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.

A Girl Scout Life of Adventure  

 

Adventure is something Girl Scouts are definitely familiar with. Whether it’s camping away from home for the first time or speaking in front of a group, Girl Scouts have the courage to face it all. Girl Scout alumna, donor and Curved Bar recipient, Barbara Weary, has lived a Girl Scout life of adventure and held the Girl Scout Promise close to her heart. This amazing alumna has spent a lifetime supporting Girl Scouting both locally and abroad.

“Girl Scouts changed my life. It gave me the courage to be a real person and follow my dreams,” Barbara said.

Barbara became a Girl Scout in grade school, asking her mother to be the leader. She remembers one year where troops in her community hosted their own Day Camp at a farm at what was the end of Mission Road at the time (105th & Mission). For that Day Camp, they invited local African American Girl Scout troops to attend, knowing the communities they reached out to didn’t have the resources to host their own.

Her mother, Trudy, even started working at the Girl Scout council after becoming a troop leader and had an inspiring 17 year career serving girls!

In 1949, at the age of 19, Girl Scouts took Barbara to Europe where she traveled to five countries in three months. She arrived in London, England and met with Girl Guides. She then travelled to the Netherlands, France, Germany and Austria. The summer after the trip, Barbara gave speeches about the experience, inspiring other girls to travel.

“That summer was a mammoth dose of scouting. I got to go camping in the Netherlands, go to occupied Germany and Austria, meet up with another Girl Scout in Paris, where I spent all my money…it was incredible,” Barbara said.

Barbara’s Girl Scout pins from across the world; Barbara (leader) watches her daughter, Alison, pin her mother, Trudy in a three generation Girl Scout ceremony; Trudy’s appreciation certificate for her service.

After the trip, Barbara attended Vassar College where she remained active in Girl Scouts. She organized an all-city Girl Scout choir and helped troops with badge work. Upon returning to Kansas City, she began teaching and co-led a troop with 60 girls.

When Barbara became a mother, Girl Scouts was a top priority for her girls. She was a leader and watched her own daughters become courageous women.

Through all these years, Barbara has stayed committed because of the mission and what she sees girls gain from being Girl Scouts. “Girl Scouts empowers you. It teaches you the things you really need to know to be effective. Things like how to work in a committee, how to set goals for yourself and evaluating events to see how you can improve,” said Barbara.

Barbara Weary truly embodies the idea that you’re a Girl Scout “at any age, at any stage.” No matter where she was in life, she found a way to be engaged in Girl Scouting – even meeting up with international troops when she did personal travel, such as a trip to Japan in 1966.

Barbara looks over Girl Scout memorabilia; Barbara with staff at the Girl Scout shop; Barbara with fellow alumna, Barbara Lee, at Camp Daisy Hindman.

Today, Barbara still continues to be involved as a donor, member of the Trefoil Society and as a volunteer. She’s a strong believer in investing in girls when they’re young because it has greater impact than when they’re adults.

“You’ll never have the opportunity to impact them the rest of their lives any other way. If you miss the opportunity when they’re young, you’ll see impact, but not at the same level,” Barbara said.

We thank her for decades of service to girls and the incredible impact she’s had on the Girl Scouting community.

A Gold Standard of Girl Scouting

Spotlighting GS Alumna Vickie Trott

Warm campfires, s’mores and service – those words often revive fond memories for Girl Scouts. Meet Vickie Trott, a proud Girl Scout lifetime member, former troop leader, donor, Gold Award advisor and Trefoil Society member who continues to help girls go for Gold. Recently she won the “Philanthropist Award” at the Central Region’s Volunteer Appreciation event for her awesome work supporting girls – including getting her troop of six to all earn their Gold Awards. Thanks to donors like Vickie, Girl Scouts are continuing to create lasting change in their communities and reach for the stars.

img_7147

Vickie Trott started Girl Scouts in 2nd grade as a Brownie and volunteered her mother to be the troop leader. She fondly remembers adventures to Camp Oakledge and Timberlake and doing day camp with her troop. Her mother strongly encouraged camping and loved being outside with her girls.

