Archive for Girl Scout Alumnae

Awesome Woman: Patty Lent

Lent Headshot Cropped


When Patty Lent was a Girl Scout, she never thought about a career in politics.

Patty started out as a Brownie in Tacoma, wearing her cousin’s hand-me-down uniforms. Though her cousin eventually quit, Patty was a Girl Scout into high school. She was the one in her troop who could always be counted on to help the troop leader, volunteer for activities or sit beside the shy girl – all leadership qualities that came to her naturally. But she didn’t envision a career in politics. She wanted to be a ballerina.

After her parents divorced, Patty’s dancing lessons came to an end. So when she went to college, she focused on teaching. Again, the future held an unexpected turn for Patty. She left college to help her father through the loss of her stepmother. “I paid my dad $50 a month in rent, even though I was there to help him,” Patty remembers. “And when I left, he gave me all that money back. It was his way of helping me get started and teaching me financial responsibility.”

Breaking New Ground for Women

A short few years later, Patty had married, had a son and divorced. It was 1972 and single mothers didn’t have a lot of options. She interviewed with Holiday Inn and soon became the company’s first female sales director.

Not afraid to be a groundbreaker, Patty joined the Kiwanis club as the first female member of her chapter in 1987. “When I joined, they said, ‘If we have to have a woman, we’re going to have a woman president,’” says Patty. “So I was the first female president of Kiwanis in the country. I would go into meetings and the men would say, ‘You’re in the wrong place, the secretaries are over there. When I stood up to speak at the national convention, the men resented my boldness. But they also took my suggestions,’” she says.

Patty’s second husband brought her to Bremerton in 1988. She immediately joined organizations like the American Red Cross, American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association – groups that make a difference in people’s lives. But still she did not see herself in politics.

Entering the Political Arena

Finally, someone suggested that she run for County Commissioner. She won and served her term, but lost her reelection campaign. “That was a huge disappointment, and a huge lesson for me,” she says. She went to work with her sister and put politics out of her mind…until the then-mayor retired. Suddenly, she saw an opportunity to make a difference in her community on a more local scale.

“It is so rewarding to be an agent of change and then see how what you do affects the people around you,” says Patty. And she has certainly brought a lot of positive change to the residents of Bremerton over the years.

Making a Difference

YOUNG MAYOR 3As mayor, Patty’s list of achievements is diverse and far-reaching. She worked with the YMCA to begin free swimming lessons to all third-graders in the Bremerton school district, organized local landlords to provide housing to unsheltered veterans in the community, and created job shadowing programs for high school students to learn about skill-based careers at West Sound Tech.

“Finding people’s strengths is the key to opening someone’s exposure to success,” says Patty. “If you can recognize and develop their unique talents, they will shine.”

This philosophy has certainly proven true in Bremerton, which now has zero unsheltered veterans, among many other improvements achieved under Mayor Lent’s direction.

“I talk to kids about what they want to do with their futures,” she says. “I remember one little boy who didn’t know what he wanted to be as an adult. I suggested becoming a welder and explained what that was. He said, ‘Yeah, I want to be a welder!’ I told his teacher, ‘If he still thinks that next year, let’s take him to shadow a welder and let him really see it.’ It just takes a spark to ignite passion.”

When she became mayor, Patty knew that she wanted to do more with Girl Scouts. “They treat all girls the same and teach lifelong lessons,” she says. “I learned so many valuable life lessons as a Girl Scout that I still carry with me – things like compassion, respect, diversity. A Girl Scout could be anyone, from anywhere, with any sort of family or background. But when she joins a troop, none of that matters because suddenly you are all brought together in this wonderful common ground. Growing up, I was exposed to more diversity in Girl Scouts than I was at school, which really broadened my view of the larger world. We are living through some tough times today. In our community, we try to teach our kids values, pride and togetherness. We try not to give our time or attention to issues that divide our nation, but focus on the positive.”

Advice for Future Generations

Girl Scout Troop 1955_1Patty also has some sage words for today’s children. “When I speak to kids, I tell them anyone can be a mayor. It’s not a career job. A mayor is someone who wants to make a difference. You campaign to tell people what you want to change, and when you finish the changes, then you go back to your regular job. But in that moment, you stand up and make the changes you feel are needed.”

“I tell girls they really can do anything,” adds Patty. “And the skills they learn in Girl Scouts will serve them their entire lives. They can go on to be lawyers, teachers, anything, and the things they learn now, like courage and respect, will stay with them.”

For someone who never thought of herself as a politician, Mayor Lent is an example of how to gracefully navigate this challenging role and leave an admirable legacy of her time in office. Her focus on making positive change in her community never wavers and her list of achievements continues to grow.

