By Hannah Lester

Girls STEPS, Inc. now has a place to call home.

“[Girls STEPS, Inc.’s] purpose is to empower, inspire and motivate school-age girls by exposing them to various culturally enriched activities that will prepare them for success,” the non-profit’s website said.

The organization hosts programs for girls in grades third through twelfth to help them grow, learn and prepare for their futures.

Now — the group has a building of its own to operate out of. The space includes a meeting room, computer lab, laundry area, full kitchen and outdoor areas.

Some of the programs include College/Career Prep, Dress for Success, Job Readiness Skills, Political Awareness, Social Etiquette, Communication Skills, Fine Arts and STEM Activities.

“Diversity is very important to me,” said Tiffany-Gibson Pitts, president and CEO of Girls STEPS, Inc. “Because I want all girls to feel welcome here and to want to come here and participate in the programs that we have.”

Girls STEPS, Inc. hosted an open house and ribbon-cutting last week to show the community what is going on within the organization.

“It means a whole lot to me to have the support of the community,” Pitts said. “I think in order for us to be more impactful, I think it’s important that we have total buy-in from the community.

“… I believe in the all-in slogan. I know Auburn used to use it back in the day. We all have to be dedicated and committed to our youth in order for us to see real change.”

Pitts hopes to build recruitment and relationships with those in the community so more youth will want to attend the programs. The organization plans to do this through door-to-door campaigns and reaching the local schools.

“If we can get a group of kids that’s bold enough to know that I stand for what’s right, it will draw the others,” said Valarie Canady, family advocate for Girls STEPS, Inc. “So, we’ve got to build some leaders, some confidence and it’s not too late.”

All of the programs offered at Girls STEPS, Inc. are free to the community.

“It’s just rewarding when I see kids who have gone through our program, whether they’re graduating high school, they’re going to college or if they’re just involved in their school, whatever way, being positive,” Pitts said. “That’s what’s rewarding for me, just seeing them doing well.”

Canady said that they hope the Girls STEPS program can be replicated in other communities.

“I look forward to what ya’ll are going to do here, too,” said District 1 Lee County Commissioner Doug Cannon during the open house. “It’s going to be a blessing for Lee County, Opelika also.”

The group will be hosting its next event, a back-to-school bash for parents on Aug. 7 at its new location — 500 Raintree St. in Opelika at 10 a.m.

School officials will be in attendance and the goal is to help prepare parents to send their children to school.