Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois CEO Villie M. Appoo received a Distinguished Alumni award from Washington University’s G. W. Brown School of Social Work at a ceremony April 17 at Steinberg Auditorium here.
Source: India West
Born in Mumbai, Appoo, of the Zoroastrian faith, joined the Girl Guides in first grade and was active for 11 years. Her Girl Guide troop participated in many community service projects including volunteering with the Society for the Education of the Crippled. This early exposure to service sparked her interest in social service.
“When I came to the United States from India 37 years ago, I did not know anyone in this country and chose Brown School of Social Work from a list of the top ten schools of social work in the U.S.,” Appoo stated in a press release.
“I have never regretted that decision and during my 36-year career, I have been lucky to have had experiences that ranged from addressing the root causes of poverty through the Settlement House approach of community organization and social action at Grace Hill to a more holistic approach at Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, where we enable and empower 14,000 girls between the ages of 5 to 17 years to participate in unique experiences that help them develop their full potential and promote social change through Girl Scouting,” the Indian American CEO said.
At Grace Hill in St. Louis, Appoo helped increase access to affordable health care for the underserved through innovative community health programs. Her major accomplishment was procuring federal funding for the Health Care for the Homeless program for St. Louis.
Through her efforts, Grace Hill was one of the first in the country to implement primary care, mobile dental services and respite for the homeless.
In 2009, Appoo came full circle from her days as a Girl Guide, accepting the CEO position for Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois.
“At GSSI, we are taking Girl Scouting where it’s never been before – detention centers, public housing, East St. Louis schools and to community service projects in some of the poorest rural communities in southern Illinois. Many girls are being exposed to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs for the first time and discovering they have potential in areas that they never would have explored before,” Appoo said.
“Through Girl Scouting, we also are helping our girls address current social issues such as bullying in schools and turning them into exciting Girl Scout Gold, Silver and Bronze service award projects. What makes Girl Scouting unique is that we give girls what they need in ways they want.”