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Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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The Philanthropist

Girl Power: Patricia Cruz

Girl Scouts of America; girlscouts.org

Background

A mother of four (three daughters and one son), Cruz moved to Miami at age eight and spent her youth participating in various community service activities (including dressing up as Santa during a holiday party at a migrant camp). “I volunteered whenever I had the opportunity because I knew that I could help in some way, whether the impact was big or just to make someone smile for a little while.” While accompanying a friend to sign her daughter up for Girl Scouts, Cruz was intrigued by the organization’s programs and jumped on the opportunity to sign her own girls up. When the year was over she was asked to take over as Troop Leader. “I had no idea how to be a troop leader or what else I needed, but I was committed to doing a good job. I met with Suzanne Levitt, our Service Unit Manager, and she gave me a crash course in Girl Scouts 101.”

Leader of the Pack

Since then, Cruz has remained a dedicated troop leader for 13 years, as well as served on the High Awards Committee, mentoring girls who are going for their Silver and Gold Awards (the highest honors in the organization). “The more I learned about the Girl Scout way, the more I realized what an amazing opportunity it is for girls.” All three of Cruz’s daughters have made their way through the program, with her two eldest earning Gold Awards. Even husband Bill has served on the Board of Directors of the Girl Scout Council of Tropical Florida. “The earlier you expose girls to their potential and the power within them, the stronger and more confident they will be,” says Cruz. “I believe so strongly in the mission and importance of Girl Scouts that I see myself always being involved in some way.”

Building A Community

Cruz’s troop has done everything from baking 200 pumpkins pies in one day for the Miami Rescue Mission to collecting 1,000 toys for the children at St. John Bosco. Her daughters Victoria and Christine both worked on Gold Award projects to bring awareness to education on organ donation. And youngest daughter Isabella found changes to be made in no place other than the Dade County Youth Fair. “When we went to drop off our troop project, Isabella saw that the Boy Scouts had a huge space and the Girl Scouts had a small row of tables. When she asked why, they told her that it had always been that way. So, she decided to change it herself.” After gaining 40,000 signatures on a petition, Isabella met with the Youth Fair CEO to state her case. “Today, the Girl Scouts have a beautiful, large space at the Youth Fair thanks to Isabella! So, I guess that the thing that I am most proud of is that their involvement in Girl Scouts has given them the confidence and leadership skills to change the world around them.”

Looking Ahead.. And Behind

Cruz is proud of her entire troop and can easily name check the many famous women who have gotten their start in the organization, including Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. In fact, she shares, 76 percent of US Senators were Girl Scouts. As her youngest continues on the path to her own Gold Award, Cruz says she will continue to dedicate her time and eventually mentor girls working on their Gold Awards. But her work doesn’t stop there. “I’d like to help increase the general public’s knowledge and support of Girl Scouts and share how incredibly impactful and important it is, especially in today’s world,” she says. “Girl Scouts build leaders that see the world around them, identify issues in their community and develop the understanding and confidence to take on any challenge.”

Author: Andrea Carneiro

Andrea Carneiro
the authorAndrea Carneiro
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