Giving Back to Her Country and G.I.R.L.s

Meet Sgt. Lauren Swensson, proud member of Daisy’s Circle, Girl Scout mom and active duty member of the Army National Guard, stationed in Leavenworth, KS! Sgt. Swensson has dedicated her life to serving others as a medic and supporting her own G.I.R.L., Juliette Girl Scout, Layla!

Helping others is a big motivator for Sgt. Swensson and what has led her down a path of serving our country. While stationed in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps, she found a passion for volunteering in the surgical shock and trauma platoon and helping fellow servicemen and women. She serviced back-to-back tours in Iraq and decided to go back to school in Kansas City, eventually becoming a surgical technician.

Sgt. Swensson joined the Army National Guard and found herself the mom of a proud Girl Scout starting when her daughter, Layla, became a Daisy in the Skyline Council in Virginia around 2015. They were living in Virginia and had great family support, but the Girl Scouts became a second, critical family for these awesome women. It’s a network that Sgt. Swensson is proud to have Layla in.

Layla and Sgt. Lauren Swensson, a proud military family.

“Girl Scouts supports at a local level, as close knit to home as it can be by providing experiences for your child, but it also supports women on a national and global level. Girl Scouts helps mentor women and puts them on a path to succeed and gives them a foundation,” Sgt. Swensson said.

As a military family, moving was part of Layla’s life and they found Girl Scouts to be a great home for both of them. Girl Scout sisters became Layla’s dear friends and troop leaders provided Lauren some much needed help getting Layla to and from Girl Scouts.

“It’s so nice to have something for Layla that’s a constant [between moves]. She takes pride in it and the troop leaders she’s had understand her experiences as a military child,” Sgt. Swensson said. She’s been able to watch Layla grow in confidence through the Cookie Program and as a leader when she worked with younger Girl Scouts. These important moments get to be shared through the program.

Because of the second family feeling and the great programming that Girl Scouts provides, Sgt. Swensson and Layla have joined Daisy’s Circle, GSKSMO’s monthly giving program.  “It’s important to me to support something that my daughter is a part of, personally, but also, the mission of Girl Scouts and what they do is something I absolutely want to support that,” Sgt. Swensson said.

Layla and Sgt. Lauren Swensson surrounded by military care packages created by Daisy’s Circle troops in October 2018.

This past weekend, Sgt. Swensson and Layla attended a celebration for Daisy’s Circle troops and Girl Scouts at Camp Prairie Schooner. It was double special because the service project was creating care packages for servicemen and women overseas. Sgt. Swensson got to speak to the troops about how much these packages mean to those serving.

We thank Sgt. Swensson, Layla and all the members of Daisy’s Circle for providing consistent, reliable support that provides programming and opportunities for girls all over our Council. To learn more about Daisy’s Circle, visit www.daisyscircle.org.

Traveling Far and Wide with Girl Scouts

Spotlighting Girl Scout Volunteer Extraordinaire Chris Hrdy

When you understand the power of Girl Scouts, it’s hard to walk away from living that GS Strong life. Meet Chris Hrdy, a Girl Scout Alum, mom, former troop leader, member of Daisy’s Circle and travel volunteer who found a way to continue giving back after her daughters graduated. After developing a love of travel in Girl Scouts herself, Chris has decided to give back to girls by serving as a volunteer on our council-sponsored trips. This awesome volunteer shows what it means to give as part of a lifestyle.

Chris has fond memories of her time in Girl Scouts and her little green sash she got to start filling with badges. She was involved through middle school, but found her journey start back again years later when she became a mother. The program really mattered to her because it gave her daughters the chance to be themselves. “Girl Scouts gives girls the opportunity to be weird, to be unique, to be involved and be in a space where there are no parents and no boys!” Chris said.

Chris and Ann Marie Hrdy at the 2016 Inspire a Girl Ceremony!

