Student. Volunteer. Go-Getter.

Spotlight on Lifetime Member and Gold Award Girl Scout, Sara Huelskamp

Leading by example and taking a chance, Gold Award Girl Scout Alum Sara Huelskamp has shown her desire to help others and influence the girls around her.

Sara’s Girl Scout journey didn’t stop after she received her Bronze, Silver and Gold Award in the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles Council. As a sophomore at Kansas State University studying construction engineering, Sara was called back to her passion when she found out her neighbor’s troop was losing their troop leader and disbanding. Like any good Girl Scout, Sara stepped up and reorganized Troop 2081 in Manhattan, Kansas. “I didn’t want them to not have a troop, I knew what Girl Scouts did for me and I didn’t want them to miss out on that,” Sara said.

Left: Sara’s troop in front of the mural they painted for their Bronze Award. Center: Sara and her troop at the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace. Right: Sara carrying a banner in the Rose Parade, which only Gold Award Girl Scouts and Eagle Scouts have the honor.

As a Girl Scout Junior, Sara’s troop worked with a local youth shelter to do renovation projects and paint an inspirational mural inside the cottage to earn their Bronze Award. Through that one project, Sara’s troop built a long-lasting relationship with the shelter.

“The troop worked clean up days, raked leaves, would help at events, meals, fairs and festivals. It was one of those places we were just at all the time,” Sara said.

When it came time to do her Silver and Gold Award projects, she had a cause she was passionate about and a long list of projects she knew would have a sustainable and lasting impact. “Girl Scout highest awards give you a sense of accomplishment. You get to know more about yourself and your community,” Sara said.

Through the Girl Scout experiences Sara facilitates, she’s helping girls identify their strengths and teaching them that they shouldn’t be afraid to accomplish anything, in hopes of encouraging them to earn their Gold Award.

“Girls who earn their Gold Award have a desire to help others,” she said. “It’s not a selfish goal to have.”

Sara with Girl Scouts from Troop 2081 at various events.

Next month, Sara will be graduating from K-State and is moving back to Los Angeles where she plans to find a full time job and continue volunteering with Girl Scouts. She has been working with and training parents to keep the Girl Scout Brownie troop going when she moves back home.

“There are a couple girls in my troop who are already talking about what they want to do for their Gold Award!”

Thanks for leading like a Girl Scout, Sara and inspiring more girls to #gogold! We wish you the best as you pursue your dreams!

The Power of Being a Girl Scout Lasts a Lifetime

Meet GSKSMO Alum Katherine Anderson

Leadership, teamwork and confidence to try, all things a Girl Scout learns along her leadership journey. Meet Katherine Anderson, a Girl Scout alum and proud member of a cool group of women who work in a STEM field. Katherine is a Subcontractor Manager for Black & Veatch and has developed a real passion for inspiring girls to get hands-on with STEM. Thanks to her Girl Scouting experience, Katherine developed the confidence in herself to try new things and thrive as team manager to accomplish tasks from personal home improvement to $100 million power plant projects.

Being a Girl Scout was a family affair for Katherine. Her grandmother was troop leader for her mother and aunt, and Katherine’s mom because her troop leader. Growing up in Lawrence, KS, there was no shortage of volunteer opportunities for Katherine’s troop, Troop 691. They made improvements to local parks, volunteered for a variety of organizations and had their own adventures. “I did everything to camping, to learning to roast a turkey in the snow, to how to reroute pipes under our kitchen sink. Most of us knew how to reroute plumbing before we could spell ‘hot’ and ‘cold!’” Katherine said.

 

Katherine and her troop in Lawrence as a Brownie Girl Scout.

Most importantly, Katherine learned teamwork from Girl Scouts. “My troop leader – who happened to be my mom – taught us that the success of a manager is measured by the success of their team. That has become a driving force behind how I now manage my team at Black & Veatch,” Katherine said. She feels that her early troop experiences, working in a team to complete tasks, gave her the opportunity to use her voice in a group of strong, independent personalities. “Girl Scouts was a safe space where you learn to speak up and you have this team of people working with you to tackle projects. We learned that we have a voice,” Katherine said.

Today, Katherine leads subcontract teams that have to work together to create massive power plants, working with any type of energy you can imagine! She credits many of her day to day skills to Girl Scouts because of those early experiences working in a troop to complete a project. They worked on a wide variety of tasks, which has given her the confidence to try new things, even if they fail.

