For the past 10 years or so, the Philadelphia Chapter of Chums Inc has partnered with Evoluer House to produce a Power Lunch for the girls in their Summer program. The purpose of this luncheon is to provide fellowship, mentoring and fun for all of those involved.

Each year, the Evoluer House puts on an 8-week free, summer program to help girls of color defy the odds. The Chums Inc national mission is to enrich the lives of children so Philadelphia Chapter President Gisela Johnson-Smith says it was a perfect pairing.

“One of the things that we recognized was that often times, girls that are brown and black are often being left out of that kind of empowerment movement for young women. We wanted to make sure, locally, that our young people had that opportunity. We looked at different organizations to see how they mastered approaching those young women,” she said.

As part of the day’s event, the Chum Inc. mentors and students were encouraged to work together as well as share their stories with each other. To break the ice, they assigned participants the task of telling their story in six words. Constitution High School student Nastasja McGill was one of the first students to pop up. She shared not one but two short bios.

“Trauma does not define my eagerness. With depression, I still have hope,” she said.

McGill welcomed all the new experiences this past summer and will take some important lessons with her into the upcoming school year.

“Being in the program has really helped me with my low self-esteem. My Evoluer sisters, they all have helped me build up my self-esteem. With my PTSD, depression, and anxiety, it’s also hard to talk to people because you’re always scared and anxious and this program has really helped me with that,” the high schooler said.

The Philadelphia Chapter of Chum Inc. continues to be amazed by the work of Cheryl Ann Wadlington and her organization.

“We saw the work that Cheryl did with these young women in such a short time and how the Evoluer program has increased their confidence, self worth and really how they viewed themselves and their possibilities. We are listening to the children that need the most and answering that call” Johnson-Smith said.

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