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Girls with Vision group encourages good decisions

Jim Ference | The Valley Independent - Ariyana Bonam, 14, and her mother, Sheree McWilliams of Donora, practice a relaxation exercise during the first meeting of Girls With Vision at the Wayman-Quinn AME Church in Monessen on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. Girls With Vison is for girls between the ages of 11 and 15 who live in the Mon Valley. The group will meet the first Saturday of every month.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jim Ference |  The Valley Independent</em></div>Ariyana Bonam, 14, and her mother, Sheree McWilliams of Donora, practice a relaxation exercise during  the first meeting of Girls With Vision at the Wayman-Quinn AME Church in Monessen on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. Girls With Vison is for girls between the ages of 11 and 15 who live in the Mon Valley. The group will meet the first Saturday of every month.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent - Organizer Dionne Wilson of Monessen talks about the new organization during the first meeting of Girls With Vision at the Wayman Quinn AME Church in Monessen on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. Girls With Vison is for girls between the age of 11 and 15 that live in the Mon Valley. The group will meet the first Saturday of each month.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Jim Ference |  The Valley Independent</em></div>Organizer Dionne Wilson of Monessen talks about the new organization during the first meeting of Girls With Vision at the Wayman Quinn AME Church in Monessen on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. Girls With Vison is for girls between the age of 11 and 15 that live in the Mon Valley. The group will meet the first Saturday of each month.

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By Miranda Startare
Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

A new group for Mon Valley girls is gaining momentum thanks to founder Dionne Wilson of Monessen.

Her vision for inspiring and motivating adolescent girls to make positive choices led her to create Girls With Vision.

The group, open to girls ages 11-15, meets 1 to 3 p.m. the first Saturday of each month at the Wayman-Quinn AME Church, 318 McKee Way, Monessen.

Wilson wants to create an environment for girls to strengthen and motivate themselves – and each other – to be the best they can be.

“We want to aid girls in nurturing their dreams,” she said.

The group's creation is traced back to positive influences in Wilson's life, beginning with her parents, Charles and Karen Ford of Monessen.

“They exposed me to cultural, educational and spiritual activities,” Wilson said.

Experienced in community outreach, Wilson formed New Covenant Ministries in 2005. The organization is known for its popular plays in Monessen City Park, Easter egg hunts and other children's activities.

New Covenant Ministries began with help from a devoted circle of family and friends, including Wilson's parents; her sister, Terri Britton; her aunt, the Rev. Lois Thomas; friends Kristen Jackson, Christina Turner, Andrew Grogan and Chas Bock; and her daughter, Azariah Ford.

Girls With Vision is a branch of that outreach effort and is designed to be a guiding force in members' lives, Wilson said.

Wilson wants the girls to know “you can always do something positive with your life. You can always expand your knowledge and achieve your goals.”

The first meeting, on Feb. 1, featured guest speaker Dr. Vanessa Drew-Branch, a licensed social worker from GrassRoutes Counseling Services in Monessen.

At that meeting, the members began to create goal charts.

Meetings will focus on themes that enhance personal development and self-respect.

The members will participate in community service projects, Wilson said.

In addition to a core group of volunteers – Wilson, Gwen Houchins, Britton and Karen Ford – meetings frequently will feature guest speakers.

Three Wayman-Quinn church leaders will offer support: the Rev. Rhonda Frazier-Higgins, pastor, and Associate Pastors Kay Frazier and John Higgins.

The club will next meet on March 1, at which time the girls will create vision boards linked to the goal charts.

Monessen police Officer David Yuhasz will discuss social media safety issues.

New members are welcome, and interested girls are encouraged to attend a meeting to try it out.

For information, call Wilson at 724-518-7939.

“I care about the people and the community,” said Wilson, who is trying to make a difference in the girls' lives.

Citing a world filled with temptations, Wilson hopes to offer support that enables girls to make good choices in their lives.

“I want to give these girls a positive place to go, to learn to be productive citizens, respect themselves and others and achieve their goals,” Wilson said.

Miranda Startare is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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