After college, Vickie went on to become a successful business woman who holds a Bachelors in Accounting and her MBA, cofounding a family business along the way. Once kids entered the picture, her life turned back to Girl Scouts and Vickie became a leader of Troop 196 for her daughter, Anne and later her stepdaughter, Kelly. Her daughter’s school started with two troops for the grade and as time went on the other troop merged with Troop 196, eventually becoming a troop of 6 girls from three different high schools.  The troop loved camping, service and travel. Following in the footsteps of Vickie’s own Girl Scout experience, Troop 196 went camping often, sometimes Vickie’s mother, Gerry, would even join the adventures – three generations creating Girl Scouting memories.

Left: Troop 196 Investiture ceremony (1985) & at the International Fair (1987)

Left: Troop 196 Investiture ceremony (1985) & at the International Fair (1987)

“I learned camping skills as a Girl Scout, so we took our girls camping a lot. We had rules like ‘no makeup’ and joked that we could guarantee rain in whatever area we decided to camp in,” said Vickie. Four of the girls in the troop went on to become wranglers at Camp Winding River, wanting to inspire the younger girls. The troop adventured beyond the campsites with trips to Chicago and St. Louis as well as a float trip. On one of the float trips they encountered a Boy Scout troop who offered to help them set-up camp. As camping veterans, the girls assured the boys they were confident in their abilities to make their own campsite.

During the years of leading Troop 196, Vickie was an active volunteer, working as a troop organizer, Service Unit manager, Day Camp manager, Product Sales Manager for her Service Unit and taught a leadership institute for Senior Girl Scouts! Talk about keeping busy!

Left: Vickie, Gerry (mother) and Anne (daughter) at Camp Timberlake ( 1987); Center: Troop 196’s overnight (1986); Right: GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler with Vickie at Camp Prairie Schooner honoring Trefoil Society members.

Left: Vickie, Gerry (mother) and Anne (daughter) at Camp Timberlake ( 1987); Center: Troop 196’s overnight (1986); Right: GSKSMO CEO, Joy Wheeler with Vickie at Camp Prairie Schooner honoring Trefoil Society members.

One thing Vickie knew was that she wanted to help her girls get their Gold Awards…and she succeeded! All six in the troop earned their Gold Award as a troop, as that was part of the program in the mid-1990s. For their project, the girls built tables, benches and racks out at Camp Winding River. “This was a time before the internet, so the girls went to the library, researched how to do it, how much wood they would need and raised money. We had to have adults actually cut the wood with the power tools, but we told the dads ‘only cut on the lines the girls drew’ and the girls did everything else,” Vickie said.

Today, Vickie continues her service to Girl Scouts as a Gold Award advisor and donor. She’s dedicated to the work of Girl Scouts because of the role models it provides. “Girl Scouts is the only all-female organization that I belong to because I think it’s really important that girls have a place where they’re in charge, where women are leaders,” Vickie said. Because of her passion for the mission of inspiring girls, Vickie decided to generously include Girl Scouts in her estate plans, ensuring her legacy lives on.

Camp Prairie Schooner – with Troop 196 in 1989 & as a Trefoil Society Member in 2015

Camp Prairie Schooner – with Troop 196 in 1989 & as a Trefoil Society Member in 2015

Caption: Camp Prairie Schooner – with Troop 196 in 1989 & as a Trefoil Society Member in 2015

“[My husband and I] each picked an organization that we believe in and an organization we jointly decided to give to in our estate plans. I think it’s important, if you have the means, to support organizations you believe in in that way,” Vickie said. With a continued inequality in funding for girls organizations compared to boys organizations, it was especially important to Vickie to support Girl Scouts in both a volunteer and financial capacity to allow girls to thrive.

We thank Vickie Trott and her family for their continued advocacy of girls and for making a difference every day. By supporting Girl Scouts, Vickie is paving the way for generations of leaders, just like her own family. Watch for new Gold Award Girl Scouts that Vickie will be leading as an advisor in the future! We’re excited to see new girls going for gold. To learn more about the Trefoil Society, contact Vanessa@gsksmo.org.

A Career of Giving and Service

blogHeader-DCSpotlight

Spotlighting Girl Scout Alumna & Daisy’s Circle Member Kim Flynn

Kim Flynn is a Girl Scout alumna, educator and nonprofit leader who has dedicated her life to service. As a former employee at GSKSMO, Kim knows the power of the organization firsthand. “As a staff member, girl and someone working with volunteers, Girl Scouts empowers people to be their best,” Kim said. Beyond Girl Scouts, she has worked with adult education programs and as a professor at Rockhurst University in Nonprofit Leadership Studies.

Growing up in Wichita, KS, Kim loved being a Girl Scout. Starting as a Daisy she continued through middle school and feels a strong connection to the experiences she gained through Girl Scouts. She remembers getting to meet new girls at camp and how those experiences helped her develop relationships as an adult. “When you meet girls out at camp you don’t think about differences. You don’t think ‘you came from this background and I came from this background.’ At camp you’re just people,” Kim said. These early experiences helped her develop a love of giving back to the community.

Just as being a Girl Scout was something her mother passed down to her, Kim wanted her daughter, Allie, to also be a Girl Scout. Kim felt Girl Scouts was important because of the impact it had on her own life. “I saw the same thing with my daughter’s experience and as a staff member that I saw with my own – that she met people and realized that everyone comes from some place different, but we’re all just people,” Kim said.

Allie and Kim Flynn – daughter and mother Girl Scout Alumnae

 

As an alumna, daughter and mother of a Girl Scout, Kim has watched the organization change with each generation to fit the needs of girls. “The values of the organization are timeless, but it’s able to change for each generation. What was appropriate for my mother’s generation wasn’t appropriate for mine. The fact that the organization can evolve as girls do is a powerful thing,” Kim said. She noticed that her daughter had a different Girl Scout experience than she did because it was aimed at a different generation’s needs. However, at the core, the values remained the same.

From roughly 2000-2010 Kim took her Girl Scout experience full circle and joined GSKSMO as a staff member on the Fund Development team. She has loved working in the non-profit world because of the positive feeling you leave work with each day. “It may sound cheesy, but I really do like making a difference. Even if I’m not directly working with girls, I’m helping make an impact,” Kim said. During her time she also worked with Rockhurst University and found innovative ways to link the two organizations.

Kim Flynn - Badges Rock 2008 Students & Girls

2008 “Badges Rock” featuring Rockhurst students & Girl Scouts (2008)

With a passion for Girl Scouts in mind, Kim worked to integrate a program for girls into the Volunteer Management program she taught at Rockhurst. The program was called “Badges Rock,” and combined awesome programming for Girl Scouts with real world training for her students. “Badges Rock” gave her students the chance to work on a real event and manage volunteers while Girl Scouts in the Outreach Program got the opportunity to earn badges. She fondly remembers the smiles on the faces of girls who came to the event, many of whom had never been on a college campus before.

Recently, Kim decided to join the Trefoil Society to leave a legacy that honors her family. It was important to her to give to an organization that had great utilization of resources and a personal connection. “Something I learned as a staff member was that gifts given to Girl Scouts are utilized so well. I have confidence in the organization and know that gifts directly impact the lives of girls. I wanted to leave that kind of legacy for my family in a place that was impactful for me,” Kim said. By leaving this legacy Kim is continuing her dedication of service long into the future.

We thank Kim and her family for their incredible dedication, generosity and passion for Girl Scouts. What a way to leave a legacy and empower girls for generations to come. If you know of a Daisy’s Circle member with a great story, comment below! For more information on Daisy’s Circle or the Trefoil Society, contact us!

A ROCK-ing Girl Scout Experience

Celebrating Girl Scout Highest Award Alumna Nancy Banta

How closely do you look at the landscape around you? If you’re a geologist like Girl Scout and First Class alumna, Nancy Banta – the answer is probably a lot. Through Girl Scouts, Nancy was able to share her love of geology to educate other girls and gain life skills that gave her the confidence to thrive. From wrangling cattle in muddy boots to getting her first job offer while working at camp, Nancy is a proud Girl Scout and woman in STEM who defied the odds to live a life of adventure and travel.

Born into a military family, Nancy moved frequently, but found a home in Girl Scouts. “[I liked] having something that was the same structure wherever I went. I may have been the new kid in school, but I was still a Girl Scout – that gives you a lot of confidence,” Nancy said. Starting as a Brownie, she continued through high school and earned the First Class, an award that is now the Gold Award. While in Girl Scouts she remembers camping, service projects and developing leadership skills. “We used to say they could drop us out of a plane with a jack knife and twine and we could build a city,” Nancy said.

