The Power of Perseverance

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One in two women was a Girl Scout at some point in her lifetime. And for many of these Girl Scout alumnae, they choose to become lifetime members of our organization. These lifetime members are a cherished part of the Girl Scout family. They advocate, open doors to new opportunities and give their time, talent and treasure to support the next generation of leaders.

Meet Connie Davis, one of our cherished lifetime members. Like many lifetime Girl Scouts, Connie is deeply rooted in the mission of Girl Scouts. She has had experiences only found in Girl Scouts, credits these experiences to her career advancement and wants to support more girls to have this same edge.

“I credit Girl Scouts with helping me find the confidence and leadership ability that have served me well throughout my life,” Connie said.

Connie’s Girl Scout story began in Wichita, Kansas when she joined Girl Scouts as a Brownie. Like many Girl Scouts, Connie fondly remembers her younger years. These experiences in growing friendships or taking on new challenges in the outdoors prepared her for what was to come in Girl Scouts and in life.

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Connie as a middle school Girl Scout in Wichita, Kansas in the early 1960s.

 

Two common themes for Girl Scout alumnae: friendships that last a lifetime and the power of a troop leader. Connie experienced both. First, she met her best friend Marilyn at age 12 in Girl Scouts. And you guessed it…Connie and Marilyn continue their friendship today. That’s an impressive 50 year friendship!

Now to the power of a Girl Scout troop leader. As Connie continued her experience into high school, she joined a troop led by a Wichita State University professor. This troop became one of the largest and most well-known troops in the city.

“She was the best troop leader and encouraged us to try things we had never done before,” Connie said. “She loved to camp and made sure service to our community was a priority.”

Connie’s troop leader inspired her Girl Scouts to apply for a Reader’s Digest grant to start up a summer day camp for underserved children. The troop was awarded the grant, and they were off and running to set up their camp. These Girl Scouts set up this camp from scratch and then successfully operated it. The skill development for these girls could be found no other place but Girl Scouts and made possible because of an innovative, energetic, motivational role model.

Connie’s troop leader would continue the encouragement and door opening. During the summers, Connie would go to Turkey Creek, a GS camp near Pratt, Kansas. When it came time to become a counselor-in-training, Connie applied, was interviewed but not accepted. All of her friends would be at Turkey Creek, but Connie would not.

Connie’s troop leader would not let her stay at home and instead made a call to the director of Camp Pin Oak located near Osage Beach, Missouri. After that phone call, Connie’s troop leader encouraged her to apply at Camp Pin Oak.

“It was a very scary thing to do, but I did apply and was selected,” Connie said. “Going to Pin Oak was the best thing that could have ever happened, because I was forced out of my comfort zone to make new friends.”

While Connie was a counselor at Pin Oak, she had another opportunity to apply for the Girl Scout National Roundup to be held in Idaho the following summer. Again, all of Connie’s closest friends were selected yet she was chosen as an alternate. As it turned out, Connie got to go when of the selected girls broke her leg. It was truly a memorable experience for Connie!

“I was a shy teenager and confidence in my leadership abilities clearly did not come through during interviews,” Connie said. “These disappointments didn’t signal the end of opportunities because other doors would be opened.”

And other doors certainly opened. Connie’s Girl Scout experience prepared her for a career of barriers to break through and extraordinary achievements to have. Connie went to college at Pittsburg State and studied elementary education. As she began her student teaching, she courageously stood up to say that teaching wasn’t the right career path for her.

It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate the amazing teachers she had, especially her troop leader. At this time, women didn’t have many options to pursue for their secondary degree.

“I believe that if there were career interest tests at the time I would fit perfectly doing something using math skills,” Connie said.

Connie moved with her husband to Kansas City and began her career as a secretary. She then went to work for TWA as a statistical clerk. In just nine months, Connie had proven herself that she applied for a mid-level manager position and got it. Connie had to endure much conversation, including an article written in the corporate newsletter about her gender and age. She proved all the naysayers wrong, worked hard and spent 15 years at TWA.

At 41, Connie decided she needed to leave TWA and go to graduate school. She received her Masters of Science in Business degree and then went to work for 9 years as the Director of Purchasing for La Petite. Connie continued her career path as the Director of Purchasing managing a 50+ member team at Seaboard Foods. She retired in 2013.

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Connie enjoys a little archery at Camp Prairie Schooner at the Trefoil Luncheon earlier this spring. She also received her Juliette Gordon Low Society pin for including Girl Scouts in her estate plans.

As a Girl Scout alumna and lifetime member, Connie wants other girls to have the same opportunities she did. Girl Scouts was life-changing for Connie, and she knows that when Girl Scout lifetimers like her lift other girls up, our world will be forever changed.

Today, marks a special day as Connie is hosting our very first lifetime member luncheon. She invited lifetime members across Greater Kansas City 45 years and older to come together and share stories, express appreciation and connect to support future leaders.  Thank you, Connie for your leadership in hosting our inaugural luncheon!

We would love to host lifetime member luncheons across our council – would you be willing to host and/or help us plan and connect with others? Do you know a lifetime member like Connie who we should spotlight? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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