For every box of cookies sold, there may well be a life-changing story to be told about the Girl Scouts, and those attending the 2019 Women of Distinction Awards Banquet at Little America got a tasty dose of heartfelt narratives of compassion and dedication.
Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus-Pine (GSACP) Deputy Director Christina Spicer kicked off the program with opening remarks. “We know that girls thrive when they have the support of caring adults who encourage them. By investing in girls, we invest in the future.”
With more than 57 years of combined contributions to the Girl Scouts, three 2019 Women of Distinction honorees were recognized: Angela Gray with Flagstaff Unified School District special education, Riordan Mansion State Historic Park Manager Nikki Lober and Sunny Peaks Service Unit Team Financial Consultant Kara VanHermert.
“These three woman have encouraged girls to discover their own strengths and to explore the great outdoors,” said 2018 Women of Distinction Award honoree Patrice Horstman. “They have helped to prepare Flagstaff girls with a lifetime of leadership skills. The alumni of Girl Scouts read like a Who’s Who in government, business and the arts.”
Gray, along with a friend, started as a leader when her daughter was in second grade. “The girls went through the Girl Scouts program all the way through high school.”
Saying that the Girl Scouts is her passion, Loper has been involved with the organization for almost 30 years. She tearfully expressed her admiration for the girls who have graduated and achieved great successes. “I’m so excited to be a part of Girl Scouts and the chance to give these girls opportunities.”
Having had a great Girl Scout experience as a girl, VanHemert says she “always wanted to be a Girl Scout leader.” She just returned from Our Chalet, Switzerland where the world center for Girl Scouts is located. Currently, she leads her two daughters’ troops.
“As a life-long Girl Scout, I am forever appreciative of what I learned from being involved in my Girl Scout group,” said Horstman. “I know first-hand how Girl Scouts can make a significant impact in the lives of children. We want Girl Scouts to remain a vital part of our community and ensure girl scouting is accessible to all girls in here.”
During the ceremony, community leader and former Girl Scout troop leader Kerry Blume introduced several Coconino County elected officials and community leaders. “Today, I’m really privileged to continue my work with the Girl Scouts, building a community of compassion and belonging. I’ve experienced how Girl Scouts helps girls develop problem solving because it practices the principle of ‘girl-led.’”
“We’re happy to support the Girl Scouts of Flagstaff,” said Northern Arizona University President Rita Cheng. “So many wonderful contributions have been made by the community to support the growth and prosperity of these young girls.” FBN
By V. Ronnie Tierney