ALAMEDA -- Girls Inc. of the Island City has plenty to celebrate. Since 1964, the group has provided Alameda girls with after school programs that aim to make them healthy, self-sufficient and resilient.

Community members are invited to stop by Girls Inc. on Saturday afternoon to find out more about the organization, tour its historic facility, have a slice of cake and enjoy other fun activities.

"For 50 years in Alameda, Girls Inc. of the Island City has provided real solutions to the unique issues girls face," said Executive Director Karen Kenney, a longtime Alameda resident. "Every day, girls are in a safe, girls-only environment where professionally trained women help them build life skills .... With this critical support, girls seize opportunities and thrive."

Girls Inc. of the Island City Executive Director Karen Kenney, left, and members, in back row from left, Nayeli Medellin, Taylor Thompson and Bryce Wells.
Girls Inc. of the Island City Executive Director Karen Kenney, left, and members, in back row from left, Nayeli Medellin, Taylor Thompson and Bryce Wells. In the front row, from left, are Emely Ayarra-Backhaus and Ciara Blea-Salinas. They are getting ready to celebrate the groupís 50th anniversary and open house Saturday.

Girls Inc. serves 400 Alameda girls, ages 6 to 18, with about 25,000 hours of special programs year-round. It also offers licensed child care at seven Alameda elementary schools through its Alameda Island Kids service.

"Girls Inc. is about making informed choices about everything," explained Kenney, who worked at UC Berkeley for 28 years. "You might want to go to college or go into a career that does not require college, like welding for ship-repair firms such as Bay Ship & Yacht in Alameda. Our whole approach is focused on helping girls develop skills and knowledge to make informed choices."


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The first U.S. girls club was founded in 1864. The national group became incorporated as Girls Clubs of America in 1945 and changed its name to Girls Inc. in 1990. Guests coming to the Saturday open house will be treated to a family-friendly event, Kenney said.

"We really want the community to come to our birthday party," she said. "We'll have treats like cake and popcorn, as well as activities such as face painting, arts and crafts, bubble blowing and a bounce house."

Nami and Dean Blackburn enjoy the 13th annual Father and Daughter Dance Party on Feb. 7, which was co-sponsored by the Alameda Recreation and Park
Nami and Dean Blackburn enjoy the 13th annual Father and Daughter Dance Party on Feb. 7, which was co-sponsored by the Alameda Recreation and Park Department and Girls Inc. of the Island City. Girls and their fathers, or other favorite male role model, enjoyed square dancing, games and art projects, and a Western buffet.

In addition, a Julia Morgan stand-in will be at the event to discuss architecture and guides will lead visitors on tours of the Girls Inc. building, which is known as the Dr. Edith Meyers Center, at 2 and 4 p.m.

The facility is one of Alameda's 31 historic monuments. The shingle-style Queen Anne structure was built in 1891 as a residence. It features richly carved wood ornamentation, leaded glass windows, ornamental ceilings decorated with the letter "G" (for the original owner David Greenleaf) and redwood panels.

The historic building has been home to the Alameda Boy Scout Council (1950-1975), as well as the Alameda Girl Scouts and Alameda Camp Fire Girls. The Alameda Girls' Club bought the facility in late 1982, moved in and then renamed it the Dr. Edith Meyers Center. The center was awarded historical landmark designation in 1984.

In October, Girls Inc. of the Island City will have an anniversary gala. The following month, its history will be highlighted at the Alameda Museum.

IF YOU GO
What: Girls Inc. of the Island City's 50th birthday party and open house
When: 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday
Where: 1724 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda
Cost: Free