It wasn’t the fuzzy, hot pink carpet on the floor or the purple pillows that blinded Edward Maduh of Laurel as he walked Saturday through My Girlfriend’s House — he said it was the smiles on his daughters’ faces.
Unemployed and living at Fort Meade shelter Sarah’s House with his children, Maduh watched his daughters Ezinné, 12, and Ifechi, 11, laugh and take pictures with other girls inside My Girlfriend’s House, a Capitol Heights nonprofit organization geared toward girls in foster care or living in shelters. The organization celebrated its new, larger space Saturday.
“It brings the brightness out of them,” Edward Maduh said. “They look forward to coming here.”
Veronica Eyenga of Cheltenham began My Girlfriend’s House in August 2010 as a way to provide free field trips, toiletries and life skills training to young women. Eyenga, who owns Glen Burnie-based VBP OutSourcing, a government consulting firm, wanted to help young women with the potential to be successful but need additional assistance because they come from foster care or live in homeless shelters.
“I just feel like I’ve been blessed in my corporate business, and this is me saying I have to give it back,” Eyenga said.
Eyenga said the name originated from her desire to raise the next generation of “girlfriends” and said strong friendships begin at home. Eyenga and Marie Bottoms, the MGH program coordinator, work at the organization full-time with help from volunteers.
There are 30 girls in the program, which is open to girls ages 12 through 19 and from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Participants are given breakfast, career and education workshops and a planned activity such as a field trip or “Birthday Club,” a party held the first Saturday of the month for girls whose birthday is that month.
Eyenga said next year she wants to extend the program to five days a week after school during the school year and all day during the summer.
Before Eyenga moved everything into the new leased space at 9244 East Hampton Drive in April, she said she used a small office space in Landover.
Next door to the Capitol Heights office and meeting areas is the “d-Store,” where girls in the program can pick up donated purses filled with free personal care items such as soap and feminine napkins donated by residents and various stores. When Eyenga can’t get donations, additional expenses come straight out of her pocket. Eyenga said the most she has asked the girls to do is help her collect donations outside grocery stores.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) clutched a pillow Saturday as he crouched inside the “Pillow Talk” area, a pink fluffy floor space covered with pink and purple pillows where girls can share issues going on in their lives.
“It’s the mentoring aspect,” Baker said. “It’s the fact they’re focusing on homeless girls. Having a focal point on every Saturday where they can get mentored by other women, that’s very important.”