Mattie and lisa

Mattie Reese is a freshman majoring in nursing at Philander Smith College in Little Rock. She's happy, confident and a shining example of the importance of Girls Inc. and the power of mentors.

Mattie says she never had a mother figure and her father left when she was 15. What she DID have was her Girls Inc. family beginning at the age of nine. "My mentors at Girls Inc. were my mother support," Mattie says. "They helped me become a beautiful, strong, smart and bold young lady."

Lisa says that since Mattie's graduation from Manassas, a community of women has surrounded Mattie to help her transition from high school to college.

"Mattie has no family support and has been living on her own for much of her childhood, going from friends’ and mentors’ homes over the years," Lisa said. "Girls Inc. alumna, staff and friends hosted a ‘trunk party’ to set her up with dorm room supplies. One mentor, a former Girls Inc. staff member, drove Mattie to college and still hosts her for holidays and breaks."

When there was a snag with her financial aid package, Mattie assumed she was coming home before she'd even started her first semester. Two staff members drove to Little Rock to help, and she was able to start her freshman year. She completed her first semester only to find that she had an unpaid balance of $1,723. Lisa turned to her friends on Facebook.

"Within 24 hours, 16 women that had never met Mattie were so inspired by her story that they pledged enough to cover the balance," Lisa said. "As a community of women, we have stepped in for Mattie. Some have given her shelter, food and clothing. Others  have offered advice and support navigating her educational journey. All have given their love. Mentoring comes in many forms, and all are valuable!"

"It's awesome - they did it for me!" she said. "They want to see me succeed even though I had a lot of trials and tribulations. I thank them every day for their motivation. It makes me work harder."

Mattie says the ongoing support from her team of mentors has inspired her to pay it forward by helping other young women.


I’ve always been good in school and loved being involved in Girls Inc. I participated in a collaborative program with Hatiloo Theatre and it was then I found my voice. I realized what I want to do…I want to act! Since having my eyes opened through this experience, I’ve been in 3 Hatiloo productions and 5 White Station High School productions. - Kelsie

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