As an alum, she continues to represent Girl Scouts through speaking opportunities with Black & Veatch at their “Thinking Outside the Box” event with GSKSMO. Proudly displaying her troop flag, she presents the power of the lessons she learned in Girl Scouting to today’s generation of amazing G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM. “There’s a lot I learned that I didn’t even realize at the time. As a kid, I was just hanging out and doing projects, I didn’t realize I was learning to be a manager and other life skills I still use every day,” Katherine said.

Girl Scouts at “Christmas in October” 2017.

Katherine even integrated Girl Scouts into Black & Veatch’s “Christmas in October” service event where they make needed additions or renovations to homes from those in need. Reaching out to local Girl Scout troops, she let the girls act as project managers for the day and try all types of jobs they could do in a career in construction. It was an amazing experience for the girls and let the engineers and contractors work faster!

Thank you, Katherine, for your continued dedication to Girl Scouting and for inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders! If you have an alum story you’d like to share, post in the comments below!

Giving Back for Tomorrow’s Leaders

Spotlighting Daisy’s Circle Founding Member Beth Kealey

Sharing some serious Girl Scout love through giving back! Meet Beth Kealey, a Girl Scout mom, alum, Daisy’s Circle member, Philanthropy award winner, troop leader and Gold Award advisor! Not only has Beth supported Girl Scouts as a donor, she’s been there for her daughters as a troop leader and is an advocate for ensuring these incredible programs her daughters experienced are available for the Girl Scouts of tomorrow. After following Girl Scouts through different states, 3 daughters, 3 troops and the Gold Award in 2016 with her youngest daughter, Stephanie, it’s no wonder this awesome Girl Scout mom is also a Daisy’s Circle Philanthropist award winner!

Beth, Stephanie and her Gold Award Advisor, Linda Weerts at the 2016 Inspire a Girl Ceremony

All three of Beth’s daughters have loved Girl Scouting! Christina, the oldest, was lucky enough to have Beth as her leader when she started as a Daisy, and Jennifer, the middle child, had Beth as her troop’s co-leader. Stephanie started in Girl Scouts and even though she became inactive after earning her Silver Award, she and a friend decided they wanted to go for Gold and she re-registered to get that ultimate Girl Scouting honor.

Beth watched Stephanie SHINE through her experience with the Gold Award where she created a slam poetry program to give teens a place to feel loved and accepted. The company that hosted the slam poetry nights told her she had to get 15 to show up for the event….in true Girl Scout fashion, Stephanie got 95 to attend. They all knew they had something really important happening in this space and because of it, Stephanie earned her Gold Award and walked across the stage in 2016 with pride.

Images from Stephanie’s Gold Award project – Slam Poetry; Stephanie hugging her mom, Beth, after receiving her Gold Award pin in 2016.

“Stephanie was so proud of earning her Gold Award. It was all about her being able to say ‘I did this!’ and be really proud of that accomplishment,” said Beth. More than just pride, there was a maturity and growth that Stephanie now had. That’s especially evident when you watch her “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout” vide with Bob Regnier! Of course, Beth couldn’t be more proud of what her daughter became. “After earning the Gold, you could see a difference in the way she presented herself. There was a maturity there,” Beth said.

As the parent of a Gold Award Girl Scout, Beth saw growth in her daughter and a sense of pride she hadn’t seen before. “What you see as the parent of a Gold Award recipient is that they have much more poise, grace and just the way they present themselves after going through the experience of earning the Gold,” Beth said. That’s one of the reasons she’s continued to give as a member of Daisy’s Circle, even though all three of her daughters are no proud alumna.

 

Stephanie and Beth at the 2016 Gold Award ceremony; Right: Beth with GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler upon receiving the 2016 Daisy’s Circle Philanthropy Award for the Central Region.

 

“Giving is just a cultural thing for me. If we want the experiences my daughters received for future Girl Scouts, we have to keep giving. You need that grassroots foundation of support to keep these programs,” Beth said. It’s important to her that she supports the same opportunities for the Girl Scouts of tomorrow that her daughters received. Because of her giving, advocacy and volunteerism, it’s no wonder Beth received the “Daisy’s Circle Appreciation” award for the Central Region in 2016 too!

Beth Kealey is a beautiful example of a strong Girl Scout supporter who continues to create a future for the Girl Scouts of tomorrow! This amazing volunteer is definitely what we would call Girl Scout Strong!! Thank you, Beth, for your leadership and continued support of Girl Scouting!

A Golden Heart for Girl Scouts

Meet Girl Scout Alum Bernadette “Bernie” Murray

An alumna with a golden heart for Girl Scouts! Meet Bernadette “Bernie” Murray, a Highest Award Girl Scout Alumna, proud member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society AND Daisy’s Circle! Investing in the future of girls has become a passion for Bernie because of the impact the program had on her own life. Being a champion for women has been a lifelong goal – and it all started in a troop.

“I’m constantly working to building up women and to be a champion for women because we’re a minority in my line of work. But it’s something I’ve been doing my whole life and it started with Girl Scouts,” Bernie said, who currently works in cyber security – a male dominated industry.

Bernie entered the Girl Scout world as a Brownie and quickly found herself trying exciting things. She learned to drive a manual transmission car, did winter survival and travelled all over the world. In fact, she’s been to every World Center except India – what an impressive Girl Scout travel resume! Bernie even had a pen pal from one of her Destinations that she reconnected with on LinkedIn recently.

 

Bernie at National Center West in 1984.

Outdoor adventure became a passion as she entered her teen years and she served as a Counselor-In-Training and various other outdoor positions. She travelled to National Center West on a council sponsored trip called “Wyoming Trek.” To this day, she’s still an avid camper and credits a lot of that passion for the outdoors to Girl Scouts. She’s still in touch with girls from her Girl Scout camping days thanks to an outdoor program Facebook group!

“As a teen, Girl Scouts kept me on the straight and narrow. Without Girl Scouts, I would not be the same person I am today,” Bernie said.

This love of camping inspired her Gold Award project, which was creating a camp aid training program. “Girl Scout Cadettes and Seniors would go through this training to learn to work with troops who had leaders who didn’t have a strong background in the outdoors,” Bernie said. The program helped ensure that Girl Scouts got a great outdoor experience, even if their leader was learning alongside them! Today, leaders go through training at our council, but being a true Innovator, Bernie’s program was ahead of its time.

 

Bernie as a CIT at Camp Prairie Schooner

Fast forward several years and Bernie is still camping and finding Girl Scouts popping up in her life. At a work meeting she realized that the presenter was her Gold Award advisor! Those connections with other Girl Scouts and mentors have truly lasted a lifetime for this awesome Girl Scout.

Today, Bernie is a proud member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society, a special group of donors who have included Girl Scouts in their estate plans. Investing in girls was at the top of her list because of the impact the program had on her own life. “In Girl Scouts, I wasn’t told I couldn’t do something. I just did it. Because of that, I thrived. I want to make sure that the next generation continues to have those experiences without financial constraints,” Bernie said.

Thanks to donors like Bernie, Girl Scouts continues to be the top leadership organization for girls in the world. It’s because of dedicated alumna, donors and volunteers that we can build a bright future for girls!

Do you know a special alum like Bernie? Share the story with us using the comments below.

The Power of Finding Yourself

Spotlighting Girl Scout Alumna Mackenzie Williams

Outdoor experiences are at the heart of Girl Scouting and help girls discover themselves. From leadership to physical fitness, Girl Scouts learn to be independent, strong women, in part thanks to outdoor activities and camping adventures. Most importantly, girls learn to rely on themselves in the outdoors. For Girl Scout alumna, Mackenzie Williams, living a life of adventure in the outdoors has turned into an exciting career of travel and independence.

Mackenzie started Girl Scouts as a girl in the Olathe/Desoto, KS area, but found her particular troop wasn’t a right fit for her. “I wish my parents had enrolled me in Girl Scouts sooner and treated it like you would soccer, something you just do. I didn’t join Girl Scouts until I asked and looking back, I wish that it had been part of my life earlier,” Mackenzie said.

At the age of 19, Mackenzie started travelling the US by herself, filling a personal need to travel and be outdoors. While it made her parents nervous, the experience changed her life. “When you get way out of your comfort zone and put yourself in different situations you learn about yourself in unique and different ways that you wouldn’t experience any other way,” Mackenzie said. During these travels she found a passion for the outdoors and getting people to experience nature.

At 21, she was able to work as a wilderness ranger in California’s Sequoia National Forest. “I’m very passionate about women doing jobs that are considered ‘male jobs,’ like being a park ranger. I had a hiker say to me ‘wow, women can do this job?’ and I remember saying ‘yes, we sure can!’” Mackenzie said. She was one of the strongest hikers on her team, averaging a mile ahead of the group, all despite being only 5’ and one of only two women on the team. Talk about an awesome G.I.R.L!

Today, Mackenzie is back in Kansas finishing her degree in Psychology at the University of Kansas. She plans to return to nature in the summer and become a ranger again. Recently, Mackenzie reconnected with her troop leader Leslie who opened the door to the outdoors when she was a younger Girl Scout. The two decided to have Mackenzie come speak to the girls about solo travel, independence and being a woman in a male-centric career.

 

Mackenzie talking to Leslie’s troop about her experiences with solo travel and being a wilderness ranger in 2017.

“[In Girl Scouts] you are learning these skills, which at the time you have no idea how important those lessons will be when you are older. It’s those little things, those skills, that knowledge, that builds a foundation for girls,” Mackenzie said. That’s why she loves coming back and reconnecting with Girl Scouts to share her knowledge and inspire girls to learn about themselves through solo travel and trying new things.

We thank Mackenzie and all the amazing G.I.R.L.s who are out there showing the world that there’s not job a girl can’t do AND coming back to share that knowledge with Girl Scouts today. It takes a village to raise a Girl Scout and Mackenzie is being part of that support system, encouraging independence and adventure. Thank you, Mackenzie! And AWESOME troop leaders like Leslie change girls lives. We are so incredibly honored to support volunteers like Leslie! Thank you, Girl Scout volunteers for growing these  G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers and Leaders)!!

An ANGEL for Girl Scouts

For every Girl Scout, there are volunteers that make a difference in her life. Whether it’s a troop leader, parent volunteer or community member, these volunteers influence a girl’s future by showing her a big, bright world ahead of her. For Girl Scouts in Holden, KS, Angel Mallen certainly lives up to her name as an angel for girls. Coming from a low income background, Angel is able to connect to Girl Scouts with economic issues in a unique way…through a shared experience.

Growing up, Angel wanted to be a Girl Scout, but her single, working mother wasn’t able to provide the financial support to continue in the program. The cookie program became her biggest hurdle because they didn’t have a physical address or place to store cookies. When your address is more often your family truck rather than a home, it becomes difficult to sign-up for things like cookie sales.

It’s sad to imagine what an amazing Girl Scout Angel would have been had financial obstacles not prevented her from continuing. “I was one of those ‘Go-getter’ kids, so I loved badges,” said Angel. Fortunately, today’s Girl Scouts have more options than Angel did. At GSKSMO, we are constantly workings to ensure that no girl is turned away because of a family’s financial situation and we are innovating ways to build the Opportunity Fund for girls just like Angel.

Despite the setback, Angel became a business owner who sold her business and was able to retire at age 46! Talk about a SERIOUS go-getter! She now leads a multi-age troop for girls in her community, many of whom are low income girls, just like she was.

“I bring fresh vegetables and herbs to meetings because some of my girls have never seen these types of fresh foods.” said Angel. This innovative thinking comes from personal experience with the problems these girls face. She recently did a project to teach strength by having her troop use their voice and get a glow stick (representing their strength lighting the way in a dark room) until they lit up the room where all the lights were out except for a lamp that Angel had. She then turned down her own lamp, showing them that now they have the strength to light up a dark room and didn’t need her guidance when they learned to be strong. What an inspiring way to teach girls about working together to face their fears!

One of the other things Angel loves is helping girls sell cookies so they can have experiences like Girl Scout Day at the K. “When we got to do Day at the K last year, that was the first time most of my girls had seen a Royals game that wasn’t on a TV,” said Angel.

Thanks to Angel, more than 40 girls have a place to call home in Girl Scouts. Her troop has expanded from 15 Daisies to over 40 girls from Daisy through Junior Girl Scouts. Even with her early setback with Girl Scouts, she believes in the program because of its ability to empower. “Rather than being told you can’t do things because you’re a girl…you’re told you CAN do things BECAUSE you’re a girl,” said Angel.

In addition to the live skills and empowerment, Girl Scouts just provides a level playing field. “When you give to Girl Scouts, you’re giving girls the chance to fit in. Girl Scouts may be the only place where they have a vest like everyone else and get to do activities like everyone else…rather than being left out,” said Angel.

All year, volunteers like Angel are changing lives as troop leaders, service unit volunteers and parent helpers. Without your gifts of your time, your talent and your treasure, Girl Scouts couldn’t exist. As the year comes to a close we thank leaders, like Angel, who recognize their girls’ unique needs and work to provide them a solid support system.

