Five women from the Bell County area were among those honored this week at the Girl Scouts’ 21st Annual Women of Distinction Banquet.
The event, held Thursday night at the Courtyard by Marriott in Killeen, recognized the women as role models for their high levels of success, philanthropy and a commitment to the community, said Lolis Garcia-Baab, director of communications for Girls Scouts of Central Texas.
“We’re on a mission to create the next generation of leaders, so we look for women who are examples of courage, confidence and character,” she said.
The honorees were Linda Pelton, Jo Anne Purser, Betty Thrasher, Kris Kaiser Olsen and Diane Connell, who were joined by family and friends, board members, event sponsors and active Girl Scouts to celebrate their individual achievements.
“I was so happy to be honored,” Diane Connell said. “We have the opportunity to be great mentors to younger girls and other women, and we just hope that it makes a difference in someone’s life.”
H-E-B Grocery Co. of Central Texas also was recognized as this year’s Distinguished Workplace for Women for their encouragement of female leadership within the company, said Board Chair Kirsten Billhardt.
The event, sponsored by Blue Bell Creameries, H-E-B, Time Warner Cable and a number of local businesses also brought in some local officials including Killeen City Manager Glenn Morrison.
At the start of the ceremony, Garcia-Baab asked the audience to join in a moment of silence for the victims of the explosion in West, which left hundreds of people injured and several dead.
“They’re in our hearts tonight,” she said.
One by one, honorees were introduced and presented with a plaque and gold-plated pin with a pearl that is commemorative of Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low.
Many of the honorees also were Girl Scout members, including Linda Pelton, who joined the organization at 8 years old.
“Girl Scouts has been a constant force in my life that I could always depend on,” she said. “So to be honored by this organization that I’ve loved since I was a little girl is an extreme honor.”
The banquet “validates the contributions that women make in our community and the work that we do to improve the world around us,” Pelton said.