Cool Girls with Tag: volunteer

Claire Koster

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Clair Koster HeadshotName: Claire Koster
Age: 18
Location: St. Louis, MO
Occupation: Student, STEM Instructor, Teaching Assistant, Volunteer

At only 18 years old, Claire Koster already has made an impact on her community, running the Women’s Advocacy Group at her high-school, volunteering at a homeless outreach center, assisting in a STEM program, studying to become an educator, and speaking out for those who confront societal challenges.

Her empathy and compassion are what spurred her to apply action to her emotion.

“When you see that there are obstacles keeping people from joy or security or happiness, those obstacles become yours, too, in certain ways. I have a younger brother with Down Syndrome who is the most fantastic human I have ever met in my life, and once I was old enough to understand that he would have a harder time living the life he desired than I may have, it made me want to understand what causes those sorts of obstacles and how they can be solved. That totally snowballed into caring deeply about the ways other forms of identity cause one to be marginalized,” she explains.

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Clair Koster with her brother standing in front of a river.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Claire took over running the Women’s Advocacy Group at her conservative, Catholic, all-female high-school after the founder graduated.

Trees with text: "Love has the kind of power cynicism only wishes it had." -Bob Goff“There were certain topics that pertain intensely to gender equality but we weren’t able to talk about as openly as we would have liked to because they did not align politically with Catholic values. That was certainly frustrating, but meant that we chose to take our conversations in a direction of opening a dialogue about gender and equality in a way that felt accessible to everyone. It was exciting to see how willing people were to enter into that dialogue,” she says.

Beyond her education and in-school advocacy, Claire also volunteered her services at the Marian STEM Club, an enrichment activity that was offered as part of their curriculum.

“Marian Middle School has an extended-day, extended-year model, so from 4:00-5:30 each day the students choose an enrichment to participate in. Each Thursday, we would come and do STEM activities with about 12 students,” she says. “It has been such a joy to get to grow in community with the students and learn with and from them.”

Text image: "The nonevent is the best part of life."Outside of school and supplemental activities, Claire also spends time at the St. Patrick’s Center, a homeless outreach organization, where she volunteers during their Women’s Nights, where they make, serve, and eat dinner with the women seeking shelter and assistance.

As she prepares for college, Claire looks forward to becoming a teacher herself.

“I’m currently majoring in secondary teaching, and I will study either sociology or english, or maybe both! I have been so incredibly impacted by teachers who have supported me and seen me as someone more capable than I saw myself. That sounds trite, but is such a deeply impactful thing. I can’t think of a better way to spend my life than to seek to do that for others.”

What wisdom does this brilliant young lady have for other young girls who, like her, are growing up and trying to do the best they can with what they were given?

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Clair Koster with her brother, close up.“I think that as we get older, we discover things about ourselves that prevent us from “fitting in” with the people around us. We’ve been told that, one day, these things will be our superpowers. But they certainly aren’t yet, or at least they don’t feel that way. My best advice is to learn to sit with those things. You don’t have to love them, you don’t have to show them off or build a life around them, but try your best not to push them down and away from you, because one day, you and I will both realize that they are superpowers, and we will want them back.”

For her maturity, poise, benevolence, and grace, we think Claire Koster is an incredible human being and one super Cool Girl!

A $200 donation was made to Marian Middle School on behalf of Claire. You can donate here.

100 Cool Girls

Since we initiated our Cool Girl movement in 2009 we’ve featured scientists, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs, hopers, dreamers, and doers. We’ve had the pleasure to meet and get to know a lot of amazing women of all ages doing amazing things. And as of December 2017, we hit 100 Cool Girls!

But, who is a Cool Girl? A Cool Girl is someone who defends awesome: an everyday superhero! Someone who exudes positivity, and leads by example. Cool Girls make a difference in their communities and the world, challenge the norm, and aren’t afraid to be themselves.

We’d like to take this momentous occasion to highlight some individuals who have made a lasting impression. Each and every Cool Girl is inspiring, but if we included them all this post would be, well, 100 Cool Girls long. So, please use this as a teaser of truly extraordinary women and then take a look through the whole blog.

Know some inspirational women yourself? Nominate them to be a Cool Girl. They may get featured here, get some cool socks, and might also get some support for a project or charity of their choice.

If you just want to give a shout out to a really awesome woman in your life, you can also leave a comment.

Graphic Novelist and Cool Girl Lucy KnisleyLucy Knisley
Graphic novel artist & author
Featured 2016

Lucy has been drawing since she was a kid, publishing comics since she was 19, and published her first graphic novel when she was 21! A lot of her work is autobiographical including growing up with her chef mom (Relish), jet-setting around the world (Age of License), and her work in progress about becoming a parent (Kid Gloves). Read more.

“Other girls and women in cool professions are the best and greatest resource you can possibly imagine. Hold up your fellow lady, and your fellow lady will hold you up!” -Lucy Knisley, Cool Girl

Professional Fighter, Writer, Teacher and Cool Girl Roxanne ModafferiRoxanne Modafferi
Professional Fighter, Writer, Teacher
Featured 2014

Roxanne started practicing Tae Kwon Do in grade school after watching Power Rangers and trained hard to make it onto The Ultimate Fighter 18! She’s triumphed over injuries and ill-timed food poisoning to not only win fights, but teach and write (Memoirs of a Happy Warrior). Read more.

“I was greatly influence by TV superheros who always did the right thing no matter how troublesome, and saved people.” -Roxanne Modaferri, Cool Girl

Irene Gabashvili
Founder of Aurametrix, Inc
Featured 2012

Irene realized there was a serious need for people to be able to alleviate symptoms for certain chronic ailments and conditions on their own. She developed Aurametrix which is like a digital nurse that looks at all of the different details that can contribute to a person’s symptoms in order to figure out what parts of their life are making them feel better or worse. Read more.

“Believe in yourself, dream and aim high. Don’t be afraid to ask successful people for advice.” -Irene Gabashvili, Cool Girl

Vice President of Tri-North Buidlers, Inc and Cool Girl Anna SternAnna Stern
Vice President of Tri-North Buidlers, Inc
Featured 2012

Anna is Vice President of one of the largest construction companies in the country. Not only is she a powerful figure in a male-dominated industry, she helps host events like Kids Building Wisconsin, which bring attention and support for the construction workforce she oversees. She also supports events for Women Building Wisconsin, an organization that helps connect women within the construction industry and find newer members mentors. Read more.

“I would say the best advice would be to find a good mentor. I’ve been blessed to have great mentors throughout my career and have benefited from their guidance, experience, and willingness to stand up for me.” -Anna Stern, Cool Girl

Artist, Activist and Cool Girl Lindsay AmerLindsay Amer
Artist, Activist
Featured 2017

Lindsay created her YouTube channel Queer Kid Stuff to bridge the gap in theater and education for LGBTQ+ kids. Lindsay creates fun, easily accessible videos made for children featuring inclusive, queer storylines. She powers through online harassment to push for “a kinder and more equal future.” She does have a lot of supportive fans, though, growing every day! Read more.

“If you love it, do it and be it. Don’t listen to what other people want you to do, or think, or say, or be. Listen to yourself and your wants and needs and just do you. You’ll be so much happier for it.” -Lindsay Amer, Cool Girl

BMX Champion Payton and Cool Girl "P-Nut!" RidenourPayton “P-Nut!” Ridenour
Being a kid!
Featured 2012

Payton has been riding since she was 5 and started competing in BMX at a high level when she was 7 and even qualified for the World Championships. She’s traveled all over the United States racing and making a name for herself. She advises other girls interested in the sport: (Read more.)

“They should know that this is an aggressive sport. You need to dress for the crash and not for the ride. But most of all, you need to keep it fun.” -Payton Ridenour, Cool Girl

Co-Founder Petal and Cool Girl Julie WagneJulie Wagne
Co-Founder Petal
Featured 2016

Julie co-founded Petal, which fosters a partnership between artists, designers, and weavers in West Africa and San Francisco. She and her partner Ibrahima are committed to providing resources to tribal villages and communities, to exceeding fair wages, giving security to families, and protecting the cultural heritage of the Fulani people that inspires their textile creations. All this while helping provide education for children in West Africa. (Read more.)

“If you want to do something, do it. Believe in yourself and keep going!” -Julie Wagne, Cool Girl

Writer, Developer, Activist, Founder and Cool Girl Sharon LinSharon Lin
Writer, Developer, Activist, Founder
Featured in 2016

Sharon founded two non-profits to educate girls about technology, has written for publications including Huffington Post, and has started hackathons to spark creative development across communities and industries…all this before she graduated High School. Sharon wasn’t done inspiring other students to pursue computer science, so she also founded BitxBit Camp, which partners middle schoolers with older mentors and opportunities to develop projects. (Read more.)

“Never lose hope of the goals you have, and never let anyone else talk you out of them by saying you’re not good enough, or that you’re not meant for this. Seek out mentors if you can, or find older girls who you admire, and befriend them.” -Sharon Lin, Cool Girl

Biology Lecturer and Cool Girl Joan ManasterJoan Manaster
Biology Lecturer
Featured 2010

Ever wanted to see Gummi Bears get liquefied by sound waves? This Cool Girl has you covered. Joan works as a lecturer for students studying for their Masters of Science in Teaching Biology, but she wants to reach as many people as possible when it comes to the wonders of science. She thinks it’s especially important that women and girls see science as exciting and are able to see more women in STEM roles. She’s fueling this push with her website and Twitter. (Read more.)

“I find myself with a strong desire to have more women in science be seen and heard, as I think this could really influence young ladies. I hope to accomplish this by creating something of an Internet ‘science channel’ featuring video segments that highlight women in science, and to challenge more of them to be visible in this realm.” -Joan Manaster, Cool Girl

Polished Girlz Founder and Cool Girl Alanna WallAlanna Wall
Polished Girlz Founder
Featured 2015

Alanna founded Polished Girlz to bring nail parties to those who couldn’t treat themselves to a nail salon. This non-profit visits those hospitalized due to illness or those with special needs who might not be able to paint their own nails and does it for them! While bringing them a little color and company, it also teaches the importance of frequent hand-washing to reduce infection transmission and the potential for resulting hospital visits. (Read more.)

“For girls facing any challenges, I would like to tell them that they are strong and brave and that I am honored to be able to make you smile even if it is just a little while.” -Alanna Wall, Cool Girl

Leslie Yeargers

Name: Leslie Yeargers
Age: 47
Location: Portland, Oregon
Occupation: Domestic Engineer (“It sounds better than “homemaker” or “house wife,” she jokes,) Astrologer, and Volunteer for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, Emerson School, and Jackson Middle School

Leslie Yeargers brings the noise. A volunteer for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Oregon, Leslie has reveled in helping build girls’ self-esteem through music, both as a volunteer and a parent of two little campers.

Growing up in Nevada, Minnesota and Washington gave Leslie a multifaceted view of the country, and allowed her to daydream in all directions. As a child she wanted to be an actor, the first woman on the moon, and an astrologer. In college she attempted to pursue Organic Chemistry, and then studied German and Technical Writing, a background that helped lay the foundation for a job with a German software company. Eventually she was hired as a technical writer with Microsoft, a job that lasted a decade.

During her formative years, Leslie faced a lot of social challenges. As a tall girl, she was always treated as though she were older than her years. She developed anxiety when she was left alone in the halls, or sat by herself in the lunchroom. Then, at fourteen, she was in a car accident that left her face scarred and her front teeth missing. Competitive swimming became her saving grace, giving her the confidence and a social circle that helped her to rise above the difficulties the car accident had put in her path. This intimate knowledge of how fragile self-esteem can be for girls helps Leslie to make a difference in her volunteer work.

Growing up, Leslie took music lessons. Though she learned to play piano, guitar, and violin in school, she didn’t look at it as a competitive or high-pressure pursuit. “As a kid, I found that music, especially piano, was a great way for me to unwind, relax and express myself. When I became an adult, I gave up on playing music. My job and life just took over. While I continued to attend concerts and listened to music daily, I stopped playing myself.” Then, at the age of forty-one, her husband gave her the gift of a bass guitar, and she’s been playing it ever since.

These days, Leslie draws her strength not only from music, but from her family. Living with her two daughters and loving husband, she has also created an extended family circle with her friends and co-volunteers. “Through the experience of parenting I’ve learned a great deal from my kids. My two girls constantly push me to grow and be a better person. My husband and friends are there as a source of support and advice when I need it most. Through volunteering at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, I’ve met some outstanding women and girls that consistently inspire me with their creativity, courage, and dedication.” When she’s not reading Astrological charts or lending a hand, she’s playing with her husband. The two of them are trying to start a band, and she cites music as being one of the biggest influences in her life.

“I attended the very first Ladies Rock Camp fundraiser about eight months after I started playing the bass,” Leslie remembers. “I can honestly say it was the best gift I could ever have given myself. I had a blast, and from there on out, I was hooked. The following year I signed up to help plan and coordinate Ladies Rock Camp, and I’ve been doing it for the past six years.” As her daughters started growing, she enrolled them in the summer camp and signed up to volunteer. It has been a driving force in her life and the life of her family. She’s had the opportunity to help others while witnessing her daughters learn, grow and perform.

