The Girl Scouts of Western New York continues to guide and educate young women on leadership. In this Focus on Education report, WBFO's Eileen Buckley visited the Girl Scouts headquarters on Walden Avenue in Depew learning the organization serves 20,000 girls across the region.
"It encourages me to be more confident in myself and it just makes me realize all the things that women have done," said Mara Scive, high school junior at Niagara Wheatfield.
Scive started in the Girl Scouts at the age of five as a Daisy. She said she has remained a Girl Scout because of all the skills and opportunities she has gained.
"Girl Scouts is actually keeps me going through school," said Scive. "When I'm having a bad day in school, I'll be like oh I have Girl Scouts tonight."
Kayla Miller agrees with Scive. She is a junior at Williamsville North High School and also started as a young girl as a Girl Scout.
Both Miller and Scive conducted many hours of volunteer work within our community.
"The Weinburg Campus for the elderly, I've helped out there,"said Miller. "I've gone to soup kitchens, Friends of the Night People. I've done the sleep out for the homeless and I helped out at the Hospice 5-K Dash," said Scive.
For more than 102 years this organization has been providing volunteerism and leadership skills. In 2012 it celebrated 100 years with the theme 'Ignite'.
Cindy Odom is CEO of Girls Scouts of Western New York.
"First of all, I think when you talk about education it's always the piece of believing you can do it,' said Odom. "So it's the piece of self-esteem and that's what we do, we create that environment for girls." The organization is well beyond what some citizens might believe is just about selling Girl Scout cookies each season.
"They think about us and they say we're cookies, craft and camp -- and we are cookies, craft and camp, but those are just delivery systems. What we're about is building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place," state Odom.
Relevant with today's issues, the Girl Scouts has a program that addresses bullying called "Be a friend first."
The organization relies on successful women leaders in various fields and industries to honor and help demonstrate leadership in their careers. This Thursday, the Girl Scouts holds its Women of Distinction Awards. Seven Western Yew York women will be honored and Girl Scouts are encouraged to be a part of the event.
"Girls actually are interviewed and selected to be presenters, emcees for the Women of Distinction," said Odom. "They are then, as presenters, are paired with the women being honored to be mentored with them."
Women of Distinction is the signal largest fundraiser for the organization. The funding provides help with trips and programs and sometimes pays for troupe uniforms and dues.
Odom said the biggest challenge in her leadership role is the economy.
"The economy that, as far as funding, that we struggle like every non-profit," said Odom.
Both Miller and Scive Girl Scout vests are filled with badges of achievements. They're now working on the highest level a girl can earn in Girl Scouting -- the Gold Award. They must identify an new issue, conduct research and execute a plan.
From Daisies, to Brownies to Girl Scout Ambassadors and life time members, Girl Scouts are proud of their traditions and future endeavors.
"The opportunities you get from Girl Scouts you really can't get anywhere else," said Scive.
"It's just like nothing else," noted Miller.