During its 27th Annual Adults Recognition Awards Ceremony at LIU Post in June, the Girl Scouts of Nassau County presented awards to a pair of Glen Covers who have devoted much of their lives to the Girl Scouts. Cheryl Hatala received an Honor Pin for her work with the prestigious Girl Scout Gold Award process, and Tracy Gleckler received an Appreciation Pin for her decades of dedication and achievements with the Girl Scouts.
A lifelong Glen Cove resident, Hatala, 55, has lived in the city her entire life. She joined the Girl Scouts when she was 7, although she left as she entered her teens. However, the scouts became a part of her life once again when her daughter, Catherine, entered kindergarten leading Hatala and Robin Stanco, a friend, to form a new troop in Glen Cove. She has remained a fixture in the Girl Scouts community, providing mentorship to scouts all across Nassau County.
Hatala said she the reason why she has spent so many years with the Girl Scouts is due to the organization’s tenets of courage, confidence and character, things she believes are necessary to instill within young women. She said scouting serves as a means of keeping girls grounded and guiding them to make good choices when they are faced with one of life’s many obstacles. They also build a strong sense of character, she said, one that helps them to develop into successful and caring adults.
With her daughter now out of Girl Scouts, Hatala continues to serve as a mentor to teenage scouts working toward their Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can receive. She has mentored seven Gold Award Girl Scouts, all of whom have worked on projects designed to make the world a better place. With her help, her mentees have accomplished things such as raising awareness for spaying and neutering animals in the Dominican Republic, creating STEM workshops for girls and setting up a club for mental health awareness in Syosset schools.
Emily Rogers, a 16-year-old Girl Scout from Glen Cove and a rising senior at Long Island Lutheran High School in Glen Head, has received guidance from Hatala while working on her Gold Award project. Rogers is working with the Glen Cove Seed Library to develop a gardening curriculum for children. She has created boxes with vegetable seeds, gardening guides and tools, and also leads gardening workshops.
Rogers said the encouragement she has received from Hatala has been invaluable. Not only has Hatala provided her with a wealth of new ideas, but Rogers said she has learned that even the smallest piece of progress is impactful from her talks with Hatala. Every little thing makes her project better, she said, and that helps her affect those children in a meaningful way.
Hatala said she takes great pride in the Gold Award winners she has helped, as she knows she has helped these girls to learn about themselves and develop skills which will help them later in the life. On receiving her Honor Pin, Hatala said, “It’s humbling because you do it for the girls. I would say all of my fellow mentors, we all do it to help the girls achieve their goals and what they want to do.”
Much like Hatala, Gleckler, of Glen Cove, also joined the Girl Scouts but left in her early teens and then returned as an adult. A biology teacher at Glen Cove High School for 31 years, she and earth science/astronomy teacher, Debbi Grosser, decided to form a troop shortly after Gleckler arrived in the district. They both underwent training and created a troop in Bayville.
Gleckler, 53, would go on to start two more troops, the first of which was in Sea Cliff when her daughter, Briana, entered kindergarten. She left that troop after Briana achieved the rank of junior, although she soon decided that she missed being a leader. Just a few years later, Gleckler and Rae Schopp, who works for Girl Scouts of Nassau County, decided to start another troop in Hicksville.
Over the course of five years, that troop grew from six to 21 girls, who come from various racial and religious backgrounds. Although Gleckler has since retired from Girl Scouts to focus on different volunteer work, Schopp described her as a fantastic leader who loved and cared for her scouts on a special level. She said she took the time to nurture every girl based on their individual needs and has instilled within them a willingness to always be willing to help others.
Gleckler said that one of her biggest motivators throughout her Girl Scout career was “helping women become the best they can be.” She said empowering women from an early age is a passion of hers, and that her work with Girl Scouts was a way for her to tell girls that they can be anything they want to be so long as they work hard and be a good person.
Although she is retired from Girl Scouts, Gleckler continues to empower women through her volunteer work, as she visits women in an addiction-recovery home every Friday for Bible study. A devout Christian, she also does a variety of volunteer work at Shelter Rock Church in Syosset, including teaching Sunday School every week.
Gleckler said that, as a Christian, she believes in God’s work, and the Girl Scouts was just one way in which she helped others. “When you serve others, you’re fulfilling God’s work in your life,” she explained.
Both Hatala and Gleckler said that while they were proud to receive their awards, their main mission has always been to help their scouts grow into strong, independent women. So long as the girls they have helped take the lessons they have learned in Girl Scouts into the real world, they said, they know they accomplished their mission, regardless of any awards they may receive.