Chris’ daughters, Ann Marie and Melinda, were both Girl Scouts and benefitted from Chris’ involvement. For Melinda’s first years, she served as cookie mom, so by the time Ann Marie was in Kindergarten the next year, she was ready to lead. For all of Anne Marie’s Girl Scouts years – through senior year of high school – Chris served as troop leader.

Troop 110 had a wonderful experience, traveling to places like Costa Rica and earning highest awards. Both daughters earned their highest awards and served our council, Melinda as a Teen Board Member and Ann Marie a part of the Teen Leadership Circle – so this is a high achieving family of G.I.R.L.s! Chris also served as Unit Leader for Day Camp and Service Unit Manager for SU 678. Once Ann Marie graduated though, Chris wasn’t ready to give up her Girl Scout adventures and emailed us to find opportunities.

Chris Hrdy traveling with Girl Scouts!

Fast forward two years and Chris has adventured with girls to the 2017 Inauguration in Washington DC, Chicago (2018) and plans to join them for the Belize trip in 2019 as well as the next Girl Scout National Convention! The change that Chris gets to watch when girls experience travel is what keeps her engaged.

“When girls are out of their element and their parents aren’t around, they’re so different. They’re open to learning new things, seeing new things, and the changes that can place in just a week during travel is mind-boggling. It’s the most fun thing to watch and I LOVE IT!” Chris said.

Because of the travel adventures, highest awards and other experiences Melinda and Ann Marie got to have, they’re now living pretty amazing lives. Melinda just finished culinary school and Ann Marie is a sophomore in college with goals of becoming a home economics teacher, a career path inspired by her Gold Award project! Though all three ladies are now alums, they’re still giving back to the world and living the life of true Girl Scouts.

The Hrdy family became members of Daisy’s Circle because of their belief in the program and wanting to give that to girls who might not otherwise be able to have some of the same experiences Ann Marie and Melinda had. “Girl Scouts is very important to me, it opens up the personalities of the girls and when they get older, it opens up doors through opportunities. I like the idea of being able to offer that to a girl who might otherwise not be able to have those opportunities,” Chris said.

Thank you to Chris and the entire Hrdy family for giving to Girl Scouts and for leading the way for other girls by being brave G.I.R.Ls! Learn more about Girl Scout Travel or Daisy’s Circle by visiting our website – www.gsksmo.org.

Entrepreneurs for Sister Girl Scouts

The Girl Scout Cookie Program not only inspires future entrepreneurs, it creates the philanthropists of tomorrow. After voting to commit to philanthropic efforts, the Girl Scout Cadettes and Seniors of Troop 5003 have pledged to support other girls while learning critical business skills. As new members of Daisy’s Circle, the Girl Scouts of Troop 5003 each committed to sell enough packages of cookies to support at least one month of Daisy’s Circle giving. Talk about some inspiring G.I.R.L.s!

Troop 5003 came together after a few troops either disbanded or found themselves without leaders two years ago. Leader Jennifer Gust has two daughters in the troop, Clara, a Girl Scout Senior and Anna, a Girl Scout Cadette, and became the leader in 2017. When she took up the role of troop leader, she wanted to make sure the troop was focused on the girls. “Our troop is focused on being girl-led,” Jennifer said.

Their troop has experienced a lot of cool things since forming. They’ve taken trips with other troops, like to the Truman Library and have gone camping. “Being girl-led, their experiences are about what they want to do. I am there to help them find a way to do it,” Jennifer said. It was during one of their brainstorming sessions that they decided to divide their cookie proceeds into three categories important to the girls: trips, philanthropy and Silver.

Troop 5003 presented the Colors for the Opening Ceremony for the Women in Railway Business Conference; Camping Wallace State Park

For their philanthropy portion, the Girl Scouts decided that giving back to other girls in their community who might not otherwise be able to join the program was the way they wanted to give back. Each girl committed to selling cookies to help achieve the goal of giving to Daisy’s Circle each month and their annual gift really adds up! Thanks to the support of Daisy’s Circle members, $86,787 was raised in 2017 by this powerful network of donors – and now Troop 5003 is helping grow that number!

