The role of women have been changing for some time in our society, with many leading in various fields, and Maxine Dinnall believes that with proper guidance and direction every young woman has the potential to become a leader in any area that she chooses. That is one reason why she has taken the role of service unit manager for Eastern Queens 4/Ocean, Girl Scouts, among other community projects for which she volunteers.
She originally became involved with the Eagle Scouts because she wanted to keep her son off the streets and later decided to help the Girl Scouts, revamping the group affiliated with Our Lady of Light Parish St. Pascal Baylon. Under her guidance, the number of girls, from various ethnicities in the community, (who are not required to be members of the church) increased from 10 to 25.
Dinnall said her involvement with the Girl Scouts is because of her belief in empowering women starting at an early age. “I want to help build up young women in all areas, to grow with dignity and overcome stereotypes,” she said.
Always on a quest to help shape and guide the girls to academic excellence, Dinnall, in partnership with the Girl Scouts Council of NYC, facilitates the opportunity for the girls to attend what they call a “scholars program” at Long Island University, Brooklyn campus. Over four weeks they choose three classes of interest, during which time, they get exposure to college exploratory classes and information on topics relating to careers in law, medicine, civil service and business. Other subjects covered include financial literacy, resume preparedness, job searching, interviewing strategies, global awareness, fashion, Pilates for the mind and body and baby sitters r us.
“Upon completion, the girls are recognized in various ways depending on their participation. This includes the opportunity to be employed at Girl Scouts camps, assistance in searching for summer jobs, and certification by the American Red Cross. One of the girls, who participated in the Baby Sitters R Us class, started her own baby sitters club,” Dinnall said.
“This is a wonderful program and with everything the girls are exposed to these days, this is something positive, to nurture their brains and to help them make educated choices that will impact their future,” said Dinnall.
“It also gives them the feel of what it is like to sit through a lecture and be taught by professionals, (from nonprofit and corporate backgrounds). There is great bond, camaraderie and diversity among the girls and I wish there were more programs like this, even for boys. The program gives the girls exposure to broaden their knowledge and develop hands-on skills and they earn certificates, pins, patches and seniors are offered the opportunity to apply for scholarships to college.”
Taking great pride in the appearance of her community is also something that Dinnall is a great proponent of. In an effort to help instill this pride in the girls and beautify even a small area of her community, she organizes the girls to clean up the perimeter of their church and plant new flowers every year on Earth Day.
Another project that she has undertaken is in recognition of the basic human need for food. Dinnall supervises the girls to organize food drives. They start by sending letters to local supermarkets letting them know the percentage of hungry people in the community. “The businesses are happy to participate and we get as much food as we can, to as many people as we can,” she said.
In collaboration with parents, Dinnall also helps the girls to set up food bins in various neighborhoods, where residents drop off food items and where the girls are present in their uniforms to thank the donors.
Additionally, each year at Thanksgiving, they try to identify the families in the most desperate need and prepare “thanksgiving baskets” which are presented to those people, who are indeed very thankful upon receipt.
Showing appreciation for the service and sacrifice of our troops is something else Dinnall cultivates within the girls, overseeing the Girl Scouts cookie campaign called “cookie operation dessert.” The girls, with assistance from their families, purchase cookies which are sent to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Under Dinnall’s leadership this Girl Scouts group is mobilized to provide volunteer hours at Little Sisters of the Poor Nursing Home in Queens Village. While there, they help the residents by reading to them, playing cards with them and assisting those that are wheel chair bound and vision impaired, to get from their rooms to the cafeteria.
Keesha Sterling, Queens membership manager for the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York said, “Dinnall is extremely dedicated and is a strong advocate for the Girl Scouts community. She encourages girls to their highest potential. She is always willing to give a helping hand to those in need, which is reflected through her service to her community”.
As is the case with the Girl Scouts, many parents in Queens are grateful to have a strong, tireless advocate in Dinnall. She voluntarily sits on the Community District Education Council 29, overseeing four schools. She is committed to ensuring that parents have a voice, particularly when they cannot take of problems at the local school level. She assists parents who have difficulty interpreting the school’s bylaws and helps promote the achievement of the educational standards, ensuring that all objectives are reached. She also provides input to the schools’ chancellor on matters that concern her district and reviews educational programs, assessing the impact on student achievement.