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Raeleene Adams just moved to Albany from Northern California and wasn't familiar with Ophelia's Place.

What she did hear about it, however, intrigued her: a girls-only empowerment program that just happened to have an introductory craft event planned for Thursday afternoon at Albany's Historic Carousel & Museum.

Being new to the area, Adams said she's looking for ways to connect with the community and to help her daughter, Lilly-Anne, make new friends. The two of them spent part of the afternoon in the carousel's craft room, snipping words and pictures from various magazines to create a "vision board" collage setting goals for the new year.

The idea behind the board, and the shared activity, is to help parents and daughters communicate: both about who they are now and how they want to shape their futures, said Verna Wise Matthews, executive director of Ophelia's Place. 

For Lilly-Anne, who turns 11 on Monday, that meant lots of pictures of animals.

"We have a lot of animals because I really want to be a zoologist and a marine biologist when I grow up," she said. Nodding at the Tyrannosaurus Rex on her page, she added: "I absolutely love reptiles. I have since I was 3 years old." 

"We'd take her to the zoo and the first place would go is the alligators," her mother agreed.

Mother and daughter collaborated on the words decorating the vision board: "Wisdom." "Structure." "Love." 'Live Your Best Life."

Goals for Lilly-Anne, who will be a sixth-grader at Calapooia Middle School, include "getting to know people, getting better at math and trying to keep my grades up so I can do what I really want to do when I grow up." 

Founded in Eugene, Ophelia's Place encompasses classroom presentations, school-based empowerment groups and drop-in centers where girls can hang out, take classes and participate in clubs. 

Albany doesn't yet have a drop-in location like Eugene's, but that's part of the plan, Matthews said. "We're still looking for community support." 

Right now, the organization is concentrating on developing its school-based programs, which will be available this year for middle-schoolers at Memorial and Timber Ridge schools and for high-schoolers at South Albany, West Albany and Albany Options schools.

Thursday's craft event was meant to be an outreach effort, said Hillary Kirk, program coordinator in Albany. 

"I want people to know we are here to invest in the community, become part of the community: to create, bond and connect," she said. 

Adams is all for that.

"I think it's a great program," she said. "I think, of the two sexes, women have a tougher time being friends. If they have events where they can really get to know each other instead of having to pretend ... I think it's going to be really good."

What she means by that, Adams said, is that many times girls feel they need to act like someone they're not just so they fit in. But that could mean conforming to a societal standard, or to beliefs of others, that they neither like nor share.

Ophelia's Place sounds like a program that encourages finding ways to keep that from happening, she said. "They can kind of be themselves."

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