YouthBridge Connections: Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri
“It’s amazing to think that we have this incredible benefactor and we don’t know who it is – that they care this much but don’t care about the recognition,” says Bonnie Barczykowski, Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri. Recently, the organization received a multi-year gift from an anonymous donor that was connected through YouthBridge.
“I’m so fascinated by how YouthBridge works,” she says. “They describe themselves as ‘a bridge’ and it’s certainly true. In this case, they aligned the passion of a family fund foundation with our mission and made a connection that helps sustain that mission as we continue to grow, innovate and improve access for every girl.”
The Girls Scouts of Eastern Missouri celebrates 104 years in 2022 and is the sixth largest chapter of the Girl Scouts of America. “I think that speaks volumes to our ability to evolve and stay relevant,” says Barczykowski, who recently went through some of the old badges that girls could earn a few decades back. “They were for things like homemaking, being a good hostess and citizenship; today we have 24 different badges in STEM, from cyber security to automotive engineering. I don’t know anywhere else they can get such a variety of experiences.”
Local funding and partnerships are essential to offering programs that interest girls today, she says. “We’ve decided to keep moving at the speed of a girl, and girls move pretty quickly. They love to test their strength with extreme sports, practice search and rescue with first responders – adventurous things like that – but what they love most is STEM.” The Girl Scouts have partnered with corporations, schools and others to introduce the various aspects of STEM to members. Recent projects include pairing Girl Scouts with interns from Enterprise to program video games and teaming up with the U.S. Navy to build underwater robots, which they tested at a local pool and entered into a competition.
Barczykowski is not only concerned with creating new experiences, but making them available to more girls. The organization works to provide financial assistance for memberships, uniforms and camps, and in low-income areas have utilized staff to organize and lead troops, since parents “often don’t have extra time for volunteering,” she says.
“So many former members tell me that it’s the friendships and achievements that stick with them and helped shape them. I want every girl to have that.”
If you would like to donate or have any questions about this organization, please contact Allison McDonald.