Space of Her Own (SOHO)


Space of Her Own, Inc. (SOHO) is an art-based organization that serves pre-teen girls by providing yearlong mentoring through engagement in life skills instruction, creative art activities and meaningful community service projects. Each volunteer mentor makes a one-year commitment to the program, which fosters long-term relationships and culminates in the renovation of each girl's bedroom, HGTV-style. SOHO utilizes evidence-based life skills curricula and the National Mentoring Partnership's model program guidelines.

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As a result of a citywide survey of Alexandria's teens and parents and community focus groups, it was concluded that at-risk girls would be most successful in avoiding juvenile criminal activity and improving social skills and self-esteem, through engagement in long-term mentoring involving art activities. Consequently, a partnership between the local Court Service Unit and the non-profit Art League was developed and Space of Her Own was conceived.Girls are matched with adult, volunteer female mentors, who work with them in weekly art classes as part of the yearlong program. Homework support, life skills, communication and anger-management classes are infused into every program day. The mentors are not professional artists. They and the girls learn artistic concepts and techniques throughout the course. Both mentor and youth work together to create expressive and attractive artwork for the girl's bedroom, which may include a "dream" chest, mirror, personalized chairs, lamps and wall hangings.SOHO is loosely based on popular HGTV programming because upon completion of the program, girls and mentors work in teams to remodel other girls' bedrooms, being sure to include ample lighting and study space. Each girl is required to "pay it forward" by completing community service projects with her mentor. Artwork and a before-and-after renovation video are exhibited at a community reception.The promise of gorgeous new bedrooms is the program's hook, promoting near-perfect program attendance, which also attracts mentors. Because of the program's non-threatening approach, mentors, program administrators, and seasonal volunteers are welcomed into the girl's homes during renovations. This often results in connecting families to appropriate city services.SOHO currently operates from three locations, Alexandria's Hammond Middle School, The Art League Annex and the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. The SOHO program's evaluation measures assure the program's effectiveness. The following items are measured: the duration of the mentor/mentee relationships, the quality of the mentor/mentee relationships, developmental assets (via pre/post tests), criminal involvement and teen pregnancy. Since its inception, SOHO has served 132 girls, 122 of whom have not become court-involved.


SOHO operates from following two Alexandria locations:Hammond Middle School Wednesday evenings 5:30-8:00 p.m. September – JuneThe Art League Annex Thursday evenings 5:30-8:00 p.m. September – June

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Posted on: 07/21/2014 - 3:24pm

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This Week's Nonprofit Spotlight is Space of Her Own (SOHO)

Posted on: 09/17/2012 - 7:00am