There’s no doubt about it – the teen years can be tough. That rings especially true for girls and young women in today’s environment, with pressures from social media and peers. Where can females find encouragement, empowerment and a strong sense of self? Thankfully, an area organization works to provide these things, with one local young woman playing a major role in making it happen.
Learning and growing
Inclusive Inc. – Women of Toledo was established in 2014 by a group of diverse women leaders committed to helping bring young women together to share in educational events, leadership development, dialogues, coaching sessions, mentoring, and peer-networking.
Afreen Alvi, a 23-year-old student at the University of Toledo, works closely with the nonprofit, getting involved through a henna hobby which has since turned into a business. At a festival where Alvi was doing henna (temporary body art done with plant based staining), she met the Women of Toledo founder and discovered a love for the mission of creating a safe place where women can feel free to express themselves without judgement. Additionally, the opportunity to connect with other young women allows opportunities for women from different backgrounds to learn and grow.
That meeting led to Alvi helping to develop a program that educates, engages and empowers young women of all ages. Her program, Chat and Chew, creates a fun environment for young women to learn about topics that are relevant to them, with people their own age. Alvi explained, “Sometimes (people my age) don’t like sharing things with (older people) because they can’t relate to us. I believe (that the program) helps young women open up and feel more comfortable with me than they would (with) an older adult.”
Educating a community
Chat and Chew not only allows young women to express themselves, but it also has been greatly rewarding for Alvi. “I get to meet other young women in the community that I would’ve never found otherwise,” she stated.
Alvi’s efforts to help create educational opportunities and dialogues for young women was recognized recently when she was awarded the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award at the National Philanthropy luncheon “I never thought I would get recognized for something that I am passionate about…This award meant a little extra to me especially being a young Muslim woman. Wearing a headscarf and representing my religion and showing people that my religion is one of peace means the world to me,” she stated.
While Alvi is putting her free time into Women of Toledo, she is also a fulltime student at The University of Toledo with big goals for the future. After she earns her bachelor’s degree, she plans to attend a master’s program in data-driven marketing. Her dream job is to sit on a marketing team. If her work ethic with Women of Toledo is any indication, it is easy to predict that she will reach that goal.