By Lori BODNAR, intern
On Monday, Dec. 7, Theresa Kiene, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles (GSGLA), invited eight troops for a virtual fireside chat via Zoom. Around 30 Girl Scouts of all ages attended the virtual fireside chat event. It was held, in part, to recognize the Scouts who earned their Girl Scout Gold Award. Greater Los Angeles council has the most Gold Award recipients. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouts and requires at least 80 hours of volunteer work.
The Girl Scouts talked about their experiences with the organization, including earning their Bronze, Silver and Gold awards. Girls can also earn Scout badges in entrepreneurship. Two of the girls, Delina Goshu and Layla Kennedy, applied the lessons they learned and now aspire to start their own jewelry store businesses.
Troop 415, composed of Brownie and Junior Scouts including Delina, Layla and Abby Kennedy, completed their Bronze Award that involved sending cards to the Elks Center and making baked goods. Delina also gave shoes to others in a “Shoe-fairy” service project.
Girl Scouts Pru Yontarak, Molly Fleisher, Amanda Rush, Mina Troung and Lori Bodnar in Ambassador Troop 15851, whose leader is Sarah Rush, talked about their past Silver Award projects to make 400 luminarias for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life for those who had cancer or were battling cancer. Molly, Amanda, Pru and Lori also shared their recent Gold Award projects. Molly made masks for the Ronald McDonald house and also made an online video showing others how to make masks. Amanda planted a garden and painted a mural in the therapy room at the Elizabeth House, a shelter for pregnant women or women with children who are homeless. Lori explained her Gold Award project of holding virtual entertainment shows and concerts, writing letters, and delivering care packages to seniors in local retirement homes such as Twelve Oaks and Foothill Retirement.
Megan Choa shared her Girltopia journey in which she created an art piece reflecting her ideal world for women; each part incorporated a timeline of women in history. Emily Kennedy, a junior Girl Scout, shared her leadership experience at a Brownie camp night during the summer. She helped the younger Brownie Scouts earn Girl Scout badges. Kaylee Welborn also helped at the Brownie camp. While at the camp, the girls earned five badges, played games and had lots of fun! Parker Kennedy participated in the Brownie camp activity that demonstrated how to use money wisely to purchase school supplies. It was a fun way for the Girl Scouts to learn money management.
Kiene shared her experiences growing up with Girl Scouts and why she joined Girl Scouts. She said she was bullied after moving to Santa Monica and decided to join Girl Scouts for camaraderie and empowerment.
“Once I put on the Girl Scout uniform, I felt like a superhero,” Kiene said.
Kiene became the CEO of GSGLA in September 2019. It has been a challenge to pivot many of the traditional Girl Scout activities and camps during the pandemic, and plans are in place beginning in January to continue with the traditional beloved Girl Scout cookie sales employing safer methods.
Suzanna Bodnar, a junior in Troop 02931, said that she also felt like a superhero when wearing the Girl Scout uniform, and that her troop friends were also kind and would help protect her from bullying. She added that Girl Scouts helped to build a variety of talents and strengths.
Matarei Amanath asked Kiene what she liked best about growing up in Girl Scouts. Kiene replied she enjoyed wearing the Girl Scout uniform, playing games and feeling part of an important sisterhood. She has three daughters (Olivia, Isabella and Clara) who were all Girl Scouts. This year, Kiene designed her own patch for GSGLA that has three hands on a puzzle piece heart with the words “Greater Together.” The patch reflects the merits of teamwork.
Kiene offered helpful advice to the Scouts.
“When making a decision, ask if it is following the Girl Scout Promise and Law,” she advised. “If you stay true to your values, you will always make the right decision.”
Deidre Welborn, a troop leader, asked how to encourage public speaking for the girls. Kiene said that practicing in the mirror and recording themselves practicing speaking publicly provides confidence and confidence gives the ability to take a chance and speak up in a meeting, for example. Kiene also advised that the girls prepare a few “go-to” phrases in order to be prepared.
The Zoom fireside chat with the Kiene and the others was fun and engaging. The Girl Scouts enjoyed sharing their experiences and asking questions. The troops felt privileged to virtually meet and get to know the new CEO of GSGLA.