Weekly Feature



2018-09-19 / Local News

Girl Scout troop leader honored for mentorship

SOMEONE YOU SHOULD KNOW
by ALAN RIZZO


Ken-Ton troop leader Ann Marie Lesnewski, center left, celebrates with her Junior Girl Scouts Sunday after a ride to raise awareness for mitochondrial disease. Pictured around Lesnewski clockwise from bottom are Charlotte Brach, Lucy Dettbarn, Lily Foglia, Sierra Green, Jessie Harper, Grace Miller, Ella Jones and Maxine Ensminger. Ken-Ton troop leader Ann Marie Lesnewski, center left, celebrates with her Junior Girl Scouts Sunday after a ride to raise awareness for mitochondrial disease. Pictured around Lesnewski clockwise from bottom are Charlotte Brach, Lucy Dettbarn, Lily Foglia, Sierra Green, Jessie Harper, Grace Miller, Ella Jones and Maxine Ensminger. It’s not every day you meet someone like Ann Marie Lesnewski. Her enthusiasm for empowering girls is contagious, her wisdom accessible, her energy seemingly boundless.

Despite having mitochondrial disease — a rare condition in which mitochondria fail to create energy, resulting in cell failure and a host of complications to bodily organs — the leader of four Girl Scout troops in the Ken-Ton area traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, in a specially made van to welcome her 11- and 12-year-old Scouts at the end of a long bus trip.

“Miss Annie,” as she is affectionately called by those who know her, called the trip the beginning of a journey toward independence, something she wants all girls to experience. After all, beyond the badges, that was why she attended Girl Scouts at Kenmore Presbyterian Church when she was young.

“I wasn’t really there for what I received to put on my uniform, but for how it made me feel. It was a place that I could go to feel that I belonged, that my thoughts mattered, and where I’d be told that my dreams were attainable,” said Lesnewski, during an interview Monday. “I want girls to feel confident, and I want them to know that they’re valued, that their opinions matter, and that I believe that they can change the world for the better. I think girls don’t really get that message all the time in life. Kids are told what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and they’re not really given the opportunity to think. That’s what Girl Scouting really offers them is the opportunity to think, and to dream big.”

Inspiration like this leads to big dividends, according to Lesnewski, who reported that during a ride to raise awareness of mitochondrial disease on Sunday, seven of her 11-year-old Girl Scouts pledged to ride 24 miles in her honor and achieved their goal. Lesnewski was there, cheering them on.

For her mentorship, Lesnewski was presented with the Kenmore Village Improvement Society’s Good Neighbor Award last week, which is presented monthly to people throughout the Village of Kenmore for demonstrating what it means to be a caring neighbor, making their block better while helping to improve the village.

Lesnewski was nominated for the award by KVIS member and Girl Scout mother Sandra Juarez-Ensminger, who said she chose the troop leader because of her determination to travel to Boston despite her weakened condition.

“She promised them she was going to be there for them,” Juarez-Ensminger said, also proud that Lesnewski teaches her daughter and other Girl Scouts the value of hard work. “Kids these days tend to be selfish. But through Girl Scouts, and especially Miss Annie, they understand that they shouldn’t be taking things for granted.”

Lesnewski has been active in Girl Scouts for 26 years, and has led troops in the Ken-Ton area for the past seven years, including Daisy Troop 30081, Brownie Troop 30209, Junior Troop 30308, and Cadette Troop 39143.

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