Plymouth Harbor resident Ann Brackett has spent a lifetime believing in the unlimited potential of girls when given the opportunity to grow. Not so long ago, she was attending the annual Boys & Girls Club Luncheon, one of the largest and most inspiring fundraising events of Sarasota’s very busy “season.” She found herself sitting next to Sue Stewart, who was there representing Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. Before long, they were sharing their mutual love for the tradition of scouting.
You see, being a Girl Scout when she was a child was so important to Ann that she had kept her uniform, proudly decorated with numerous badges to mark her achievements, in a keepsake box all these years. An idea sprang out of her chance meeting with Sue: why not donate that uniform, now considered a rare vintage treasure, to the local Girl Scout council? It was an easy decision to make and before she knew it she was visiting with current Scouts and sharing stories with them while they gazed at the proper dress uniform so different from the simple vests the girls wear today.When Ann was a child, there was a local Girl Scout troop meeting regularly at her church, which was right next to her school in Newton, MA. This made it very convenient for Ann to get involved. Being an only child, belonging to her Girl Scout troop gave Ann the social interaction she craved. She enjoyed the opportunity it gave her to work with and become friends with girls beyond her circle from school or her neighborhood.
“In Girl Scouts it doesn’t matter what color you are or how you look. You are part of a family and everyone respects you,” adds Ann. “This outstanding organization has made our nation a much better place. Girl Scouts present positive role models, endless possibilities, and a clear path to making dreams come true. The positive influence of Girl Scouts has lasted a lifetime for me.”
Ann was an enthusiastic scout and some of her fondest memories were of summer camp. Each merit badge earned built her confidence and inspired her increased involvement over the years. She feels it was Girls Scouts that prepared her for an unexpected challenge later in her life when she was called upon to care for her aunt diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Girls are strong when they help other people. Girls need to feel a responsibility to care for others and experience the joy that goes along with it,” she comments.
Ann was unexpectedly reunited with her Girl Scout leader, Edna Hockridge, 40 years after her scouting days. She was with her aunt at the doctor’s office, when Mrs. Hockridge, also in the waiting room, recognized Ann’s laugh. It was one of those unexpected, sweet moments to reminisce with her Girl Scout leader all those years later. “I guess I never lost my unique laugh!” exclaimed Ann.
“The staff and current Girl Scouts were thrilled when Ann offered to donate her beautiful, pristine, vintage Girl Scout uniform to Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. Her gift serves as a reminder to all our girl members and Girl Scout alumnae that Girl Scouting is a lifelong circle of friendship, with shared ideals.
“The powerful values – courage, confidence and character – are as relevant today as they were in Ann’s day. The insignia, badges and achievements proudly displayed on Ann’s uniform show girls today that what they do matters, and that they can take action to make the world a better place,” shares Sue Stewart, CEO of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida.
As a result of Ann’s recent connection with the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Plymouth Harbor is now partnering with a member of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida who is interested in fulfilling her Gold Award by rebuilding the Butterfly Garden, a special feature of Plymouth Harbor’s beautiful campus grounds.
Ann’s story is not unique. In fact, many of the women living at Plymouth Harbor were Girl Scouts. It seems as if everywhere you turn, you meet women excited to share their memories as a Girl Scout. Whether it’s a fond reflection of their time at camp, a friendship formed fifty years ago that is as strong today as it was then, or the recent memory of a college student whose passion was ignited as a Girl Scout – the stories are everywhere.