“The girls were all very excited to participate,” said Meridee Pabst, Rotary’s YWIA coordinator. “They had fun getting dressed up and practicing what they had learned about restaurant etiquette.”
The lunch began with a silly skit prepared by YWIA adult mentors on what bad manners looks like. At the table were “Table Manners Menus” that gave the girls tips such as laying your napkin on your lap, bringing bites of food to your mouth and to how to lay your fork and knife in the "finished" position on your plate. “We wanted to leave the girls with a feeling of confidence that they know what to expect and how to conduct themselves at a nice restaurant,” Pabst explained. “This was the first time some of them had been in this type of setting. Sometimes it can be confusing to even know which water glass is yours or how to use a table knife.” Each girl was also supplied a dollar bill to leave as a tip.
The menu, prepared by Hearth owner, David Garcia and served by Will Callaway, included salad, chicken and pasta and bacon wrapped dates for dessert. “David offered the dates for dessert to help the girls expand their palate and try something that they may never have tried before,” Pabst said. “We are very grateful to David for opening up for us at a time when the restaurant is usually closed.”
"What the Rotary is doing, mentoring these young girls, is really great and I think we will all be better in the future for their efforts. I was proud to be a part of it," said Garcia. "I hope the girls had an appreciation of what Hearth is about and how to enjoy a dining experience. They seemed very happy and eager to learn about appropriate behavior based on the environment that one finds themselves in."
“I thought it was a lot of fun to get dressed up and go out with friends that I usually just see at school,” said Hathaway fifth grader, Jocelyn Bowman. “We got to visit at our table and I learned some things about some of the girls that I had not known.” Bowman also gained more appreciation for no technology at the table in public. “It is rude to talk loudly on a cell phone in a restaurant,” she pointed out. “And besides, you want to talk to friends and family at the table with you.”
As a follow up, the girls convene in small groups to talk about what they enjoyed and learned. One member takes notes of the discussion and another is chosen to present their thoughts to the entire group. “This carries on the lessons to working as a team and practicing public speaking,” Pabst said.
YWIA is a free, eight-week program for all Hathaway fifth grade girls that focuses on development of life skills such as friendship, health, hygiene, career, manners, etiquette, and “envision your life” exercises, while being fun and age-appropriate. “The program also provides them an opportunity to get to know and interact with peers who are not in their circle of friends,” Pabst explained. “It all fits neatly into the school week on Wednesday afternoons, when school dismisses early.”
Another highly anticipated field trip will be on March 11 to the Manning Academy of Cosmetology to review basic hygiene and personal care and provide each student with a self-esteem boosting hair style makeover.
Other sessions include learning about relationships and trust, money management, careers, nutrition and exercise. The program ends with a farewell celebration in which the girls practice social skills they have learned, receive a photo of themselves and friends they made during the program, certificates, flowers and cake. “We hope this program becomes a much-loved part of their Wednesday routine and a fondly remembered part of their final year in elementary school,” Pabst said.
Young Women in Action, and its boys’ counterpart Young Men in Action which begins in April, are always looking for passionate, dedicated volunteers from the community. The programs are paid for by the Camas-Washougal Rotary Club and are made possible with the help of local organizations who make donations, provide special pricing, or facilitate field trips to their businesses. Participation in Rotary is not a requirement to be part of the programs. To get involved, either as a sponsor or mentor please visit http://www.cwrotary.com and click on the YMIA/YWIA link at the top of the page.
Rotary International is a service organization with over 1.2 million members in more than 160 countries. The Camas-Washougal Rotary meets at 7 am on Thursdays at Orchard Hills Golf and Country Club, 605 39th St., Washougal, WA 98671. For more club information visit cwrotary.com.