Alice Carson Tisdale

Alice Carson Tisdale, director of the Claflin University Honors College, is the 2018 honoree for the Trailblazer Award and this year's Geraldyne Zimmerman Gala keynote speaker.

The late Geraldyne Zimmerman had a heart for her community, particularly the growth and development of its youth.

The impact she has left on Orangeburg will again be recognized at the third annual gala to support a scholarship named in her honor.

The Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina will hold the third annual Geraldyne Zimmerman Gala from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at The Cinema in Orangeburg.

Part of the proceeds from the event will go to support the Geraldyne Zimmerman Scholarship Fund. Two $2,000 scholarships are awarded to two graduating members of the GSESC council who have been accepted and enroll at South Carolina State University, Claflin University or Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College.

Chayna Rivers and Pria Anderson, who both attend Claflin University, were the 2017 scholarship recipients.

The formal, adults-only scholarship fundraiser will include dinner, drinks and a video tribute to honor the legacy of Zimmerman. A choral ensemble featuring students from Claflin University will provide musical entertainment.

This year’s event has a new component with the presentation of a Trailblazer Award. This year’s honoree is Alice Carson Tisdale, director of the Claflin University Honors College and wife of Claflin President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, who will also serve as the event’s keynote speaker.

Tisdale said she was honored to have been chosen to receive the award.

“Frankly, I am honored that I would receive anything with Geraldyne Zimmerman’s name on it. She left a tremendous legacy. Her whole life was dedicated to serving the youth,” Tisdale said.

She added, “I didn’t meet her until like 1994 or 1995, but her reputation preceded her in terms of who she was before I even met her. She dedicated all of her time and energy toward helping to develop the character of young people. So in terms of who the legends area and who left a legacy here in Orangeburg, she’s right up there at the top.”

Tickets for the gala are $75 per person.

Frances Morant, chairperson of the scholarship committee, said the gala and namesake scholarship are a fitting tribute to Zimmerman, who made an indelible mark in the civic, education and social arenas within her community.

“With the scholarship being named in her honor, we just provide a living legacy for Mrs. Zimmerman and her efforts in the girl scouting program,” Morant said.

Zimmerman, known affectionately as “Mrs. Z,” died April 10, 2011, at the age of 100. Born in 1911, she was one year older than the Girl Scouts.

She had been active with the Girls Scouts since 1951 and started the first Girl Scout troop for African-American girls in Orangeburg. Zimmerman went on to create the Helen Sheffield Girls’ Club for girls in grades 9-12 in 1963.

Zimmerman, who retired as a math professor in 1976 from S.C. State after 31 years of service, would meet with her young troop members at the Sunlight Club Community Center on Treadwell Street. She was a member of the Sunlight Club, the first African-American women’s organization dedicated to performing charitable acts for fellow citizens and sponsor of Girl Scout troops.

Zimmerman served not only as a Girl Scout troop leader, but as a board member, association president, troop consultant and service unit chairperson.

Morant said, “She was a woman of distinction in girl scouting. What she has done and the harvest of her efforts are evident to those who have trod through her time. We are still trying to carry on the programs that were started by her with a new generation.”

Zimmerman had also been recognized as Orangeburg’s “Citizen of the Year” and was awarded the state’s highest honor, the Order of the Palmetto, for her community service.

The Girl Scouts of Eastern South Carolina serves girls and adults in 21 counties, including Orangeburg, Bamberg and Calhoun counties.

Diane Flanagan is the new chief executive officer for the GSESC, replacing former CEO Loretta Graham.

Morant, a troop leader in Service Unit 643 which serves Orangeburg and Calhoun counties, said sponsorships can be made to support the upcoming gala. Trailblazer sponsors pledge $10,000; presenting sponsors, $5,000; gold sponsors, $1,000; and silver sponsors, $500.

All sponsorships, donations and gala tickets purchases are appreciated, Morant said.

To learn more about the event, including how to become a sponsor, donate or purchase tickets, call Morant at 803-682-5926; Janet Fields, 803-707-8881 or go to the GSESC website online at http://www.girlscoutsesc.org/. Pat Baxley, grants and community resources director, can also be contacted at 843-669-5174, ext. 3150, or patbaxley@girlscoutsesc.org.

Tickets will be sold through Sept. 20 and can also be purchased online at https://girl-scouts-of-eastern-south-carolina.networkforgood.com/events/7491-3rd-annual-geraldyne-zimmerman-gala.

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Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow "Good News with Gleaton" on Twitter at @DionneTandD

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Staff Writer

Dionne Gleaton has been a staff writer with The T&D for 20 years. She has been an education reporter, regional reporter and currently writes features with an emphasis on health.

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