POUGHKEEPSIE – Goody Goodies’ Sweet 16 isn’t your typical coming out party. This event at The Grandview will introduce young women into society - not because they are the same age, but because these 16 are so sweet.
Goody Goodies, a nonprofit, started by Macallan Durkin when she was 11 years old, has raised money to give to children’s programs in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ghana and Guatemala. But after experiencing several youth conferences and awards, she saw the value in empowering youth leaders here at home. She participated in We Are Family Foundations’ Three Dot Dash Peace Summit, where 30 young people from around the world were brought to NYC for a week, all expenses paid, and given the tools to define their programs, network with experts, bond with other dynamic youth and develop an action plan with specifically chosen mentors in order to succeed. Goody Goodies’ Sweet 16 was the culmination of that work. It brought together the elements this senior from Spackenkill would need to affect children, not around the world, but in the Hudson Valley.
"When I came back from events like Three Dot Dash or the UN Year of Youth, I felt I could do anything! I could conquer the world!" said Macallan.
With nominations scored by a panel of youth advisors, school officials, and community leaders from around the country, the 16 young women named as this year’s Sweet 16 represents girls from 14-18, from as far away as Yonkers, to Kingston, to Pine Plains, Putnam Valley and Newburgh. Several had started their own projects, while others were associated with many local, regional and national campaigns including Domestic Violence, Cancer Research, Child Abuse, and Sandy Relief.
The criteria used by the scorers defined the qualities of an exceptional role model. What did these young women do to earn that title? Kristen Cole, this year’s Salutatorian for Roosevelt High School had numerous nominations submitted for her from just a few of the organizations she’s volunteered with over the years. Natalie Keating is raising money to open an all-abilities playground in Lime Kiln in memory of her sister who was wheel-chair bound. Corinne Olson will be going to school for public policy after serving on the youth board for the Prevention of Child Abuse and the Dutchess County Youth Council. Her sister, Madeleine is forming her own nonprofit to raise funds for residents from the Astor Home for Children to go on farm visits to learn about good nutrition. Amelia Spittal collected 100 backpacks in 100 days to donate to underserved school districts, just to name a few. Girls thinking out side of themselves in order to help others.
Aura Lopez, a youth advisor was nominated by her Planned Parenthood Outreach Coordinator. When questioned why Aura volunteers for Planned Parenthood she simply says, "I knew so many of my peers were needing help, but they had no one they could go to. " She agrees that educating youth about sensitive issues can be difficult, but she says, "If I don’t do it, who will?"
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, "Be the change you wish to see in the world", the theme for the event includes bees, with free fair trade "Bee the Change" backpacks made by women in Ghana donated by Women’s Work, bee shaped fair trade chocolates from Divine Chocolates, and fair trade honey from Wholesome Sweeteners. There will be a spectacular awards ceremony officiated by State Assembly Member, Didi Barrett. Macallan, Jessica Steinbach, an event organizer and several of the honorees will perform. The Sweet 16 will also have an inspirational youth expo with volunteer opportunities, an art exhibition by talented area youth, various free-bees from Family Services, Kotex, and many others as well as passed appetizers, a room of desserts, face painting, and so much more! Tickets are pay what you can. All funds will go directly into the Sweet 16 Awards with any remaining funds to be donated to throwing a Quinceneara for underserved girls in Guatemala City.