Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hispanic Engagement Volunteer Makes New Strides

Each month nominations are submitted to Telemundo and they choose to recognize one volunteer. Out of
 the volunteers recognized, one volunteer will be selected to attend the Jefferson Awards Foundation 
ball in Washington, D.C. in June.
Five years ago Elizabeth Kuykendall, a volunteer with the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council’s Hispanic Community Engagement program, took her youngest daughter, Haven, to a Girl Scout rally at J.W. Oates Elementary. In the few short years since then, Kuykendall has become an invaluable volunteer for GSSJC and was recently recognized for her hard work and dedication with the prestigious Jefferson Award presented by Telemundo.

But it wasn't long ago that Kuykendall spent most of her days tending to her family, her home and watching her favorite Spanish soap operas on television. Of course, she still takes care of her family but she believes she is able to do that more successfully now that she is active in the Girl Scout volunteer community. “I keep myself very busy now,” Kuykendall said. “But it is good because it has changed me.”

Kuykendall saw Girl Scouts as an opportunity to learn leadership skills, not just for her daughter, but herself as well. “My goal was to see my daughter explore different things in the world and inside herself,” she said. “Girl Scouts also helped me realize my own strength.”

Originally from Veracruz, Mexico, Kuykendall immigrated to the U.S. more than 20 years ago. While finding community was a challenge, finding confidence as a stay-at-home mom in a new country was even more difficult.

“I try to tell people that yes, there are a lot of responsibilities in Girl Scouts, but that’s only because there are so many opportunities,” Kuykendall said. Seeing the incredible difference Girl Scouts has made in her life only motivates Kuykendall to reach out to others in Houston’s Hispanic community.

With Kuykendall’s help, in 2010 GSSJC began Viva Grande, the Council’s Hispanic engagement program now known as Hispanic Community Engagement. With this program, families like Kuykendall’s can connect and demonstrate to others that Girl Scouts is a great first step towards building skills in girls and adults to help with future careers.

Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is one of the largest Girl Scout councils in the country, serving more than 61,000 girls and 17,000 adult members in 26 southeast Texas counties. For more information on how you can get involved and volunteer with Girl Scouts, visit www.gssjc.org for more information