Although it’s only for one week during the summer, Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls transforms lives. In a nutshell, the camp is a self-esteem and empowerment program for girls, ages eight to eighteen, that uses music as a medium of self-expression. During that week, girls go to the camp and learn the basics of songwriting and music creation: from fundamental guitar, bass, keyboard and drum lessons, to vocal coaching. They form bands where they create their own original songs, and then perform them at the end of the week at a musical showcase that’s attended by 500 to 700 people, including many beaming parents. The beauty of Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp is that it doesn’t simply rely on teaching music, it also offers workshops in song writing, self-defense, zine writing, and silk screening where the girls can even make their very own band tee-shirts. In an image and identity workshop they are encouraged to talk about their experiences with other girls and societal pressure. Even at a young age, this opportunity to share frankly and openly about what they have already come up against can be revelatory and freeing.

“The environment at camp is extremely supportive, upbeat and positive,” Leslie says. The staff of the camp work as band managers and band coaches to help guide the girls through writing and performing songs. They also help to foster an environment that builds communication and close relationships, teaching team building and collaboration. “The main role of the instructors, coaches, managers, staff, and volunteers at camp is to create a positive and supportive environment in which every girl feels safe and encouraged to take risks expressing herself to her fullest potential,” Leslie explains. “Essentially, the girls learn that it’s okay to own and use their creativity and voices. They also learn the proper way to treat other girls. As a mother of two girls who faced a lot of social pressure, I can’t tell you how grateful I am that the camp exists and what a special place it is for so many girls who struggle with their own uniqueness and self-esteem.”

Fortunately, the summer program isn’t the only offering. A year-round after-school program is available, too. Running two and a half hours, one day a week, there are three sessions that span ten weeks apiece. After the girls become young women, there’s a Ladies Rock Camp for women ages 19 and older, only the format is compressed into a long weekend. “The women who attend Ladies Rock Camp often longed for a girls rock camp when they were kids, and come away from it having similar experiences regarding self-esteem building and feelings of accomplishment that the girls do,” Leslie says.”In terms of Ladies Rock Camp, I can’t express adequately how rewarding it is to bear witness to the personal break throughs and accomplishments of grown women who held the mistaken belief that they were too old to learn an instrument. It is incredible to see women, who believed they would never be able to write a song and perform it, get on stage at a rock venue in front of an audience, thereby breaking the barriers of their own limiting beliefs.”

Of course, working in a collaborative environment with a large number of young girls can create some unexpected and profound experiences. “Last year, I had a girl with Downs Syndrome in the band I was coaching. I had never worked with a child who had special needs before, so she presented me and the rest of her band mates with an interesting challenge. But in the spirit of camp and the positive environment that exists there, we looked at this as an opportunity to learn something,” Leslie says. “The band members had to stretch themselves to fully accept her and not let their frustrations impact their treatment of her when she refused to practice and said she didn’t want to perform. When the entire band – including her – got up on stage at the showcase together and performed, I was so proud of them and the work they had done to get to that point. The main lesson that took place had nothing to do with music. It was more about girls learning to accept one another and work together to accomplish a task, even when major differences might impede their ability do so.”

As a homemaker, Leslie’s time is often a hot commodity, but she’s been able to create a flexible and nurturing environment for herself, allowing her to be a productive, active mom, while also being a practicing musician and business woman. Her weeks are a mix of mothering, volunteering, and Astrology. Each day could include everything from paperwork for Rock Camp, going on a field trip, assisting a teacher, working on a client’s Astrological chart, grocery shopping, or housework. But hopefully every day includes practicing bass.

When she listens to music, Leslie sometimes struggles to find songs and bands that are a mix of being interesting and inspiring. She stretches her ears to hear music created “for the sheer joy and artistic need of it.” She’s not impressed by a lot of the current popular music of today, with its ambition for money and commercial fame. “What inspires me most is someone experimenting with a different technique or sound in their home recording studio with a minimum of bells and whistles. It’s raw, honest and real. I’m not a fan of the radio like I used to be. If I do listen to commercialized music, it’s mainly on the alternative or indie stations,” she confesses.

Although Leslie helps girls reach for the stars, her future aspirations aren’t too far from the heavens either. “I hope to have a thriving Astrology practice, which I’m just starting to get going,” she says. “And I hope to be playing music out more with the band my husband and I form. We don’t want to be famous, we just want to have fun and do what we do with integrity. I hope to have a good, healthy relationship with my kids and hope I raise them to be confident people who are happy with their lives.”

She plays conductor and helps girls march to the beat of their own drum, and for that we say Leslie Yeargers is one Cool Girl!

Leslie is available for Astrology chart readings in her own business, Astrology With Heart. She can be reached for readings at leslie@yeargers.net. She can do charts long-distance through an emailed written report, followed-up by a phone consultation to provide clarification and answer questions. Chart readings are $50.00 each.