SIOUX CITY - Maegan Brown and Yuliss Lopez-Perez joked while creating puppy chow.
"No, not for the dogs," Maegan Brown said with a laugh as Bella (a puggle) and Kobe (a chocolate Lab) watched from their pens in the kitchen. "It's for people."
Although they might appear to be older sister and younger sister or even mom and daughter, Brown and Lopez-Perez are Girlfriends, with a capital G.
Brown volunteers with Girlfriends of Girls Inc., which serves as an auxiliary to the Girls Inc. board of directors. Its purpose is to provide hands-on mentoring for the members of Girls Inc. to become strong, smart and bold women.
Brown moved to Sioux City a year ago and began researching opportunities to volunteer.
"I was involved in Phoenix and wanted to continue that involvement here," she explained. "I had seen some stories on Girls Inc., but actually it was some co-workers at St. Luke's (Regional Medical Center) who were already involved with Girls Inc. who encouraged me to volunteer."
Lopez-Perez had been a member of Girls Inc. for at least five years.
Those involved with Girlfriends of Girls Inc. are encouraged to take part in the activities of the young members. This can be done either through group activities or one on one with a girl. Brown started out with the group activities, then was paired with Lopez-Perez.
"We like to get away by ourselves," Brown said, while Lopez-Perez nodded in agreement. "We really like the one-on-one contact."
Brown admitted she was venturing into new territory when making the puppy chow, a rich chocolate snack, for a Girlfriends meeting later in the evening.
"I might have made this in home ec, but I really don't remember," the 26-year-old confided.
Brown carefully read the directions while Lopez-Perez measured out quantities. Eight cups of cereal was a no-brainer, they both decided. But three-quarters cup of peanut butter was a bit more challenging.
"Just make sure you fill the cups all the way to the top with the peanut butter," Brown recommended as Lopez-Perez stuffed the cups with a spoon. "We don't want to gyp anyone on the peanut butter. The more of it there is, the better because I love peanut butter."
Once the measuring was completed, the two hovered over the stove to melt the chocolate, peanut butter and margarine; then removed it from the stove and poured the concoction over the cereal. Finally, confectioner's sugar transformed the cereal into the dessert that one could grab by the handful.
Although the pay-off for this particular day was a good amount of quality control of the creation, Brown said that having a Girlfriend had its own rewards.
"I get to be part of this young girl's life, and she is so smart and energetic and exciting," Brown said. "Then, I hope I serve as a role model for her. But most importantly, I want to be her girlfriend - someone who can give advice and be supportive."
What's a bit discouraging is the need for more Girlfriends, Brown added.
"When I pick Yuli up, there can be 15 or more girls begging to join us," she said. "The program could really use more volunteers."