If you’d like to provide a Girl Scout in need a uniform or invest in programming that directly impacts local girls, please consider an end of the year gift today. www.gsksmo.org/donate.

The Ultimate Go-Getter

A Gold Award Alumna Spotlight

Gold Award Girl Scouts are go-getters to the ultimate degree. Through the Gold Award, they spend over 100 hours solving a problem in a sustainable way that positively impacts their community. It’s no wonder that these Girl Scouts go on to achieve some pretty remarkable things! Meet Amanda Stanley, a Gold Award alumna who turned tremendous personal obstacles into a profession and life of positivity.

Amanda started Girl Scouts as a Junior in Wichita. As the first Girl Scout troop at the school, she got to help younger girls learn the ropes…Sometimes, quite literally! One of her favorite annual service projects was teaching Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies  to camp – how to tie knots, pitch a tent and cook over a campfire. It’s no wonder that this love of service translated into an awesome Gold Award project.

During high school, Amanda saw a need for a better way to organize volunteers at a living history museum she volunteered at. This was before digital databases were common (early 2000s), but looking forward, Amanda knew this would be a good solution to the problem. “My biggest challenge was all the places they had volunteer data. You’ve got paper data and data in excel sheets and word documents and jotted on pieces of paper and trying to put that into a usable system was difficult,” Amanda said.

Amanda and her troop at a camping event – one of her early service projects; Amanda as a Cowtown volunteer; Receiving her award for her Gold Award project.

Her project produced a usable database for the Old Cowtown Museum, allowing the organization to find volunteers with those unique “living history” skills, when they needed them. It’s not always easy to know who can play a blacksmith or teach kids to churn butter! But the database let them find those volunteers – all thanks to the work of a Girl Scout!

“What I love about the Gold Award, and why I think it’s important for girls now, is that it makes you look at a problem and see if you can come up with a solution. You then plan it out, work on time management and figure out how your project will create good,” Amanda said.

During high school she also got to participate in Girl Scout Destinations, including one to Washington D.C. focusing on art. “We went to art galleries, stayed with a Girl Scout family for a night, did art projects that I still have hanging on my wall. It was a great way to see the monuments and city,” said Amanda.

Amanda and her mother who served as troop leader; Amanda’s troop at a horse riding event.

Completing her Gold Award earned Amanda two scholarships and she attended Newman University in Wichita where she got a degree in Biology. From there she went to the KU Med, on her way to becoming an MD. After her first year of medical school she was diagnosed with cancer and, always the fighter, she had surgery, it went into remission and she returned to school. After her second year, the cancer came back, she had another surgery and decided to take a year off to focus on her recovery. During that year, she decided life was too short to not be in a career she completely loved…so she took the LSAT and enrolled in law school! Talk about a driven G.I.R.L.!

“I knew I wanted to leave all through my second year, but was too scared because I didn’t have a backup plan. Plus…no one drops out of medical school. But during my year off and almost dying…I realized life was far too short to go to work and hate your job every day,” Amanda said.

In 2014 Amanda graduated from KU Law and is now working for the League of Kansas Municipalities. She travels around Kansas, teaches classes to city officials and loves her job. She is also a lobbyist for local governments to the KS legislature, meaning she testifies in front of committees and really makes an impact on the Kansas government.

As a Girl Scout alumna, she sees the benefits of the program for today’s girls, just like it positively impacted her. Girl Scouting gave her the courage and more importantly, gave her people “in her corner” who were there to support her. “We are in a unique time in history where girls have come a long way, but there are still implicit biases, discrimination and stereotypes – like girls aren’t good at science – that Girl Scouts gives you the tools to combat. It teaches that a stereotype is just a stereotype and if you’re motivated, you can do whatever you want,” Amanda said.

We couldn’t be more proud of this incredible G.I.R.L.! She’s recently decided to become a volunteer at Girl Scout Day at the Capitol, helping girls learn more about the KS government she loves so much. Thank you, Amanda, for continuing to support girls and for being such a great example of a Girl Scout alumna!

Supporting G.I.R.L.s Lasts a Lifetime and Beyond

Spotlighting our Newest Juliette Gordon Low Society Member: Ally Spencer

Early October brought Girl Scouts, volunteers and advocates together from all over the country for the ultimate gathering of G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM – the 2017 Girl Scout Convention (G.I.R.L. 2017). Among these delegates voting on the future of Girl Scouting was Ally Spencer and her daughter, Alex, a Girl Scout Senior from Kansas City , Missouri. Serving as delegates allowed these two to spend time together and help shape the future of an organization they’re passionate about. How passionate? Ally serves as Northland Encampment Director, service unit volunteer, troop leader and new member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society! Talk about a family that LOVES Girl Scouting!

