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Women raise $9,700 to start Lab Girls program

Union Leader Correspondent

February 03. 2017 12:51AM

Lab Girls, the Hancock-based Harris Center's new after-school program for middle school aimed at instilling a love of science, is being launched with a $9,700 donation from 100+ Women Who Care Peterborough. (COURTESY)

PETERBOROUGH — A group of nearly 200 women came together last week and raised close to $10,000 to support a new STEM program for middle-school girls in the area.

The organization 100+ Women Who Care Peterborough raised the money during its one-hour quarterly meeting held Thursday night. The money will jump-start Lab Girls, a program at the Hancock-based Harris Center for conservation education aimed at empowering ConVal School District middle-school girls through real-world science, technology, engineering and math skills.

“It is a vote of confidence and belief in our region’s girls, giving them the chance through this after-school club to really dig deep into science, technology, engineering and math, all essential skills for success in the 21st century,” said Susie Spikol Faber, Harris Center community programs coordinator and teacher/naturalist. “The club will develop a network of girls supporting girls with women scientists as role models, encouraging young adolescent girls to keep connected to these STEM skills and grow their abilities.”

Faber said Monday she was inspired to create the program after reading Dr. Hope Jahren’s memoir “Lab Girl.”

“The book inspired me. It reminded me that as a young girl who loved science there were very few role models for me,” Faber said. “Though women have made many inroads into STEM professions, there is still so much work to be done. … I love that 100+ Women Who Care recognized the value of this program and selected it as this quarter’s project to fund. ... Women helping the next generation is a powerful message to our young girls and to our community. I believe deeply in this program and am passionate about making it a success for the girls who participate.”

Inspired by the Michigan-founded 100 Women Who Care, 100+ Women Who Care groups have cropped up all over the country over the past decade.

The Peterborough group includes women from the towns of Peterborough, Jaffrey, Dublin, Greenfield, Temple, Antrim, Sharon, Hancock, Francestown, Bennington, Harrisville, Nelson and Rindge and it was the first chapter in New Hampshire when it started in 2013.

“Just in three and a half years we have raised more than $84,000 for local nonprofits,” said member Karen Hatcher on Monday.

The group now has 194 members, each of whom has pledged to donate a minimum of $50 to the charity picked at the group’s quarterly meetings. The donation to the Harris Center will be more than $9,700, Hatcher said.

There were many worthy nonprofits that pitched at Thursday night’s meeting, Hatcher said, but the majority voted to fund Lab Girls.

Hatcher said that Lab Girls had her vote. She added that the current political climate probably gave the Harris Center program an edge over the other nonprofits.

“The way that woman are feeling right now — that we need to band together — I believe the vote was helped by our seeing the need to support young women in really achieving all that they can,” Hatcher said.

Lab Girls needed $8,000 to get up and running. With the 100+ Women donation, the program is set to start this spring.

Prospective members are welcome to attend the next 100+ Women Who Care Peterborough meeting at the Peterborough Players theater, Hadley Road, Peterborough, on Thursday, April 27, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.100womenwhocare

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