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Girl Scouts makes leaders out of young girls

Cynthia Dollar was my Brownie leader when I was growing up in Natchez. We met in the basement of what was St. Mary Cathedral.

That’s where I met her daughter, Natalie, and a long friendship with the girls in our Brownie group was formed.

Many of us made the natural transition from Brownies to Girl Scouts. We enjoyed the camaraderie Girl Scouts brought us, and for several years we worked to earn badges and take field trips and do good works in our Natchez community.

Imagine how delighted I was when I was asked to be a judge at the  “More Than S’Mores” Girl Scouts benefit that was held at Elms Court on Thursday night.

Five Natchez celebrity chefs — Susanna Johnson-Sharp, along with her Culinary Arts Technology students at Co-Lin Natchez; Jarita Frazier-King of Natchez Heritage School of Cooking; Chef KP Pearson of Magnolia Bluffs Casino; Yolanda Morgan of Morgan’s Catering; and Hannah-Grace Hinkle of Rolling ‘N’ the Dough — used Girl Scout cookies to create unique desserts.

Judging with me last night were Frances Bailey, longtime Girl School Troop Leader; Felicia Bridgewater-Irving, Ward Four alderman; Jennifer Ogden Combs of Visit Natchez; Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell; and Servia Fortenberry, Natchez city clerk. Curtis Moroney was master of ceremony.

Oh, my! These chefs did not disappoint. It was a special event in so many ways.

First, Elms Court is the childhood home of lifelong Girl Scout Grace MacNeil. MacNeil served as national president of Girl Scouts of the USA from 1969 to 1972, which is during the time I was active as a Brownie and Girl Scout in Natchez. MacNeil’s daughters — Elizabeth Boggess and Anne MacNeil — graciously opened their home for the benefit.

According to MacNeil’s obituary in the New York Times, she “led the organization to its highest membership, of over 3.9 million members.”

As the home of Grace MacNeil, it is fitting that a group of determined women are working hard to reintroduce Natchez area girls to the benefits of Girl Scouts.

Girl Scouts has evolved to provide girls today with many opportunities — “everything from coding to engineering, geo-camping and stewardship to high-adventure badges,” wrote Matilda O. Stephens in a recent email to me. Stephens is program director for Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi and is leader of a new community Girl Scout troop open to girls in kindergarten to sixth grade.

Consider this: Every female secretary of state in U.S. history is a former Girl Scout — Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. Fifty-two percent of female business leaders are Girl Scout alums.

If you are the parent of a daughter, please consider the skills and relationships Girl Scouts could develop in her. Take my word for it, Girl Scouts is a positive, life-changing experience.

And if that doesn’t convince you, there’s always Girl Scout Cookies! By the way, Girl Scout Cookies go on sale on Thursday. Stay tuned to The Democrat for locations where you can get your hands on some.

For more information about Girl Scouts in Natchez, please contact Matilda O. Stephens at mstephens@gsgms.org or 601-597-7485.

Jan Griffey is general manager of The Natchez Democrat. Contact her at jan.griffey@natchezdemocrat.com or 601-445-3627.