Ally Spencer is a proud Girl Scout alumna, but feels her true Girl Scout journey began when Alex was in kindergarten. As often happens, a Daisy troop was forming, but had no leader. Ally hesitantly raised her hand after seeing no other volunteers and it was a life changing moment that has shaped the last decade of her life with her daughter.

“I sent a long email to my membership manager about my first year because it was so magnificent. I talked a lot about my challenges (the membership manager thought I was quitting most of the email she told me later), and ended it saying ‘thank you for one of the best years of my life,’” Ally said. That first year has turned into a decade of service, with her little GS Daisies now strong, independent GS Seniors.

Ally and Troop 2089 at the Kansas City Lyric Opera community partner event (left), at a troop meeting (center) and Alex, her daughter, receiving her Silver Award (right).

One thing Ally particularly loves is the support a service unit can give to new leaders, which ledto her volunteering on a larger scale. “Walking into a service unit meeting is wonderful. Your first year, you don’t know what to say, you don’t know what you don’t know…but at a service unit meeting, you have 30-40 troop leaders there representing probably 100 years+ worth of experience…all there ready to help you,” Ally said.

She took on becoming director of the Northland Encampment, a big event for the Northland Girl Scouts that’s very successful. The 2016 Encampment was a rainy, muddy weekend, but she loved how the Girl Scouts splashed in the mud and found a way to turn the rain into joy.

Northland Encampment over the years.

As a mother, Ally has loved watching her daughter grow into a strong young woman through Girl Scouting. At Convention, Alex had some hard decisions to make when she voted on national issues. After one particularly divided issue, Ally witnessed Alex not only continue to support her vote,  but spoke up to opposition who questioned her decision.

“My daughter said ‘you tell me I’m smart enough to be a delegate [and evaluate decisions] and that I can control our destiny, so I voted the way I thought was appropriate.’ It was a beautiful moment, I thought ‘she’s not a teenage girl right now, she’s an articulate, young lady.’ It’s moments like that you see [in Girl Scouts],” Ally said.

Experiences like this led Ally to join the Juliette Gordon Low Society while at National Convention. This society (previously known as the Trefoil Society at GSKSMO) is for anyone leaving a financial legacy to Girl Scouts in their estate plans.

Ally receiving her Juliette Gordon Low Society pin from Founding Chair, Dianne Belk (left & right). Ally posing with Dianne and Lawrence Calder (center).

“As someone in the corporate world, my time is money. Right now, I can give my time, but when I’m no longer able to give time, leaving a legacy means my giving can continue on past me,” Ally said. In a very special moment, Ally was pinned by JGL Society Founding Chair, Dianne Belk, at Convention.

 

We thank Ally for her service and continued dedication to Girl Scouts. Her volunteer work and leadership is helping girls become all they can be. By joining the Juliette Gordon Low Society, she is creating a positive future for the girls of tomorrow. Thank you for creating lasting change!

 

Do you know a special volunteer we should highlight? Tell us about her or him in the comments below.

From Gold Award to the Silver Screen

Spotlight on Filmmaker and Gold Award Alumna, Morgan Dameron

Morgan Dameron has known that she wanted to make movies ever since she was old enough to figure out what a movie was. As a young Girl Scout Brownie, she remembers being fascinated with the coveted Polaroid camera and the camcorder that that was just as big as she was. “I used to make my family members and pets re-enact scenes from Disney animated films in my living room,” Morgan said!

When Morgan was in high school in the early her passion for film grew and the arts scene in Kansas City was only beginning to blossom into what it is today. With the leadership skills she learned through Girl Scouting, Morgan influenced the film scene for women and teens. She was an honorary board member for Kansas City Women in Film, founded the youth division of the Kansas City Independent Filmmakers Coalition and started the first ever film festival for the Kansas City Teen Star.

“Having that idea of being a leader, following my dreams and having a support system of other strong-willed girls and leaders of our troop really influenced me growing up.”

It’s no surprise that when it came time to think about her Gold Award, making a movie was what Morgan knew she wanted to do for her project. With some help from the Women in Film Commission, Morgan wrote and produced a short-film called Finding Harmony; a story about a young woman and older man who formed an unlikely friendship through music.

