Here on Common Street in Waterville, we’re feeling anything but.  With Girls Rock! Weekend —the only event in Maine that honors, celebrates, and trumpets girls’ voices and their power — on the horizon and fabulous supporters to celebrate it with, how could we?  Frankly, we’re psyched.  Nominations for the 3rd annual Girls Rock! Awards have been pouring in and we can’t even WAIT to share the amazing things that these girls have accomplished with an audience at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center at the University of Maine in Augusta on April 8th.  But don’t fret — there’s still time to get your nominations of girls who rock in to us by the deadline on February 18th — that’s THIS Friday, people! 

So, if you know a girl between the ages of 12 and 19 who deserves to be recognized for her accomplishments that make Maine a better place for girls to live and grow, nominate her (or yourself!) for her work to make the world a better place for girls in five categories: Against the Odds, Title IX, Community Organizing, Health Advocacy, and Entrepreneurship here now!

Last year, we had the privilege of honoring five amazing girls, and we recently had the chance to catch up with one of them — Winnie Ogweta, 2010’s Community Organizing recipient.  Winnie, now 17 and of Portland, survived tragedy & conflict in Sudan before she came to Maine at age seven.  Coping with immense recent loss of family and friends, Winnie found the strength and courage to share her own story after the loss of a fellow classmate devastated her school.  Founding a grief support group for girls, Winnie inspired and continues to inspire others through empathy and compassion while creating a space in which intercultural understanding flourishes. 

Now nearing the end of high school (“I’m very, very excited!”), Winnie has been keeping busy with a part time job, volunteering at a soup kitchen, and playing the college acceptance waiting game with which high school seniors everywhere can all too well sympathize.

The group for which Winnie was recognized for founding last year is unfortunately no longer running for lack of a faculty advisor, but Winnie assures us that they are still in contact and still supporting each other: “The group still keeps in touch; we talk to each other and check up on each other.  The bonds are definitely still there.”

Founding the group for exactly those reasons and with exactly that hope, Winnie says she never expected to be recognized for her role.  “My guidance counselor told me that she was going to nominate me and I felt honored, because I really had been working hard on my group and I never expected to win anything out of it.  I just did it because I wanted to bring girls together.

Funny how that kind of sentiment has a snowball effect.  Her nomination quickly put her on a short list of winners, and she found herself in April among a group of five girls being recognized for their work to make Maine a better place for girls to live and grow.  “It was really cool seeing all of the other girls from different towns — some I’d never even heard of.”

Winnie put her finger on exactly the purpose of the Girls Rock Awards — bringing attention to the incredible work that girls from all corners of the state are doing.  You might not have heard of their town, but the work they’re doing is universally positive and making waves from Eustis to Eastport, from Presque Isle to Portland. 

The 3rd annual Girls Rock Awards will once again give the entire state stellar examples of girls making positive change.  Last year, Winnie found herself inspired by her fellow honorees: “It was cool meeting them and seeing what they do in their communities and what I can take from them and bring to my own community.  I’m sure they were probably thinking the same.”

We totally agree, Winnie!

Don’t let a girl in your life go unrecognized for her amazing work!  Nominate her here by Friday at 5:00 pm!

All selected Girls Rock! Award recipients must be available to accept their award at the Girls Rock! Award celebration on Friday, April 8th, 2011 at the Holocaust & Human Rights Center in Augusta.  Nominations must be received by February 18, 2011 and winners will receive a $250 savings bond!