“I think it’s important to help other girls who would not have had the opportunity to become Girl Scouts so they can have the experiences that I have been able to have. Girl Scouts gives me confidence and I want other girls to gain it too,” Girl Scout Cadette, Anna Gust said.

When asked why Daisy’s Circle was something the troop wanted to join, Girl Scout Evie said: “Being a part of Daisy Circle is important because EVERY girl should be able to be a Girl Scout! I like that I’m following in Juliette’s example of selling her pearls to help girls be Girl Scouts when the program first began and I’m trying to carry on that legacy.” These girls certainly are giving just like Juliette Gordon Low!

Troop 5003 at their end of year meeting when the girls received their awards and badges.

In addition to their amazing financial support, Troop 5003 is planning a Silver Award that examines crisis plans in local schools. The girls recognized a lack of communication between parents, students and school administrators regarding what to do during a crisis, and they’re in the early stages of planning a Silver Award project that will address this issue. How inspiring!

When girls give back to other girls, it creates a circle of women supporting women that will lead to a brighter future for all women. By standing together and for each other, Girl Scouts are showing just what it means to be Girl Scout STRONG!

Thank you, Troop 5003, for giving back not only through service to your community, but to sister Girl Scouts as members of Daisy’s Circle. Currently, Daisy’s Circle is 468 members strong and we’re hoping to push past the 500 member mark! Join Troop 5003 by supporting girls today at http://www.daisyscircle.org!

Investing Together in a Brighter Tomorrow for Girls

Spotlighting Donors Kathleen & Steven Hermes

 With the hot summer weather, the minds at GSKSMO are focused on our brand new Aquatics Center at Camp Prairie Schooner. Thanks to incredible supporters, Girl Scout families, troops and service units, the funds are coming together to replace one of the oldest pools in KC with a new, ADA-compliant pool, splash pad and all-season shower house.

To make a BIG, BOLD project like this possible for girls, Girl Scout supporters are coming together and saying “girls are important!” by investing in the new Aquatics Center. Two of these awesome donors are Kathleen and Steven Hermes. As an alum and former staff member, Kathleen Hermes and husband Steven, are proud to support girls in a time when the need is greater than ever. For Kathleen, supporting Girl Scouts means giving back to a place she was able to call home.  “Girl Scouts was a warm, supportive environment and gave me a place,” Kathleen said.

Steven & Kathleen Hermes at Camp Prairie Schooner with GSKSMO Board Members & Staff, February 2017

When Kathleen was a girl, Girl Scouts provided much needed emotional support when she moved from Chicago to Kansas City, a whole new world for her. It also provided her a place to explore her wide variety of interests. “I was a little bit of a lost kid, I didn’t have a place, until Girl Scouts became that place. In many ways, it’s part of who I became. I don’t know where I would have landed without it,” Kathleen said.

As a former leader, Kathleen found a chance to connect with her daughters and help them excel through activities like badge work and camping. “Girl Scout camp awakened a lifelong love of nature in me,” Kathleen said. She was the leader for both daughters, Kristin and Kim, and got to experience the programming both as a girl and as a leader. With a love of nature and great Girl Scout programming in her heart, it’s no wonder that she and Steven have become supporters of the new Aquatics Center at Camp Prairie Schooner.

Steven & Kathleen Hermes with GS Alum daughters, Kristin & Kim

Investing in the new Aquatics Center means they’re investing in the future of girl programming, making opportunities available to ALL girls (thanks to a new, fully ADA compliant pool) and showing girls they deserve the very best. “Now more than ever, this is the prime time to support girls,” Kathleen said.  We thank Kathleen and Steven Hermes for their on-going support of Girl Scouts – both as donors and as volunteers. Without supporters like these two incredible individuals, Girl Scouts could not be the premiere leadership development organization for girls.

Rendering of the Aquatics Center

If you’d like to make your mark on Camp Prairie Schooner and join the Hermes in supporting the new Aquatics Center, you can make a gift TODAY at https://www.gsksmo.org/makeasplash.

