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When Mary Ann Tuft was in high school back in the late 1940s, her teacher invited all the girls in the class to be in an exclusive sorority – everyone except for Mary Ann that is. She was not invited because she was Jewish. Although that may have been very deflating for some girls, Mary Ann had her Girl Scouts troop that accepted her no matter what.
Because Girl Scouts was so impactful on Mary Ann’s life, she decided to be one of the founding members of the Juliette Gordon Low Society – Girl Scouts Planned Giving Society. Mary Ann, who currently lives in Chicago, is happy to give back to an organization that has given her so much.
Mary Ann fondly recalls her troop leader and experiences as a Girl Scout. She says she felt a sense of belonging and her experience helped build her confidence as a young girl. She went camping across the country where she developed the love of the outdoors.
Learning how to collaborate and work as a team were key components of camping, she explains. They shared common goals and worked together to accomplish them. “There was a focus on others,” says Mary Ann. “We helped each other, it was never just about oneself.”
Today, hanging in her kitchen, is a Girl Scout certificate from 1947 for a cooking class she completed. At age 83, she laughs at this because now she is the first one to call a caterer.
One Girl Scout opportunity led to the next Girl Scout opportunity for Mary Ann. After graduating from college, she started teaching the third grade and served as a volunteer Girl Scout leader. One of her favorite memories was taking the girls to Colorado Springs to go camping like she did when she was a Girl Scout.
Then Girl Scouts of the USA asked Mary Ann to be a representative to Girl Scouts in Israel. She lived in Israel for six months and never stayed in a hotel. She lived with many different families and learned a new culture and way of life. “Girl Scouts had always been ahead of the times,” says Mary Ann. “Girl Scouts has always accepting of other cultures.”
When she returned from Israel, she served as a national trainer for the Girl Scouts. Her leadership courses were even better than her college courses. With troop leaders, she shared her love and enthusiasm for Girl Scouts. Then those troop leaders passed on that love of scouting to future generations of girls.
“Girl Scouts is the ultimate training course for life,” says Mary Ann. After leaving Girl Scouts of the USA, she went on to be the Executive Director of the Radiological Society of North America in Oak Brook, Illinois. And then went on to start her own business, Tuft and Associates.
She says, “None of this would have happened without Girl Scouts.” She has owned her own business for 30 years and is still working today. “Any success I have had,” she says, “is because I had Girl Scouts as my foundation.”
To learn more about the Juliette Gordon Low Society, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.
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