Strong, smart, bold. Those three words are ones that Girls Inc. works to instill in the lives of the girls who participate in their programs. During the global pandemic, those three words served as the foundation for how Girls Inc. of Johnson County and Girls Inc. of Shelbyville and Shelby County – both recipients of emergency grants from Women’s Fund of Central Indiana – continued to advocate and serve girls in their communities. Today, we are using those words to reflect on their ability to remain strong, smart, and bold amidst this crisis.


When schools shut down in March due to the coronavirus, the various programs these two organizations provided in schools were forced to come to an abrupt halt. Both organizations serve hundreds of girls through daily in-school and after-school programs. Suddenly, their leadership and staff were forced to remain strong in the midst of chaos. They needed to encourage their girls to remain strong – physically, emotionally, and mentally. They also needed to remain “people strong” and retain their staff during a time when programs and summer camps were being cancelled and/or postponed.

“We have so many girls, families and staff members who rely on us that my immediate concern was with them and how we were going to be able to serve their needs during this time,” said Amy Dillion, President & CEO of Girls Inc. of Shelbyville & Shelby County, Indiana. “Everything is so scary and uncertain for all of us, but in the face of adversity we knew we had to remain strong for everyone who counts on us.” 

Women’s Fund of Central Indiana reached out to Girls Inc. of Johnson County and Girls Inc. of Shelby County to better understand what they needed to stay strong during the crisis. Both responded with a need to support staff salaries to aid in retention. Women’s Fund granted them each with a $10,000 emergency grant for that sole purpose. 

“We knew we needed our team to remain intact – not just our direct staff, but our summer staff who come back year after year to support camps,” said Sonya Ware-Maguiar. CEO at Girls Inc. of Johnson County. “It would be extremely difficult and disheartening to have to let go of staff and then staff back up when things return to normal.”


Staying home, practicing social distancing and abiding by the CDC and state mandates is the smartest thing for everyone. When in-person programs were cancelled, Girls Inc. quickly analyzed the situation and developed virtual programs and resources to remain in touch with their girls. Among some of the new ways of engaging with their girls virtually, Girls Inc. of Johnson County developed a LOOM Channel and used social media and emails to share activities with girls and their families, while Girls Inc. of Shelby County shared STEM activities through their social channels that girls could access from home. Both have used creative outlets to continue to stay connected with their girls, families, donors, and community partners.

“Our team is incredibly talented and creative, so I had no doubt that they would use their smarts to solve the new challenges we were all faced with,” said Sonya. “They are all very anxious to come back and see the girls, which I’m hopeful we can do very soon. Until then, we are staying connected as creatively as we can.”


These are challenging times that require bold changes. Girls Inc. of Johnson County and Girls Inc. of Shelby County are working to recognize everyone’s progress and routines. Each are finding bold new ways to continue supporting, mentoring, and guiding the girls in their community. Additionally, they are boldly looking at what the future holds for their organizations. When restrictions are lifted, how will they safely regroup with the girls? What will summer camps look like? How will they engage with community partners and donors to ensure future growth of the organization?

“We constantly have our eyes looking forward and focusing on the future of our girls,” said Amy. “We anticipate there will be a rush for our services as families return to work, and we are well positioned to continue our program. We remain optimistic about our future – for our organization, the girls we serve and the communities that we represent.”

Both organizations shared that they don’t plan to look back once they are able to move forward. That strikes us a smart, strong, and bold.

To learn more about these organizations, visit:
Girls Inc. of Johnson County:
Girls Inc. of Shelbyville and Shelby County: