Posted on May 11 by SEASONS Magazine

IMG_5848 - Honorees

Women of Inspiration 2015 honorees: (left to right) Jennifer Freed and Rendy Freedman, AHA!; Michelle Apodaca, Deckers Brands; and Carpinteria’s first female mayor Donna Jordan

Girls Inc. of Carpinteria holds an annual “Women of Inspiration” luncheon, and this year’s keynote speaker Saran Kaba Jones filled the audience with wisdom.

“At Girls Inc. of Carpinteria, our mission is to help cultivate confident and successful girls who will go on to become powerful figures and make a positive difference,” says Victoria Juarez, executive director of Girls Inc. of Carpinteria. “Saran is not only a quintessential role model to women and girls, but her resilience, dedication and passion also make her a shining example of Girls Inc.’s ‘strong, smart and bold’ mantra. She has already accomplished more than most people dream to accomplish in a lifetime and, for that alone, she is a true inspiration to all of us.”

Inspirational Speaker Saran Kaba Jones, founder of FACE Africa, with event co-chair Sandra Tyler

Inspirational Speaker Saran Kaba Jones, founder of FACE Africa, with event co-chair Sandra Tyler

As the founder of FACE Africa, Jones has made it her mission to strengthen water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure and services in remote communities across sub-Saharan Africa. Her efforts are specifically focused on access to safe drinking water and empowering women and girls through education and skills training.

“It is truly an honor to be able to speak in support of Girls Inc. of Carpinteria on the incredibly important subject of empowering young girls,” says Jones. “Inspiring and supporting girls to reach their full potential is a mission we share at FACE Africa, and I’m thrilled to share my story today.”

Jones holds her birth home of Liberia close to her heart, which allows her to provide aid for this desperate country. Liberia acts as her inspiration for FACE Africa and desires  to find solutions to address the problems of contaminated water.

In recognition of her commitment to safe water initiatives that have benefited over 20,000 residents in Liberia to date, Jones is appointed International Goodwill Ambassador for the county of Rivercess in Liberia. She is also recognized by Forbes as one of the “20 Youngest Power Women in Africa.”

“I truly believe each and every one of us has a purpose, we all have at least one gift,” Jones tells attendees, encouraging them to contribute to the communities in which they live, whether with time or money. “It is how we choose to use those gifts that determines our impact on the planet.”

The sold-out fundraiser luncheon also honored four local women with deep roots in the community. Michelle Apodaca, Director, Offices of the Chairman, CEO, COO & CFO at Deckers Brands, oversees the company’s philanthropic efforts. Jennifer Freed and Rendy Freedman are co-founders and co-directors of AHA! who bring more than 40 years of combined experience working with youth. Donna Jordan is Carpinteria’s first female mayor, former councilwoman, and co-founder of Carpinteria Beautiful.

Girls Inc. of Carpinteria participants, Ana Delgado and Arianna Lopez presented the 2015 Women of Inspiration awards to the honorees. Ana is the recipient of the prestigious Girls Inc. National Scholar award in 2013 and is selected by the JASON National Argonaut Program last summer from a global pool of participants for a four-week, hands-on marine research experience in the Bahamas.

Girls Inc. participants Ana Delgado (left) and Arianna Lopez (right).

Arianna, recently named a 2015 Girls Inc. National Scholar, receives $20,000 to help further her education. She helps nurture a diverse local coalition to ban smoking in Carpinteria, which successfully went into effect in 2011. She is recognized for her community service efforts last year by Radio Disney with the “Hero for Change” award.

“Ana and Arianna are just two examples of our Girls Inc. family who have already had a hand in changing our community for the better, and it is fitting to see them present the awards to our Women of Inspiration honorees today,” says Juarez. “Michelle, Jennifer, Rendy and Donna are mentors and leaders who demonstrate that teaching girls to grow beyond their comfort zones and take risks will enrich their lives and our community as a whole for generations to come.”

All proceeds support the mission of Girls Inc. of Carpinteria to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Girls Inc. of Carpinteria currently serves more than 700 girls ages 5 to 18 each year through a variety of programs, motivating them to take risks and master physical, intellectual and emotional challenges.

—Elizabeth Sanchez



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