Written by Jaime Notzen
Ruby Robles, a junior at St. Norbert College, had a chance to relive her elementary school years through the Michels Hall Program.
After learning how to make healthy lifestyle choices at Girls Night Out 9 years ago, Ruby became a GNO mentor as a sophomore in college.
Her story exemplifies how service comes full circle; it’s a chain reaction!
In the fifth grade, Ruby brought home a YMCA Girls Night Out pamphlet to show her parents. The program, led by female volunteers, explores topics like healthy choices, getting ready for 6th grade, life skills, and positive friendships.
“I thought it sounded fun. Since my parents couldn’t read English, I told them about it, and I signed up. I still have my booklet and t-shirt!”
As a sophomore in college, Ruby lived in Michels, a coeducational service-learning hall on campus. Residents complete an academic year of service for an organization in the Brown County community. Ruby was matched with the YMCA, and became a mentor in the program she attended as a fifth grader.
“When I went to Girls Night Out as a college student, it made me remember my days from back then. I became the one that the girls look up to. I was in their spot at one point, so it was really meaningful for me.”
The YMCA takes time to address the important issues in our youth.
“Girls Night Out is so important because we talked about healthy eating, exercising, and relationships, but we also took time to address bullying. We noticed a girl feeling left out, and eventually, she didn’t want to come back. We created strategies to connect them together.”
Reflecting on her fifth grade memories, Ruby can’t believe how times have changed!
“Our girls made a friendship quilt and wrote what they like on their squares. They wrote things like ‘#swag’ and ‘Instagram’. It made me laugh. When I think of myself in fifth grade, and compare it to now, it’s shocking!”
But regardless, she felt extremely rewarded by the end of her Girls Night Out mentoring experience.
“We worked with students who never thought about college; but by the end of my session, they told me, ‘I want to go to college. I want to go to St. Norbert.’ When you’re doing service, you may not see it right away, but you are making a change.”
Ruby continues to work at the YMCA in their Connections program. Ruby works as a liaison for students and staff, translating between English and Spanish.
If you’d like to volunteer or learn more about the Greater Green Bay YMCA, one of our community partners, you can visit their website!