Celebrating Women of Distinction of All Ages
Every year, our local Girl Scout council (Texas-Oklahoma Plains) gathers to honor women in the council who are dedicated to service and leadership with the Women of Distinction Awards. Virginia “Ginny” Montgomery is this year’s Lifetime Achievement honoree. She is a “lifelong Girl Scout who serves as a role model for female leadership.” Ginny has been involved with the Girl Scouts for almost 60 years. Victoria “Tori” McDonald is this year’s Rising Star honoree, “a young Woman of Distinction between 12 and 25 years old.” At just 14, Tori has been a Girl Scout most of her life.
Ginny became a Girl Scout in third grade, continuing through high school. She went to college and got married. After she had her first child, she was out shopping and noticed a poster recruiting Girl Scout leaders. “My thought was, ‘You know, the whole ten years I was a Girl Scout, somebody stepped up to be my leader.’ I thought I could be that person for other girls.” Ginny remembered.
Ginny’s daughter was a Girl Scout, following in her mother’s footsteps. “I started as a leader in the Chicago area. We moved down here [in 1976]… [a friend] had a daughter whose troop had lost their leader. She knew I was a leader so… we moved down here in June, and by August, I was a leader again!”
Ginny admitted that she has only recently discovered the word “no” and its use.
As a leader, Ginny was intimately involved in the cookie program, and she became part of the Cookie Task Group for the Texas-Oklahoma Plains council. With a degree from UTA in systems analysis, Ginny realized that she could help streamline the cookie selling process. (When she mentioned that this was all before computers and that everything was handwritten, the look on Tori’s face was priceless.) She worked with local troops and the council to make the cookie program easier for the troops and more fun for the girls.
Ginny became a Girl Scout trainer. Then an instructor of trainers. Then an international instructor of trainers. Then she and a friend decided they didn’t have enough to do, so they became canoe instructors and joined the Red Cross board. She’s lead international trips for both girls and adults to Mexico, Switzerland, and Great Britain. She’s now a leading light in the council’s alumnae group, which is very active in the council, hosting a tea for World Thinking Day and helping in local troops.
“I’m a volunteer,” Ginny said, smiling. “It’s who I am. It’s what I do.”
Tori became a Girl Scout Daisy in kindergarten. Last year, her troop disbanded, and Tori helped form a new troop, focused on the outdoors, for girls in grades six through twelve. She also is a co-leader of a Daisy troop.
When asked about her dedication to Girl Scouts, Tori said, “When I was younger, I could go out and do all the fun activities. As I got older, I started getting to have a say in things. I think that’s what drew me in because I’m able to take these little girls and have them do fun activities, and I get to see them smile because I was able to do something for them.”
Not only does Tori love Girl Scouts, she also loves animals. The future veterinarian found a way to combine both loves in her Silver Award project. She and her troop worked with an animal rescue organization to feed and trap a colony of feral cats, allowing the cats to be taken to be neutered. “We were able to get their numbers down from about 76 cats to about 50,” Tori said. “And the more awareness of feral cat colonies we spread, the more people will hopefully get their animals fixed.”
Tori plans to continue her leadership in high school. “The goal is for me and a couple of other girls to take over our troop,” she said. “I would love to have my own Girl Scout troop someday. It’s always been a dream of mine.”
I asked both Ginny and Tori what the Women of Distinction awards meant to them.
“I’ve been able to help a lot,” Tori said. “Sometimes things happen, and I’ve been able to do something about it. I’ve gotten so many wonderful opportunities with Girl Scouts.”
Ginny agreed. “I’ve been able to do so many wonderful things that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise without the Girl Scouts… It’s nice to be recognized, but I don’t think it changes anything. I wouldn’t have quit, but it’s nice to know other people know what I’ve done.”
This year’s Women of Distinction ceremony takes place on August 26 at the Hurst Conference Center. To purchase tickets, click here.
If you know a girl who is interested in Girl Scouts, or if you are interested in volunteering, please follow this link.
As Ginny said, “At our core, Girl Scouts is a sisterhood of women who take care of women.”