FARMINGDALE, NJ –  COVID-19 threatened to cancel Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore’s annual Women of Distinction & Community Partners Gala, originally planned for March. But with a few adjustments, the organization’s most significant fundraising event is set to take place outdoors on July 30 at Eagle Oaks Golf & Country Club.

Girl Scout supporters will gather for an alfresco cocktail celebration to honor community leaders and raise much-needed philanthropic support for the nonprofit, which like many organizations, has experienced financial and operational challenges during the pandemic.

“It’s been a challenging time for everyone,” said Girl Scouts’ CEO Eileen Higgins. “We look forward to coming together to celebrate inspiring leaders in our community and to generate funding that will provide experiences to develop tomorrow’s leaders – our 10,000 Girl Scouts across Monmouth and Ocean counties.”

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Girl Scouts hopes to raise $135,000 at the event to support leadership activities that girls from all backgrounds can access, such as summer camp and a variety of new virtual programs created in response to COVID-19.

Like many organizations forced to close during the pandemic, Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore has faced many hurdles, including a shift to working remotely, moving troop activities online and re-engineering its iconic Cookie Program to a largely digital platform and inviting businesses to donate cookies to deliver to essential workers. Additionally, summer camp programs had to be delayed but will open on July 13.

A committee of nearly 40 volunteers began planning the Gala in the fall of 2019 for the original March 20 date. But due to health and safety concerns, Girl Scouts decided to postpone the gala and canceled all other in-person activities ahead of the Governor’s stay-at-home order.

Chief Development Officer Kristen Miller said the new outdoor format will allow for ample social distancing in the vast Rose Garden at Eagle Oaks. In the event of rain, guests can safely distance under covered porches and tents. The awards presentation with introductions from Girl Scouts will be available online, along with the event raffle and auction. As guests depart, they will receive a multi-course gourmet meal to enjoy at home complete with a bottle of wine and Girl Scout Cookie dessert.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to finally recognize the outstanding role models in our community who reflect the Girl Scout mission to make the world a better place by leading with courage, confidence and character,” Miller said.

The honorees are:

Women of Distinction

Anne M. Davis, an attorney with offices in Brick

Christine Giordano Hanlon, Monmouth County clerk

Frances Keane, vice president of human resources, CentraState Healthcare System, and past chairwoman of the Girl Scouts Board of Directors

Dana Lancellotti, director of business development and tourism, Ocean County

Dr. Janice Warner, provost, Georgian Court University

Community Partner

Lakewood BlueClaws, an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, and long-time supporter of Girl Scouts

Man Enough to be a Girl Scout Member of the Year

Wayne Boatwright, vice president of diversity and inclusion, Hackensack Meridian Health

Event Co-Chairs are Teri O’Connor and Tom Hayes. O’Connor, honored as a Women of Distinction in 2011, is county administrator for Monmouth County and chairwoman of the Girl Scouts Board of Directors. Hayes serves as director of consumer and community relations at New Jersey Natural Gas and is a recipient of the Man Enough to be a Girl Scout Award.

The celebration will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tickets and sponsorships are still available and may be purchased online at gsfun.org/gala. Raffle tickets and bids for auction items are welcomed at http://gsfun.org/galaauction. Bidding begins on July 19 and will end at 10 p.m. on July 30. For more information, call (800) 785-2090 or e-mail gala@jerseyshoregirlscouts.org.

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