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Celebrating a Century of Gundy

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I remember the first time I heard Lenore “Gundy” Costello speak. It was at the 2015 Woman of Distinction, where she was being honored. She spoke of her life and commitment to Girl Scouts. As she told stories, I just sat in awe of her life’s work. Telling myself that I hoped to continue to grow to be the dedicated, generous, intelligent, and energetic woman she is with a long lasting impact on the world.

Since that day, I’ve been lucky to spend a several occasions with this wonderful woman. Tomorrow marks her 100th birthday. What an incredible milestone and it is breath-taking to reflect on the impact she has made to our council and the lives of countless girls and women from west central Florida.

Just two weeks ago, on the birthday of our movement’s founder, Juliette Gordon Lowe, our Girl Scouts celebrated this amazing woman. Tomorrow as she celebrates her century of a life well lived; she will spend it doing her traditional birthday activity, going on the lake in a canoe.

In honor of Gundy and her 100th birthday, I wanted to reflect on what we can learn from her century of service.

Committing your life to a cause. Gundy did just this. She dedicated her life to Girl Scouts and was one of our most effective CEOs. She has served in numerous roles including being a troop leader to leading the council. Her perspective is comprehensive and her commitment second to none. It is because of her leadership that we have a thriving Camp Wildwood. Her impact as a troop leader is still seen today in the women who continue to come together annually to celebrate her. And, they still do this around a camp fire today. We could all learn something about a lifetime of service and the impact we can have if we stay committed to our efforts. Gundy is a shining example.

Caring for our environment. Walking the woods at camp with Gundy is a real treat. She can name any insect or animal you point out. During our walks, I’ve learned about natural bug repellents and the unique characteristics of Spanish moss. Gundy loves our earth and has spent so much of her life inspiring girls to respect and celebrate our land. The last time we spent the day at camp, I picked up a small piece of trash. Gundy asked me what I picked up and I said, “It is just a piece of trash I will throw away.” To that she smiled and replied, “You passed the test! I will call you Trash Lady, Jr.!” Reminding me of her story about how the Girl Scouts would call her this at camp because she would often be seen picking things up. She serves as an inspiration to us all to care for our world.

Be a bridge builder. One of Gundy’s greatest strengths is bringing people together for a common cause. She does this with her infectious smile and her unwavering commitment. Her ability to bring so many together in support of Girl Scouts was a tremendous benefit to our council and most especially, our Camp Wildwood. Her legacy will live on and is seen in the more than fifty years we’ve delivered outdoor programming to thousands of girls at camp. Let’s all be bridge builders for our girls and for our mission. This is one of the best ways we can succeed. We need to build each other up and build deep connections. Just as Gundy has done throughout her life.

It is an honor to know this amazing woman and we are grateful for the impact she has made to our council. We wish Gundy a very happy 100th birthday and thank her for the legacy she has built.