When Janet Frias, 34, moved from South Central to Watts three years ago, she worried how her 6–year-old daughter would adjust. Her daughter, Aliayah Gonzalez was shy when she first began preschool at Grape Street Elementary School, but after enrolling her in Girl Scout Troop 19785, she noticed a remarkable change in her daughter.
“She has opened herself like a little flower that is blooming,” Frias said. “She is not shy anymore; she says “hi” she wants to go and play with other kids.”
Aliayah, now in first grade, says she loves being a girl scout.
“You get to give people cookies and deliver them,” she said.
Both mother and daughter were among the group of people from Troop 19785 recognized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for helping to build a stronger community and positive role models.
One of two Girl Scout Troops in Watts, Troop 19785, is sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles. Together both organizations pay for the troop’s uniforms, patches, Girl Scout handbooks and help organize the troop’s field trips. Girl Scouts of Los Angeles covers the troop’s annual membership fees.
Aixa Gaxiola, 8, of Watts, was busy relishing every moment of her field trip to the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration. “I’m excited,” Aixa said. “I’ve never been in this big place before.”
The idea of Los Angeles Police Department Officer Jesse Ruiz and Grape Elementary Street Principal Jera Turner, the duo started Troop 19785 to offer a structured activity for young girls in the Watts area. Grape Street Elementary School teachers serve as troop leaders, meeting after school ends every other Wednesday inside the Grape Street Elementary School Library. The troop is open to kids in kindergarten to 5th grade. It began with 150 girls in its first year and for the past two years has remained steady with 80 girls.
To date, the troop has decorated floats for the Rose Parade, walked in the Watts Parade and earned badges for displaying their musical, artistic and cooking talents.
Maria Briseno, 36, from Watts credits the troop with helping her daughter reach her full potential.
“She talks more and expresses herself more,” Briseno said. “I’m so excited that Grape Street has this opportunity. This is something that we’ve been looking for – for so many years and we are just blessed that we are here.”
At the meeting, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recognized the troop for their volunteering efforts and the Grape Street Elementary School administrators for their exemplary leadership.
“On behalf of the board, we are proud to welcome Girl Scout Troop 19785 to the board room,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “We celebrate them for the young ladies they are and the ladies they will become.”
To learn more about Girl Scouts Greater Los Angeles or how to start a Girl Scout troop, please visit: