MERIDEN— Girl’s Inc. started its 100th year anniversary celebration Friday night by hosting a “Business After Hours” event.
The gathering was a partnership with Midstate Chamber of Commerce.
“We thought it would be great to kick off our (anniversary) with businesses,” said Michelle Bourdeau, executive director of Girls Inc.. “This is for people to network with the business community, but also to thank them. A lot of our support comes from local businesses.”
Girls Inc., 130 Lincoln St., serves about 1,500 girls age 5 and up from Meriden and Wallingford. It continues its traditional programming of dance and gymnastics as well as offering newer programs in science, math and technology, economic literacy, and social media literacy.
Many who attended Friday night had a connection to Girls Inc.
“My daughters are 31 and 35, so we probably started here 25 or more years ago,” said Sean Moore, president of the Midstate Chamber of Commerce. “We know Girls Inc. inside and out.”
Moore’s daughter took her first art class with the organization. She went on to graduate from Hartford Art School.
“Our other daughter started here and become a communications major,” Moore said. “She really got her skills from the club.”
Sally Smith said she had been a part of the club since 1945.
“I did everything from tumbling to plays,” Smith said. “I lived on Church Street, so every day I went to the girls club after school.”
Bourdeau started with Girls Inc. in 2004.
“Even over the 15 years I’ve been here, we’ve grown and evolved,” she said. “I think it’s a true testament to the Meriden community. We have this house, so it feels more like a home; a family.”
Girls Inc. will hold several other events in celebration of the anniversary, including the 20th annual Strong, Smart, and Bold dinner on May 8. On July 20, Girls Inc. will host a family fun fest picnic, and on Sept. 20 will be participating in the Silver City Brew Fest.
“We just want to inspire girls to be strong, smart, and bold, as our motto says,” Bourdeau said.