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Girl Scouts look back on 70 years of memories

Local Girl Scouts retire the flags at the Warren Avenue office Sunday, March 22. The Girls Scouts of Western Washington Peninsula Regional office will move to  new headquarters in East Bremerton in April. - Photo by Rachel Brant
Local Girl Scouts retire the flags at the Warren Avenue office Sunday, March 22. The Girls Scouts of Western Washington Peninsula Regional office will move to new headquarters in East Bremerton in April.
— image credit: Photo by Rachel Brant

Local Girl Scouts, young and old, gathered together Sunday to share memories and say goodbye to the building they've called home for 70 years.

The Girl Scouts of Western Washington Peninsula Regional office will close its West Bremerton office, located at 1109 Warren Avenue, in April and move into its new East Bremerton location later that same month.

Past, present and even a few future Girl Scouts joined together at the Warren Avenue building Sunday to lower the American and Girl Scout flags outside the building one final time.

"This place has meant a lot to a lot of girls," said Arija Gifford, whose daughter, now 18, joined Girl Scouts when she was 4 years old.

The Girl Scout office on Warren Avenue was dedicated Oct. 27, 1939 with Mrs. John Boettiger of Seattle, daughter of President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, in attendance. The building also was utilized by the U.S. Army during World War II.

Former and current Girl Scouts wrote down their fondest memories of the Warren Avenue building at Sunday's ceremony. Area Manager Katie Brigati read some memories aloud, while other former and current Girl Scouts orally shared their own memories with the group.

"This building holds just amazing memories for so many folks," Brigati said.

Emilee Boyd, 13, of Troop 588 shared one of her memories of the Warren Avenue office. She recalled her first sleepover at the building.

"It was very awesome," Boyd said with a smile.

Longtime Girl Scout and Leader Kay Zolman wrote a poem about the Warren Avenue office. Zolman read her poem, titled "Our Building is Closing," as tears welled in her eyes.

Brigati said they plan to place all of the written memories in a scrapbook and take it to the new East Bremerton office.

"We want to take these memories with us," Brigati said.

Gloria Stone and her two daughters attended Sunday's ceremony. Stone joined Troop 1 in Bremerton in 1934 when she was just 10 years old. Both her daughters later joined Girl Scouts and Stone served as a troop leader for eight years.

Sandy Singer started as a Brownie in Port Orchard. Like Boyd, she remembered having sleepovers at the Warren Avenue office as a Girl Scout and loved every minute of it.

Singer later joined the Navy and traveled all over the country, but she stayed true to her Girl Scout roots.

"I was in Girl Scout troops all over the country," she said.

Singer said her time with the Girl Scouts gave her the confidence to meet people and become involved in whichever community she happened to live at the time.

"If you always connect with the Girl Scouts, you'll never feel alone," Singer said.

Gifford said her family have deep connections to the Girl Scouts. Her mother and grandmother also were in Girl Scouts. Gifford has her grandmother's "Scouting for Girls" book dating back to the 1920s.

"My son has even sold many a Girl Scout cookie in his time," Gifford laughed. "Girl Scouting has been a very big part of my family."

While people are sad to leave the Warren Avenue building, most said they believe the new East Bremerton location will work out nicely for the Girl Scouts.

"It seems like there's a lot more room," Gifford said of the new building. "I know we'll work on the building and get it up to snuff."

The Warren Avenue office will be closed April 16 and 17. The new East Bremerton center, located at 1600 NE Winters Road, is scheduled to open April 20 with the grand opening ceremony May 9.

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