LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Girl Scouts organization turned 107 Tuesday, millions of scouts across the country are celebrating, especially one girl scout troop in central Arkansas.
They are surviving against the odds, thanks to a dedicated scout leader and a whole lot of support.
"I had planned to retire last year, and then changed my mind two days before school ended,” said Connie Hansen, a teacher at Little Rock’s Wakefield Elementary.
She’s taught kids young kids for 28 years, but Hansen’s calling has gone far beyond the walls of the classroom.
"I have a purpose here and I feel like my time just wasn't over," she said.
Troop 6314 is unique. It’s comprised of members inside the classrooms of Little Rock School District's Wakefield Elementary.
The program started last year, spearheaded by Hansen’s coworker and teacher Tonya Nichols, but had little hope of continuing.
"Tonya was diagnosed with cancer, and someone had to step up and take over the whole thing,” Hansen said.
Hansen made sure her friend's vision lived on. She postponed her retirement to keep the Girl Scouts program alive at Wakefield, an elementary school serving children of low-income families.
Wakefield’s troop is not a traditional one, it's considered a special initiative troop, in which the Girl Scouts council provides the funding.
"I have parents say, I'm glad you all do this because I couldn't have afforded to do this for all my girls,” said Hansen.
Hansen and her volunteer leaders are giving students an opportunity to build life skills they otherwise may not have.
In just one year, leaders said they've seen a great impact in the lives of their scouts
"We've seen girls come out of their shells, because we are building leaders, students who were shy, they are more outspoken now,” said Juanita Scroggins, volunteer scout leader. "They know if it's not the girl scouts way, we redirect them. They are held accountable."
Hansen hopes the cycle of giving continues, that other leaders will fight for Troop 6314.
"We hope that we just carry that over,” she said. “Maybe next year a few more will fill in the spots of the ones that may not be with us."
Not only did the girls celebrate the organization’s birthday Tuesday, but surpassing goals.
The troop has sold above-average cookie sales. So far, collecting more than $14,000.