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Saturday, 10 December 2011

Girl Scouts luncheon recognizes women of real achievement


Y'all, I'm going to be honest. I'll pour sand in my eyes before I read another word about Kim Kardashian this week. So how about we discuss some ladies of true accomplishment? I'm talking about people like Amber Pressley, 16, and Eloise Wright, 102. They both attended this week's Changing the World Awards luncheon, benefiting the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta.


Amber is the president of her Girl Scout troop, #10521, and has been active in scouting for more than 10 years. "It's a place of sisterhood," said Amber, a sophomore at Southwest DeKalb High School. During the luncheon, held at the Atlanta History Center, organizers honored a number of Girl Scout members and alumnae.


Receiving lifetime achievement awards were charitable fundraising powerhouse Margaret Perdue; Claire D. Smith, who helped create the Atlanta Girl Scout Chorus and has been active in many philanthropic projects; Mary Van Valkenburgh, who served in various professional positions with Girl Scout USA and Girl Scout Councils -- and Wright, who started Marietta's first African American Girl Scout troop in 1941. She also helped found Cobb County's NAACP branch, served for 42 years as the music director of Turner Chapel AME Church and taught music to hundreds of public school students. "I am so glad to be here," Wright said. "I've enjoyed every minute of it."


Wright said she felt discouraged at times, when trying to organize the troop. Her determination never wavered.


"I feel like if it hadn't been for Girl Scouts, I wouldn't have been as successful as I am," said Wright, who attended with her daughter, Joy Holiday. "We see our girls changing things."


When it was time to receive her award, Amber delivered it to Wright's table. The two visited afterward and Amber said her troop has become a tight-knit bunch.


"We support each other," she said.


Also honored at the luncheon were alumnae achievement award winners: former Southern Company CIO Becky Blalock, Global EXEC Women founder and CEO Virginia A. Bradley, Kinetix CEO Shannon W. Russo, Shepherd Center co-founder Alana Shepherd, Spelman College president Beverly Daniel Tatum and author Kathy Trocheck (known professionally as Mary Kay Andrews) and current Girl Scout members Vanessa Alamo and Rebecca Andrews. The event, emceed by Channel 2 news anchor Jovita Moore, featured remarks from Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta CEO Marilyn Midyette, who said, "We are here to celebrate a group of people who just don't get celebrated enough: women."


Keynote speaker Morgan Coffey said the leadership skills she attained during her scouting experience propelled her to co-found Stronghold Atlanta, which serves women and children who are victims of domestic violence. "Girl Scouts represent the greatest talent pool in history," she said.


Women in Technology Foundation Director Vicki Hamilton, who chaired the event, announced an anonymous gift of $100,000 during the luncheon and reminded everyone to mark their calendars for the Green Gala, to be held March 17 at the 200 Peachtree events facility.


"When we impact a girl, we change the woman she becomes," Hamilton said.

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