Sometimes nature’s best medicine is the great outdoors, some might say, as feeling the breeze of natural wind or the smell of naturally occurring flora and fauna can help change, reset and show us what Mother Nature has to offer.
“Since 1936, Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus-Pine Council has helped girls develop leadership skills and tools for success in a rapidly changing environment,” said Vianca Pallanes, marketing campaigns and project manager at the Girl Scouts.
“We know that given the opportunity, every girl can become a leader, act confidently on her values, and connect with her community.”
But as the global COVID-19 pandemic did, and continues to unfold, youth-focused 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations like the Cactus-Pine Council, Pallanes outlines, a true pivot to service for the thousands who are part of the council had to happen.
“Through the Girl Scouts, local female leaders of tomorrow practice important life skills and develop confidence they need to create their own success,” she said of the overall goal at the Cactus-Pine Council.
“With some girls back to school, some girls still learning from home and others doing a hybrid of both, our aim is to make girl scouting accessible at every level as well as turnkey for parents and caregivers to take part in, leading their girl through the experience in whatever way works best for them and at their own pace.”
Pallanes outlines the scope of the Cactus-Pine Council that includes 6,000 adult volunteers in turn serving more than 11,000 girls grades K-12 in more than 90 communities across central and northern Arizona.
“Girl Scouts bring their dreams to life and work together to build a better world,” she pointed out.
“Through programs from coast to coast, Girl Scouts of all backgrounds and abilities can be unapologetically themselves as they discover their strengths and rise to meet new challenges — whether they want to climb to the top of a tree or the top of their class, lace up their boots for a hike or advocate for climate justice, or make their first best friends.”
An effort toward this end, Pallenes explains, is the Cactus-Pine Council’s burgeoning bike program, which got a major shot in the arm from Scottsdale-based Fiesta Bowl Charities to the tune of $100,000.
“Fiesta Bowl Charities awarded GSACPC $100,000 that will support the organization’s newly created mountain biking program for Girl Scouts across central and northern Arizona,” Pallanes said of the staggering sum. “The grant will support the purchase of a trailer for supporting and transporting the mountain bikes, a truck to pull the trailer and all the equipment for the girls to hit the Arizona trails.”
Pallanes explains those dollars will go a long way at the Cactus-Pine Council.
“We are extremely grateful to Fiesta Bowl Charities for the resources to continue to allow our girls access to new experiences and opportunities,” she said. “We will be able to provide more than 7,500 Girl Scouts with the opportunity to experience a new outdoor adventure while also learning the importance of a healthy lifestyle with these funds.”
The focus of the mountain biking program will provide girls the opportunity to:
The grant dollars provided by Fiesta Bowl Charities are vital, Pallanes contends.
“Many of today’s youth, girls among them, face considerable challenges on their way to becoming effective leaders and active citizens,” she said. “Our program equips girls with the courage, confidence, and character to discover they have the power to make the world a better place.”
At the Girl Scouts, all are welcome.
“Despite any girl who may be experiencing or growing up in a period of rapid demographic, social and economic change, Girl Scouts believes that all girls deserve educational and enrichment opportunities that help them discover their strengths and passions throughout their youth and into adulthood,” Pallanes said.
Since the early 1970s, the Fiesta Bowl has been synonymous with excellence in American major university football, oftentimes pitting some of the best collegiate programs in history against one another.
But what some may not know is the vast array of charitable efforts the football game, subsequent parade, and Fiesta Bowl Charities pursuit has brought to the Valley of the Sun.
A prime example of this effort is the grant program making the dream of a statewide biking program a reality for the Girl Scouts, explains Kristina Chumpol, Fiesta Bowl Charities community relations director.
“After so much time behind a screen with limited social interaction due to COVID-19, the mountain bike program seemed like a wonderful solution to allow these girls to be active, explore nature and socialize!” she said of why the grant program was a good fit at Fiesta Bowl Charities.
“We look for opportunities to support organizations that are making a difference in our community specifically with a focus on youth, sports and education — this program had a natural alignment.”
Pallanes echoes a similar sentiment.
“Now more than ever it is important to our families that they keep their girls connected to a program that has benefited their lives and provides a sense of normalcy and a community of support during this trying time,” she said. "From access to strong role models to learning how to overcome challenges, all within a large supportive community and network the Girl Scouts develop resilient leadership with a heart of service that benefits everyone around them.”
A sense of belonging, a sense of purpose and an opportunity to lead can shape a young lady’s life in a positive way for years to come, Chumpol explains.
“Organizations like the Girl Scouts are so important in our communities because they are paving the way for a brighter future for the youth in their programs,” she said. “Girls are learning about confidence, character and courage in a welcoming environment that allows them to thrive.”