Shooting for the Stars Starts at Home

By Elizabeth Bodvin

Elizabeth Bodvin was awarded the title of Miss Pennsylvania High US 2021 in July.

Hi.  My name is Elizabeth Bodvin and I’m a Juliette Girl Scout in South Central, PA.  One thing that I have always taken from my Girl Scouts experiences is to always leave the world a better place than when you arrived.  This phrase ties in and fosters my love of community service and giving back to society. 

In 2016, I partnered with the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey, PA for my Bronze Award and filled their Toy Treasure Chest right before the holidays.  I worked with my school, my dance studio and some organizations my parents and grandparents were involved with to make this happen.  This endeavor did require me to work on my speaking skills and get over those “nervous jitters” when talking to larger groups.  The Ronald McDonald House was so thankful for my efforts I knew I wanted to help them more! 

In 2019, Elizabeth created “Glam Bags” for girls utilizing the Ronald McDonald house, helping them feel special.

The next big impact I had on the Ronald McDonald House Organization was in 2019, when I partnered again with the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey, PA and also Baltimore, MD for my Silver Award creating “Glam Bags” for pre-teen and teenage girls who are utilizing the Ronald McDonald House for either their treatment and/or a family member’s care. 

The Glam Bags contained makeup, hair products and nail care products, all placed in a cosmetic bag for the girl to help them feel special about themselves.  In doing so, I also educated the attendees at my function about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which was a hereditary disorder that a pageant friend of mine suffers with on a daily basis.  The Glam Bags were so well received at both locations and I was told that a lot of times the older kids don’t have things to comfort them because many of the toy donations are for the younger children.  When I returned several months later to serve a meal at the Baltimore facility, they remembered me as the girl who brought the makeup bags.  It put a huge smile on my face knowing that I did make an impact.

I began participating in pageantry as well because of the community service opportunities and passion that each woman has around their personal platforms and helping others.  Not many people understand the amount of work someone competing in a pageant must do, it’s not all about being a pretty face.   I started my pageant journey as a princess with the Miss Maryland system.  A princess is mentored by one of the older girls and gets to go along with them to appearances, community service events and even cheer them on when they compete for the title of Miss Maryland or even Miss America! 

Elizabeth collected thousands of can tabs to help raise funds for her local Ronald McDonald House in 2020.

After I became too old to participate in the Princess and Pre-Teen programs at Miss Maryland, I found myself looking for a pageant system that had the same foundation of community service.  It was then that I found The National United States Scholarship Program which also supports the Ronald McDonald House by collecting soda pop tabs for them!!!  My first year with the National United States Pageant I was awarded the title of Miss Pennsylvania Junior High United States 2020.  I served an entire year representing the State of Pennsylvania and Junior High Students and when I competed at the National Pageant, I received a first runner up placement to the National Title of Miss Junior High United States. 

The motivation to serve continued and had me requesting an additional year to serve under the National United States Scholarship Program and in 2021 I was awarded the title of Miss Pennsylvania High United States 2021.  In July 2021, I competed for the title of Miss High School United States 2021 and I won the National Title.  Not only did I win the National Title and get to represent High School students all across the country but I also won Best Interview, the High School Overall Community Service award, the High School Academic Award and the President’s Gold Level Volunteer Service Award among others. 

Girl Scouts provides such a wonderful foundation for young women of all ages.  The encouragement that they provide to get involved in your communities, speak to others in your community, achieve academically and strive to be the best version of yourself has helped me reach the goals I have achieved for myself. 

What’s next?  I will continue serving as Miss High School United States until July 2022 when I will have the pleasure of crowning the next young woman to have this title.  After that, I’ll likely turn my focus on obtaining my Gold Award, applying for colleges and seeing what lies ahead in my future!  Always remember, you can shoot for the stars but it’s likely you are already among them!!! 

Lessons Learned: Empathy, mentorship and lover of furry friends

By Cathy Hirko

I met Bitsy McCann for the first time a few years ago at an awards program in Harrisburg. Long story short? We get each other. We connected almost immediately.

Some people you meet make relationship-building easy. Bitsy is one of them. Every time I have reached out to her for advice or for work-related reasons she always responds and is giving of her time and resources.

A few months ago I found out that Bitsy had been a Girl Scout and I asked her if she would want to share a bit about that experience on our blog. She happily accepted. During the workdays (or evenings in Bitsy’s case) she’s a designer of many things graphic. She runs her own company in the Harrisburg area and occasionally writes a column for Central Penn Parent. Her story is below.

But, before we learn more about Bitsy, I’d like to pitch our blog to all the women leaders in our 30-county footprint. We want to tell your words of inspiration to the Girl Scouts and others who are reading this blog. Your experiences and stories matter. Please contact me if you are interested in being profiled on the blog. Email me at chirko@gshpa.org. We are ready to tell your story.

Here are a few thoughts from Bitsy:

GSHPA: Night owl or early-morning person? Why?

Bitsy: I am definitely a night owl, hence this 11:06 p.m. email. The house is quiet, but more importantly, my creativity peaks during nighttime hours. I think it’s because I can fully focus in on something without client phone calls interrupting me or deadlines lurking. The evening is when I can give into that creative flow without being disturbed.
 
GSHPA: How are you keeping busy these days?

Bitsy: Obviously, being an entrepreneur will keep you extremely busy, but I’m also staying active with my live music performances, officiating weddings, and running Petapalooza. We are about a month away, and those registrations are starting to fly in! We always need volunteers, so if you’re interested, let us know!

GSHPA: What are some of your fondest memories of being a Girl Scout?

Bitsy: My mother was a troop leader, so we always had the meetings at our home. (Thanks, Mom!) I loved being able to make so many creative things during my years as a Girl Scout, but I also loved the field trips!

One of my favorite memories was going to our local animal shelter and learning about all the animals there. I truly think that this started my passion for our furry friends, and I believe that this trip is what planted the seeds for today’s involvement with Petapalooza.

If I had never experienced that visit to an animal shelter, I might not have ever known how important it is to adopt our animals from a rescue.

GSHPA: Any examples of what you may have learned and carried with you from being a Girl Scout?

Bitsy: Just to be nice to everyone all the time. You never know what anyone is going through in their personal life … Everyone is struggling with something, and because of that, I think it’s the most important thing for us to be nice to everyone and to try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes to see where they’re coming from.

GSHPA: Tell us about your upcoming event, Petapalooza!

Bitsy: Petapalooza is a free, family-friendly pet adoption festival that features lovable, adoptable homeless animals from shelters and rescues in the Central PA area. We focus on all animals and feature dogs, cats, birds and more!

In addition to helping animal rescues, we also focus on being an animal-friendly festival with vendors, raffles, live music, and food trucks. Petapalooza will be held Sept. 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the beautiful campus of Central Penn College. You are welcome to bring your pets as long as they are vaccinated, well-behaved, and leashed!
 
GSHPA: Girl Scouts are always looking for volunteers and mentors. What are some ways that you find time to mentor others?

Bitsy: Anytime there is a woman or student looking for graphic design or entrepreneurship guidance, I love talking to them. I have probably mentored over a dozen girls and women since I started my business seven years ago, and it is without a doubt one of my favorite things to do.

I always wished that someone would have pulled the curtain away so that I could see behind the scenes of what it really means to run your own business. I freely give away how I run things, pricing, contracts – any and everything that’ll help another person get to where they want to go. I strive to be the mentor I wish I had had when I was first starting out.

Cathy Hirko is the marketing and communications director for the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email: chirko@gshpa.org.