"A lot of times people see our girls selling cookies, but they don't realize all the incredible things they're doing for their communities, the incredible things they're doing in terms of building their own skills and their leadership so, girl scouting is important to me because it really is about building our future women leaders."
Women of all ages came together for a night to unity through strength and courage as the Girl Scouts of Connecticut celebrated its 20th anniversary at its annual Woman of Merit fundraiser event at the Stamford Hilton Thursday night.
Every year Girl Scouts of Connecticut recognizes a woman who exemplifies leadership, personal achievement, and service to community. This year's Woman of Merit Honoree went to Jeanette Horan, Chief Information Officer of IBM.
"The most important thing for girls to know is that they need to focus on their education," said Horan. "And certainly if they're in the scouting movement, they're also focusing on building their confidence and their leadership skills because you never know where life is going to take you and the solid foundation that you build at this age can take you anywhere. I had no idea I was going to be a CIO."
Organizers say they expect to raise about $100,000 to support programs.
"A lot of those programs go to underserved girls who can't afford to be girl scouts. We have programs in health and fitness. We have programs in health and fitness we have programs in financial literacy, we have programs in anti-bullying so tonight's proceeds go directly to our mission, to build girls of courage, character and confidence, who make the world a better place."
With 45 thousand girl scouts in the state and 20 thousand volunteers, current and former scouts say every moment was well-worth it.
"My girl scout service was a learning experience all the way long. It didn't end when I was a girl, it stayed when I was an adult."
"This has defiantly helped me and I've gained skills that I wouldn't have gained until I was later on into my 20s and 30s, so it was definitely a huge help for me."
"Girl Scouts has always opened a lot of doors for me that I've seen a lot of girls not have."
"My mother was a rebellious girl and her rebellion took the act in 1923 in becoming a girl scout leader," said Elaine Lowerguard, former executive director of the Connecticut Valley Girl Scout Council.