In March of 2020, we stood by our television screens in awe as the nation believed with hesitancy that they would only be spending two weeks at home. Here we are about two years later, still dealing with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, while striving to bring ourselves back to what we once knew as normal.
Girl Scouts, as well as many other non-profits, took a hard hit when our usual in-person fundraisers, events, meetings, and programs came to a screeching halt. Even our iconic Girl Scout Cookie program was cut short, resulting in unsold inventory. Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida took challenging pivots to re-strategize what the Girl Scout experience looked like in this new world of uncertainty.
Staff, caregivers, volunteers, and board members rose to the occasion to provide creative virtual programming, at-home projects, and scheduled online meetings to keeps girls engaged and hopeful during a time when hope was hard to come by.
While the world around us continually changed, one thing remained the same – The Giving Challenge. Once again, this biennial event, presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, with giving strengthened by the Patterson Foundation, showcased the power of people determined to help their community.
This unwavering commitment to community and well-being of others was never more evident than demonstrated by our frontline workers. Their heroism is what inspired our 2020 Giving Challenge theme, “#BeTheOne To Honor.” Our girls and volunteers welcomed the opportunity to personally deliver excess inventory to our Hometown Heroes in hopes of raising their spirits.
Also, early on in the pandemic, Girl Scouts recognized the stress and loneliness that seniors were facing, especially those in assisted living facilities. Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida launched a council-wide service project, “Across The Generations.” Girls and their families honored seniors by sending them cards, pictures, and letters connecting them to the outside world. This program was a success and as a result #AcrossTheGenerations has been implemented at a national level within our Girl Scout organization and continues to brighten the days of seniors across the country.
Building on this effort, Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida’s Giving Challenge virtual event, “Across the Generations Virtual Singalong,” was presented in partnership with local senior living facilities delivering smiles and the joy of music, benefitting not only the residents but the frontline workers caring for them.
In the two years since the 2020 Giving Challenge, the long term effects on mental health across all generations due to the pandemic has become more apparent. Scrolling on social media platforms increased significantly. This easily becomes an endless, vicious cycle that can be taxing on one’s body image and self-worth and results in heightened stress and anxiety.
In recognition of this issue, our 2022 Giving Challenge theme is “#BeTheOne to be Resilient, Courageous and Strong.” With a focus on mental health, we want to discover new ways to help girls strengthen their well-being, while providing them with skills to assist others in our community.
We are pleased to announce our partnership with Prospect Riding Center, who share our common values and strive to create a nurturing and safe environment for those in which they serve. This partnership with Prospect became seamless and a perfect match as they serve a community for therapeutic and recreational riding. Their therapeutic equine activities help individuals improve strength and balance, build confidence, and reduce anxiety.
Together, we can encourage the young women of our community to become the future philanthropists, change makers, and leaders. Because of the Giving Challenge, our donors and supporters are able to help us make an impact with 1:1 matches up to $100 per unique donor gift from The Patterson Foundation, and additional cash prizes in a variety of categories.
Mark your calendars from noon to noon on April 26-27, the challenge is on. #BeTheOne to support us in our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.