Her first job was as a counselor at Girl Scout Camp Brandy in New York and required special permission from GSUSA since she was below the age threshold. At camp, she became “Battleship Nancy” and said that “as a counselor, it was important to me to give [girls] an experience that their parents couldn’t offer them.” Camping was a passion and inspired her decision to become a geology major at Beloit College in Wisconsin.

As a woman in STEM in the 1970s, she faced shocking gender obstacles. Missouri legally would not allow women to descend into mines, making her field work dependent on what the men in the group could bring back. This lack of gender equality in the field was daunting, but didn’t stop Nancy from graduating as a geologist and even pursuing her PhD in geology from the University of Texas at Austin in the 1980s.

Nancy Banta Photo

After college, Nancy became a counselor and geologist at National Center West, a highly competitive and prestigious Girl Scout camp.  That summer gave her lifelong friends and skills that helped her get a job. Known as “Rock” at camp, Nancy spent hours riding horses each day to teach Girl Scouts about geology.

Toward the end of her time at National Center West, Nancy got a call from Getty Oil Company asking her to come out to California for an interview. Getty Oil was a large, successful company that has since become part of Texaco. At the time, it was owned by J. Paul Getty (named richest living American by Fortune in 1957). In 1974 less than 1% of petroleum geologists were female, so the odds of Nancy getting a job with this prestigious company was so unthinkable, she didn’t take it seriously. “The big deal at dinner was ‘well Rock, when you get this job, we’ll all go with you to Los Angeles!’” Nancy said. Little did she know – those girls actually would travel to California with her and become her first roommates.

The interview process wasn’t stressful because Nancy didn’t think she had a chance. “I was totally relaxed. At that time women in petroleum geology were .06%, so I had extremely low expectations,” Nancy said. To her surprise, Getty sent a limo to pick her up from the airport and hired her as a Junior Geologist.

NancyBantaCollage

Working with Getty allowed Nancy to have a life of adventure. She traveled all over the world, spending time on oil rigs and examining ground samples. She mapped swamps in Guatemala, worked on wells in Columbia and Canada and visited places like Madrid, Glasglow, Houston, London & Vienna for a geology meetings, among many other adventures. Nancy was responsible for giving presentations from her team because she was an excellent communicator. They even took presentations to schools to teach kids about geology – skills she had from being a camp counselor. With Getty she was part of the team responsible for exploration in Spain, Northern Europe and North Africa. The experiences she had with Getty were the ultimate outdoor adventure – a life of science all over the world.

Nancy continues to inspire girls and be an advocate for women in STEM. She’s a member of Daisy’s Circle, GSKSMO’s monthly giving program and a member of the Trefoil Society. Nancy believes that Girl Scouts has a lasting power for women – no matter the generation. “Girl Scouts teaches values, gives you friendships and the confidence from having the skills you need. [As a Girl Scout] you really aren’t afraid of things that go bump in the night,” Nancy said.

There is one camp song in particular that Nancy feels sums up the camping experience and her time as a Girl Scout. The lyrics are from “On My Honor” and go: “But we find more meaning in a campfire’s glow / Than we’d ever learn in a year or so / We’ve made a promise to always keep / And the day is done before we sleep / We’ll be Girl Scouts together and when we’re gone / We’ll still be trying and singing this song.”

Thank you to Nancy for all your amazing advocacy and work with Girl Scouts and as a woman in STEM. If you have any memories with “Battleship Nancy,” “Rock” or of another awesome Highest Award recipient, share in the comments below!

The Power of Perseverance

blogHeader-AlumSpotlight

 

One in two women was a Girl Scout at some point in her lifetime. And for many of these Girl Scout alumnae, they choose to become lifetime members of our organization. These lifetime members are a cherished part of the Girl Scout family. They advocate, open doors to new opportunities and give their time, talent and treasure to support the next generation of leaders.

Meet Connie Davis, one of our cherished lifetime members. Like many lifetime Girl Scouts, Connie is deeply rooted in the mission of Girl Scouts. She has had experiences only found in Girl Scouts, credits these experiences to her career advancement and wants to support more girls to have this same edge.

“I credit Girl Scouts with helping me find the confidence and leadership ability that have served me well throughout my life,” Connie said.

Connie’s Girl Scout story began in Wichita, Kansas when she joined Girl Scouts as a Brownie. Like many Girl Scouts, Connie fondly remembers her younger years. These experiences in growing friendships or taking on new challenges in the outdoors prepared her for what was to come in Girl Scouts and in life.

conniecollage

Connie as a middle school Girl Scout in Wichita, Kansas in the early 1960s.

