Scouting a Path to Golden Years

Scouting a Path to Golden Years

Scouting a Path to Golden Years

By Sharon Cecil

When I moved to Louisville in 1969, I thought it was a temporary situation but Louisville has been my home ever since.  At that time, I also didn’t know that Girl Scouts would become an important part of my life. An organization that influenced who I have become; where I learned about the gift of working with youth and found opportunities to mentor future leaders.

In 1972, having just moved into a new house, not knowing anyone and pregnant, I passed a note in church to a teen sitting behind me asking, “Do you babysit?”   This led to meeting the Osborne family, a family of eight (parents, 5 girls and 1 boy).  The five girls were pretty much the only babysitters my daughter ever knew. Nola Osborne was not only a mother, she was an active member of the community and lived right around the corner.  I looked to her as my mentor.  

Nola introduced me to Girl Scouting.  In 1974, I became her co-leader for Girl Scout Troop 77.  From the beginning, working with these young girls became an important part of who I am.  A turning point for me was during the April 3, 1974 meeting when we had taken the girls to the park. My daughter was at Nola’s house with two of her daughters.  All of a sudden, the sky became dark, there was a strange stillness, the sirens were blaring and the wind began to pick up more and more. I was scared. Nola knew what to do and made it feel like an adventure.  At this moment in time,  “the Louisville Metro Area experienced part of the worst tornado outbreak in United States history.” ~~ Courier Journal  

Nola was calm, confident and reassuring that we would ALL be Safe! WE were!!!

When my daughter became a Brownie in Girl Scouts, I took over the Troop and worked with the girls until 1985.  Then, I transitioned to advocacy with involvement in committees and being a part of new initiates for girls while returning to college.  I received an art degree and successfully became an RN while battling breast cancer over the next 5 years.  

In 1990, I began doing community wellness programming for the American Cancer Society and Kentucky Cancer Program in the high schools while continuing my advocacy with Girl Scouting with their pilot program “Growing Up Female,” a part of the Kentuckiana Girl Scout Program Box.  I mentored young women who were working to achieve their Silver, Bronze and Gold Awards.

1994 was a big milestone for my husband Moody and I, when we co-founded We Survive (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization) creating a Haven of Hope for young people and families providing activities that centered around Creative Expression.

WOW (Women Offering Wisdom)  Program

As we developed We Survive, in 1996, I met Girl Scout Troop 1472.  At the age of 11, these young women were looking for a Silver Award Project and successfully started We Survive’s WOW Program while  achieving their Girl Scout Silver Award.  Nikki (Sherrard) Corbett and Brittany Zinzious-Kinder  took a leadership role and continued to be involved with WOW until they graduated high school.  They continue to have a voice until this day.

Sharon (Wells) McKean WOW Team Member says, “We Survive’s programming provided tools that helped us (Women Offering Wisdom) create transformational and inspirational societal changes with our health and wellness educational programs.  Writing, art, publishing and creating media pieces (magazines, books, pamphlets, press releases, etc.) was a wonderful learning opportunity. These experiential activities helped me become a more effective communicator and leader.”   Sharon is now a business leader in her community.

To help the girls become stronger communicators, they were each given a copy of POSITIVE POWERFUL PROMOTIONAL WORDS a tremendous resource tool for writers and speakers.

On Sunday, October 29, 2000. Girl Scout Troop 169 had a kick-off event for their Gold Award, at We Survive’s  headquarters creating a “Pink Path to Gold.”  Once the path was completed, each girl worked independently on their own project. 

Laura Adams wrote, “What the Gold Means to Me” stating, “After all, Girl Scouts are about more than just selling cookies!.”

The Golden Years
Having reached what people call your Golden Years, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with We Survive or LIGHTFEST (an annual event promoting HOPE).  Then, a young woman reminded me how important it is to continue to give voice to our youth and empower them to be whatever it is they want to be in life. 

In July, 2019, Olivia Bohler sent me an email stating she wanted to obtain service learning hours for National Honor Society (NHS) during LIGHTFEST Re-ignited (We Survive’s Flagship worldwide annual event) and create a project that would be suitable for her Girl Scout Gold Award.

Olivia started volunteering with We Survive in the 1st grade.  Now entering her senior year, she is still a very dedicated volunteer evidenced by the partnership she created with We Survive to complete her NHS service learning hours and the completion of her Girl Scout Gold Award with 2020 LIGHTFEST.
Olivia obtained her NHS hours  November 2019
Olivia completed her dream of the Gold November 7, 2020
The Gold Award was approved on December 3, 2020.  
Believing that offering opportunities for our youth provides a platform to promote health and wellness experiential learning so they can realize the Power of their Dreams, I will continue to provide Hope and Inspiration. Hope – a Gift of Empowerment