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Girl Scout luncheon on tap

Girl Scouts participate in a number of worthwhile activities, including honoring graves on Memorial Day..  - Courtesy Photo
Girl Scouts participate in a number of worthwhile activities, including honoring graves on Memorial Day..
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

The local chapter of the Girl Scouts of America will hold its annual Peninsula Leadership Luncheon this week in celebration of the past and present of scouting while assuring that its programs continue in the future.

“This is a very important annual event for us,” said Dorothy Nelson, communications and marketing director for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. “It creates awareness, celebrates leadership and raises funds.”

The luncheon is scheduled for noon to 1:15 p.m. on May 21 at the Kitsap Conference Center at Bremerton Harborside.

The event is open to the public, with a donation of at least $85 is suggested from each guest.

While the annual luncheon represents a substantial portion of funds raised, this year’s event has a special purpose. After being located in the heart of Bremerton for 60 years, the Girl Scouts will need to vacate their building in less than a year to make way for traffic improvements.

Proceeds raised at this event will go directly to support a future home for a Girl Scouts regional office in Bremerton.

This is the first Kitsap County event to be presented under the expanded auspices of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington flag, which is a combination of two regional councils that merged in October.

“We did this so we could make better use of our resources,” Nelson said. “We found that a lot of councils were duplicating their efforts when it came to fundraising. With the combined councils we can make a greater statement in support of scouting and provide better service.”

In a pattern of presenting guest speakers who are local women who have made a difference in the community, this year an address will be presented by Suzanne Callison Dicks, who has been married to U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks for 40 years.

During this time, when her husband has evolved from a junior congressman to one of the most influential members of the House, his wife has been a witness to history in the making.

For the past 12 years she has served as the General Secretary of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, working to educate the public on the rich heritage of the Capitol and the United States Congress.

She is also a veteran volunteer, serving on the Congressional Families Action for Cancer Awareness Taskforce and advocating for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Prevent Cancer Foundation, the Race for the Cure and the National Parks.

While other recent speakers have rested on their own laurels and Dicks’ accomplishments are largely tied to her husband, Nelson said such accomplishments are no less impressive, adding, “All of us benefit from the relationships we encounter through our lives. And it is having these relationships that make it easier to serve the community.”

Nelson said the GSA is not a political organization and does not support activity that endorses a specific candidate and issue. At the same time, the current presidential election is demonstrating the diversity of opportunity and sends a message to young girls that they can in fact achieve greater heights than previously imagined.

Additionally, scouting has adopted a more modern image.

“When I was a child there was the thought that Girl Scouts just sat around and made potholders,” said Nelson. “That was an image that a lot of people had at the time. But today’s Scouts are more dynamic and challenging, and provide a real balance of activities that benefit every girl.”

Nelson said the separation of girls from boys also has its continued benefits. While girls can be just as competitive, this segregation allows them to try new things without risking too much.

“We help them learn to develop their own voices,” she said. “We keep step with the times. We are always looking for what girls want and what they truly need. We regularly adjust program activities to reflect this.”

Scouting, she said, reflects what is happening in the world.

“There is a lot of political history now being made in this country,” she said. “This is an exciting time for girls, because the time has come when they can make a great difference.”

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