Innovative leadership activities that keep girls connected and engaged during this time of change will be supported by more than $130,000 raised at Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore’s Women of Distinction & Community Partners Gala, which took place on July 30 at Eagle Oaks Golf & Country Club.
Nearly 150 supporters gathered at the outdoor benefit, one of the first in-person charitable events on the Jersey Shore since the pandemic hit. Girl Scouts is one of many local nonprofits forced to postpone or cancel fundraising events to help fund operations.
“Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore is thankful for our community’s strong response,” said Eileen Higgins, chief executive officer of the organization, which serves more than 10,000 girls in Monmouth and Ocean counties. “The generous support will enable us to provide high-quality programming that gives girls opportunities to build leadership skills and to work together in new ways that meet the needs of families during this unprecedented time.”
The focal point of the gala was celebrating the achievements of seven inspiring community leaders, who Higgins said reflect the “go-getter” spirit of Girl Scouts. Honorees were introduced via video by Girl Scouts who have earned the prestigious Gold Award and those on their way to achieving this top Girl Scout honor.
Presented with the Women of Distinction award were: Anne M. Davis, an attorney with offices in Brick; Christine Giordano Hanlon, Monmouth County clerk; Frances Keane, vice president of human resources, CentraState Healthcare System, and past chairwoman of the Girl Scouts Board of Directors; Dana Lancellotti, director of business development and tourism, Ocean County; Dr. Janice Warner, provost, Georgian Court University.
The Lakewood BlueClaws, an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, and long-time supporter of Girl Scouts received the Community Partner Award.
Wayne Boatwright, vice president of diversity and inclusion at Hackensack Meridian Health, was honored as this year’s Man Enough to be a Girl Scout. Boatwright was unable to attend because of a death in his family.
“We are truly honored to recognize exemplary leaders in our community who live the Girl Scout mission of making the world a better place by leading with courage, confidence and character,” Higgins said.
Kristen Miller, chief development officer for Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, attributed the event’s success to the hard-working volunteer committee led by Co-Chairs Teri O’Connor, board chairperson and Monmouth County administrator, and Tom Hayes, director of consumer and community relations at New Jersey Natural Gas.
The committee began planning the gala in the fall of 2019 for the original March 20 date. But due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns, Girl Scouts decided to postpone the gala and canceled all other in-person activities ahead of the Governor’s stay-at-home order, Miller explained.
“The committee persevered and reinvented the gala as a casual outdoor celebration that enabled our guests to physically distance for safety and shifted the auction and event raffles online,” Miller said.
As guests departed, they received a gourmet meal packaged to-go complete with a bottle of wine, Girl Scout Cookie dessert, and a box of Girl Scout cookies to enjoy at home.
Proceeds from the benefit will help not only support new virtual Girl Scout programs created in response to COVID-19, but also underwrite membership fees for girls facing financial hardship and give Girl Scouts access to safe, outdoor experiences at summer day camp.
“Our children are going through a difficult time,” Higgins said. “But we’re here to give girls from all backgrounds opportunities to learn, have fun, make friends and make the world a better place,” Higgins said.
For more information on supporting or joining Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, call (800) 785-2090, visit www.GSFun.org or follow @GirlScoutsJS on social media.
About Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore
Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore serves more than 10,000 girls ages 5-18 in Monmouth and Ocean counties, providing a time-tested leadership experience that inspires and motivates them to take action for themselves and their communities. For over 107 years, Girl Scouts has helped girls become women of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. For information on how to join, volunteer, partner, or donate, visit gsfun.org or call (800) 785-2090.