women get a sense of direction in their life. It’s fitting that Far’falla comes from the Italian word butterfly, as each of the girls go through their own metamorphosis when going through the program. They start out as caterpillars, but Lauren ensures that they gain the confidence and assurance to become blossoming butterflies.
Jakita Walter who was once a girl struggling to find her way in life in Lauren’s basement is now a DePaul graduate and a recipient of the Gates Millennium and George Pullman Scholarship. She is just one of many, that has found success through the mentorship of the Far’falla Girls program.
To celebrate the official launch of the young women’s empowerment organization, Far’falla Girl threw a launch party at the luxurious City View Loft. As guests entered the spacious venue, they were treated to a VIP reception where they sipped on wine while viewing exquisite pieces of art. Art served as a central theme throughout the evening, where the artist mentors Sola Cordoso and Keisha Jordan had their works on display in the VIP lounge. Sola and Keisha teach the girls the benefits of art therapy as a means to express oneself through art. Their hard work was evident, as one noticed that scattered all throughout the main venue are various works of art from the girls. From colorful hearts to vision boards of aspirations, this allowed attendees to get a closer look into the lives of the Far’falla Girls.
It was a breath of fresh air that the girls were a part of the momentous occasion. They laughed and mingled with guests as they shared their stories of how they joined Far’falla Girl. Some were even taking guests around the room explaining the meaning behind their works of art. Judging by the lively dancing and the photo booth fun, the girls had a lot to be excited about as Far’falla Girl was about to embark on a bigger journey.
To satisfy the guests sweet tooth, Spin Spun Cotton Candy was on hand handing out gourmet cotton candy. Cupcakes are always a party favorite as the trays by Sweet Madeline’s and the cheesecake infused Chicago Cupcakes were frequented the entire night. And for the savory option of the evening, Pure Kitchen Catering allowed guests to sample a variety of delectable dishes.
While guests had their palates satisfied, it was motivational speaker Richard Taylor who fed the audience with an inspirational message. It was as if the room transformed into the safe place mentoring session that many of the Far’falla Girls were already familiar with. This was our opportunity as guests to witness first hand the works of the Far’falla Girl movement. Taylor shared with the attendees his own story of triumph and tribulation. Through his message from his new book Between the Dream, many of the girls gained a sense of hope and direction as they realized that there is no need to worry, as they are just “Between the Dream”
After the speech, the Far’falla Girls then stood front and center and danced along to their Far’falla Girl anthem. Their energy lit up the room and there was no faking the sisterhood that was created by this empowering organization. They had everyone in the room wishing they too were Far’falla Girls.
So what’s next for Far’falla Girl? Expect this budding organization to make their presence known in Chicago while also expanding to New York and the Washington D.C area in the future.
Far’falla Girl is always looking for volunteers who either want to donate their time or contribute financially to the cause. One can always arrange a time to talk with the girls about a variety of topics that they want to talk about. And don’t worry about not having a story worth sharing, I was assured that everyone has a story and something could be learned from everyone.
If you want to know more about Far’falla Girl and find out how you can volunteer, head to FarfallaGirl.org
Special thanks to Rose Kaz of Rose Photo for providing some of the images