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Saginaw Bake Off raises money in a sweet way

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SAGINAW – Brittany Edwards, 19, says she knew she needed help when she became involved four years ago in an Outreach program offered by the Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan.
The Saginaw Valley State University freshman was among a group of girls and young women who shared their stories with a group of more than 100 people gathered at the Horizons Conference Center on Thursday for the Girl Scout Cookie Bake-Off 2012 Benefit. The event raised $30,730 which will be used to fund Outreach programs for girls in the Great Lakes Bay Region served by GSHOM.
“The Outreach program facilitators got me to open up to see myself in a very different light,” Edwards said.
GSHOM’s Outreach programming provides needed educational and recreational opportunities to girls who face financial and transportation challenges as well as a lack of adult supervision or a feeling of safety and security. The programs are held in locations that are convenient for girls to get to and tackle issues such a self esteem and the importance of making good choices.
The impact of the program on her own life, encouraged Edwards to apply to be an Outreach facilitator in the Saginaw area to help empower other girls to believe in themselves and their ability to become leaders. She makes time to meet with her girls, despite a demanding school and work schedule.
“I love my girls,” Edwards said as she stood at a podium with tears in her eyes. “I can talk to my girls about my own experiences so they can learn from them.”
Hiring Brittany as a facilitator was a leap of faith for Lisa Ingram, Outreach Specialist in GSHOM’s Saginaw office.
“I took a gamble in hiring her,” Ingram said, “but I feel like it’s one of the best things I ever did because I empowered her. She really knows how to deal with all different personalities. She really is a success story and I’ve just seen her mature totally in the way she carries herself.
Edwards said her goal is to become a doctor and open up a practice for women and children in her hometown because she wants to give back to the community.
Some might consider this a rather lofty goal, but Jan Barker, GSHOM’s Chief Executive Officer, said she expects nothing less from the more than 22,000 girls who are members of troops or involved in programs in the 34-county area served by her organization.
“We have an amazing group of adult volunteers who dedicate themselves to building girls of courage, confidence and character who willingly accept leadership roles in their communities, schools and the business world,” Barker said. “What Brittany has accomplished is powerful proof of Girl Scouting’s ability to change lives one girl at a time.”
In 2011, GSHOM had a goal to serve an additional 100 girls through its Outreach programming. Barker said they were able to surpass that goal by 600 because of last year’s Bake Off which raised $29,230. She said a total of 4,875 girls and adult volunteers in the Saginaw area are now part of the Girl Scout movement.
“Events like this Bake Off help us to ensure the continued efforts of Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan to make sure that all girls who want to be involved in Girl Scouting have that opportunity,” Barker said.

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