“You have to have enthusiasm, passion and energy to be successful in any endeavor,” she says. “Without those things, nothing you do in life will be as rewarding as it could be. A job is just a job…unless you love it.”

And it’s obvious that Patty does.


My Girl Scout Story: Carla Corkern

Carla Corkern, CEO of Talyst and Girl Scouts of Western Washington board member, has a compelling Girl Scout story, and we’re so excited she is sharing it with us!

carla-corken“Girl Scouts of Western Washington is investing in our communities to build girls of courage, confidence and character, and I watch Girl Scouts every day who are paying it forward by giving back to the communities in which they live. As a transplant to this region, I am amazed at the resources and opportunities this beautiful state has to offer – and amazed at the commitment to girls from those in our community.

I grew up in a time and an area where the resources for girls were much different. A few years ago, when I would meet people and they would ask, ‘Girl, where are you from?’ I would say, ‘Lou-ee-see-ana,’ pronouncing it like I knew they expected to hear it, not Lou-see-ana like every true native knows is right. And, always people would say, ‘Oh, I love New Orleans!’ Well, I grew up about as far from New Orleans as you can get in Louisiana and still be inside the boot. Luckily, or unluckily, now I can tell people where I am actually from – and most of them – although they hate to admit it, have seen my hometown on reality TV. Yes, I grew up in the land of Duck Dynasty. So, if you’ve seen the show, you know the men are all grungy and outdoorsy and for some odd reason the women are all beautifully made up and ready to go to town all the time (and trust me, there isn’t much there to actually go do in the town that you need to get dressed up for except church on  Sundays).

Anyway, I tell you this story to give you a backdrop of a place and a time for my Girl Scout journey. My mama was (and still is) a woman like those duck dynasty women, a beautiful, poised, well-dressed woman who earned her beauty school license to help put my Dad through college. When I was born, she was overjoyed to have a life-sized doll to dress and mold into her image.  Unfortunately for her, by the time I’d started school, it was pretty clear – that wasn’t gonna be the way it was going to go. Every chance I could get I was sneaking out of the house to catch bugs in a jar or trap crawfish in the ditch or crawl around the construction sites in our neighborhood picking up coke bottles (for money, not environmental reasons).

However, my mama held out hope for me. She signed me up for all kinds of things to make me a lady. First up was baton twirling! After I had blackened my eye and broken several treasured knick knacks in the living room, I came home one day to find my baton had mysteriously been run over in the driveway, although I distinctly remember leaving it in the laundry room when I left for school that day. Next up was ballet, then acrobatics and tap dancing.  All of these required dressing up and going to town which I fought tooth and nail. After school, I  just wanted to run wild outside in the woods.

Finally my mother (probably because it was an after-school activity and didn’t require a trip to town) signed me up for Brownies. She even got excited when she saw the cute little dress and beanie that I’d have to wear on meeting day.  Although I hated wearing dresses more than anything, I was willing to give Girl Scouts a chance because some older tough girls from the playground I knew were in the troop and I looked up to them. From that first day, I was hooked. The classroom was filled with energy and unlike what usually happens in school classrooms, the girls were in charge. The older girls ran most of the meeting and before long I was swept up in the songs and the games and when we went outside to play a game of Red Rover I knew I had found my tribe. I loved the fact that no one shushed me or told me to sit down and be quiet (unless it was one of those older tough girls and you can bet I did it, too!).

When cookie selling season came around, I really found my place. I loved to sell cookies! Seems I had a knack for asking people for money! I loved to fill up my little red wagon and walk from house to house and knock on doors. I started going to my mom’s beauty shop after school and setting up a little card table during cookie season to sell cookies.

 Carla Corkern featured at the podium, as she was named Girl Scout of the Year in 1976 for the Silver Waters Council.

Carla featured at the podium, as she was named Girl Scout of the Year in 1976.

I pestered people at my church, I pestered people at my dance lessons (you thought I got out of that, didn’t you?) and I sold so many cookies I was named Girl Scout of the Year in 1976 for the Silver Waters Council! It was a little council and in a small rural area but I was on top of the world!

I have no doubt that my love for selling cookies and the lessons I learned there led me to my current career. Girl Scouts took me to President of my Middle School Student Council and to the state championships in Speech and Debate. My Girl Scout selling skills came into play when I started my first company at 26 had called every bank on an SBA approved lenders list and set up meetings with people twice my age (most of whom laughed me out of the room, but hey, it only took one to say yes!).

The skills I learned in Girl Scouts helped me in my role as CEO today!”

My Girl Scout Story: Dee Cheng

We’re thrilled to launch our new series, “My Girl Scout Story,” with Dee Cheng, a recent alumna, who still has wonderful Girl Scout memories to share! Take it away, Dee!

