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Girl Scouts empowers Latinas to impact their communities


HOUSTON (September, 2012) - From its very beginning 100 years ago, Girl Scouts was established as an organization committed to the inclusiveness of all girls and that is a commitment that has transcended generations. During September 15 - October 15, Americans everywhere will observe Hispanic Heritage Month in celebration of the history, culture and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Mexico, Central and South America, Spain and the Caribbean. Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council's (GSSJC's) commitment to diversity and serving girls of Hispanic background originates deep within its history.    

The national publication A Bridge to the Future: The History of Diversity in Girl Scouting notes that "one of the earliest records of Hispanic girls' participation is in 1922, with the formation of a troop of Mexican American girls in Houston, Texas." Since then, the Council has developed a number of initiatives targeting the Hispanic community.

"We found out, through a study conducted by the Girl Scouts, that Hispanic girls aspire to lead," said GSSJC CEO Mary Vitek. "The Hispanic community is one of the fastest growing populations in the U.S. and we want to deliver high-quality programs to all girls who want to be Girl Scouts, regardless of economic status or language barriers."
According to the Girl Scout Research Institute study, Change it Up! What Girls Say About Redefining Leadership, 66 percent of Latinas aspire to be leaders. But what is even more impressive is the kind of leader Latinas want to be. They want to be leaders that stand up for their beliefs and values, leaders that bring people together to get things done and leaders who try to change the world for the better, something synonymous with the Girl Scout Promise and Law.

Similar research has also shown that Girl Scouts shares the same values and aspirations as Hispanic girls and their moms. Hispanic girls want an organization where they can share new experiences, learn life skills and make a difference in others' lives. Their mothers are open and receptive to a place where their daughters can learn to speak out in front of others (in spite of shyness), conquer their fear of failure, feel empowered to effect change in their schools and neighborhoods and build strong values.

"Without knowing it, these families are describing Girl Scouts," said Vitek.

In 2011, more than a dozen Hispanic women volunteers participated in an investiture ceremony for GSSJC's first-ever Hispanic class as part of the Girl Scout Quest program (GSQ) an introductory program for girls ages 5 to 17 and their parents. As part of the nine-week program, girls and their parents become Girl Scout members free of cost, were taught the Girl Scout mission, acquired leadership skills and learned how to run a traditional troop. GSQ also provided a unique opportunity for girls and their parents to spend time together and gave parents a platform to participate in their daughter's development.
GSSJC has already garnered support from prominent members of the local community, such as Girl Scout alumnae Monica Garcia, wife of Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, who hosted a brunch earlier this year to educate the community about Girl Scouting and its invaluable benefit to girls.

To learn more about GSSJC's Hispanic Initiative or find ways to get involved, contact Selina Howard at

Girl Scouts of the USA is the world's preeminent organization for girls, with a membership of more than 3.2 million girls and adults. Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Chartered by GSUSA to provide Girl Scouting locally, Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is the second largest Girl Scout council in the country serving more than 70,000 girls and 19,000 adults in 26 southeast Texas counties. Join us as we celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouting in the United States in 2012.

GSSJC | Communications Department
3110 Southwest Freeway  Houston, TX 77098