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Neighbors of Kane County

Lifelong Girl Scout leaves legacy for local Gold Award Girl Scouts

Mar 13, 2018 11:04AM

Girl Scout Elizanne Hanitz Lewis

Rockford, Illinois - Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois has introduced The Elizanne Gold Award Scholarship Fund. Financial support to start the fund was generously provided by the family of lifelong Girl Scout Elizanne Hanitz Lewis. At the time of her death in 2017, Elizanne was recognized by Girl Scouts of the USA as the oldest living recipient of the Golden Eaglet, Girl Scouting’s highest award available from 1916 to 1939.

Now named the Girl Scout Gold Award, Girl Scouting’s highest award recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take Action projects which have sustainable impact in their local and global communities.

Elizanne was a trailblazer. She became a Brownie Girl Scout in 1928, as a member of Rockford Council of Girl Scouts Brownie Pack 1. She went through all levels of Girl Scouts and completed requirements for the highest Girl Scout Award, the Golden Eaglet, the precursor to the Gold Award, in 1937. She continued as a lifelong Girl Scout, volunteering in many different adult positions, including as Rock River Valley Council President from 1968–1969, where she believed that the “mission critical” of Girl Scouting was to teach girls group decision-making skills and self-sufficiency so that they can become active citizens of the world.  She received her award around a campfire at Sinnissippi Park in front of a crowd of nearly 1,500 in June of 1938.  

After a lifetime of service to others, Elizanne died at the age of 97, on May 6, 2017. It was her desire to leave a legacy to current and future Gold Award Girl Scouts for the furthering of their life ambitions. Thanks to the generosity of Elizanne and her family, an endowment has been started to provide funds to support Gold Award Girl Scouts throughout the years.

Girls who have earned a Girl Scout Gold Award will be eligible to apply for a Gold Award Scholarship. Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois is proud to provide The Elizanne Gold Award Scholarship Fund in addition to other Gold Award scholarships to help positively impact the future of these bright and magnificent young women. If you would like to donate to this fund or Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, please contact Lynn Momberger at 844-476-4463.

About the Girl Scout Gold Award

Starting in 1916, the best and brightest have undertaken projects to improve their communities—and the world. The Golden Eaglet insignia, the highest award in Girl Scouts from 1916 to 1939, marked the beginning of a long tradition of recognizing the extraordinary efforts of extraordinary girls. From 1940 to 1963, the Curved Bar Award was the highest honor in Girl Scouts. From 1963 to 1980, the highest award was called First Class. Since 1980 and forever in the future, the Gold Award has and will inspire girls to develop their leadership styles and skills to make a sustainable difference in their communities.

Girls can earn highest awards at various Girl Scout levels. Girl Scout Juniors (grades 4–5) can become Bronze Award Girl Scouts, while Girl Scout Cadettes (grades 6–8) can become Silver Award Girl Scouts. Girl Scout Seniors and Ambassadors (grades 9–12) demonstrating the highest level of leadership become Gold Award Girl Scouts.

The Gold Award may be earned by any registered Girl Scout in high school who has completed the prerequisites, including Girl Scout Journeys and leadership awards, and fulfills the rigorous requirements of successfully completing the award. The award requires 80 hours minimum of personal time investment in a project. It challenges girls to identify and work in a topic area for which they have a strong interest and passion.

The Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois serves 16 counties including parts or all of Boone, Carroll, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, and Winnebago., 844-GSNI-4-ME (844-476-4463).