Dr. Fran Williams, noted educator and children’s advocate in Orange County, recently invited a select group of women to attend a special luncheon to announce the launch of her latest plan to positively impact the lives of teen and tween girls. The luncheon host was her granddaughter, Marina Sanchez, who introduced her elder. The private meeting was held at the Center Club at South Coast Plaza. Dr. Fran, as she is called, is no stranger to working with youth, specifically girls. She and her son Jeff founded Williams Institute in the ’90s; it provided residential care for at-risk teenage girls. The focus was girls with eating disorders and low self-esteem; it became a healing center for them. A few years ago, Dr. Fran needed to focus on health problems, and closed the Institute. Now that she is healed she is back, doing what fuels the fires of passion in her; that is, working with teenage girls to create a positive environment for them to grow into healthy individuals.
She is moving full speed ahead to open a mentoring program for girls ages ten to seventeen, to raise their self-esteem levels and give them hope. She explained the goals, and program outlines to the ladies and one man as we munched on tasty morsels.
The organization is named Maribou (her maiden name) Creative Concepts of Education. This year marks the 40th year of Title IX giving equal access to girls. She is using it to launch the mentoring program and implored the women present to consider becoming mentors. The program is faith-based, although she chuckled and stated no particular form of denomination would be emphasized. She has been approached by the County and the NAACP to work with teens. Once the program for girls is up and running she will expand to provide one for boys. The girls will learn to speak, create a business plan, spend time with their mentors and be transformed. She is already working with two colleges in the arena of art for the girls There is no cost for the mentors, except their time; they will receive a stipend, because leaving no stone unturned Dr. Fran has written a grant.
The next meeting will be with the girls selected for the program. The emphasis is for underserved girls from a broad spectrum of young women from all ethnicities. The third meeting will be for the mentors and the girls selected; they will use personality charts to pair them.
The keynote speaker was Judge Daphne Sykes Scott, who was appointed to the Superior Court in 2010; she works in the Westminster Court. Judge Scott served as a U.S. attorney in the San Diego office. She shared some of those experiences and the desperate tactics that people will use to enter the United States. One of the reasons they resort to such desperation is that this is the only country where you can rise from obscurity to become famous. She stated that as a child she had no idea of the opportunities offered by this country. That is why we as a people need to steer our children. They start one step ahead of those who come from other countries; they already speak English; they understand the nuances of the language. Another story she shared was that of a male colleague who told her he always thought colleges came looking for you, so the first one that sent him brochures he accepted because he did not know you have to apply. He was raised in the Bronx in a former military family. Judge Scott used the story to emphasize the lack of knowledge that sometimes exists in our young people and thanked the Williams Institute for being in her life. The Judge had to leave early, and Dr. Fran returned to answer any lingering questions about the program. She sees it as an ongoing situation, with meetings taking place at least once a month with mentors who will have to go through check points for clearance to spend time with their mentees. The program will also instruct mentors on working with their charges. It is not exclusively for foster care kids; since it is primarily faith-based, they will look to the churches for girls who can benefit most from the program.
Dr. Frances Maribou Williams was affiliated with Santa Ana College for 28 years; she has wide exposure working with youth and counseling, having served as an in-house psychologist on channel 7 Eyewitness News during the ’90s. Her expertise and associates in Orange County are numerous.