by Lidia Soto-Harmon, CEO, Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital
We can Make a Difference in a Girl’s Life
Recent attention placed on the disappearance of a young girl from Washington, D.C. has awakened in many a desire to do more. Unfortunately, some are playing the blame game, who failed this girl? The fact is, many girls are being left behind struggling in their everyday lives. My only desire is that we all become more motivated to ensure that all girls have opportunities to become healthy, productive members of society. The unfortunate circumstances surrounding the missing child has touched close to home for me, because I discovered that Relisha Rudd had been a Girl Scout. One of our own.
She was enrolled in Girl Scouts through our Young Leaders program, specifically designed to reach girls in at-risk communities, where it is often challenging to engage parents and volunteers. Instead, college students from area schools like Howard University and Trinity Washington University are tapped to deliver a six week, after school Girl Scout program. The time commitment–one semester; the lasting impact on a girl a lifetime. In a safe and nurturing environment Girl Scouts have fun, they earn badges, go camping, and sometimes they sell Girl Scout Cookies. On those days, when they have meetings, they wear their Girl Scout uniform to school with pride. They know that they belong to something big—something important.
In essence, Girl Scouts, and other after school programs and activities are the safety-net for our latch-key and unsupervised youth. We provide a safe space for children to have fun and develop self-esteem and confidence to help them reach their full potential. Today, our Young Leaders reach 36 schools in some of most vulnerable communities in the District of Columbia and Maryland. We only wish we could do more. As we grapple with the dilemma of how a young girl could have gone missing for over a month, as we look for solutions, I hope that adults realize that mentors and volunteers are desperately needed by the many organizations that serve these children. Every child should have a safe space to have fun and dream big.
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital
For information on how to become a volunteer with Girl Scouts visit our website: http://www.gscnc.org/volunteer_today.html