Each week in February we will be featuring amazing women who are dedicated to making a difference. Our first feature is Chrystani Heinrich, the founder of Compton G.IRLS Club! Based in Los Angeles, CGC is dedicated to empowering girls from underserved communities by providing them with valuable resources, knowledge, and skills. We sat down with Chrystani to learn about her journey from Girl Scout to founder, more about the programs that the Compton G.IRLS Club offers, and what we can all do to lend our support.
We love all of the work that the Compton G.IRLS Club does! Can you tell us more about how this wonderful organization came to be?
Compton G.IRLS Club started at Compton High School as an after-school club. I was the Library Assistant there, and as you can imagine, kids aren’t really utilizing libraries anymore. So I found myself with a lot of downtime; one or two kids would come to sit in there after school and I’d just be knocking back seasons of Netflix shows. Finally, I was like, this has GOT to change. My passion has always been girls empowerment, (I was a Girl Scout), but I never knew what I could do with that. BUT I decided to start an after-school club for girls to just basically do what I did not have access to when I was a teen. Learn a plethora of new things without having to travel far or pay a grip of money.
Can you tell our readers more about what services the Compton G.IRLS Club provides? What is the mission of the Club?
CGC provides interactive workshops, field trips, and bonding experiences between girls/femmes/and non binary youth within Compton. Right now though, we are kind of national (and sometimes worldwide) because most of our classes and workshops are via Zoom. The goal is to make knowledge and culture accessible to the participants. We are learning things that are not traditionally taught in schools or provided in the area we serve. We’ve learned how to create Tahitian flower crowns with real flowers, we’ve had jewelry-making classes, classes on finances…I mean, stuff you're just not going to earn for free or within the community.
Our official Mission Statement is: Our mission is to provide girls from underserved communities access to resources, knowledge, and skills that are not readily accessible to them in their own neighborhoods. We believe access to these skills will aid them in their journeys to becoming confident, assertive, and independent.
If you had to describe a typical day at the Compton G.IRLS Club, what would that look like?
Well, I’ll describe a meeting because we can’t really meet in person like I’d like to. Me? I answer emails and interact with social media posts. I’m purchasing items for kits for whatever our next meeting may be. I do A LOT of graphic design, because that’s how I get most of my followers and exposure. All while I’m doing this, I am watching my kid during his Zoom school sessions. If there is a workshop, I’m making sure the speakers have what they need and monitoring the Zoom room.
How can the general public lend their support to the Club? What’s a small action we can all take to better serve communities around us?
We are always looking for people to donate time who would like to teach something new to an eager group of teens. We accept donations of various supplies. And of course monetary donations. If you don't have access to any of that, that's OK too! You can share info about us on your social channels. Our donation links can be found here.
Tell us a bit about you! How did your journey with Compton G.IRLS Club begin? What inspired you to create this amazing place?
Well, I live in Compton. I am into fashion, shopping and eating good. I grew up surrounded by strong women, I adore the relationship between women, and I would be nowhere without it. My grandmother started a Girl Scout troop for my mom when there were no Girl Scout troops that accepted Black girls in her area. My mom started a Girl Scout troop for me, when there were none available for girls my age. I worked in libraries for roughly 15 years because I am a bookworm and just kinda gravitated to those spaces. Compton High School was my last library position and that’s where CGC was born.
I always say that CGC is the club I wish I had when I was a teen. So many clubs are one-subject specific, or focused on an academic/athletic pursuit. But there was never a club for the teens who just wanted to learn about stuff going on in the world and just be curious. I’m a Sag, so I’m a learner, observer, and always looking to collect a new hobby. SO this is for the girl who wants to explore a multitude of things. You don't have to join this club with a knowledge of any specific thing, because we are learning. It’s a safe space to learn without judgement. That is really the basis of everything.