Daisies for Daisy’s Circle

Spotlighting Some of Our Youngest Philanthropists – GS Troop 4350

Spend. Save. Give. Three simple words that start financial literacy education in young Girl Scouts. When these lessons turn into action, it creates real change and a sense of accomplishment for girls. Meet Girl Scout Daisy Troop 4350, our newest Daisy’s Circle troop! These powerful little philanthropists decided to give back to fellow Girl Scouts after talking to Kara Lineweber, Donor Relations Manager for GSKSMO. As leader Amanda said, “once they talked to Kara, the vote was unanimous to give to Daisy’s Circle with part of their cookie proceeds.”

Troop 4350’s awesome first year of Girl Scouting!

Troop 4350 is just in their second year and hit the fast forward button to catch up to other troops. They started meeting in March of 2017 and decided to hold meetings throughout the summer and twice per week to earn all 10 petals. They also fit in camping twice per year and more activities to keep the troop active and learning all they can handle!

Troop 4350’s badge station and some fun troop time together!

It was during the lesson for the “Talk It Up Leaf” that troop leader Amanda Boyers had Kara come in and talk to the girls about philanthropy. Amanda talked to them about how they helped hurricane victims, the homeless and animals, and asked how they felt about helping sister Girl Scouts through Daisy’s Circle. That’s when it all came together, the girls voiced their decision to support fellow Girl Scouts and they received their own Daisy’s Circle pins.

As Girl Scout Daisy Joye said, “I like to help other Girl Scouts like me.” She proudly held up her pin, smiling as she talked about it. Troop member Phoebe said her favorite thing about Girl Scouts is camp, so she liked helping other girls get to camp too. “[Being a Girl Scout means] I help people, so this is how I can help other Girl Scouts,” Phoebe said.

 

Troop 4350 Girl Scouts Ruby (left), Joye (center) & Phoebe (right)!

Through the experience of giving back through financial gifts as well as time and service, these young Daisies are learning the fundamentals of the Girl Scout program. As Girl Scout Daisy, Ruby said “to be a Girl Scout, you have to be nice, kind and polite.” Learning to give back is certainly a great way to learn to be those things!

So many life experiences, so much fun – that’s what makes Girl Scouting so very special. On top of all the amazing skills girls learn and opportunities they have, troop leader Amanda sees the power in Girl Scouting as a family affair as much as it is beneficial for the girls. “It’s a great way for mothers and daughters alike to form relationships with peers as the troop continues to mature. It’s an opportunity for girls to have ownership both financially and in the decision making. I can’t think of another extracurricular activity that can provide this unique combination,” Amanda said.

 We can’t thank Troop 4350 and their leader enough for their support of Daisy’s Circle. By giving back, they’re helping empower sister Girl Scouts right here in their community. If you’d like to learn more about this giving program, visit www.daisyscircle.org or contact Kara Lineweber at klineweber@gsksmo.org to get started!

An Alum who Inspires Girls to Blaze New Trails

Meet Daisy’s Circle Trailblazer & GS Alum Michele Pritchard

When Michele Pritchard was in 2nd grade, she joined an organization that would change her life – Girl Scouts. Looking for a place to have more outdoor experiences, Michele discovered more than a group of girls to explore nature with – she found a sisterhood that inspired her passion. This awesome Gold Award alum is also a proud member of Daisy’s Circle Trailblazers, continuing to support the organization that helped shape who she is today.

Growing up in Buffalo, NY, Michele had some pretty amazing experiences thanks to Girl Scouts. She learned about Native American culture, medicinal uses of things like tree bark, camping skills and more that filled her desire to explore. But it didn’t stop there. Michele also learned to code, earning a badge in it, with her dad leading the programming the troop participated in!

“It was so fun to accomplish one of those badges because you came out with such a great understanding of whatever topic the badge covered. That exposure, that exploration girls get…I think that’s why it’s so important for people to continue support Girl Scouts,” Michele said.

