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#HerStory with Sofia Flores

As I walked through the doors of Women of Toledo during the middle of my summer break, I couldn't help but feel a mixture of excitement and anticipation. Little

did I know that the coming weeks would be a transformative experience, one that would not only deepen my understanding of the organization's mission but also strengthen the bond between me and my older sister, Sierra, who serves as the Associate Director. I was immediately welcomed by my sister and the managing director, Nina, and was excited to begin this new opportunity.

Women of Toledo—an organization dedicated to empowering women from diverse backgrounds—had always created interest and uncertainty as I knew little about the organization. Hearing Sierra’s stories about the lives transformed by the organization's support ignited a spark of inspiration within me.

So, when the opportunity arose to intern there, I eagerly seized it.

Working alongside my sister, I quickly realized that this internship would be more than just a chance to gain professional experience; it would be an immersion into the lives of women and young girls striving to overcome adversity and rediscover their strengths and interests. Sierra and Nina’s unwavering commitment to the organization's mission was contagious, and I was determined to contribute meaningfully to the cause.

One program I was able to see first-hand was the Young Women of Toledo Summer Program. This one-weeklong summer program for young women ages twelve to seventeen allows them to learn how to use power tools while making a chair out of wood, making connections, and “building their own seat at the table”. Every young woman who participated had an energetic attitude and positive outlook on the task they were given, whereas I would be somewhat hesitant about doing something completely unusual for me. It was truly inspiring to see every young woman gain confidence and design their chair based on their interests and what meant most to them in their life. Some of the girls even attended the same high school I went to, and we were able to bond based on that certain connection.

However, the true heart of my experience lay in the conversations with my sister. Our lunches in the boardroom or quiet moments in the office allowed us to share our insights and reflections. She highlighted the significance of fostering a supportive community for these women, where empowerment wasn't just a word but a reality.

As the summer drew to a close, I found myself reflecting on the impact of my internship. The experiences I had shared with the women and the lessons I had learned from my sister had transformed my outlook on empowerment. It was no longer an abstract concept but a lived experience, something that could be cultivated through community, support, and shared strength.

My time at Women of Toledo reaffirmed that the path to empowerment isn't a solitary journey. It's about lifting each other up, about being a beacon of hope for those navigating through challenges. My sister's role as the Associate Director had not only allowed me to witness the incredible work being done but had also deepened our sisterly bond.

Thank you, Women of Toledo.

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