A lifelong Five Towns resident who was a Girl Scout in her youth was presented with the Girl Scouts of Nassau County’s Risk Taker Award at the organization’s 100th anniversary gala on March 14.
Cathy O’Reilly has served as a board member for GSNC since 2006 and is in her fourth term on the Board of Directors. O’Reilly has been employed with DHL Express for the past 26 years and serves as the manager of Commercial Air Aviation and Helicopter Operations in both Chicago and New York. She lives in Atlantic Beach and grew up in Woodmere.
Girl Scout Chief Executive Officer Randee Bynum said that O’Reilly is a strong role model for the youthful scouts. “It has been a delight working with Cathy since I’ve been CEO,” Bynum said. “Cathy is a strong but kind woman that sets an amazing example for our girls.”
O’Reilly has also been one of the driving forces behind DHL’s Operation Holiday Cheer that began in 2004. DHL Express helps to deliver Christmas trees from Dees’ Nursery in Oceanside to U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East. She said the idea for started on a golf course in the summer of 2004.
“I was asked to participate in a charity golf tournament and I spoke with Jim Adelis, who is a longtime customer of Dees’ Nursery,” O’Reilly said. “He shared with me a story about a fellow longtime customer asking if a real Christmas tree could be sent to her son who was just deployed in Iraq. Adelis asked me if DHL could send Christmas trees to Iraq.” O’Reilly asked her boss Red Alexander if they can send the trees and he immediately signed off on it. “I learned throughout my career that it never hurts to ask questions,” she added.
Operation Holiday Cheer is not the only DHL operation that O’Reilly has spearheaded. There is also Operation Cookie that got under way in 2006. Girl Scout cookies are shipped to the Middle East. “This idea was thought of during our second year doing Operation Holiday Cheer,” she said. “At the time, Suffolk County police officer and first sergeant of the 77th Regional Readiness Command Jeffrey Mott asked me if we could ship the cookies to the Middle East. Once again with Red’s blessing, Operation Cookie was born.” Since these projects were launched, DHL Express has sent Girl Scout cookies to U.S. troops deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan, Kuwait, Germany and South Korea.
O’Reilly credits her mother and father who came to New York from Ireland in the 1950s for her risk-taking characteristics. “When I was first presented with accepting the Risk Taker Award over a year ago, my thoughts immediately went to the biggest risk takers I know — my parents,” she said. “They immigrated from Ireland with only dreams in their pockets. My parents’ pursuit of the American dream became the cornerstone of our family and their risk taking taught us to pursue our dreams and let nothing stand in our way.”
Appreciative of the honor she received, O’Reilly said she considers guiding the future generation of Girl Scouts as her main goal. “I thank everybody for supporting GSNC for the last 100 years,” she said. “But the most important thing for me is to mentor the next generation of Girl Scouts since they’re the future go-getters, innovators, risk takers and leaders of the world.”