Abby Silva with three girl scouts

Abby Silva, a California-based VALIC Senior Seminar Marketing Consultant, has dedicated her personal time to leading Girl Scout Laguna Troop # 1983. When her daughter, Gianna Urban, joined the Scouts a few years ago, Abby found herself slowly becoming more and more involved. Today, she is a beloved troop leader who recently earned the organization’s Volunteer of Excellence award.

Abby’s dedication runs in the family: last year, Gianna led her troop’s efforts to collect more than 100 backpacks filled with school supplies for students in Houston affected by Hurricane Harvey. Abby and Gianna, along with Abby’s husband, Rich Silva, VP of Financial Planning for VALIC, packed up 11 suitcases and headed to Houston to distribute the bags.

Abby recalls that some of the recipients were in tears, never imagining that people in California would care so deeply for them. But Abby says she was not surprised.

“These girls are always thinking about what they can do to help someone locally or far away,” she said,  noting that some of the girls in the troop recently reached out to contacts in Hawaii to see how they could aid people affected by the volcano eruptions earlier this year.

The members of Troop 1983 have completed a long list of projects under Abby’s guidance, all funded by money they made selling Girl Scout cookies.  In April, the girls earned their Bronze Award – the third highest award granted by the Girls Scouts - after dedicating 120 hours toward building six friendship benches at four local schools. The youngsters designed, built and painted the benches themselves, hoping to create a comfortable space perfect for having conversations with their peers.

Already favorites at a local retirement home where they regularly host bingo, the members of Troop 1983 are now working on building a potting bench so that residents can enjoy doing their own gardening. And to make their recent bridging ceremony – where the girls graduate from one level to the next – extra special, the girls chose to prepare and distribute meals to those in need in their community.

Abby says that their spirit of empathy for others makes her proud. She is grateful to have a hand in shaping their lives, and in helping them to develop the strength and confidence to possibly become future leaders.

“I have the opportunity to guide these girls at this point in their lives and to give them the resources to make the things they want to do possible,” she said.

This project is supported by AIG’s volunteer programme.

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