LADIES of FUTURITY: Tracey Graham (L) and her daughter Amaris Graham are the proud co-founders of Ladies of Futurity girls mentoring group in West Palm Beach.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JONATHAN ABNER OF JAYAB PRODUCTIONS
By DAPHNE TAYLOR Special to South Florida Times
WEST PALM, Fla. – Five years ago, when Tracey Graham, now 53, and her daughter Amaris, 22, were brainstorming on starting a non profit, they knew they wanted to help young girls in that awkward stage between the teens and young adulthood when you’re no longer a young child but you’re not a full-fledged adult either.
“We wanted to mentor and empower young ladies and start a program to help them prepare for that next phase of life and become ladies of the future,” said Tracey Graham.
This year she celebrated five years of their non profit organization, Ladies of Futurity.
Graham’s daughter Amaris Graham, who is now a senior at Tuskegee University studying political science with plans to be an attorney, said they started the group to help young ladies learn how to set standards for themselves and answer the question: What are you going to uphold yourself to be?
“Ladies of Futurity (LOF) is a growing organization that caters to a multitude of girls,” said Amaris, who indicated the girls can start the group as high school freshmen. “The vision my mom had is to define and provide what a young lady needs in this day and age.”
Nyla Sims was this year’s president of the group. “This organization has done so much for me. I’m going to miss it, “ she said as she prepares to attend the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
To this date LOF has provided 61 trunks filled with college necessities to high school seniors. The trunks contain printers, refrigerators, irons and ironing boards, toiletries, comforters, sheets, towels and other items needed for dorm life.
Of this year’s 29 girls, 17 graduated high school. The Grahams’ are quick to point out they are more than the trunks they give.“We do trunks, but we do a lot of community service, which is of high importance,” said Tracey. They also have a formal dance cotillion each year.
“The difference is our gala is a recognition program where we seek to build self esteem. Etiquette is not our main focus. Instead we focus on life skills such as how do you communicate, how do you handle depression? We help our girls navigate through life issues,” she added.
The program also facilitates workshops on domestic violence, SAT and ACT prep, public speaking, saving and money management and relationships. To give the young ladies a chance to bond with each other, there are also outings to restaurants, the movies and bowling alleys.
Tracey Graham said securing funding for the organization is an ongoing challenge. “Getting the resources and getting the backing is a constant struggle for our organization, “ she lamented.
Meanwhile, Tracy said she and Amaris will continue to inspire local girls to be the best they can be as they prepare for womanhood. They said their church, Redemptive Life Fellowship in West Palm Beach, continues to be a source of inspiration.
“My experience as president was great. I got to lead and mold young ladies and give them confidence and the ability to speak up and become strong leaders. This organization teaches us to be strong and classy young ladies,” Sims said.
And that was exactly the goal of Tracey and Amaris Graham five years ago.
For more information on Ladies of Futurity, visit Ladyof.org.