Two Palestine natives who plan to teach and mentor local girls and young women say old-school etiquette, polish, proper dress, and propriety are not obsolete in an age of rudeness, me-first, anything goes, and casual Monday-through-Sundays.
Rachel Foy and Almaya Wadley, both 1998 graduates of Palestine High School, have launched a non-profit organization called eightIMPACT to mentor girls, ages 10-18. The aim: to empower, encourage, and energize young women by teaching them proper speech, dress, etiquette, and other skills for their professional, social, and community lives.
The self-confidence and poise young women gain, they say, will nurture and promote positive self-images that will serve them throughout their lives and careers.
“We work on their inner-selves first, and then try to help them figure out what they are good at,” Wadley told me on Monday. “We help them embrace individual uniqueness, encouraging them to birth the gifts God entrusted to them.”
To say the least, organizations such as eightIMPACT are scarce in East Texas, where many kids learn to hunt before they learn which fork to use for dessert.
The two women, joined by a board of friends, began putting on Empowerment Sessions in the Huntsville Independent School District. Working with at-risk and mentoring teens, eightIMPACT conducts hour-long seminars on topics such as dressing for success and cell phone etiquette.
Now, they hope to bring an iteration of eightIMPACT to Palestine. It's one way to give back to the community that gave them their foundation and principles.
Details are still sketchy. EightIMPACT plans to provide training and mentoring services free, eventually at its own building but possibly, first, through other agencies that serve young people, such as the public school system.
The two professional women have been best friends since elementary school. Foy has an education and corporate background; Wadley is a chiropractor in Dallas.
“Since we were children, we have always been called upon to help and mentor,” Foy said. “We are servant-leaders with a desire to leave a positive and lasting impact. God has called us to walk freely in our purpose.”
Having daughters has helped the two women identify with girls and young women, and also understand the “many negative images they are inundated with from today’s culture,” Wadley said.
The name eightIMPACT comes from biblical numerology, positing that the number seven means completion and the number eight means new beginnings. “We want to positively impact young girls’ new beginnings, thus eightIMPACT was created,” Foy said.
The two hope to bring eightIMPACT to Palestine as a way of giving back to the community that gave them their own beginnings.
“East Texas is home for us,” Foy said. “Our families are still here. We wanted to give back here first. Growing up here, we had many people supporting us: teachers, women in the community, family, and friends.”
To start the Palestine chapter, Foy and Wadley are, among other things, fundraising and seeking volunteers in the community. They are also looking for a building to house their organization.
A 5K fundraiser is set for October.