The Girl Scouts of Williston Park
I would not call myself a religious man so it always comes as a welcome surprise when I see goodness in the world. Last week there was a gift of a letter our town received from Michelle Obama (‘First Lady recognizes Williston Park businesses’, ‘March 7, 2014.) There is in fact an abundance of goodness in this town if you know where to look. Enough goodness to give you faith and hope and to keep the fire alive.
This Sunday I had every intention of going to St. Aidan’s to interview a nun about the subject of asceticism. As I walked up the church steps I noticed a group of people crowded around a table set up on the sidewalk. And before I could hurry out of the cold an adorable eight year girl approaches me with a big smile and asks if I would like to buy some Girl Scout cookies. Who could resist such a sales pitch? She escorts me over to the table and I see before me seven more little Brownies all bundled up against the cold and busily selling their cookies.
I bought my box and saw that the proceedings from the sale of these cookies go to military families in need. The positive energy at this table was such that I decided to wait to talk to the den mother and do a column on this troop. I learned that this was Troop 1591 and the woman is charge of the sale or The Cookie Mom as they call her is Rosanne Zakovic. And her daughter Sophia Zakovic was the sweet little girl who got me to go buy the cookies. Ms. Z in fact has two daughters who are in the Girl Scouts, Sophia and Victoria. As I talked to her she told me that the beauty of the Girl Scouts is that it enables the girls to get together on a weekly basis to enjoy the camaraderie and to do community service as well. I then was introduced to Jennifer Wing who is a den leader for the older girls. Ms. Wing has three daughters in the Girl Scouts including Erin, Caitlin and Lauren. She described their community service projects such as “Share Your Hair”, a fund raiser for girls undergoing chemotherapy, Soup Suppers to raise money for the needy and making care packages for our troops overseas.
I also got to meet Stephanie Vitale who is Brownie leader for Troop 1591. She reiterated the kinds of community service that the Girl Scout troops all do and said that the motto of the Girl Scouts is “to be a sister to all, to be kind, to be caring and of service.”
I left the scene with a good feeling in my heart. Yes indeed our world is now a difficult place to live in. We are all smothered by overwork, competitiveness, the specter of corporate greed, debt, social isolation and consumerism. But then I run into these little darlings, their devoted mothers and a national institution called the Girls Scouts that is wholesome, positive and devoted to community service. How can it not restore my faith in the future?
I write for many professional journals and recently my writing has focused upon the lack of morality in business and have wondered aloud who will save us from this problem. Who will be the next Ralph Nader to fight off the Goliath of the 1 %ers and the corporations that have siphoned off Americas profits and destroyed the middle class life style. And I have always fantasized that the young hero will be a male. Perhaps I am wrong to think that. It may be the hero the culture needs will turn out to be a heroine. And maybe she will be coming out to the ranks of these young Girl Scouts who are being trained to be articulate and strong and caring.
You may recall the wonderful novel The Road by Cormac McCarthy. In the novel and also the film of the same name the father frequently talks about the “the good guys, the ones who are carrying the fire within them.” These girls and the mothers I met are clearly the good guys. They are the ones that are standing outside the church selling their cookies in the cold all for good cause. So my hope and faith have once again been restored thanks to Ms. Wing, Ms. Vitale, Ms. Jakovic and their little ones who are being taught to carry the fire.