Smart Girls really smarting

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They're still tallying up the damage done by alleged local scammer Cyndi O'Tyson. But one of the more unfortunate casualties may end up being a not-for-profit book club for inner-city girls.

The Smart Girls Club, the brainchild of area businesswoman Pat VanHooser, is just small enough and new enough that it may not survive the surprise $4,100 in debt it has been saddled with - an electronics store bill VanHooser discovered after the arrest of O'Tyson, who had partnered with her in Smart Girls.

Making the dilemma even more distressing is that VanHooser appeared to be on to something with the one-year-old Smart Girls. After all, what could be better than finding a fun, cool way to encourage girls ages 12 to 15 to read?

Well, we'll tell you.

Not only do the girls read a book each month for the club, but it's always a book with a didactic underpinning. It is, in other words, aimed at making them smarter.

In addition, VanHooser has invited a notable speaker to address the girls each third Thursday after school at Tubman Middle School. Speakers have included Ashley Smith, the famous Atlanta hostage. Smith gave the girls a gutsy summary of how her life had gone wrong, and how she survived her captivity - and she distributed free copies of her book, Unlikely Angel.

Smith stayed late to make sure each of the girls had an autographed copy.

VanHooser, thanks to the generosity of several area businesses, also had taken the girls on outings, including a day at a spa.

Friends have told VanHooser that Smart Girls could someday become a national franchise.

All that is in danger now. A $4,100 debt may not sound like much, but to a new not-for-profit surviving on a shoestring - and having to buy next month's books - it's a mountain.

The Smart Girls were given quite a real-world lesson this month.

Let's hope it's not their last.


(For more information or to help, see, or call (706) 860-0116. Smart Girls Club, 4210 Columbia Rd. No. 11, Martinez, GA 30907)

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Khaaaaaan 07/29/07 - 09:05 am
The community needs to come

The community needs to come together for this great group!

emerald 07/29/07 - 11:30 am
Ms. VanHooser - like myself,

Ms. VanHooser - like myself, many of the victims of O'Tyson want the club to succeed despite the set back - and plan on making a donation, if even a small one. (see posts on story from Sat) I hope corporations in the community will do the same so we can show her she cannot beat us! God bless you for your efforts to help young people.

confusedandhurt 08/01/07 - 07:17 pm
i'm really hurt! and stuff! i

i'm really hurt! and stuff!
i was one of the girls in this club!thak you ms.vanhooser for staying strong!!

not-so-smartgirl 08/04/07 - 08:03 am
Ok Smart Girls...let's go. We

Ok Smart Girls...let's go. We have felt sorry for ourselves long enough. The community is behind us. They want us to be successful. We want to be successful. Are we going to let one person get in the way of our mission?? I don't think so!! You'd better be at Smart Girls Club on August 16. We have a new book, a great speaker, wonderful food...tell your friends. Smart Girls is the place to be. We aren't victims. We are Smart Girls. And I love all of you. See you on the 16th!!
Ms. Pat

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