“We are trying to foster and create young leaders and let them know that they can make an impact individually, and an even bigger impact as a group. We are teaching these girls that they can be a force in the world and can initiate change,” said Kathy Affholder, operations analyst and Girl Scout troop leader at Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore.

Kathy was a Girl Scout herself for ten years of her childhood, then her daughter followed suit. While her kids are grown up, one year ago Kathy began the adoption process for her great niece Aaliyah. When she saw a flyer calling for a local troop leader in Benzie County, she knew she could help and get Aaliyah involved. Kathy and another troop leader pitched in their own funds, and the first Benzie County Girl Scout troop was born.

Fast forward four years, and today Kathy has a core group of 17 third grade girls ready to take on the world.

“It’s so exciting to watch them grow up!” said Kathy. “It’s incredible how excited these girls get, how invested they are, in being involved in something impactful together.”

Kathy’s troop is dedicated to their local community. Most Girl Scout troops earn the majority of their annual funds from their delicious cookie sales, but Kathy’s troop has repeatedly voted to keep only the funds they need to keep running, donating the rest (about 80%) to a local homeless shelter, churches and more. For the past two years, the girls have also made hundreds of gloves for local homeless shelters (pictured above). Their projects even span international borders as they voted to support a girl in Haiti in her quest to attend school, collecting and returning cans to raise the $250 it costs to send the girl to school each year. They plan to support her journey through high school graduation.

In 2018 Kathy was the recipient of the DTE Care Force Energy Impact Award for Greater Michigan for her 87.5 hours spent with her troops. Not only that, but our company granted her $500 for the Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore. The funding provides financial aid for membership and uniform costs to ensure financial barriers wouldn’t stop girls from joining. 

COVID-19 has presented the troop with new challenges, but they still prevail with weekly Zoom calls. Kathy also does “porch drops,” leaving packages of supplies so the girls can continue their projects from home.  

“We look forward to being together again, but we don’t want to miss one year of helping the community, so we are figuring it out. I am so proud to be part of this,” said Kathy.