These early badge projects turned into a wonderful survey of all the career options available – something girls don’t always get in school. “Girl Scouts was career exploration for me,” Michele said.

In 1990, Michele turned her sights on the Gold Award and a problem right in her neighborhood. During a sidewalk renovation project, many trees in the area get severe damage to their root systems, which eventually caused them to die. Michele grew saplings and replanted them, filling the area with trees once again. “Hundreds of little trees in little pots all over my mom’s house!” Michele said.

Michele with the tree she planted in 1979, then got seeds from for her Gold Award project.

 In fact, the tree she got the seeds from to grow the others is still growing in her mom’s backyard! Not only did Michele make an impact on her neighborhood, she learned invaluable life skills and leadership qualities she uses in everyday life. “It was because of Girl Scouting that I discovered what my passions are and that helped drive my career choices as an adult,” Michele said.

As an Alum, Michele has turned her sights on supporting the next generation of Girl Scouts by becoming a proud member of Daisy’s Circle as a Trailblazer. “I want to support the program that helped me find out what my passions are,” Michele said. There are many ways to support organizations you care about and Michele has been able to find many ways to give.

“I give of my time, but it was also important to me to give financially too. You can’t rely on free volunteers for everything, so you have to have a funding source to help girls do everything they need to do in Girl Scouting to give them the upper hand,” Michele said. Thank you, Michele, for giving back to Girl Scouts and supporting the next generation of G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders) just like you!

To learn more about becoming a Daisy’s Circle Trailblazer, email KaraLineweber@gsksmo.org.

Girl Scouts Shine Bright

Spotlight on our 2018 Beth Winters Scholarship Recipients

Beth Winters was a passionate Girl Scout; she loved camping, traveling and was part of Girl Scouts of the USA’s “Leadership Today and Tomorrow” program as a girl member. Beth was the kind of person who wanted to know everything about everything and she attended the University of Missouri where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Journalism.

Just four years after graduating college, Beth was tragically killed in a car accident.

Upon her passing, Beth’s Mother Joyce Termini and brother Chip began thinking of ways to honor and remember her. With Beth’s passion for continuing education and her love of Girl Scouts, a scholarship for graduating Girl Scouts in seemed like the perfect fit. “This was exactly the right answer,” is how Joyce describes starting the scholarship in 1995.

Over the past 22 years, the Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship has provided 32 scholarships totaling more than $50,000 to Gold Award Girl Scouts from our council. This year, we were honored to recognize three Beth Winters Memorial Scholarship recipients at Inspire at Girl on April 14, 2018.

Emily Musembi, Joyce Termini, Isabella Barnes, Chloe Rothery and Chip Winters

Isabella Barnes

Isabella’s Gold Award project addressed lack of literacy and emphasis on fostering the love of learning in at-risk communities in Kansas City. Prior to the sessions, children would spend time on their phones during Harvesters-sponsored Kid’s Café, only to return to their computers after their meals. After observing a few sessions of Kid’s Café in the summer of 2016, Isabella realized that their time could be put to better use, and could be a catalyst for change.

Isabella worked with the Bluford Branch of the Kansas City Public Library and the Kid’s Café to plan and execute the interdisciplinary literacy outreach program using arts-based curriculum. These bi-monthly sessions will continue to happen and Isabella is currently training another youth facilitator!

 

Emily Musembi

Emily’s Gold Award project addressed the memory preservation and overall wellbeing for survivors of domestic abuse. In many situations, survivors have to leave quickly and cannot take personal items like scrapbooks, art and journals. This program provided them with art supplies to help them express themselves while recording memories and helping them start a new life. For children, the art supplies allowed them to create works of art that could help define their new spaces as “home.”

Emily worked with Synergy Services, local Girl Scouts and a teacher to gather supplies, share the program and plan the events. Her program will be made available to future coordinators who may want to recreate the project through instructions, a video and the supplies Emily donated. She learned to project manage, gather donations and lead a program through this process. She hopes that the project will be shared with other shelters and the video will inspire others to recreate the program. Through art, survivors can find healing and a way to begin a new life and record positive experiences that make wonderful memories and scrapbooks.

