GRASS VALLEY, Calif. May 27, 2020 – Nine young women faced with extraordinary life challenges will graduate from high school thanks to their commitment, hard work, perseverance – and The Friendship Club.

Together, they have overcome many obstacles – including the COVID-19 pandemic that has required distance learning during the past three months – learned many life skills, made lifelong friends and are ready for the next step, whether it’s college, trade school or full-time work.

“These young women have grown so much from when they first joined The Friendship Club and are excellent examples of what can be achieved through dedication, focus and hard work,” said Jennifer Singer, Executive Director of The Friendship Club. “They are the next generation of young women who are ready for the future and know firsthand the importance of leadership, giving back to the community and helping others.”

The Friendship Club has helped empower and educate nearly 1,000 girls and young women since 1995. The nonprofit, which has about 125 girls enrolled in the program this school year, will celebrate its 25th anniversary this July.

The Friendship Club continues to expand with the community’s investment and support, offering life-skills classes, mentoring and tutoring, and providing much-needed services, including counseling, healthy meals and access to health care.

In recent months, the organization has adapted quickly to establish numerous online classes, programs and outreach efforts to ensure social distancing and offer services during the shelter-in-placer order from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has definitely been a challenging year – and a year of firsts – for our young peoples, staff and volunteers,” Singer said. “But I’m so proud of how everyone has come together, especially the community, in supporting our girls and young women at The Friendship Club.”

The Friendship Club recently held a Grad Night celebration on KNCO Radio, with on-air host Tom Fitzsimmons and Singer discussing the organization and the soon-to-be graduates’ accomplishments. The May 12 program replaced the annual Graduation and Scholarship Dinner, a major fundraiser for the Friendship Club. You can hear the program at

Despite the pandemic and the recently revised stay-at-home order, the community continues to invest and support The Friendship Club.

David and Barba Nurse made a generous investment to the organization’s scholarship endowment in the memory of their mothers and encourage others to contribute to honor important women in their lives. The Friendship Club assists girls with college applications and financial assistance – and offers its own scholarships for graduates enrolled in college or vocational training.

“The Friendship Club’s commitment doesn’t end at graduation,” said Machen MacDonald, President of the Friendship Club Board. “The Friendship Club and these girls – and hundreds of others – have been together for years, and we’re deeply invested in their future for a lifetime of success. Donations like those of David and Barba Nurse make it all possible.”

The Friendship Club helps sixth-through 12th-grade girls and young women in western Nevada County. Much has changed since Mary Collier founded the organization in 1995, but the goal of connecting girls with each other, mentors and role models, and put them on a path to success, remains the same today.

“Our young women have overcome so much and have excelled in so many ways, and the latest graduating class will follow in the footsteps of their friends and mentors, and will undoubtedly achieve much success,” Singer said. “We are so proud of these graduates and so happy that we had a role in such an important period of their lives.”

The 2020 Friendship Club graduating class are:

  • Alexandria: “Alex” has excelled academically and was chosen to participate in a conservation project-related trip to Panama. She has participated in The Friendship Club’s Leadership Program and is committed to community service and volunteering. She plans to attend college and pursue a career in forensic psychology.
  • Candace: With a passion for the performing and visual arts, she will graduate from Nevada Union High School and plans to pursue a career as a cosmetologist.
  • Cheyenne: A big fan of The Friendship Club’s summer camp near Lake Tahoe, Cheyenne plans to attend Sierra College and become a paramedic.
  • Hannah: An avid reader who took full advantage of Book Friends gatherings at the Book Seller during the summer, Hannah joined The Friendship Club before sixth grade and appreciates the kindness, support and what she has learned from the organization.
  • Kailee: An active member of TFC’s Leadership Program who also helped jump-start the Peer Helper Program, Kailee will soon graduate from Nevada Union – where she was a member of the choir – and attend Sierra College to pursue a career as a psychologist.
  • Katie: She is interested in art, baking and flowers and is involved in Job’s Daughters, a Masonic-affiliated organization. She plans to attend Sierra College.
  • Maya: An active member of The Friendship Club’s Peer Helper Program, Maya also frequently volunteers in the community and plans to become a registered nurse.
  • Samantha: “Sam” has earned numerous special awards and gives back to the community through volunteer efforts. Sam – who enjoys to read and write, especially poetry – plans to attend Sierra College and pursue a career in forensic psychology.
  • Shayden: A high-flying, arts-loving, giving-back kind of young woman has dedicated 200 hours to The Friendship Club’s Leadership Program and has volunteered 300 hours at its community events. She has attained her pilot license and will study aeronautics in college.