When 18-year-old Meghan was a young girl, her mom abandoned her family, forcing her to grow up without the calming presence of a mother’s unconditional love. However, “[after being] adopted by a team of loving mothers and mentors at Girls Nite In, I’ve been showered with so much love,” says Meghan.
The idea for Girls Nite In (GNI) was conceived nearly a decade ago, when high school teacher Jimmelynn Garland Rice overheard students in the girls’ bathroom talking about the various struggles they were facing—issues like addictions, eating disorders, self-harm, pregnancy and toxic relationships.
Garland Rice recognized that these girls were making poor life choices because they lacked support, acceptance, understanding and guidance at home. So she decided to host an event where middle school, high school and college-aged girls could gather to receive a much-needed message.
“I start every meeting with these important words: ‘You are welcome, you are wanted, you are valued and you are loved more than you can imagine,’” Garland Rice says.
GNI meets monthly throughout the school year at [email protected] in Brownsburg, Indiana, where Garland Rice’s husband, Rodney, is the lead pastor and weekend attendance is around 385. Each meeting focuses on a relevant topic to teen girls, including body image, depression, bullying, anxiety, addiction and self-respect.
Since GNI initially launched, folks from all over the globe have asked for help in developing GNI chapters in their areas. To date, GNI volunteers have mentored 1,700 girls, and Garland Rice prays that number will continue to increase as she runs the Brownsburg chapter while simultaneously growing GNI International.
As for those whose lives have been transformed by this ministry, they thank God and the GNI team for their unwavering dedication.
Ali, a young teen mom, says she appreciates how Garland Rice impresses on attendees the notion of self-love and self-acceptance. “I taped that message [to be myself] to my mirror so I never forget that God only made one of me,” says Ali.