 

Chloe Rothery

Chloe’s Gold Award project addressed the lack of awareness about opportunities in science classes and career pathways at Liberty High School. Working with local 8th graders, Chloe set-up a fair for them to learn about the opportunities available in high school and spark excitement about science. She asked fellow high school students to set up booths and talk about their classes and future careers. Many included interactive displays and experiments.

Chloe worked with her high school and Liberty Middle School to coordinate the 8th grade attendees and the fair. Her fellow high school students loved sharing their love of science with the middle schoolers and she found that the excitement translated to the younger students as planned. While most answered “no” when asked if they’d considered a career in science when they arrived, a large number said “yes” by the time they left! She hopes that this excitement will encourage more students to go into sciences for their careers, leading to a more robust STEM pipeline in the future!

Thank you to Joyce, Chip and Beth’s friends and family for making this scholarship possible!

We are excited to announce that an additional scholarship will be available in 2019 for graduating Girl Scouts form our council! This new scholarship is being sponsored by Highest Award Alum and Lifetime Member, Connie Davis and more information will be available soon!

Read how the other 57 Gold Award Girl Scouts are making an impact on our community here!

Interested in learning more about how you can start a scholarship for Girl Scouts? Contact Vanessa Van Goethem-Piela at Vanessa@gsksmo.org or 816-759-3072.

For the Love of Girl Scouts

A Profile of Giving Back: Henderson Engineers

It takes a community to raise Girl Scouts and our friends at Henderson Engineers are doing their part to build a better future for girls! This amazing partnership began with a cookie recognition event where a Girl Scout dad saw camp needs and realized what a strong partnership Henderson Engineers could have with GSKSMO. Because of that partnership, Henderson has not only given financially to support the Outreach Program, but they’ve volunteered to make necessary repairs and updates to Camp Prairie Schooner!

Girl Scout dad, Jason Wollom took his Daisy daughter, Lily, to participate in an outdoor art program she received as part of Cookie Program. Because of her hard work, Lily had earned the event as a recognition for selling Girl Scout Cookies. While the Girl Scouts took the art class, parents were invited to take a quick tour of Camp Prairie Schooner with our Philanthropy department. Jason Wollom decided to go on the tour and immediately saw an opportunity.

During the visit, Jason was inspired by the incredible opportunities that camp provides and connected GSKSMO’s Melissa Ford with the Henderson Foundation, the philanthropic organization supported by Henderson Engineers. Since then, the Henderson Foundation has made amazing financial gifts to support girls in the Outreach Program and decided to involve their staff in a volunteer work day at camp!

Their support of the Outreach Program is part of Henderson’s focus on education and supporting girls in the urban core. By providing opportunities to these Girl Scouts, Henderson is not only helping the girls, but also the community, because of the projects these Girl Scouts are able to complete. It’s a powerful ripple effect all thanks to supporting girls!

Henderson Engineers volunteers work on the basement and kitchen of Neal Lodge, 2017

In 2017, the Henderson Engineers’ team came out to Camp Prairie Schooner and did some major updates to the property! They renovated the basement of Neal Lodge, including hanging drywall and various other updates. The team deep cleaned the kitchen at Neal Lodge before Zombie Camp, making sure it was ready for all the awesome girls that would come to camp that weekend. Finally, they helped demolish a permatent site! Talk about some seriously awesome work. Their combination of giving through financial support and volunteerism truly makes this partnership special.

Henderson Engineers volunteers demolishing the permatent site, 2017.  DNF18

Thank you to Henderson Engineers for their on-going support of Girl Scouts! They’re joining us in 2018 for another volunteer day and we can’t wait to see what changes they’re able to make at camp. Without volunteers and community supporters like this, Girl Scouts could not provide the vital programming it does. Thank you!

If your organization is interested in helping changes the lives of girls, please contact our VP of Philanthropy, Vanessa Van Goethem-Piela.

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.