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FROM THE TW ARCHIVES/ Peoria’s Inner City Girl Scout Leaders

While cataloging past issues of the Traveler, I came upon a particular issue highlighting the Girl Scout Leaders in Peoria’s inner city. With March being Women’s History month and the beginning of Girl Scout Cookie time (as I call it); I thought I’d share it with you. Following is an article written in 1969 by Elise F. Allen, Editor and Publisher of the Traveler and the first black board member, Peoria Girl Scouts (1968-1973).

– Angie Henry

Girl Scout Leaders FROM THE ARCHIVESIn 1966 the Kickapoo Council of Girl Scouts, Inc. began their entrance into the inner city to enlist underprivileged girls to the program. Because of the vastness and complexity of the inner city program, the task is taking a huge amount of effort by members and volunteers to get girls signed up and to find leaders to head their troops. These leaders will be teaching the leaders of tomorrow the high ideals of Scouting.

I am happy to report that to date; there are one-hundred and eighty girls (180) out of one small area of the inner city. There is still a tremendous waiting list with girls wanting to be a part of this program. We still need leaders for their troops and are asking for your support. The Kickapoo Council has done a tremendous job! They have shown these young women that life in our city can be more than steaming asphalt or crowded tenements, and more than violence, hopeless and discrimination. Think about what you can do as a leader—this is a wonderful opportunity to know that you are contributing to a secure and progressive tomorrow for each girl.

I’d like to acknowledge some of the Scout leaders who have given of their time and efforts to the inner City Girl Scout Program:

Mrs. Herman Myles, a mother of eight children, has given of her talents as a leader.  She works five nights a week at her regular job, yet she is able to keep her home in order and still donate her time to the program. May we all be inspired by the rare characteristics she possesses so abundantly.

Mrs. Lou Gean Armstrong is also a mother of eight children. She has a part-time job and is the leader of the only Cadet Troop in her area. This is a great accomplishment for the girls in her group and they are blessed to have her as their leader.

Mrs. George Boyd has two daughters in the program. Mrs. Boyd was one of the first to join as leader of a junior troop. She is a woman of great compassion and understanding, but one who is also strong and never fails to face the issues at hand.  Because of her wise leadership, she has earned a secure place in her troop’s hearts.

Mrs. Fred Watson is the wife of Reverend Fred Watson who is pastor of Faith Tabernacle Church of God in Christ. They have two children.  During these times of turmoil when the spirit of revolution is in the air, when wrong seems at times triumphant and goodness so feeble, it is good to speak to a minister’s wife and hear her say, “We should all pause in silence before God and pray for understanding and humility.”  What a fortunate troop to have Mrs. Watson as a leader.

Mrs. Mary Powell is the mother of two daughters.  She is the leader of the only troop in the Warren Home area.  We all need to show our appreciation to a leader who fulfills her trust month after month and never fails to live up to the confidence which the troop in their wisdom has placed in her.  

Mrs. John Williams has five children and works nights at Caterpillar.  Tressie’s warm and compassionate spirit causes her to give generously of her time to the Brownie troop of 35 girls.  Tressie says,”No worthwhile cause is beyond her active commitment.”

Mrs. Arthur Nichelson has three daughters.  Verdia helps her husband in their two places of business. While desperately looking for a Brownie leader, we found Verdia who is definitely an achiever.  Verdia unabashedly believes that opportunities are unlimited if you’re willing to work for them.

It would be the height of redundancy to attempt to enumerate the impressive accomplishments of Girl Scout leaders.  They are legion.  We all know they will continue for many, many years to come, as the highest example principle to young Girl Scouts as well as to their parents.

The minds of Americans are greatly troubled today.  We are beset by many trials from within and from without. We must not despair as these threats and challenges, potentially destructive as they may be, are not beyond our resources, nor our strength.  We need only mobilize our souls and our hearts.”

Elise F. Allen