FARMINGDALE – The ongoing pandemic has created many challenges for nonprofits, which rely on fundraising events to support their community work. Many have had to cancel events or create virtual ones. The annual Girl Scouts gala however went on as scheduled.
The Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore’s Women of Distinction and Community Partners Gala, which took place at Eagle Oaks Golf & Country Club, was very successful, said Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore Council spokeswoman Andrea Plaza.
The Girl Scouts were one of the first nonprofits in the Jersey Shore area to host an in-person special event since the COVID-19 pandemic began. It was an outdoor cocktail reception so guests could socially distance. There were prepackaged hors d’oeuvres, videotaped award presentations and a gourmet dinner to-go with a bottle of wine and box of Girl Scout cookies.
Ocean County Award honorees were: Anne M. Davis, an attorney with offices in Brick; and Dana Lancellotti, of Toms River and a director of development and tourism for Ocean County. The Lakewood BlueClaws, an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, and long-time supporter of Girl Scouts, received the Community Partner Award.
Monmouth County honorees included: Dr. Janice Warner, Provost at Georgian Court; Frances Keane, HR exec at CentraState; and County Clerk Christine Hanlon.
In the category of “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout” was honoree Wayne Boatwright from Hackensack Meridian Health. He was unable to attend because of a death in his family.
The event showcased the innovative leadership activities designed to keep girls connected and engaged during this time of change. Those activities will be supported by more than $130,000 that was raised at the event.
Approximately 150 supporters assembled at the outdoor benefit, one of the first in-person charitable events on the Jersey Shore since the pandemic hit. Girl Scouts is one of many local nonprofits forced to postpone or cancel fundraising events to help fund operations.
Eileen Higgins, chief executive officer of the organization said, “Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore is thankful for our community’s strong response.”
She added that the organization serves more than 10,000 girls in Monmouth and Ocean counties. “The generous support will enable us to provide high-quality programming that gives girls opportunities to build leadership skills and to work together in new ways that meet the needs of families during this unprecedented time.”
Plaza said the focal point of the gala was celebrating the achievements of seven inspiring community leaders, who Higgins said reflect the “go-getter” spirit of Girl Scouts. Honorees were introduced via video by Girl Scouts who have earned the prestigious Gold Award and those on their way to achieving this top Girl Scout honor.
“We are truly honored to recognize exemplary leaders in our community who live the Girl Scout mission of making the world a better place by leading with courage, confidence and character,” Higgins said.
Kristen Miller, chief development officer for Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, attributed the event’s success to the hard-working volunteer committee led by Co-Chairs Teri O’Connor, board chairperson and Monmouth County administrator, and Tom Hayes, director of consumer and community relations at New Jersey Natural Gas.
Miller noted that planning by the committee for the event started last autumn for the original date of March 20. Because of coronavirus health and safety concerns, the Girl Scouts decided to postpone the gala and canceled all other in-person activities ahead of Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order.
She added, “the committee persevered and reinvented the gala as a casual outdoor celebration that enabled our guests to physically distance for safety and shifted the auction and event raffles online.”
As the guests left the gala, they received a gourmet meal packaged to-go complete with a bottle of wine, Girl Scout Cookie dessert, and a box of Girl Scout cookies to enjoy at home.
Proceeds from the benefit will help not only support new virtual Girl Scout programs created in response to COVID-19, but also underwrite membership fees for girls facing financial hardship and give Girl Scouts access to safe, outdoor experiences at summer day camp.
Higgins said, “our children are going through a difficult time but we’re here to give girls from all backgrounds opportunities to learn, have fun, make friends and make the world a better place.”
For additional information on supporting or joining Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, call 800-785-2090 or visit GSFun.org