Astoria teen honored for leadership
and dedication to community service
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
The Girl Scouts of Greater New
York (GSGNY) honored 17-year-old
Despina Anastasiou from Astoria as
the 2020 Future Woman of Distinction
for her extraordinary leadership and
dedication to community service.
Anastasiou was recognized alongside
eight women leaders at Girl
Scouts of Greater New York’s 28th
annual Women of Distinction virtual
weeklong event this month. Each
year, GSGNY holds the Women of Distinction
event in celebration of Girl
Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low’s
birthday, celebrating female leaders
who exemplify Girl Scout values.
“Girl Scouts of Greater New York
is proud to name Despina Anastasiou
our 2020 Future Woman of Distinction,
honoring her as a role model for
younger Girl Scouts and all New Yorkers,”
said Meridith Maskara, CEO of
GSGNY. “Despina has demonstrated
a strong commitment to community
service, repeatedly using her leadership
skills to take action and make a
positive impact in the world.”
Anastasiou, an Ambassador Girl
Scout and recipient of the Girl Scout
Gold Award, has been a member of
Girl Scouts of Greater New York for 13
years as part of Troop #4375.
“Girl Scouting has been enormously
influential on my character, and on
how I perceive myself and the world
around me,” Anastasiou said. “Over
the years, Girl Scouts instilled a confidence
within me that enabled me to
go out and achieve my goals, and always
gave me role models to show me
what is possible, especially in maledominated
Anastasiou, a senior at Dominican
Academy High School in Manhattan,
began Girl Scouting 13 years ago as a
Daisy in kindergarten. Back then, she
was excited to plant trees in parks,
sing in nursing homes and repeat the
Girl Scout Pledge, which she was so
proud to have memorized.
Yet as time progressed, Anastasiou
discovered that there was more to
Girl Scouts than she had ever imagined.
This one organization which
she thought only existed in her local
church was actually just one of the
many troops that belonged to a national
movement of Girl Scouts. As her
knowledge grew, so did her desires to
take Girl Scouting to the next level.
One way she did that was through
her Gold Award Project, “We Can All
Dance,” which revolved around her
two passions: dance and international
Despina Anastasiou, an Ambassador Girl Scout and recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award, has been a member of Girl Scouts of
Greater New York for 13 years as part of Troop #4375.
The dance studio she attended,
as well as many others, did not have
a program for children with special
needs and was not inclusive to all in
the area. She joined an organization
called Dancing Dreams, where she
continues to teach dance to children
with physical and mental disabilities
weekly, always looking for new
ways to fit the specific needs of every
Wanting to take her project further
and bring it to a worldwide scale,
Anastasiou began advocating and
spreading the word that she wanted
to collect dance costumes to send to
girls in developing countries.
TIMESLEDGER |2 QNS.COM | NOV. 20-NOV. 26, 2020
At the end, she collected 138 costumes,
which she was able to donate
to an organization called Traveling
Tutus. They helped her send the costumes
to countries throughout Africa.
Her project, We Can All Dance,
was founded on the belief that everyone
deserves the chance to dance —
no matter what physical, mental or
socioeconomic difficulty one faces.
Today, Anastasiou continues to
work on her project with the hope of
being able to help more children. She
has formed meaningful relationships
with the children she has worked
alongside throughout the way.
Recently, Anastasiou began her
own nonprofit organization called
Epistles for the Elderly, which encourages
teenagers to write down
their personal stories, which she then
sends to nursing homes throughout
the United States.
Anastasiou’s passion for positive
change has driven her to pursue a major
in international relations on a prelaw
track at college next year, after
which she aspires to attend law school
to become an international criminal
defendant. She credits her experience
as a Girl Scout for inspiring her to
pursue a service-oriented career.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed
by e-mail at cmohamed@schnepsmedia.
com or by phone at (718) 260–4526.
TIMESLEDGER is published weekly by Queens CNG LLC, 38-15 Bell Boulevard, Bayside, NY.11361, (718) 229-0300. The entire contents of this publication are copyright 2020. All rights reserved. The newspaper will not be
liable for errors appearing in any advertising beyond the cost of the space occupied by the error. Periodicals postage paid at Flushing, N.Y. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the TimesLedger C/O News Queens
CNG LLC. 38-15 Bell Boulevard, Bayside, N.Y. 11361.