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Daughters

Cami Gallagher and Emma Brandt smile during A Mighty Lass event. Photo from Jana Raphael-McDonough

Empowering a generation of girls and young women will require the efforts of society as a whole, but two Huntington residents have taken on a leadership role in the endeavor.

Cami Gallagher and Emma Brandt are the co-founders of A Mighty Lass, an organization that provides tools and strategies to promote confidence, compassion and independence for females of all ages. A Mighty Lass holds educational events and programs across Long Island to help promote a culture that celebrates individuality, bravery, strength and kindness.

The duo first started developing their mission when Gallagher was teaching in Old Brookville in 2009. She said she noticed girls needed more education for the issues they deal with outside of the normal school curriculum and was able to lace that together with one of her own passions — running.

“As an educator I saw it in the classroom, and I saw it with my daughter, these girls were putting so much pressure on themselves,” she said in a phone interview.

“Me and a couple of my colleagues decided to start a running program with an empowerment, classroom piece to it.”

Gallagher said the first year they had 15 girls in the program, and talked about body image, nutrition and dealing with tough relationships.

Gallagher and Brandt pose with girls during an education program. Photo from Jana Raphael-McDonough

“I struggled as a young girl with body images, that drive for perfection and competing with other girls,” she said. The following year the program doubled in size, and soon enough Gallagher called on a friend to help.

“We set up a girl’s forum to discuss what was going on in their lives and how to support each other,” Brandt said in a phone interview. “Every minute of every day we think about how we can expand this to more people.”

The pair has expanded their initiative since then. They created “A Mighty Box,” a monthly subsription delivery filled with products, motivational messages and confidence building activities for women and girls.. Each month’s box has a different theme, like planning and achieving dreams, self-empowerment and more. Activities include a kindness journal, where the girls are encouraged to document every kind act they see, and a pin project, where each girl is given a pin with the portrait of a famous female leader who they must research and learn more about. Gallagher’s daughter has also helped with the boxes — suggesting each girl starts out with a charm bracelet and each month the box comes with a new charm.

“That was all her idea — it was so creative and fun,” Gallagher said proudly of her daughter. “We’ve gotten such great feedback on the charms and she’s very proud of that.”

A Mighty Lass holds educational events throughout the year. This past weekend they held their flagship event, “Mpower,” an all-day conference for both girls and moms.

“This event is meant to get girls inspired and motivated, and teach them new strategies to deal with problems in their lives,” Brandt said. But it’s meant to help mothers out.

“There’s no handbook on motherhood — especially for social media,” Brandt said. “We have no idea about this world.”

The programs for mothers that day included a course on understanding social media, improving communication with your daughter and understanding and treating their anxieties.

“Before we started this I would turn to friends and talk to them about their experiences,” Gallagher said. “I need this education just as much as the attendees at our events.”

For the girls at Mpower, workshops included improving public speaking, reflecting on perfection, improving self-esteem and maintaining a healthy body.

Programs span different age groups, and the team said as they continue to grow they hope to expand their teachings to include workshops for young women who are starting to make the transition into the professional world.

“It means everything to be able to be a leader in this arena,” Brandt said. “It’s a dream come true.”

To learn more about A Mighty Lass visit their website at www.amightylass.com.

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Dad with his three daughters on a trip to the Bronx Zoo. Photo from the Glowatz family collection

A dad is a funny thing.

But not as funny as he thinks he is.

Especially, it seems, when he is in a house full of females, as my father was when I was growing up and usually still is. Perhaps he is just misunderstood, because between his wife and three daughters — four, if you count the dog — Dad can get lost in the shuffle.

He has to contend with a gaggle of cackling women, a sometimes-boisterous group that frequently discusses matters or cracks jokes that aren’t for male ears or are just plain lost on him. Usually he smiles and watches patiently through it all — or stays away entirely. There is great satisfaction on his face when we talk about a subject he can easily contribute to, like business, politics or baseball. Or AC/DC. On those topics, he is the expert and everybody knows it.

But this isn’t to say that he feels uncomfortable without any other guys around — my dad is all about his ladies. He has worked from a home office my entire life, so he was there just about every day, fixing boo-boos, making home videos about the trials and tribulations of a doll’s life and breaking up some pretty bad sisterly fights, too.

Dad gets friendly with a cardboard President Ronald Reagan on the streets of New York City. Photo from the Glowatz family collection
Dad gets friendly with a cardboard President Ronald Reagan on the streets of New York City. Photo from the Glowatz family collection

While many women would say they don’t want to marry someone like their father, my dad is a model for whom I should be with. He can be rough around the edges but when it counts, he is a true gentleman. He can be a real tough guy, but he’ll cry if he feels like it (in recent history, he got choked up at my older sister’s wedding). He often reminds us, whether we roll our eyes at the repetition or not, the importance of holding on to our traditions and values. His family is his top priority and always has been, and he would defend any one of us to the death — he once threw himself between me and a snarling dog that had escaped its yard and lunged toward us while we went for a walk (in case you’re wondering how we got out of that, my dad ferociously barked at it and it cowered away).

And as much as we hate to admit, although we women sometimes tease him, my dad is beyond cool, partly because he is himself, no matter what other people say.

My mother told me many times when I was growing up that apart from her own father, my dad is the finest man she has ever known. While I understood what she was saying, I never fully grasped it until I had grown.

I once asked my dad whether he was disappointed that he never had any sons. He reminded me that he loves his three girls, tutus and all, and that he still did all the great stuff with us he would have done with boys, like teaching us how to ride bikes, taking us to baseball games and hugging us when we cried.

I guess the only real disappointment in my dad not having any sons is that he can’t teach any young men to be just like him.

Happy Father’s Day to my dad and all the great ones like him.