A sweet treat for everyone involved

When I sink my teeth into some incredibly scrumptious creation made from Samoas, I'll think about Lauren Mayo's beaming courage.

When I sample some flavorful recipe featuring Thin Mints, I'll think about Mayo's brimming confidence.

When I down the last morsel of culinary delight at Dessert First on Friday at the Renaissance Vinoy, I'll think of Mayo's incredible sense of self. And that's how it should always be when you attend a fundraiser for the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida.

But I have to confess. Over the years, chefs have whipped up Girl Scout Cookie-themed desserts (before dinner) and I've been there as a judge, galloping through the gourmet tour with little thought to how much great work is being done by the organization.

You know: Girl Scouts, cookies, badges and cute little green and brown outfits. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now can I have another slice of that Do-Si-Dos skillet cake, please?

After speaking to Mayo, however, I'll have a far more refreshing perspective. A senior at Riverview High, Mayo is in the National Honor Society, National Tech Honor Society, Future Farmers of America, 4-H and plays on the golf team.

"What I've learned in Girl Scouts is used in every one of those activities," Mayo said. "It never goes unused."

Mayo, 17, joined Girl Scouts as a first-grader and 11 years later, she's still a member. As one of two girls on the area board of directors, she will help represent the district in Indianapolis next month at the Girl Scouts National Convention.

In this day and age, some kids tease those who chose to participate in something wholesome and meaningful. Mayo not only is undeterred by such criticism, she's reaching out to the younger Brownies and Daisies and encouraging them to stay involved.

"I tell them not to be afraid to tell people you're a Girl Scout," Mayo said. "I tell them it's something you should be proud of. I say, 'Tell them about all the things you've done and they'll realize they haven't done half the things you've done.' "Some girls say, 'I was in Girl Scouts but I got too old for it. It hurts my heart to hear that.

"It's so important for them to realize the difference they can make in the community."

Mayo has made a difference for years through her community service work with the Girl Scouts. Among the charities that have benefited from her help and that of her troop: Ronald McDonald House, Salvation Army, The Spring and Brandon's Emergency Care Help Organization.

Most impressive, however, is Mayo's self-assuredness. She says when she goes to college next year, she won't need her mom to cook or clean for her because she can do it all herself, thanks to Girl Scouts. And if she ever gets stuck in the woods, no problem.

When you interview a teen, you typically have to ask 10 questions to get three good answers. I asked Mayo one question and got seven good answers. I couldn't help but think: I want my daughter to be this confident when she's 17.

Now that would be a real treat.

That's all I'm saying.

Dessert First

When: Friday, 7 p.m., Oct. 3

Where: Renaissance Vinoy Resort

Tickets: $100

Web site: www.gswcf.org

A sweet treat for everyone involved 09/26/08 [Last modified: Saturday, September 27, 2008 12:01am]

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