Young Women Find Princess Within Each of Them
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Girls and young women ages 12 and older are experiencing their own Cinderella stories through “Modern Day Princess” a faith-based program the San Bernardino Corps of The Salvation Army began this year.
“This program is for young women to learn why they are princesses,” said Kelly Raabe, Young People’s Sgt. Major for The Salvation Army. “It teaches them to walk confidently, with strength and poise.”
Modern Day Princess is based on the premise that all people are created by God, who desires to love them as his children. In the Christian belief, God is “King,” but he is also “Father.”
“We, as women and girls, are princesses because God is our Father,” Raabe said.
Fifteen young women, ranging in age from 12 to 22, have participated in Modern Day Princess since it began in January. After meeting from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Friday for dinner and instruction in the ways of a princess, they recently completed a 10-week course.
The program culminated in April with a coronation ceremony that lasted three days. It started with a Friday night slumber party at the home of Corps Officers, Captains Stephen and Nancy Ball.
“Capt. Stephen Ball gave a talk to them about purity, just as if he were their own father,” Raabe said. “The Modern Day Princess program called for their fathers to talk to them. Many in our program do not have fathers in their lives, so we had Capt. Ball talk to all of them. He said ‘I have one daughter, so I will talk to you just as I would to her.’”
The morning after the slumber party, the girls went “shopping” at the E Street Family Store, which is run by a different branch of The Salvation Army, the San Bernardino Adult Rehabilitation Center.
Because the two arms of The Salvation Army often work together, each girl received two dresses for free, one formal and one casual, along with accessories to wear with them. E Street Family Store employees also gave them a gift bag, and hosted a small party at the store for them.
“They were fabulous at the E Street store,” Raabe said. “They treated us like princesses. Major Shari Fowler (corps officer of the Adult Rehabilitation Center) went above and beyond planning the party for us.”
The program culminated on the third day with the girls, dressed in their new formals, being recognized and crowned with tiaras during the Sunday morning worship services.
In San Bernardino, this international program is only the beginning of the young women’s journey into royalty. Raabe has found similar esteem-building projects to use with the young women for nine months of the year.
“There is an enormous need for these types of programs here,” she said. “Many girls and young women have never experienced the kind of love their heavenly father has for them.”
The initial Modern Day Princess program began with a unit on “The Princess Within.” Girls took a personality quiz to determine if they were a “True Friend,” an “Organized Queen,” a “Social Butterfly,” or an “Independent Leader.”
The young women then studied traits each personality type would likely have. For instance, an Organized Queen would likely be highly creative and able to stick to a schedule, but would just as likely be overly sensitive to criticism.
“When we read the strengths and weaknesses, every girl who had taken the personality quiz said ‘That is totally me,’ ” Raabe said.
In the second week, the young women studied “A Royal Heritage.” During this unit, they gave their mothers the “Mom Quiz,” which provided insight into topics ranging from how they chose their daughters’ names to what their favorite sounds were in childhood.
Some young women who went through the program at The Salvation Army are estranged from their mothers. In these cases, Raabe and other female volunteers served as mentors.
Additional weeks focused on “Wealth and Wisdom,” “The Value of True Friends,” “Beyond My Kingdom” (finding out more about God’s plan for their lives), “Looking and Acting Like A Princess (dressing modestly and having poise and confidence).
During the seventh through ninth weeks, the young women studied “A Portrait of Prince,” which dealt with male-female relationships. While this section of the program is typically a one-week unit, Raabe felt the need to stretch it into three weeks.
“We discussed what it would mean for them to seek godly men in their lives,” she said. “There was such a positive response, but such a need for them to understand the importance of keeping themselves pure in their relationships, and finding a good man to spend the rest of their lives with.”
It was during the three weeks San Bernardino’s Modern Day Princesses spent discussing men that Raabe decided the young women should meet on a regular basis. One reason, she said, is that many girls and young women first come to The Salvation Army’s church through its Hospitality House emergency family shelter, where guests stay no more than 90 days.
“The nature of Modern Day Princess was such that I couldn’t let new young women into the program once it had started,” Raabe said. “But especially with the constant turnover at the shelter, there is a great need for women and girls in our community to know, in spite of what they have been through, God loves them and they too are his princesses.”
Raabe has now begun a new program for the young women and girls, titled “And The Bride Wore White.” This program is designed to help them keep their relationships sexually pure.
Additional girls and young women can now join the program at any time, and while they will be encouraged to do so, are not required to attend The Salvation Army church.
This program will last until summer, and Raabe will begin additional new programs in the fall and winter months. She will then have The Salvation Army’s young women repeat Modern Day Princess in 2012, allowing the original princesses to repeat the program, and also bringing in the newcomers and several girls who are currently 11 years old.
For more information about this program and others offered by the Salvation Army Corps, call (909) 888-1336.
About the Salvation Army San Bernardino Corps
The Salvation Army may be able to provide emergency services including food; lodging for homeless or displaced families; clothing and furniture; assistance with rent or mortgage and transportation when funds are available. The Salvation Army Team Radio Network assists rescue workers and evacuees in such disasters as fires.
The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the Universal Christian Church, and also offers evangelical programs for boys, girls and adults. One of the largest charitable and international service organizations in the world, The Salvation Army has been in existence since 1865 and in San Bernardino since 1887, supporting those in need without discrimination. Donations may always be made online at www.salvationarmyusa.org or by calling (909) 888-1336.