“I had to raise the money, cast, shoot and do everything. The amount of hard work that is required is a lesson I was able to learn so young is a result of my Gold Award project.”

That lesson has paid off, ten-fold.

Morgan graduated from Pembrooke High School in 2007 and attended University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts on a full-ride scholarship. While at USC, she made short films that played in film festivals all around the world. When she graduated, she landed a job with a production company in Los Angeles where she worked on movies including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Trek Into Darkness and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Yep, she worked with the amazingly talented Film Director J.J. Abrams.

Now at the age of 28, Morgan’s first-ever feature full length film Different Flowers is being screened in theatres across the United States.

“I had always wanted to tell stories since I was little girl. I had gone to USC to film school and worked in the industry for 5 years and the time was right to make this movie. I was just bursting at the seams to make my first film and nothing was going to get in my way,” Morgan said.

Morgan made a plan. Plan A was to make a movie; there was no plan B.

“It’s been a year!” Morgan said.

Different Flowers is a dramedy feature film full of kooky characters, and real heart inspired by the relationships and surroundings of Morgan’s childhood, growing up in Missouri. Characters, Millie and Emma are sisters with a rocky past who are each stuck in their ways and bring out the best – and worst – in each other. When Emma helps Millie run out on her wedding, they embark on an adventure neither could have anticipated. It’s a story about following your heart, and how, sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere. And that’s okay.

Shot on location in Kansas City and surrounding areas, Different Flowers isn’t only about women but it’s powered by women too. Something that was important to Morgan as a female filmmaker. “I really wanted it to feel authentically Kansas City and authentically mid-western. I wanted it to be infused in every element.”

Morgan spared no detail in achieving that feel. The cinematographer is from Kansas City, many of the sound tracks are by local musicians including Sarah Morgan, Darling Side and Brewer and Shipley, one of the necklaces worn by a cast member is made by a Kansas City jewelry artist and Millie’s wedding dress was designed by Kansas City Designer, Emily Hart.

This project was a family affair for all of the Damerons and they were promoted from their home movie roles they played in the 90’s for Morgan’s first feature-length film! Morgan’s younger sisters and fellow Gold Award recipients Natalie and Mallory have cameos in the film in the bridal suite, her Dad is the reverend and Mom plays Chef Suza.

Different Flowers also has some connections to Morgan’s Gold Award project film, Finding Harmony. The lead actor from that film, Ari Bavel, has a supporting role as a Boulevard Delivery Man in Different Flowers.

“The Gold Award has stuck with me. Even though you know it’s going to be so much work, you know that it’s going to be so rewarding to do what you know you love to do,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s sister Natalie also got to use skills she learned through her own Gold Award project, serving as the on-set photographer for the film!

Photos by Gold Award Alumna, Natalie Dameron.

“The biggest piece of advice I can give is to give yourself permission to follow your dreams. Don’t wait for someone else to give it to you. You have the tools you need to tell your story, you can make it happen. The Gold Award is a good experience to just try it,” Morgan said!

We love that Morgan’s Gold Award project inspired her to follow her dreams and that she’s using the leadership skills she gained through her Girl Scouting experience to continue empowering adult women to pursue theirs!

Different Flowers is being shown at AMC Town Center in Overland Park, KS and AMC Barrywoods in Kansas City, MO beginning Sept. 29, check their websites for show times. Want to meet the Leader and filmmaker Morgan Dameron?! She’ll be doing a talk-back on Oct. 1 at AMC Town Center following the 5:10pm showing and at AMC Barrywoods following the 7:00pm showing!

Check out the trailer for Different Flowers!   And, make plans to join us! Let’s pack the theater with Girl Scouts!!

Girl Scouting Goes Full Circle

Spotlight on Girl Scout Alumna, Katelyn Clark

Like most kindergarteners, Girl Scout Alumna Katelyn Clark had no clue what she was getting into when her mom signed her up for Girl Scouts. What she does remember from being a Girl Scout Daisy is being asked by her troop leader, Kim Harrington, what she wanted to do, what badges she wanted to earn and when she wanted to bring in snacks for the troop.

“I had a phenomenal troop leader. Even at that young age, she ensured a girl-led experience. That inspired me at a young age to be confident and self-led,” Katelyn said.

She also remembers making snow globes out of baby food jars to learn about the different winter holidays celebrated around the world; an activity that would influence her Gold Award project ten years later.

