MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. — Former Girl Scout Kristen Bedard has fond memories of the Riverpoint Program Center, a picturesque property with a historic building built around 1880.
- Girl Scouts of Citrus's historic lodge once hosted presidents
- Property incurred severe damage by Hurricane Irma in 2017
- Insurance didn't cover repairs, so Girl Scouts are asking for help
According to the Girl Scouts, the remote hunting lodge on the property, Alford Lodge, was once only accessible by boat. It hosted wealthy patrons in the early 1900s, including presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland. It was given to the Girl Scouts of Citrus in December 1976.
The view from the lodge's shoreline is what makes the property priceless, according to the Girl Scouts. But the shoreline is also what's putting it at risk.
When Hurricane Irma hit in 2017, the storm inflicted serious damage to the dock and shoreline, which has been creeping closer to the lodge.
Bedard, the Girl Scouts of Citrus's Relationship Development Director, says the group is now hoping the community can help save the historic lodge's dock and shoreline to keep them around for future generations.
“What's alarming is that we are slowly washing away. I came across a picture from when I was a Girl Scout here 17 years ago. This shoreline was doubled," Bedard said.
Another former Girl Scout, Diana Huntress, volunteers every week and says the place was almost destroyed by the hurricane. But thankfully, a couple of weeks before Irma, the windows were upgraded to hurricane-proof windows.
Huntress said saving the lodge is key to giving girls a place to learn leadership, and thanks to being a Girl Scout, she learned skills needed to become successful.
"Girl Scouting made me what I was. Everything I used later in life was because I was a Girl Scout. I learned leadership as a career: I was a Navy officer and went to the rank of captain," Huntress said.
According to Girl Scout officials, the damage caused by the hurricane is not covered by insurance, so the group must raise enough money for repairs through donations. The estimated cost to restore the shoreline and replace the dock is $185,000.
"It's going to take a lot of manpower, a lot of dollars, because we have to bring more rocks in and remove the bad ones," Bedard said. "We need more planting and it's a mix of short- and long-term goals," she said.