Girls with Opportunity Become Women of Distinction

By Mary Pat King, CEO, Girl Scouts of West Central Florida

Elaine Feaster seized all the opportunities she could as a Girl Scout. On March 8, International Women’s Day, she shared the impact of Girl Scouts on her life, as a featured speaker, during the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida’s Women of Distinction Awards Luncheon.

A graduate of Freedom High School and student at University of South Florida, Elaine earned the highest achievement in Girl Scouts, the Gold Award, for her work promoting literacy. Her passion for this cause was personal. In third grade, she was diagnosed with dyslexia. Through her Girl Scout community service projects, Elaine distributed more than 11,500 books to children across Tampa Bay.

Mary Pat King

Elaine is an extraordinary example of the transformational impact of Girl Scouts in building the courage, confidence and character it takes to make the world a better place. She maximized her Girl Scout experience by earning her Silver and Gold Awards, which resulted in scholarships for college, influential mentors supporting her next steps and thousands of lives impacted by her efforts to improve literacy.

I often ask recent Girl Scout alumni, like Elaine, what they think they gained from Girl Scouts. I typically hear a few consistent themes: lifelong friendships, unique opportunities, connection to caring mentors and FUN.

I believe every girl deserves that. Every girl deserves the feelings of belonging, and sisterhood, which are sparked around a campfire. Every girl deserves to grow her courage and confidence each time she tries something new or addresses a cause she cares about. Every girl deserves access to an array of caring adults who support her journey toward adulthood. Every girl deserves the fun, and unique, experiences that Girl Scouts promise.

At Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, our bottom line is to make sure every girl in our eight-county footprint has access to an affordable, high-quality Girl Scout leadership experience. We envision a day when Girl Scouting is engrained in the cultural fabric of every community, with schools full of Girl Scouts who try their best to live by the Girl Scout Law which emphasizes kindness, trust, ambition, resourcefulness and respect for oneself and others.

The pandemic threatened our bottom line, as our access to locations where we hosted Girl Scout programs was limited – schools, aftercare settings, places of worship and other community-based settings. Between 2020 and 2021, we lost more than 30 percent of our Girl Scout membership. The partnerships we once cultivated so easily had to be rebuilt, completely.

Truly, Girl Scouts has a relationship-driven business model. Our success drivers are hyper-local strategies, sustained by strong community partnerships. We needed to focus on building well-trained, and supported, volunteers while offering more opportunities to access nearby Girl Scout programs and experiences.

That’s why, in April 2022, we restructured our organization to be more community-based so that we could deepen relationships with our volunteers, schools, program providers, community partners and generous supporters. We leaned in to the fact that, for 112 years, the most successful tactic for growing Girl Scouts has been word of mouth. We focused our resources on training our people – staff, volunteers and girls – to be the effective storytellers and champions we need in every community.

Most importantly, our community-based model strengthened our presence in neighborhoods allowing our team to see and understand, first-hand, what families face. Now they respond with relevant community solutions that help to erase barriers for families who want their children to be Girl Scouts but need financial aid, a convenient time or location, language support, etc.

In April 2022, we set a bold goal: 30,000 members by 2030. Two years later, Girl Scouts of West Central Florida is one of the fastest-growing Girl Scout councils in the country. We are on track to recover from the pandemic by 2026, and soar to our 30,000 goal in the years that follow.

Our accelerated growth feels amazing and yet, it presents new challenges. We need more funding to support a higher demand for volunteers, programs, and financial aid requests from more Girl Scouts.

At Women of Distinction, 600+ business and community leaders pledged to create increased opportunities for more Girl Scouts. Will you join them? Donate or volunteer today:

You May Also Like

Feeding Tampa Bay’s program awarded top honor at Florida Blue Foundation Sapphire Awards

Feeding Tampa Bay’s FoodRX program received the Florida Blue Foundation Sapphire Awards’ top honor of $100,000 for community health improvement, alongside nine Florida nonprofit programs, organizations and individuals. Feeding Tampa

Anna Corman named president and CEO of Hillsborough Education Foundation

The Hillsborough Education Foundation has named Anna Corman as its new president and chief executive officer, effective immediately. The HEF Board of Directors, in collaboration with an external recruitment firm,

Annual report for CareerSource Tampa Bay

By Sean Butler, CareerSource Tampa Bay Board Chair 2022-2023 We are pleased to present the annual report for CareerSource Tampa Bay, highlighting our achievements, challenges and strategic initiatives of our

Jesuit alum achieves $5 million in giving to high school with another $2.5 million gift

With the recognition of his second $2.5 million gift, Jesuit High School announced that Richard “Steve” Jenkins, class of 1975, has surpassed $5 million in giving to the school. Jenkins

Other Posts

USF receives $1 million gift to provide St. Petersburg campus students with scholarships

The University of South Florida received a $1 million gift to provide scholarships to students on the St. Petersburg campus. The gift was made by Tampa Bay area resident Johnnie

Tampa nonprofit evacuates 51 Americans and allies from Haiti’s Capital in rescue mission

Project Dynamo, a Tampa-based, veteran-led nonprofit that executes international rescue missions, has announced the successful rescue of 51 individuals during a helicopter rescue mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The evacuees, ranging

Crown Auto and the Hawkins Family Foundation sponsor fifth Glow Gala for Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties

In the United States, and around the world, Habitat for Humanity has made an indelible mark on thousands of lives. The organization, which was established in 1976, helps provide individuals,

Five finalists named in Florida Polytechnic University presidential search

The Florida Polytechnic University Presidential Search Committee has announced the names of five finalists that will be presented to the University’s Board of Trustees for consideration. Dr. Randy K. Avent,