What’s In a Name? by Mary Banker

Girl2Girl. What comes to mind when you read this word? A childhood memory, perhaps you thought of your daughter or niece, maybe you thought of your sister when she was younger or you thought of girlie ‘things’ like pink, curls, earrings or something along those lines.

I started working with Girls in the Game last summer; I remember accepting the job offer specifically because I set the meeting up on my birthday. Happy Birthday to me. I was being pursued by an amazing organization that worked with girls through sports, fitness, nutrition and leadership. The fit was uncanny. I’d like to think I hit the ground running. My job; to work in development by creating new relationships and at the same time focus my efforts on our expansion within Chicago and the U.S. So off I went….

Girl 5My network has been incredibly generous in several ways, showing up to events, becoming sponsors of the Teen Squad members in our named scholar program, donating family foundation money, sharing my Facebook posts about Girls in the Game, liking our pages on social media, and volunteering. One donor wanted to stay anonymous. He wrote us a check instead of coming to our fall happy hour event at Guaranteed Rate.

We met for coffee by my request, I don’t just accept checks you have to have coffee with me and tell me about your life too (I hope that doesn’t deter any of you from becoming donors). During this time, he also wrote me the check for his generous donation of $2,500.00. When I got to the office that Monday I recorded our check and gave it to our business department to be processed. This is where it gets interesting.

I received several calls from this donor a few days later. I was in meetings all day and then had track practice so I was unable to talk to him until the following day. When we finally spoke he told me his lead accountant cancelled the check and had left him several messages about it. His accountant had thought his check pad had been compromised or stolen.

GirlNow why would our donor’s lead accountant think this? The donor had the check pad the entire time, no other checks were written that caused alarm. Girls in the Game. That’s why. When did girl become a dirty word? Sadly this is not the first encounter with this type of problem because of the word “girl” in our title. It has also caused our emails to be blocked, checks to be cancelled and credit card companies to call their clients when they see transactions made with Girls in the Game.

Girl. This word, in the six months I’ve been here, has caused more than a few communication issues. Granted they are handled immediately but in my opinion that word should not imply anything other than what it truly means, a female child.

We are in the business of change. So here we are day in and day out, providing a space for female children to play, laugh, learn, make friends, look up to new mentors; we give these girls a place to be a kid. My hope is to revert the word ‘girls’ back to its original meaning, to give it value again in our language. To take the word “girl” from polluted back to pure. How you ask? By doing what we do every day, by having a presence on social media, by new partnerships, by offering programs with value, by creating awareness for the need of our programs, by walking the talk.

Girl. What do you think of when I say this word? I hope you think of giggling, a sense of wonderment and newness, of a little human being who is female, who breathes air, who feels hunger, who dreams, who needs guidance, attention and love because if you do that means you are changing the game along with us.



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