LOV Day 2023 Instills Purpose, Passion, and Perseverance
By: Zeki Salah, Communications Associate
On Saturday, February 11th, 400 self-care boxes were distributed to 400 girls across the neighborhoods of Bronzeville, Englewood, North Lawndale, and Austin areas. The boxes were distributed by Ladies of Virtue as part of their 3rd annual celebration of LOV Day. LOV Day was sponsored by the Chicago Peace Fellows Mutual Aid Collaborative as a partnership between 2019 Chicago Peace Fellows, Jamila Trimuel, Executive Director of Ladies of Virtue, and Dawn Hodges, Executive Director of Imani Community Development Corporation. Ladies of Virtue is a Chicago-based non-profit founded by Jamila in 2011 with the goal of becoming the premier mentoring and leadership training organization for Black girls in the world. LOV Day was established in 2021 to further their mission “to instill purpose, passion, and perseverance in girls, ages 9 to 18, while preparing them for college, careers and to become change agents in their communities.”
Ladies of Virtue is a mentoring and leadership program for girls, ages 9 to 18. Over the last 11 years they have served over 2,000 girls and families. LOV matches their participants with mentors and prepares them for leadership through our culturally relevant character building, career readiness and civic engagement curriculum. The team at Ladies of Virtue provides project management, collaboration and communication training via their two to four-month project experiences to empower girls to lead in the modern workforce. After graduating from high school, with successful completion of LOV’s leadership program, participants are mentored and supported for six additional years, from 18 to 24, as LOV 4 Life alumni.
LOV Day was a community effort, obtaining funding from the Peace Fellows Mutual Aid Collaborative, drawing in fifty-five volunteers from 12 Corporate/Community Partners, and hosting events in six different schools and community centers. Jamila brought the proposal to fund LOV Day to the Mutual Aid Collaborative alongside 2019 Peace Fellow, Dawn Hodges.
The Mutual Aid Collaborative consists of 74 Black and Brown leaders and committed allies who live and work in the communities they serve on the South and West sides. They have raised over $100,000 to support several active projects. The Mutual Aid Collaborative met and collaboratively voted in January to provide LOV Day with funding to support the distribution of LOV Boxes filled with self-care items. Each LOV box included a teddy bear, chocolates and candy, a painting kit, hair care products, and Black history facts.
LOV Day served as a way to celebrate both Black History Month and Valentine’s Day. Themes of Black history and culture were interwoven with the idea of providing girls with the space and opportunity to rest and care for themselves. LOV Day featured a self-care experience called “Black Girls Rest”. This event served 100 girls, twice as many as the previous year. Black Girls Rest included workshops on how to maintain healthy hair, skin care, and feminine care. Hair care stylists, cosmetologists, aestheticians, and an OBGYN all attended to provide guidance. Speaking to the themes of Black history and rest, one Lady of Virtue stated, ”All throughout Black history, slavery and during the Great Migration, Black people were constantly on the move and still to this day heavily dipped in GRIND culture. We need to STOP and REST.”
While 2022’s LOV Day centered more around the distribution of boxes, this year’s LOV Day focused heavily on programming, with Ladies of Virtue visiting six schools to hold self esteem and confidence workshops. Events include hair and makeup demonstrations, pillow decorating, mental health workshops, feminine and skin care tips, and candle making. The programs were conducted by program facilitators for the Ladies of Virtue and aimed to show Black Girls that they are and should be loved, nurtured, and protected. For instance, one workshop had girls identify what they love about themselves and encouraged their peers to support that expression of self-love.
Jamila attended one of the LOV Day classes where girls were discussing when they were at their best. One girl that Jamila was working with said “Oh I love my smell because it reminds me of how my dad smells,” but then noted “ I really don’t talk about my dad much.” When Jamila asked why, the girl mentioned that he died a few weeks ago. Jamila reflected, “that really let me know that she felt like this was a safe space for her to express herself; that we were establishing a safe space for girls to just be themselves.”
To continue their mission of instilling purpose, passion, and perseverance in girls, ages 9 to 18, while preparing them for college, careers and to become change agents in their communities, Ladies of Virtues is always looking for volunteers. Volunteers serve as role models for their girls, parents, and the community. You can find volunteering opportunities for LOV at: https://www.lovchicago.org/volunteer