Girl Scouts honor Women of Distinction

September 28, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • These women were honored Wednesday as Eastern Panhandle Girl Scouts Women of Distinction: They are, from left: Berniece Collis of Martinsburg, W.Va., Mary Hayward of Martinsburg, and Phyllis LeTart of Shepherdstown, W.Va.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Three Eastern Panhandle women were recognized Wednesday by the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital for their leadership and contributions to the community.

Berniece Collis, vice president of Minghini's General Contractors Inc.; Mary Hayward, regional retail sales manager of Susquehanna Bank; and Phyllis LeTart, vice president of legal and business affairs at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, were honored as the 2011 Women of Distinction at a reception at Holiday Inn on Foxcroft Avenue.

"It's a privilege, it's an honor and it's very humbling," said Hayward, 60, of the recognition. "But at the end of the day, it's all about the Girl Scouts. It's all about our future leaders. And how we conduct ourselves ... we want to be mentors and role models for them as well."

Collis, 56, of Martinsburg, recalled joining Girl Scouts as a Brownie in 1963.

"I have a picture of when I was in the Brownies and there were 24 of us in the Troop, Collis said. "And the picture has all of us in our little brown uniform and our little beanies and our white gloves ..."

Collis said the skills she learned in Girl Scouts have helped her throughout her life.

"To me, Girl Scouts is the premiere organization for girls," said Collis, who serves on the nation's capital board.

LeTart, 63, recalled the camaraderie and learning about team effort, setting goals and other lifelong lessons when she joined as a Brownie at the age of 7.

Looking back on her scouting experiences, LeTart said all of the activities that at the time seemed like fun had "a message."

"If you were working on a badge, you were setting a goal and committed to achieving something," LeTart said.

LeTart said the public recognition is "not usually her cup of tea" and felt that the event is really about trying to ensure the scouting program continues for a long time.

Lidia Soto-Harmon, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts Nation's Capital Council, said she feels the celebration shows young woman what they can aspire to achieve and possibly be honored as women of distinction in the future.

Soto-Harmon said the membership in the Shenandoah region of the nation's capital council has seen a 10 percent increase in the last two years and 2.8 percent overall.

In each of the last four years, more than 200 girls in the organization have obtained the gold award, the highest award given to Girl Scouts, Soto-Harmon said.

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