Art Director Amy Grebe Uplifts Norristown’s Girls with Girls First Program


Girls First

Grebe enjoys the annual Girls First Christmas celebration with two very happy students in 2018.

Ruqayyah Taylor, Staff Writer

Amy Grebe may seem like your typical, dog-loving, single mother, but she’s a hero in disguise. One of the most active participants in community service arrangements based in Norristown, Grebe has dedicated the majority of her life to helping the young girls of our community realize their full potential in countless ways with the Girls First program. 

Born in North Wales, PA, Grebe moved to Norristown in 2005 when her daughter was two years old. “I have worked with children in one way or another, for as long as I can remember,” said Grebe. “So when I moved into Norristown it was an absolute natural fit to just find a way to combine my love for the arts and my love for working with children.” She has since worked as a dance teacher, creative instructor, and now a director of education. 

Many art and education organizations in Norristown have come from some of her very own ideas that she believed would benefit the community. “Literally the [ACPPA Community Art Center] grew out of classes that I would run out of my basement, by myself,” said Grebe. “That was really where I feel like I had the most community impact because I went from having like eight kids in my basement, to serving 2,000 students all throughout Montgomery County.” 

Her current undertaking, the Girls First program (formerly known as SAA), is an out-of-school program for girls in first through fourth grade. The program’s mission statement is to, “build character, instill a positive sense of self, and provide tangible life skills through a creative curriculum of art exploration, academic reinforcement, and emotional learning.” Grebe also expressed her own personal mission statement in terms of the girls’ near futures: “I want our girls to leave here comfortable as a community leader, recognizing that community leadership can come in a lot of different forms.” 

Leadership and creativity are definitely qualities Grebe exemplifies. “I have a strong background in the arts and because I feel very confident in my ability to create, and build, and innovate, I just do that,” she said. 

Her healthy lifestyle is also something that she likes to incorporate into the girls’ everyday rituals in the program. “It’s my personal form of self-care,” said Grebe. “I tend to overthink, and as long as I can get a good exercise session in once a day, it really helps to keep me a little more balanced.”

After the girls eat a healthy meal prepared by the volunteers themselves, they gather around in a big circle, sit on yoga mats and do various stretches, meditations, and breathing exercises. “A lot of the time when we do the stretching, the idea behind it is to allow the girls a moment to just settle,” said Grebe. Giving the girls fifteen to twenty minutes in which they’re burning off extra energy is a crucial aspect when transitioning into their busy afternoon.

Despite the relaxing parts of her day that she spends with her girls, running a program like this isn’t exactly easy and laidback, especially during a national pandemic. The most stressful parts of her job include recruiting students, recruiting volunteers, and completing the unavoidable administrative work. “When I have to just sit at a computer all day and plug-in information or fill out forms, or honestly answer phone calls from parents, that stresses me out. It’s far enough outside my comfort zone.”

A national pandemic does not mean Girls First will discontinue programming. The plan for the fall is to have an online program with weekly meetings with one-on-one mentoring, activities, crafts, stretching, and “Chew & Chats,” which would take the place of their regular mealtimes. When we go back to in-person learning in January, there might be a possibility for a hybrid program. “There were things that we let go of in the spring because we were all just trying to survive,” said Grebe. “Now I think definitely going into the fall, we have to find more ways to thrive.” 

The program is currently seeking volunteers who would like to build relationships with the girls and help out with one-on-one mentoring. “I’ve been working really hard over the last couple of years to find more people from our own community . . .  to find younger people,” said Grebe. Some advice that she has for any new volunteer is to “be patient and meet the students where they are.” Being a volunteer may seem overwhelming at first but overall it can be an amazing and unforgettable experience. 

“At the end of the day, we’re here to serve our families,” said Grebe. “We have to figure out how we can best make our program accessible to them so that we are serving them, rather than trying to make them fit their lives around what we are doing.” As you can probably tell now, Amy Grebe is surely living a life that benefits others in our community. 


Anyone interested in volunteering or enrolling their children can contact Amy Grebe at 

You can follow GirlsFirst on Instagram here: @girlsfirst_org