Six years ago, the Bahamas Girl Guides Association announced a fundraising initiative to raise funds for construction of a new headquarters to be built at a cost of $1.2 million with an additional $300,000 required for furniture and equipment. It was anticipated that the new headquarters would be completed to commemorate the organization’s 100-year anniversary in 2015 and replace the current tiny building leaders say they have long outgrown. Construction has begun on the building, but they did not meet the anniversary date and need approximately $800,000 to complete construction.
The building appears finished from the exterior, but inside is a cavern with an unfinished staircase.
The funds needed are expected to cover the cost of interior doors at $22,000; door hardware at $18,000; ceiling finishes at $66,000; bathroom floor and wall tiles at $18,000; floor finish at $50,000; bathroom accessories at $4,000; kitchen cabinet and vanities at $16,000; toilets and partitions at $12,000; porch/railings at $21,000; lighting fixtures and trims at $38,000; standby generator at $35,000; plumbing fixtures and trims at $38,000; air conditioning installation at $48,000; and elevator at $165,000.
Elma Garraway, assistant chief commissioner, said their goal is to complete the new headquarters at the corner of Marcus Bethel Drive and West Bay Street, at the foot of Fort Charlotte, by early 2020.
“We know that Bahamas Girl Guides Association has contributed significantly to the development of women throughout The Bahamas who are recognized as outstanding nation builders,” said Garraway. “With their help and the help of the general public, we hope to reach our goal and complete the building by early 2020. It is an ambitious goal, but I think with help, we can do it.”
Construction began in early 2018 on the new headquarters located on the western portion of the current site located on West Bay Street, to replace a building less than a third its size. The new facility includes meeting rooms, office spaces, training areas, accommodations for Girl Guides visiting from other countries, and other essential working areas.
Alvan K. Rolle was architect and served as project manager. Watson Construction was contractor and Construction Cost Engineering were quantity surveyors. All contractors donated substantial time and resources.
Young girls across the globe headed for success owe their thanks to an international organization most often known as the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. In The Bahamas, the organization is known as the Bahamas Girl Guides Association and helps thousands of young girls to grow up stronger with greater self-awareness, confidence and a sense of responsibility to community.
In 2013, Garraway had said there were approximately 2,190 girls and 131 leaders located on New Providence, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Abaco, Exuma, Long Island, Andros and Inagua; and that with the number of members, combined with the hosting of international groups, she said that made the construction of a new headquarters anything but a luxury.
When the organization started, there were fewer than 20 participants, and they are still operating in the same cramped space.
“It is an absolutely essential improvement if Girl Guides is going to remain relevant in a world where there are a lot of options, though few as life-changing as this,” said Garraway at the time.
Now, for the first time in its 100-plus year history, Girl Guides supporters are turning to the public to raise a substantial amount of money to help finish the interior of the much-needed new headquarters.
“Everyone is accustomed to seeing Girl Guides selling cookies or holding bake sales and walk-a-thons,” said Dr. Ruth Sumner, association president. “The girls work hard at that and those funds keep Bahamas Girl Guides operational, so our youngest girls and our teens have all the opportunities to experience friendship, practice co-operation and learn the nobility of serving others while having fun.”
But they say cookie sales won’t plaster, plumb, paint or otherwise finish the three-storey building on West Bay Street that will be home to training sessions, weekly meetings, workshops, classes, lectures, events and activities ranging from safe driving films with go-karting experience to beach and coastal clean-ups.
Bahamas Girl Guides council members say they are planning a number of events, including a steak-out, a golf tournament and a Bahamas Girl Guides district challenge to help raise funds to assist in getting the headquarters completed.