Being involved and learning new things goes a long way in boosting confidence.
That is what the Girl Scouts is all about, said Chandra Lay, regional director of the Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland’s Garden City chapter.
“When a girl puts on her Girl Scout uniform for the first time, leads an activity or even tries archery for the first time at camp, it is extremely empowering,” Lay said.
The Garden City chapter serves 450 troop leaders and Girl Scouts in grades K-12 and receives part of its funding from the United Way, which Lay said helps in a number of ways.
“The United Way funding helps provide free uniforms for curriculum and helps pay for different programs the scouts attend,” Lay said.
There are many girls in the area, she said, who would not be able to participate in the different activities offered through Girl Scouts without United Way funding.
“We use the funding across the board to help girls with either financial assistance into Girl Scouts or to help them buy their uniforms, help them with programming that maybe they can’t afford, like camps, or any sort of programs with our partners,” she said.
The chapter is receiving $10,000 from United Way in 2016, and Lay said that a local Burmese troop will greatly benefit from those funds because many of the girls in that troop come from low-income homes.
“It’s definitely a community outreach troop, so this is where United Way funds help tremendously,” Lay said.
That troop is made up of 15 girls, grades K-8, and Tina Kendall, volunteer support specialist with the Garden City chapter, said a group of older Girl Scouts actually leads that troop by organizing and leading the activities, helping the girls develop mentoring skills.
And the troop provides an opportunity for both Burmese-American and American girls to learn about each other’s cultures.
That troop is one way the local chapter is branching out, Lay said.
“We’re never going to leave our traditions, but we have to continue to be relevant and we’re trying to figure out how to do that the best we can. The Burmese troop is an example of that,” she said. “We want to teach the girls the courage, the confidence and the character to help them thrive and to be leaders.”
Kendall said other troops are learning about everything from robotics to community service.
“Some of the girls made thank you bags for Garden City police officers as a way of thanking them for all they do,” Kendall said.
The local chapter also partners with First National Bank, which teaches Girl Scouts financial literacy, and Buffalo Dunes, where girls learn about golf, sportsmanship and leadership.
Girls who wouldn’t normally be able to afford those programs now can because of United Way funding, Lay said.
The Finney County United Way’s fundraising goal for the 2016 campaign is $570,000, which will be disbursed among its 23 partner agencies.
In addition to Girl Scouts, the agencies include Genesis Family Health; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Finney and Kearny Counties; Catholic Social Service; Communities in Schools; Community Day Care Center, Inc.; Family Crisis Services, Inc.; Finney County Retired Senior Volunteer Program; Garden City Family YMCA; Garden City Recreation Commission Summer Playground; Garden City Area Chapter of the American Red Cross; Kansas Children’s Service League; Meals on Wheels; Miles of Smiles; Real Men Real Leaders; Russell Child Development Center; Santa Fe Trail Council, Boy Scouts of America; Building Blocks; Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association; Spirit of the Plains, CASA, Inc; Salvation Army; United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas; and Seeds of Hope jail ministry.