Her mother, Brentwood resident Adriana Smith, and best friend's mom, Mirna Remson, started UG a year ago to give their daughters an opportunity to socialize and bond with each other in a setting outside of lunch breaks at school.
"It's something we dreamed about for five years, but we've always had time issues, or someone's in the hospital," said Smith, whose 16-year-old daughter has Down syndrome.
Their group mission is simple: to provide positive leadership, guidance and long-lasting relationships that inspire all who encounter them. "Everyone needs a place to belong and someone to need them," said Smith.
Their fun doesn't cost much, either. Smith said the group's motto is "free or nearly free."
Unique Girlfriends' 10 members, between the ages of 14 and 25, meet about twice a month. All but two of its current members are special-needs girls.
"We meet all around the community and take turns having it at each other's home," said Smith. "We have members in Discovery Bay, Byron, Antioch, Brentwood and Oakley."
The girls' calendar is chock full of events, including Friday night's Music in the Park, tea parties, fundraising events, movies, CPR/911 classes, and Special Olympics.
"I love my friends because we have so much fun when we are together," said Gigi, a junior at Liberty High School. "I am always so tired afterwards from laughing and dancing. My friends are the best."
Beth Jackson of Discovery Bay rarely looks for social groups outside her large family for her two daughters, Lisa and Michelle, who are developmentally delayed, but when she heard about GU, she found the group to be a great extension for them.
"They have so much fun. It gives them something to do when normally there isn't much out there for them," said Jackson. "I've heard that groups like this exist in Concord and Pleasant Hill, but that's too far to drive."
Their biggest supporters are the members of the Discovery Bay Lions Club, who bought and designed 13 pink T-shirts for the club.
"They have been beyond wonderful to us," said Adriana Smith. "They invited us to their Relay Around the Lake. There's a fee to get in and they paid for all the girls. They also invited us to one of their meetings with assembly members. We thanked them for all their support."
Gigi, who lights up the moment you mention Unique Girlfriends, has a simple wish: "I want to grow up and be happy like everyone else," she said. "When people look at me and my friends, I don't want them to see me as weird or retarded, but unique and beautiful."
"I want to change the world with my friends and teach everyone that the word 'retard' is hurtful," she added. "But that's OK. I still want to be your friend if you let me."
For more information, call Adriana Smith at 513-2847 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
To comment on this story, visit www.thepressnewspapers.com.