Friday, February 28, 2014

Meet Teresa Zuñiga Odom, 2014 Mildred Bell Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Hoover resident Teresa Zuñiga Odom will receive the 2014 Mildred Bell Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award, an award given annually to a woman who has a prior affiliation with Girl Scouting and has made a lifelong contribution to her community by distinguishing herself through professional, community or humanitarian efforts. The Mildred Bell Johnson honoree serves as a role model for past, present and future Girl Scouts.

GSNCA will present its Women of Distinction Luncheon on Friday, March 7, 2014, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Harbert Center in downtown Birmingham. This luncheon will recognize 10 outstanding women representing Walker, Blount, Jefferson, Shelby, Chilton and St. Clair counties.

Odom has been a volunteer in Birmingham’s Hispanic community for many years. Through her involvement with the Hispanic Business Council (HBC), she helped to create the annual Fiesta in 2002. The event was begun with the goal of awarding scholarships to deserving Hispanic students, and the event is now going into its 12th year.

Since Fiesta’s inception about $50,000 has been awarded to deserving students. The success of the event is one of Odom’s proudest accomplishments, right behind her family and Girl Scouts.

“As a founding board member we didn’t know if Fiesta would last one year, but we were determined to try because a group of us felt strongly that Birmingham and the region needed a cultural event like Fiesta,” said Odom. “We weren’t disappointed when the crowds showed up and the community—both Hispanic and non-Hispanic—responded positively to this event.”

Community service is important to Odom, and she says it has always been a learning experience.

“I believe the lesson you learn through community service is that you keep learning—about people, issues, community needs and yourself,” she said.

In addition to her work with HBC, Odom has worked with UAB Foreign Language Advisory Committee, and she has served on the boards of the Leading Edge Institute, Childcare Resources, Oasis Women & Children’s Counseling, Hispanic Business Council, The Women’s Network, the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA), for which she has always held a leadership position, and others.

“I first jumped into board service because I wanted to ‘help.’ Little did I know that within a few short months, I would be asked to serve as chair of the organization and we would go through a major transition!”

In addition to her invaluable experiences, Odom has been able to share her passion for community service with the people she has met.

“Each experience has built upon the next and I’m forever grateful for these experiences and the people I’ve met along the way…people I’ve shared a passion with about whatever work we were doing at the time,” she said. “I’ve made some life-long friends through these experiences; people with such giving hearts that I try to emulate.”