Celebrating Latinas as Leaders Achievements through LUCHA's Bilingual Girl Scout Troop

This month, February 2019, Girl Scout Troop 5020, sponsored by
LUCHA Ministries, Inc., celebrated its 5-year anniversary.  It’s been 4 years of intense learning experiences as well as service to the community.  Troop 5020 is a bicultural multi-age troop that formed when some of the women participating in LUCHA Ministries’ Project Adelante shared their frustrations with their daughters’ desire to participate in community clubs and activities.  The moms wanted to be involved as well, and their lack of English proficiency meant that they weren’t able to participate as fully as they wanted.
And Troop 5020 was born.  Judy Maggio agreed to help form the troop and became its first Troop Leader — on a “temporary” basis.  Five years later, Judy continues to guide this group of young women — and their moms! — along a path of leadership and personal development.  “In the beginning,” said Judy, “we were like deer in  the headlights, but the moms focused on community service, and this has become our strength.”
The Troop has developed and embraced Latino cultural values, such as familismo, with activities and projects that often involve the whole family, such as hiking in Shenandoah National Park, or a community meal, where the scouts did the planning, but their entire families pitched in to help prepare and serve the food.  Or respeto, which values the wisdom and status of the elderly, an important cultural value than can be easily lost as immigrant children lose touch with their grandparents and extended families due to migration. The Troop has worked in several area assisted living facilities and nursing homes, proving an annual Christmas program and engaging in other activities.
In 2018, two Scouts earned top leadership awards in their grade levels.  Junior Angelica C. earned the Bronze Award, which is the highest award a Junior Scout (4th or 5th grader) can achieve.   Angelica’s Project, “Angie’s Cards”, was an effort to help residents in an area nursing home “feel happy, and not forgotten.”  Angelica prepared a “garden” of over 200 handmade cards with uplifting and inspirational messages, and residents can choose a card to read and return to the “garden,” to be enjoyed later by another resident.  Her cards have touched approximately 170 residents at two separate facilities.
Cadette Britney C. earned a Silver Award (6th through 9th graders) for researching and developing an outreach model to benefit the immigrant population of the Greater Fredericksburg Area.  As part of her model, Britney partnered with two local organizations to serve a Latino meal to approximately 150 low-income and homeless persons.  Britney shopped and secured food donations, and she coordinated 45 Latino immigrant volunteers to prepare and serve the meal, using Bolivian, Mexican, Salvadoran, and Panamanian/Puerto Rican recipes.  There were no Latinos present as guests for the meal, but Britney and her team gained valuable experience as they seek better ways to engage the immigrant population.
Also, Ambassador Marisol C. received the Troop’s first VALE $1,000 scholarship for Girl Scout excellence from LUCHA Ministries, Inc. for her leadership and academic achievements.  Judy saw Marisol evolve from a young, unfocused girl with a good heart but who wasn’t sure she wanted to be in the troop to a “responsible, focused young woman with a good heart who is the unofficial scout leader of the troop,” a role that she has embraced and welcomed.  Marisol is attending a 4-year university and enrolled in a combined bachelor’s/master’s degree program. Marisol has continued with Troop 5020 as an adult alumnae.
Troop leader Judy Maggio was awarded the 2018 Volunteer of Excellence Award.  Judy expressed her gratitude for the enormous support she has received from the moms, Scouts, Council, Service Unit, and LUCHA Ministries, Inc.  This award is by nomination and recipients are selected by the Council for outstanding service as they seek to encourage, motivate, and mentor the girls.  Judy, a retiree with no children of her own, provides an excellent example of volunteer service.  As a Latina with Panamanian/Puerto Rican heritage, she is a role model and mentor to not only the scouts, but also to their mothers.  She pushes them to exceed in academics, to engage in leadership, and to rise above any self-doubt about their ability to succeed, always encouraging them to “reach for the skies.”
Throughout these four years, LUCHA’s support to the troop has been unwavering.  LUCHA was instrumental in the creation of Troop 5020, and its interns and leaders have been actively involved and assisted the Troop in various ways.  The Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia awarded LUCHA Ministries, Inc. with the 2018 Girl Scouts Community Award for their outstanding service in support of GSCV’s mission-delivery to girl and adult members.
These achievements have inspired the girls of Troop 5020.  Currently, six of the eleven Scouts in the Troop are pursuing Girl Scout leadership awards (Bronze, Silver, or Gold/NYWOD), and all four Scouts who are in high school are high academic achievers and are making plans to attend college.
Troop 5020, keep reaching for the skies!
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