who are we?
SOHO’s mission is to provide girls in need with social, emotional, academic and creative enrichment through mentorship and visual arts instruction. We aim to reach girls in local communities and prevent juvenile criminal involvement. Founded in 2003 by Linda Odell of the City of Alexandria’s Court Service Unit and Alice Merrill of The Art League, Space of Her Own, Inc. received nonprofit status in 2011.
Linda Odell has served court-involved youth and other underserved throughout her career. She began in Colorado, working initially as a VISTA volunteer at a shelter for runaway and homeless youth, and subsequently as a classroom teacher for children with emotional and behavior problems. Linda worked with a state-wide residential treatment provider directing an independent living program and developing curricula and programming to assist juvenile offenders in their transitions from group homes to the community. After a decade, Linda moved to Costa Rica, where she served as a guidance counselor at an international school, developing service-learning programs for middle-school students. Linda is currently employed by the City of Alexandria, raising funds and developing mentoring programs, truancy and shoplifting-prevention, community service, parenting and other crime-prevention programs for the 18th District Court Service Unit. She conceived of and co-created the SOHO program and founded the nonprofit, Space of Her Own, Inc. in 2011. Linda earned her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from University of Pittsburgh and her M.A. in Special Education from University of Northern Colorado. She recently completed Georgetown University’s Nonprofit Executive Management Certificate Program.
Amy Creed has been volunteering with SOHO since the 2004-2005 school year when she started out as a mentor. In 2007, she created the SOHO Sisterhood Club for SOHO graduates. In 2009, she replicated the SOHO program at Hammond Middle School and became the Director of SOHO West End. She continues to run the program, which is in its third year. She has also served as a SOHO Board Member since 2010, when SOHO officially became a non-profit. Her favorite part of volunteering for SOHO is watching the amazing transformations from girls who begin the program with low self-esteem to girls who are exuberant, positive, and glowing at the end of the program. Outside of volunteering for SOHO, Amy teaches at Hammond Middle School as a Special Education Social Studies teacher. She has been teaching for Alexandria City Public Schools since 2003 and specializes in working with children who have emotional and behavioral disabilities, learning disabilities, and Autism. Prior to working in Alexandria, she taught at a school in Maryland for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. Amy earned her B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University and her M.A. in Special Education from The George Washington University.
SOHO gives special thanks to the following individuals who, at SOHO’s inception in 2003, gave their time and creativity and enabled SOHO to evolve from an idea to a robust arts and mentoring program: Patrick Kirwin, Gwen Mathews, Claudia Olivos, Steve Prince and Kris Rosenblatt.
what we do
SOHO is an art based mentoring program that matches girls in need with their own fabulous mentor. The program is year long and kicks off with a weekend camping trip down to Kilmarnock, Virginia. After that, girls meet weekly from 3:30 – 8:00 to work on homework, receive life skills instruction, cook and eat a healthy meal, and then work one on one with their mentors art projects. At the end of the program, SOHO mentors renovate their mentee’s bedroom with the help of another SOHO mentee, similar to the show Trading Spaces. All of the projects that the girls created go in their bedroom along with other items that their mentors select,so even though girls may share a bedroom with siblings or parents, at the end of the program, each girl truly has a space of her own. More importantly, at the end of the program, each girl leaves with a mentor who has empowered her to feel a sense of self-worth.