From left: Alyssa Smith, Christina Brown, Anizia Barrera and Sienna Macias clown around during the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest annual Business Meeting at Christ’s Church, Saturday morning. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Roswell submitted the winning bid this year to host the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest annual leadership meeting Saturday, held at Christ’s Church.
Faith Simitz, of Goddard High School, received a Gold Award — the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve — during the event.
“I’m very happy,” Simitz said. “It’s very prestigious and I’m very glad I finally got it.”
Simitz, whose brother committed suicide before his 18th birthday, said she was inspired to create a video dealing with suicide awareness as her project to earn the Gold Award.
“One late night, I was sitting and typing at my computer and his picture was up there,” she said. “I said, ‘I know what I’m going to do for my Gold Award.’ My brother had always been a big influence in my life. It just came to me that I needed to help other people who feel suicidal.”
Simitz said she hopes the video will help others feel less ashamed. The video will play in school health classes and premiered during this year’s Women’s History Month luncheon.
“There’s kind of a stigma to suicide and I don’t think there should be,” Simitz said. “I think people who are feeling suicidal should be able to get help and realize they are not such horrible people; they just need to find help.”
Simitz, a senior, plans to attend New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology next year and become a forensic scientist.
Her father sat beside her as she told her story and held her certificate.
“She’s very precious to me,” her dad said.
The council, which encompasses 94,000 square miles and 33 counties and stretches from Midland and Odessa, down to the Big Bend and over to Silver City, selected and installed new board members at the daylong event.
Diane Flanagan, CEO of GSDS, said the large gathering of people was enough to book two hotels in the city.
“Our leaders in Roswell are amazing,” Flanagan said.
During the meeting, the group discussed several topics, including key priorities in adult enrichment, marketing, membership, funding and leadership.
Flanagan announced the GSDS had sold more than 84,500 cases of cookies last year and shipped 955 cases of gift boxes for American military overseas.
The council also beat its revenue budget at $79,459, she said. Former first lady Laura Bush had donated $1,000 to the group in honor of a friend, she said, and the foundation collected $223,048.
“This has certainly been an exciting year in our council,” Flanagan told the audience. “We continue to reach new and growing markets.”
During the day, Mignon Simitz, of Roswell, was given a Volunteer of Excellence award for her work helping Scouts train and complete 75- to 90-mile backpack trips. Nora Almanzar, of Roswell, was also given a Volunteer of Excellence award.
Outgoing chairwoman of the Board of Directors, Cathy McKelvain, who served from 2009 to 2013, was honored for her service. Cindy Conroy, of El Paso, was installed as the new chairwoman.