My mantra for this week is "hold fast to your dreams!" This is the week we have three summer camps started across the council. I'm excited, as this is always my favorite time of year. We have Camp Sunshine, a long-running camp for girls in public housing communities in Montgomery, which has been run and funded by an extraordinary pair of friends, Laurie Weil and Kathy Sawyer, for the past 25 years.
These two perfectly illustrate the power of Girl Scouts. Kathy Sawyer and Laurie Weil both grew up in Montgomery in the 1960s, during a time of civil unrest and racial turmoil. It is unlikely they knew each other when they were children, one growing up on one side of town, the other on the other side of town. Those were the days of segregation, when blacks sat in the back of the bus and white girls didn't have many black girls who were their friends.
Both went on to become accomplished women, one a veterinarian and the other a public servant working with the mentally ill. Their backgrounds could not have been more different, but the values of their parents were the same. You treated everyone with respect and dignity. You become a responsible contributing citizen of your community and you give back what you can to the community. Their parents shared those values and inculcated them into their daughters.
Kathy Sawyer and Laurie Weil became friends while participating in Leadership Montgomery, a program to break down racial barriers and stereotypes. It provides a safe place for people to talk about their community's shared issues. Not only did these accomplished women become friends, they decided to change their community. Together they founded Camp Sunshine, a program for girls in Montgomery's public housing communities.
This camp attracts volunteers of all ages from the Montgomery area and beyond to spend a week with the girls of Camp Sunshine. Girls from the public housing communities in Montgomery covet a place in the camp, which is a safe place for girls to learn about character, how to be courageous, and be confident. It is a safe place where no one yells at them. Everything at the camp is about support and becoming the girl you can be.
For the past 25 years, Kathy Sawyer and Laurie Weil have shared their gifts with the girls of Montgomery. They have improved the lives of thousands of girls and volunteers. Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama is delighted to announce the naming of the pavilion at Kamp Kiwanis, a place where girls go to talk, understand one another, and make friends, after Kathy Sawyer and Laurie Weil. The Sawyer-Weil pavilion will be a reminder to those who go on from now that a strong bond and friendship these women share. This will serve as a safe place for girls to "hold on to their dreams and make them become a reality." Thank you to Kathy Sawyer and Laurie Weil for your gift to the girls of the Montgomery community.