Katelyn as a Girl Scout Daisy and Brownie.

There are many life lessons learned and passions discovered that Katelyn credits to her time as a Girl Scout in the Spirit of Nebraska Council.

In middle school that Katelyn started to realize the opportunities available to her because she was a Girl Scout. At the age of 13 she went on her first destination trip to the Boundary Waters and fell in love with travel. “My mom put me on a little prop plane and I flew up to Ely, MN. I spent a week canoeing and I think that sealed the [Girl Scout] deal! I realized that I loved camping and that at 13 years old I could fly by myself, I could pick up a canoe and carry it over a portage and camp. It was really empowering to meet all these Girl Scouts from all over the United States that had such cool stories” Katelyn explained.

Katelyn during her Girl Scout Destination trip to the Boundary Waters.

Almost immediately upon her return from her Boundary Waters trip, Katelyn started planning her next adventure; she wanted to go to Costa Rica.

To raise funds, she and a Girl Scout sister Beth Harrington planned a lock-in for over 40 Brownies complete with workshop rotations and followed Girl Scout Safety Activity Checkpoints! They even recruited non-Girl Scouts to help with programming! It was so successful that it not only raised the funds they needed to go on their destination, but also inspired their Gold Award projects.

Drawing on that first Girl Scout memory with the snow globes, Katelyn created a half day Holiday Fun Fair for girls to learn about five different winter holidays celebrated around the world. Instead of charging admission to the event attendees were asked to bring an item like diapers, formula, etc. to be donated to The Child Saving Institute, a local nonprofit in Nebraska. At the end of the Fun Fair, Katelyn delivered two car loads of items to The Child Saving Institute!

“To go from a Daisy to earning your Gold Award is so fulfilling. At the time though, I didn’t realize the magnitude of it.”

As she grew through Girl Scouting, Katelyn wasn’t really thinking about the Gold Award. It was her progression through the program when it just kind of happened for her.  “I thought the Gold Award was something I wanted to do for me and thought it was just something you did in Girl Scouts,” she said.

After completing her project, Katelyn recalls receiving her Gold Award congratulatory packet in the mail. It contained letters of support and recognition from community members, elected officials and even the President of the United States and she thought “holy cow, this is a big deal!”

“I was more appreciative of my Gold Award actually after I earned it. It became something I put on my college applications, on resumes.”

Left: Katelyn with GSSN Board Member, Karen Morey. Center: Katelyn collecting items for The Child Saving Institute during her Gold Award Project. Right: Katelyn with Girl Scout sister Beth Harrington.

Those college applications and essays earned her admission into Rockhurst University’s international business administration program and Katelyn moved from Nebraska to Kansas City to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree. Girl Scouting was never out of mind though, she returned to Nebraska every summer and worked as a Girl Scout camp counselor.

“Girl Scouts taught me I am who I am. I lived in middle school and high school as my most authentic self for who I was. Girl Scouts taught me that other people can be different as well and that everyone has a story. It also taught me to be compassionate, to look at those around you and see how you can make the world a better place.”

Today, Katelyn’s Girl Scouting experience has come full circle and she has remained in KC working for a senior living marketing company and is a Gold Award advisor and travel volunteer with our council, inspiring and empowering Girl Scouts through her own experiences!

Katelyn on a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park with GSKSMO Girl Scouts!

Katelyn’s advice to Girl Scouts? “I know it gets hard in that 5th, 6th and 7th grade time frame, but hang in there and look at what you can do as a teen Girl Scout. There are so many opportunities to travel, sit on teen advisory councils, sit down with mentors and business leaders. That’s a unique opportunity you can’t get anywhere but in Girl Scouting in your teen years. Know that while not every badge is the most fun or every Journey the best, look around and at the people you’re meeting. Some of these girls will be lifelong friends. You’ll have a moment that you change your perspective. Maybe you’ll be inspired and it’ll lead to a career. You’ll be surprised at where Girl Scouts will take you!”

You’re a Girl Scout Rock Star, Katelyn! We appreciate all you do for girls in our council!!

Don’t miss out on these upcoming opportunities available to teen Girl Scouts!
The first deadline to apply for a Girl Scout Destination trip is Nov. 1, you can take a domestic or international tirp with Girl Scouts from all over the US!
– Want to travel to the Boundary Waters, canoe and camp for a week? We’re taking a council-sponsored trip in July, 2018!
– Thinking about Going Gold?! Learn more about the steps and requirements!