 

Two common themes for Girl Scout alumnae: friendships that last a lifetime and the power of a troop leader. Connie experienced both. First, she met her best friend Marilyn at age 12 in Girl Scouts. And you guessed it…Connie and Marilyn continue their friendship today. That’s an impressive 50 year friendship!

Now to the power of a Girl Scout troop leader. As Connie continued her experience into high school, she joined a troop led by a Wichita State University professor. This troop became one of the largest and most well-known troops in the city.

“She was the best troop leader and encouraged us to try things we had never done before,” Connie said. “She loved to camp and made sure service to our community was a priority.”

Connie’s troop leader inspired her Girl Scouts to apply for a Reader’s Digest grant to start up a summer day camp for underserved children. The troop was awarded the grant, and they were off and running to set up their camp. These Girl Scouts set up this camp from scratch and then successfully operated it. The skill development for these girls could be found no other place but Girl Scouts and made possible because of an innovative, energetic, motivational role model.

Connie’s troop leader would continue the encouragement and door opening. During the summers, Connie would go to Turkey Creek, a GS camp near Pratt, Kansas. When it came time to become a counselor-in-training, Connie applied, was interviewed but not accepted. All of her friends would be at Turkey Creek, but Connie would not.

Connie’s troop leader would not let her stay at home and instead made a call to the director of Camp Pin Oak located near Osage Beach, Missouri. After that phone call, Connie’s troop leader encouraged her to apply at Camp Pin Oak.

“It was a very scary thing to do, but I did apply and was selected,” Connie said. “Going to Pin Oak was the best thing that could have ever happened, because I was forced out of my comfort zone to make new friends.”

While Connie was a counselor at Pin Oak, she had another opportunity to apply for the Girl Scout National Roundup to be held in Idaho the following summer. Again, all of Connie’s closest friends were selected yet she was chosen as an alternate. As it turned out, Connie got to go when of the selected girls broke her leg. It was truly a memorable experience for Connie!

“I was a shy teenager and confidence in my leadership abilities clearly did not come through during interviews,” Connie said. “These disappointments didn’t signal the end of opportunities because other doors would be opened.”

And other doors certainly opened. Connie’s Girl Scout experience prepared her for a career of barriers to break through and extraordinary achievements to have. Connie went to college at Pittsburg State and studied elementary education. As she began her student teaching, she courageously stood up to say that teaching wasn’t the right career path for her.

It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate the amazing teachers she had, especially her troop leader. At this time, women didn’t have many options to pursue for their secondary degree.

“I believe that if there were career interest tests at the time I would fit perfectly doing something using math skills,” Connie said.

Connie moved with her husband to Kansas City and began her career as a secretary. She then went to work for TWA as a statistical clerk. In just nine months, Connie had proven herself that she applied for a mid-level manager position and got it. Connie had to endure much conversation, including an article written in the corporate newsletter about her gender and age. She proved all the naysayers wrong, worked hard and spent 15 years at TWA.

At 41, Connie decided she needed to leave TWA and go to graduate school. She received her Masters of Science in Business degree and then went to work for 9 years as the Director of Purchasing for La Petite. Connie continued her career path as the Director of Purchasing managing a 50+ member team at Seaboard Foods. She retired in 2013.

conniecollage2

Connie enjoys a little archery at Camp Prairie Schooner at the Trefoil Luncheon earlier this spring. She also received her Juliette Gordon Low Society pin for including Girl Scouts in her estate plans.

As a Girl Scout alumna and lifetime member, Connie wants other girls to have the same opportunities she did. Girl Scouts was life-changing for Connie, and she knows that when Girl Scout lifetimers like her lift other girls up, our world will be forever changed.

Today, marks a special day as Connie is hosting our very first lifetime member luncheon. She invited lifetime members across Greater Kansas City 45 years and older to come together and share stories, express appreciation and connect to support future leaders.  Thank you, Connie for your leadership in hosting our inaugural luncheon!

We would love to host lifetime member luncheons across our council – would you be willing to host and/or help us plan and connect with others? Do you know a lifetime member like Connie who we should spotlight? Let us know by leaving a comment below!