A celebratory “Paint the Town Green” reception in honor of the new office facility in Santa Barbara for the Girls Scouts of California’s Central Coast was held in May at the University Club of Santa Barbara, as more than 100 guests mingled at the historic club for the momentous occasion.
The event also marked the launch of the Girl Scout council’s Second Century Circle, a 100th anniversary campaign to reconnect Girl Scout alumnae and community supporters.
Sherry Sybesman, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast, said she came out of retirement to take the position because she loves Santa Barbara and to support the grand opening of the new facility at 211 E. Victoria St., located behind the University Club. And, with the assistance of Kimberly Coley, recently appointed vice president of external affairs, the duo plan to bring a stronger sense of Girl Scouting back to town.
“Santa Barbara has a rich history with Girl Scouting, since 1921, and there are many young girls in our community that need Girl Scouting and will benefit from our anti-bullying and anti-violence programs, who need to learn self-esteem, confidence and need to learn how to lead,” Sybesman said. “It’s what those things stand for that’s really meaningful, and that’s why we are recommitting ourselves to Santa Barbara.”
The community-based affair, with many Girl Scouts in attendance, was a joyous reunion of sisterhood as Scouts adorned in official uniforms fashioned with colorful badges, patches and award pins across their respective tunics graciously welcomed guests at the front doors.
Inside, boxes of Girl Scout cookies, stacked neatly on a table in the foyer with an array of scrumptious appetizers and cool beverages were provided as small groups of friends and business associates mingled, many of them Girl Scout alumnae, exchanging warm hugs and posing for photos as the room burst with laughter and elated cheers as women shared fond memories of Girl Scouting.
Laura Benson, vice president and private relationship manager for Northern Trust N.A., welcomed attendees and read a brief statement of recognition from Connie Lindsey, executive vice president, of Northern Trust, and national board president of Girls Scouts of the USA, the highest-ranking volunteer of the 3.4 million girl-centered organization.
“Girls Scouts is rooted in the concept of service to girls, the community, the nation and even the world,” Lindsey’s letter read. “As to expertise, Girls Scouts has been developing girl leaders for over 100 years. The Girl Scout leadership experience is the nation’s premier program for nurturing and expanding girl’s leadership capabilities. And, as to integrity and diversity, I can’t put it better than the Girl Scout Law.”
Benson who has been a member of the Girl Scouts for more than 29 years, also served as the first vice president on the Tres Condados Board of Directors and was a member of the transition team for the council merger to Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast. She asked all the Girls Scouts in the room, both young and old, to raise their hands and recite the Girl Scout Law.
After, the recital, Benson said, “Northern Trust is proud and happy to be associated with Girls Scouts, and the opening of the new facility in Santa Barbara is a wonderful opportunity for us to welcome Girl Scouting back to Santa Barbra. So while we are celebrating the new office here in Santa Barbara, we are also celebrating the beginning of the second century of Girl Scouting.”
Benson then presented a financial contribution to the Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast on behalf of Northern Trust, a community partner.
Coley followed, and thanked the room full of family members, community partners and fellow colleagues for their support.
“I believe that every girl in Santa Barbara should have the opportunity to participate in Girl Scouting,” Coley said. “Imagine if every girl in Santa Barbara had the opportunity to be a Girl Scout — we could truly paint the entire town green, which is why we are here. Because we cannot do that alone and we need community support.”
Girl Scout alumnus Dana Zertuche, a realtor at Coldwell Banker Montecito, said she came to the event to show her support for the Girl Scouts and to tour the new facility.
“I was in the Girls Scouts for seven years and I loved every minute of it. I was also able to participate in a lot of fun Girl Scout activities with my father, which was great,” she said. “As a Scout I acquired great social skills, leadership and learned to do things outside of my comfort zone. Being a Scout really built up my confidence and gave me a good, solid all-around foundation.”
Girl Scouts of Tres Condados emerged with the formation of a council in Santa Barbara, in 1921. Later, in 2007, as part of a nationwide realignment of Girl Scouts USA, Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast merged together with Girl Scouts of Monterey Bay and Girl Scouts of Tres Condados, and this new council serves the counties of Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, San Benito, Monterey and Santa Cruz.
To date, the Girl Scouts of California’s Central Coast serves nearly 10,000 girls ages 5 to 17, with more than 5,000 committed adult volunteers who serve as leaders, facilitators and coordinators.
“We currently serve about 1,500 girls in Santa Barbara, but we want to serve a lot more,” Sybesman said. “Our goal is to reach out beyond the traditional girl who serves in troops. We want to reach out to the girls in low-income areas and the girls in migrant families where maybe their parents didn’t finish school. We don’t just want to keep these girls from becoming pregnant or addicted to drugs; we want girls to become the best they can be and become leaders.”
Sybesman is also a Girl Scout alumni member in the only nonprofit organization that has graduated more successful women than all of the top business schools in the country combined. And, in 2010-11, 33 senior and ambassador Girl Scouts on the Central Coast earned the highest award in Girl Scouting — the Girl Scout Gold Award.
One of the Gold Award winners, consisting of only 5 percent of Girl Scouts nationally, was in attendance at the event, Elizabeth Garfinkle, who will be attending Brown University this fall. Garfinkle shared details about her Gold Award project, similar to a milestone achievement by Eagle Scouts in the Boy Scouts, that provides an impact on the community.
“For my project I developed a hands-on lesson plan curricula for junior high to high school students around a science kit that simulates the process of finding a cure for cancer,” Garfinkle said. “I selected this project because cancer research is my passion and I hope for it to be my future career.”
Founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912, Girl Scouts has grown from 18 original members in Savannah, Ga., to 3.7 million members throughout the United States, and in more than 90 other countries through the USA Girl Scouts Overseas program.
“Girl Scouting is not just an intervention program, we are a long-term solution,” Sybesman said. “Research shows that Girl Scouts are less likely to get pregnant, to drop out of school or to get involved in violence and drugs. But, girls deserve more. They deserve to develop their leadership potential and we need them.”