Over five years ago, three young ladies – Monica Evans, Heather Foley, and Alexis Echols – decided to give back to the community by creating a Girl Scout Troop in Southwest. Ironically, two of the founders of the Girl Scout Troop – Evans and Foley – grew up in Southwest as members of the nation’s capital’s first integrated Girl Scout Troop during the late 1970s. Today, Troop 4298 under the leadership of Alexis Echols, Katie McWilliams and SW residents Monica Evans, Heather Foley, Audrea Hennis and Elizabeth Early is thriving, changing little girl’s lives, gaining recognition and enjoying an outpouring of community support.

Recently, the troop held its closing ceremony at King Greenleaf Recreation Center to mark the end of another successful year, share their accomplishments with the community, recognize the girls’ growth to the next level and acknowledge community supporters. Award categories recognized the girls’ achievements as they walked up to claim their awards, proudly wearing their sashes. Among the recognitions, Jenaiah Johnson, 7, received the coveted Juliette Gordon Low Award. Named in honor of the founder of the Girl Scouts, the award is given to a young girl who, as Troop Leader Evans indicated, “most exhibits what it means to be a Girl Scout.” During the ceremony, popular traditions were demonstrated such as the Girl Scout sign using three fingers, handshake and friendship circle with the audience joining in.

Troop leaders also praised the scouts for their efforts in selling Girl Scout cookies which is their biggest revenue source for troop activities. Further recognition was also given to the troop for braving the hot sun during their participation in the 100 Anniversary of the Girl Scouts on the Mall in July. Community supporters recognized during the ceremony included King Greenleaf Recreation Center which is where the troop is housed, Southwest Neighborhood Assembly Youth Activities Task Force which provided funding for their camping trip and field trip to Baltimore, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church who funded the troop’s tea party and participated in their Career Day and the SW Duck Pond who contributed financial support. Southwesters can look for the girls in December at 4th and M Streets, SW as they sell their holiday jingle jewelry to raise funds for their contribution share of the scouting scholarship program which assists other needy scouts. If you love Girl Scout cookies, the troop will be selling in February again at 4th and M Streets, SW.

The Girl Scout program aims to empower girls and help teach values such as honesty, fairness, courage, compassion, character, sisterhood, confidence and citizenship through activities including camping, community service, learning first aid and earning badges by acquiring other practical skills. If you know of a young girl between the ages 5 – 12 who is interested in the Girl Scouts, please contact Monica Evans at (202) 468-9620.

By Thelma Jones, vice president of the SWNA Youth Activities Task Force and a veteran writer for The Southwester.

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