VERONA – Anita Ambrose’s daughters have aged out of the Girl Scouts, but she’s still leading meetings and expanding minds.
“Each time I think about quitting, I think of my leader when I was in Girl Scouts,” Ambrose said. “She didn’t have children, but she took a lot of time with us.”
Ambrose fondly remembers her days with Troop No. 53 in Starkville, and how Girl Scouts opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
“As a girl, it helped my confidence in myself and my abilities, and let me see that the sky was the limit,” the 46-year-old Verona resident said. “My mama always told me, ‘You can be anything you want to be as long as you keep God first and get an education.’ The Girl Scouts reinforced what my mama said.”
As an adult, she’s helped teach those same lessons for more than 18 years. She leads Troop No. 20130, which meets at Link Centre in Tupelo and Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Verona.
In addition to working with kids, she trains other volunteers in the Girl Scouts Heart of the South council, which is based in Tupelo.
Her efforts recently earned her the Thanks Badge II.
“I didn’t know I was nominated until it was being announced that I’d won it,” she said.
Ambrose had already earned the Thanks Badge, which is given for conduct “so significantly above and beyond the call of duty that no other award would be appropriate,” according the Girl Scouts’ criteria.
It could be said that the Thanks Badge II is for those who somehow manage to go above and beyond the standard of “above and beyond.”
“Anita is an awesome individual,” said Lori Robertson, a membership manager for Girl Scouts Heart of the South. “She truly has a passion and wants to do for others. She’s a rare person.”
Ambrose said she couldn’t do it alone. She relies on older kids to help lead the younger ones, and there would be no troop meetings without help from parents.
“I always have a lot of parents who help,” she said. “I tell them, ‘If y’all can’t help me, I can’t continue being a leader.’”
A registered nurse, Ambrose works with North Mississippi Medical Center’s Home Health. Her duties include quality control and staff development.
“I really enjoy my job, but working with the girls, you help them to realize their potential and help build their confidence,” she said. “I try to expose them to things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.”
In addition to crafts, camping and exploring career possibilities, the girls give back to the community with service projects.
And there’s no telling how many boxes of cookies Ambrose’s children and troop members have delivered over the years.
“My favorite is Trefoils. They used to be called Shortbread,” Ambrose said. “That’s my favorite. The Thin Mints are next.”
Ambrose and her husband, Melvin Ambrose, have four children, Rasheda, Octavia, Melvin Jr. and Mason. Maybe she’ll remain a Girl Scouts leader long enough to teach a grandchild or two.
For now, she’ll focus on expanding the horizons of girls who come to her.
“At some point, I’ll stop being a leader and just work with our service unit. Exactly when that’s going to be, I don’t know,” Ambrose said. “I want to stay involved with Girl Scouts even when I stop being a leader, if it’s the Lord’s will.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal