HUDSON–Perfect Ten, the only all-girls after-school program in the county, has been empowering and educating girls in the Hudson City School District since its founding in 2010 by Paula Forman.
Now, the program wants to expand and its current director, Tina Dipper, said Taconic Hills Central School District is on the radar. “The game plan is to spread out so other people in the community can participate,” Ms. Dipper said. “For the transportation to go out to Taconic Hills, we need at least eight girls.”
Ms. Dipper said the program is open to all girls in grades six through twelve and there is no cost to the girls or their families.
Perfect Ten is “a daily out-of-school program offering education and experiential opportunities. We want to empower girls to help them flourish as confident, independent women,” she said.
Perfect Ten offers girls a variety of activities, some at the Hudson Area Library where they meet and others out in the community.
“We have workshops that run every day, Monday through Friday,” Ms. Dipper said. Girls don’t have to attend all days, she continued. “We don’t want to exclude them from any other after-school programs. They can come five days, if they want. If they want to come and they don’t sign up for a workshop, we have a tutor the girls can sit with and do their homework.”
The all-woman staff keeps track of the girls’ school progress, too. “We stay on top of helping them get their grades up,” Ms. Dipper said. “Most of them want to be straight-A students. We really focus on their education.”
Workshops are varied, and Ms. Dipper said Perfect Ten wants the girls to make suggestions for new outings. “We’re trying to really explore,” she said. “As any of the girls come up with something, we’ll explore to see if we can do it.”
Over the last 10 years, Perfect Ten has done horseback riding at High & Mighty Therapeutic Riding Center, jewelry-making in Red Hook, a sign language class, art classes, cooking, baking, puppetry, dance classes, gymnastics–the list goes on.
“We go camping for a week in the summer in the Adirondacks,” Ms. Dipper said. “A lot of the kids love to do that. There are no cell phones, we’re totally out in nature. It’s our group of girls and an all-girls program from the Lower East Side of Manhattan that comes up with their girls.”
As a nonprofit, the program is dependent on the generosity of the community. They’ve had benefactors thus far and have been able to take trips to New York City museums and area festivals. “A lot of girls are interested in art,” Ms. Dipper said. “The more money we raise, the more trips we can take.”
The unique, all-girls atmosphere is crucial to Ms. Dipper. “What I really love about it is that it’s all girls,” she said. “We don’t have to deal with that odd phase with boys being around. It’s very much like a little family. And it’s all women that work here, as well. It’s helpful for the girls to be able to express themselves and not feel ashamed or embarrassed if boys are around.”
Perfect Ten follows its girls through high school, but also keeps in touch after graduation. “We support them in every way we possibly can,” Ms. Dipper said. “We want girls to come and stay and be part of it. We’re going to follow up with you after you graduate.”
Some of the girls have gone on to college and Perfect Ten has lent a hand along the way. “We do have quite a few girls in college,” Ms. Dipper said. “One is going to law school. We’ve worked really hard with helping her through that whole process and trying to raise money.
“A lot of the families don’t have the money to send their kids to college,” Ms. Dipper said. “We will still follow them while they are in college to make sure they are on the right track, or if they need anything.”
Ms. Dipper is hopeful getting the word out will get the needed sign-ups to expand the transportation to Taconic Hills girls. The county Department of Social Services is now supplying transportation for all of the after-school programs in Hudson, she said, but the program needs eight girls for that service to go to Taconic Hills.
There are no income guidelines and sign-ups can be done on the website, www.perfecttenhudson.org; by emailing Ms. Dipper at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by calling her at 518 291-8560.
The program also uses Facebook and Instagram so girls and their families can see what the organization is doing.
“If someone is interested, they can call and set up an appointment to come in and see the location,” Ms. Dipper said. “We have sign-ups with all the paperwork at our workshops. And stories about the girls and their success rate.
“We’re looking for volunteers to come in and help with our girls, donations, new girls,” Ms. Dipper said. “I want to expand it out to other people in the community. We want to get the girls ready for college. Set them on the right track and help them explore their minds. What is it they are looking to do when they get older?”