My Girl Scout Story

Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t want it to end?

deeThen perhaps you understand just how I felt my senior year of high school. It was my last year of Girl Scouts and I was apprehensive to be leaving a community I considered my home. For 10 years of my life, I was a part of an organization that supported me and provided me with a platform to grow, to explore, and to lead.

I was not afraid to take charge. I was not afraid to voice my opinions and follow my heart. I had the passion and motivation to make a change, but it wasn’t always that way. As a little girl I dreamed of making a difference in this world, and having an impact in my own, unique way, but I constantly found myself thinking, how? What is my purpose and will I be successful? Can I actually do it?

That’s what I was thinking my first cookie season as a Brownie, ready to go deecookiedoor-to-door. I was nervous; I did not know how to approach people or what to say. We were partnered up girls only a few years older than us, and they were so poised and confident, energized and outgoing,. Their charisma was so captivating and I loved how they encouraged us and took us under their wing. These were also the same girls I saw at camp, who taught me girl scout traditions and encouraged me to become a leader. I wasn’t sure about a lot of things back then, but I knew I wanted to follow in their footsteps. But how? Could I really possibly become a leader like them?

Throughout the years, Girl Scouts did not fail to deliver opportunity after opportunity, and the more I experienced, the more confidence I gained. I grew as a daughter, a student, a friend, and a scout. Before I knew it, I was showing younger girls how to sell cookies. I was the one leading songs at camp. I was the one completing large scale projects and taking action within the community. I was the one being asked to speak at events, to share my experience, and to tell younger girls that yes, they can do it too.  And I was very convincing because I finally knew the answer to the questions I had asked myself so many times as a young girl. I can do it, too! I can be a leader, and I can make a difference.

dee1I know it because I have actual proof!

One day I was at the grocery store, when I suddenly heard a little girl yelling, “Taffy, taffy!” My camp name is Taffy, but I didn’t make the connection and just thought that girl wanted some candy. Next thing I knew she was running up to me a gave me a big hug. She started talking all at once, out of breath, telling me how much she loved camp and thanking me for teaching her songs and campfire safety. “Thank you so much Taffy, I had so much fun!” she said. “I loved learning and I hope one day I can be like you.” I stood there in shock, not realizing how my actions have really made a difference. When I became an older girl scout, I was constantly looking for avenues where I can make an impact, and yet it was happening right before my eyes.

dee2At the time, I didn’t understand the impact this organization would have on me, but looking back I would not even be half the person I am today without it. Now, trying to figure out the next stage of my life, I constantly question, can I do it? Can I really make a difference? I find my head and my heart pulling me in the direction of technology. I want to make a difference globally, and  create equal accessibility and opportunity for those who need it most.  The path to get there feels daunting at times, just like it was daunting for 8-year-old me to sell cookies and be a leader at camp. I sometimes doubt I won’t be good enough to make a change, but then I remember the last ten years, and I remember the girl at the grocery store.

And I remember because I’m writing this story now, all because I am a product of an organization that changes lives, including mine. And it gave me the confidence to go out into the world and do the same. So whether it’s using technology to create something that will make people’s lives better, or continuing to be a mentor to others, I know that I can do anything. Girl Scouts taught me that.

Making Global Connections at Our Chalet

Last July, Girl Scout alumna Sue Hislop woke up to this view:


She had finally arrived at Our Chalet—a Girl Scout World Center in Switzerland—and she couldn’t believe her eyes.

“When you get to that valley, it’s like something out of a fairy tale,” Sue remembers. “There are really steep valleys and mountains in the background, cows all over the place, very fresh, fresh air, and you’re about 4,000 feet up in the air … it’s just beautiful.”

This was the culmination of a long journey that began when Sue was in elementary school … Read more

Awesome Woman: Jennifer Louden


This is a love story.

It’s not a traditional story, though.

This is not a story about couples, and it’s not a story about loving a pet, a country or even a donut. It’s a love story about all of us – about celebrating what makes us special, what makes our hearts soar and the ways in which we can honor our own process (even when we’re afraid).

To sort through all the debris that sometimes gets in the way of finding and honoring who we really are, there are some big questions to ask ourselves … Read more

Adventure Out with Girl Scouts!

The YAYA Hiker Girl Scouts have explored western Washington for over a decade. This year, they’re tackling their biggest challenge yet …

2014 YAYA HIKERS (36)“Is this real? Am I really standing in the middle of this? How is it possible, when the only time you see this kind of beauty is in pictures and on postcards?

That’s how Girl Scout Victoria Holmes describes her favorite part of hiking: that moment when you pause on a trail, breath in the nature around you, and get to appreciate the beauty of the land. Read more