A New Year of Opportunity: A Guest Blog from the Mary Black Foundation

At this time of year, I try to spend some time reflecting on significant moments in the past year and areas of focus for the upcoming year. Sometimes a single word comes to mind, and I take it on as my “theme” for the year. Currently, this word is opportunity.

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Natalia Swanson of the Mary Black Foundation


This coming month of March will mark my second year working at the Mary Black Foundation. My time at the Foundation has truly been an incredible gift – an opportunity to continue serving the community of Spartanburg, which I have come to love. Specifically, I get to support the community in efforts that create greater opportunities for all people to be physically active and to access healthy foods.

The path to where I am now is a long one; briefly, I was born in Ecuador, moved to Kenya when I was six years old (I was a Brownie and Girl Scout in Kenya!), moved to Mexico when I was 12, moved back to Ecuador when I was 14, and moved to the United States when I was 18. I have been living in the United States since then and have been working in Spartanburg for a couple of years, after completing my master’s degree at Clemson University. Go Tigers! These were some of the opportunities that built my character, courage, confidence, and ambition: being able to travel and go to international schools all over the world, to live in different cultures and learn to appreciate the beauty in differences, to go to college on a generous full ride scholarship, to obtain a master’s degree, to work at a local foundation whose mission is to invest in the community for improved health and, most recently, to mentor a young girl.Natalia w girl.jpg

Many of us have been given incredible opportunities. These opportunities, along with our families, friends and other supporters around us help us develop our character and help us take advantage of and grow with these opportunities. However, not everyone has that support system and encouragement. This is where I think that the Girl Scouts play a significant role in the lives of young girls. The Girl Scouts believe in girls. The Girl Scouts strive to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Girls need to hear that someone believes in them; they need to believe that they are valuable. Will we take the time to communicate these truths to the girls around us? You can do that through your support to the Girl Scouts, mentoring a girl/young lady, supporting your own child at home, and so many other ways. My hope is that we will be generous with our time and our resources so that other girls can also have an opportunity to live a healthy and confident life.


Are you ready to explore new opportunities this New Year? Join Girl Scouts and help your daughter become the leader she was meant to be!

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