RALEIGH (WTVD) -- When Raleigh business owner and entrepreneur Darlene Whitehurst started a meet-up group, Goal Friends, a few years ago, it was a fun social network to help women achieve their life goals.
Whitehurst always dreamt of the platform and program working to empower women and the pandemic helped push the group into a nonprofit with global reach certifying leaders to work and serve women in the prison system.
"We call it your Ph. G," Whitehurst said. "So it's the six values of Goal Friends which are: goals, growth, grit, gratitude grace, and giving and that's the essence of Goal Friends aside from just dreaming and goals. And, so we just had our first certification program to pilot it for the prison system, and the Virginia Department of Corrections and they're actually going to certify inmates, and make them peer mentors."
Whitehurst just certified the first group of women to serve as Goal Friends Empowerment Facilitators including retired WNBA player and coach Crystal Robinson.
"Crystal Robinson and Adrianne Ross, they both were involved," Whitehurst said. "They came to me and said, 'we really would like to take this program into confidence camps and some communities that are marginalized communities and give them hope.'"
Whitehurst says the new program serving inmates is the start of Goal Friends' mission to empower marginalized and underserved communities. The Goal Friends program is expected to launch in the Virginia Department of Corrections facilities in July.