Seven-year-old Mollie Nolan is very proud of her Girl Scouts scrapbook and shows it to visitors every chance she gets. Diagnosed with a mild form of autism, Mollie is easily excited and full of life, sometimes too full.
"When she gets frustrated you really see it," said Kaitlin Coone, Molly's mother. "She gets stimulated easily and it's hard to get her to calm down."
For the past three years, Mollie has been in Girl Scouts where she meets twice a month for 90 minutes with her peers and troop leaders. One of those leaders is Angela Rae. Angela understands Mollie's disorder more than most people. She has a son with a similar condition.
From left to right: Kaitlin Coone with her son Ethan, and daughter Mollie
"I know it's hard for me when my son wants to be in something and I feel like he's not accepted," said Angela. "I want Mollie to have all the experiences everyone else has. That's what Girl Scouts does. It gives children like Mollie opportunities they ordinarily would never get."
Having a troop leader like Angela Rae has been a huge blessing for Mollie's mom, Kaitlin.
"There are 12 other children in Mollie's troop, and having a person who understands her disorder is a huge stress reliever for me," said Kaitlin.
How To Donate
Here's how you can donate to the 2012 United Way Campaign:
Mail: United Way of Southern Chautauqua County
413 N. Main St.
Jamestown, NY 14701
Another stress reliever is knowing that Mollie is becoming a more well-rounded person. Kaitlin Coone said the difference has been staggering.
"She's become more confident and her self-esteem has improved. Through Girl Scouts she's learned to respect others and the environment," said Kaitlin. "Mollie is also a really good artist so this has been a natural fit for her. She's opened up to more people and she treats her friends and elders with respect at school too."
But for Mollie Nolan, all she cares about is the fun.
"I get to do arts and crafts and I even got to go to Niagara Falls for a field trip," beamed Mollie. "I spent an entire night in an aquarium too."
This second-grader at Bush Elementary is also quick to point out the important life skills she's picked up by being in Girl Scouts.
"Last May, I got to help clean up Allen Park, and now whenever I see someone littering it makes me sad," said Mollie.
"She's really learned how to interact with people," echoed Kaitlin. "Before, she would go into her little shell when things didn't go her way, but now she is slowly starting to learn how to handle situations better. Being a Girl Scout is a big reason for her transformation."
Building confidence and leadership skills in girls like Mollie is a primary focus of Girl Scouts. Cindy Odom is CEO of the Girl Scouts of Western New York. She said it's important that young girls from communities like Jamestown are exposed to the scouting experience.
"In Girl Scouts, we expose girls to leadership-building programs and activities that boost their confidence," said Ms. Odom. "We're creating young leaders who will help shape our future."
When you give to the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, you too are helping to shape the future for hundreds of children. Your gift makes sure programs like the Girl Scout Leadership Experience exist in order to serve the leaders of tomorrow: leaders like Mollie Nolan.