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Girl Scouts: 100 years of service
(Photo courtesy: Troop #4219 from Aurora, Colo.)
By Bertha Velasquez
The Girl Scouts, widely recognized for their distinctive uniforms and annual cookie sale, bring awareness to their community volunteerism.

“I really like the time when you go help,” Milly said about why she joined the Girl Scouts. Milly, 10, is a member of a Girl Scouts troop in Englewood. She’s been part of the Girl Scouts for three years and demonstrated her enthusiasm when talking about her involvement in this distinguishes organization.

Asked what her most rewarding experience as a Girl Scout is, Milly is quick to say, “How I can help the community and nature.” She spoke about volunteering with horses at a ranch and also of other Girl Scouts helping out at a garden.

Lucy, 9 almost 10 years old, a member of the same troop also agreed. “The part where you can learn about all these things; to learn about what is important to your community and what you can do to help,” she said. Lucy has been a Girl Scout for four years.

“Four years ago I was looking for a troop for my daughter,” said Korina Padilla, who started the troop. “I decided to step up and immediately 15 girls signed up.” She added, “It’s just been amazing.”

Some may assume that the Girl Scouts is not for everybody, but with a $12 annual membership fee and increased outreach to a growing diverse community, the organization might have you thinking otherwise.

“I have a lot of parents that think it’s just for families with money or who got lucky to be in this,” Padilla said. “This type of organization is for all girls,” she insisted.

“We are trying to work with schools and community organizations … so we have more awareness of the Girl Scouts in the Latino community,” said Marcela Gaete, Girl Scouts of Colorado Hispanic community outreach.

Gaete spoke about increased publicity available in Spanish, outreach to Latino community organizations and being a member of the Hispanic Chamber. “(The Latino community) feel Girl Scouts is too far for them to reach and we don’t want them to feel like that,” she said.

“Anyone can be a Girl Scout, 5-17, you don’t need to have a Social Security number because a lot of the people have a misconception and you can afford it,” Gaete said.

Girl Scouts of Colorado’s Director of Public Relations Amanda Kalina said that those interested in obtaining more information about finding financial resources can do so by calling the Girl Scouts office. They have options for families who may not be able to finance the membership and/or camps, for example.

Girl Scouts does not just involve members knocking door-to-door to sell cookies. It’s much more. These girls and young women participate at different program levels in various, engaging activities all with the purpose of making them well-rounded, independent individuals.

La Voz asked what are some of the activities they’ve been involved in that other girls their age should know. Milly spoke about Sky High Ranch and explained that they were able to participate in activities such as archery where she enjoyed participating in team building. She also proudly said, “We can show the men we can do much better.”

For Lucy, being a Girl Scout has been a way for her to demonstrate that she is capable of accomplishing many things. “I’d like to show that even as a girl I can do a lot of things,” she said. She also stated that as a Girl Scout, she has learned so many more things including how to better work with others. Both Lucy and Milly spoke about working toward obtaining badges and how important it is to work with other girls in the troop.

Padilla said starting the troop was initially “overwhelming,” but readily encourages others to get involved. “Give anything you can,” said the troop leader of 24 girls. “Whether it is an hour or two … you can give more not because you have to but because you want to.”

Volunteerism plays a major role for the Girls Scouts. The troop’s Hometown Hero is the PEAK Parent Center; an organization that helps parents with children who have disabilities explained Padilla. The annual cookie sale is not only an opportunity for these young girls and women to learn about managing their finances, but also a way to give back to their community. The Hometown Hero program is part of the Girl Scouts Cookie Program where customers can purchase Girl Scout Cookies to donate to the Girl Scouts’ Hero.

This message of volunteerism applies not only to current and past members, but for those looking to participate in the organization through a volunteer basis. “There are a lot of areas in the Denver metro area where we need more help,” Gaete said.

For more information about the Girl Scouts of Colorado, volunteering or reconnecting as an alumna, visit www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org or call 1-877-404-5708.

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