Building Change from the Ground Up

Denise Mills Stands with Girls

Building girls of courage, confidence, and character to change the world – not only is that the mission of Girl Scouts, it’s the reason GSKSMO donor, Denise Mills, has become a supporter. As a philanthropist, entrepreneur, former GSKSMO Board Member, grandmother of a Girl Scout and one of Kansas City’s “Most Influential Women,” Denise Mills is shaping the women of tomorrow by investing in girls.

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Denise Mills in the workplace building courage and reading with her Girl Scout granddaughter.

As an executive coach and business consultant, Denise consistently sees women in all walks of life struggling with confidence. “Over 90% of the women I talk to […] in some way, don’t feel confident. The two big issues are: ‘help me build confidence and use my voice’ and ‘help me overcome fear of what others think.’ So courage and confidence are the two biggest issues I see in some of the most accomplished, incredible women you’ll meet,” Denise said.

After hearing these concerns repeatedly, Denise was asked to work with a domestic violence shelter as part of her philanthropic work. At the core, she realized that confidence was an issue for both her clients and the victims. The two connected and she decided to combat both problems with an alternative approach, by supporting Girl Scouts to empower young girls and stop the problem before it began.

“I started asking ‘why is the issue of female abuse continuing to grow?’ and I tried to think about the root causes. Part of it is a lack of confidence, courage and self-esteem in women that prevents them from getting out of unhealthy relationships before they become abusive.  I was looking around to see who offered a solution by building courage and confidence in young girls through positive affirmation,” said Denise. Having worked with Girl Scouts in a professional setting as a consultant, it all just came together. “It just made sense to give because Girl Scouts can impact a bigger social change the lives of adult women by building courage, confidence and character in them as girls.”

Denise made the decision to become a supporter of Girl Scouts and joined the Board of Directors in 2008. She served as a Board Member until 2014 and has continued her support through gifts and volunteering through today. She even joined Daisy’s Circle because “as a Daisy’s Circle Member, every month, I’m reminded that I’m contributing to helping a girl build their courage, confidence and character. It’s a feeling I get when I see that monthly gift and I think ‘yeah! This is good.’” She’s also a proud member of the Trefoil Society.

Most recently she gave a generous gift to support STEM programing and joined GSKSMO at the Inspire a Girl event in April of 2015. STEM became a recent interest because it played into the same issues of societal change that brought her to the organization in the first place.

“Society conditions girls with messages that STEM isn’t a good fit for them, even today. Even though there’s an emphasis on STEM right now, when women get to college they’re advisors question them about it. ‘Why are you taking computer science? Usually guys take that,’” Denise said. By investing in STEM within Girl Scouts, it’s connecting courage with STEM in young woman – the perfect recipe for inspiring strong women with an interest in STEM in the future.

Now her giving has come full circle as Denise’s first granddaughter, Kenlee, is a new Girl Scout Daisy this fall! The whole family is excited about the new journey, especially Denise. She intends to stay very involved with Kenlee as she lives her Girl Scout dream.

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Denise Mills with Former GSUSA CEO, Anna Maria Chavez and with her granddaughter, Kenlee.

Denise Mills knows that by supporting Girl Scouts, she’s making impact for more than just the girls, she’s making a change in the world. “While on the Board I heard about Girl Scouts impacting the lives of mothers as well as the girls. If a mother struggles with confidence, but does activities side-by-side with her daughter in Girl Scouts, those messages are infused into the mother as well,” Denise said. It’s amazing what empowering a girl can do.

Without donors like Denise Mills, Girl Scouts and the programming it provides would not be possible. Thank you to Denise and all the incredible donors who make Girl Scouts possible for more than 23,000 girls in our council. You make a difference every day. To learn more about giving, Daisy’s Circle or how you can support Girl Scouts, visit our website.

Forever a Girl Scout

 

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Did you know that more than half of the women in business are Girl Scout alumnae? And, 57% of these alumnae credit the Girl Scout Cookie Program in the development of their skills today. Meet Casey Simmons, a Girl Scout alumna who exemplifies these statistics.

Casey Simmons is one-half of the dynamic duo who own STUFF, a store located in Brookside that caters to one’s creative spirit and unique personality. We would be remiss if we didn’t give a shout-out to the other half of the STUFF duo, S. Sloane Simmons. That’s right, Casey and Sloane are sisters in business, together for more than 20 years. Well, if you go back to their Girl Scout Cookie business, it’s like 40+ years in business!

Casey remembers her Girl Scout experience fondly. Like many younger sisters, Casey’s experience started before she was officially a Girl Scout as she watched (and yes, took part in some of the activities) that her older sister was doing. Casey’s mom and dad played an active volunteer role in supporting Sloane’s troop, which meant as a younger sister she tagged along too.

“There was always Girl Scout stuff going on in our house,” Casey said. “Girl Scouting was just a part of our family.”

When Casey became a Girl Scout, she remembers building new friendships facilitated by the girls only and learning how to make decisions. However, her fondest memories are all about camping. As Casey describes, getting to go to camp was “everything” and such a privilege. There were summers where she and her sister went to multiple sessions of resident camp. She would spend several years following writing to her new camp friends.

“I earned the privilege to go to camp, and once I did that the experience changed me,” Casey said. “I literally came home a new person, because at camp I had to learn to do things for myself like work as a team to lift a metal canoe overhead, walk it down to the shoreline and launch it.”

It was at camp that Casey learned she could try something new and overcome a challenge. Girl Scouts gave Casey an incredible perspective first by coming together with girls from different walks of life at camp. Then, it was seeing Girl Scouts as a worldwide sisterhood.

“My first global view came from Girl Scouts,” Casey said. “I was in awe to learn we were everywhere and together could do great things to change our world.”

"This is the reason I believe so much in Girl Scouts!” Junior Girl Scout Troop 678 takes part in a self-esteem activity with the UMKC Women’s Center.

“This is the reason I believe so much in Girl Scouts!” Junior Girl Scout Troop 678 takes part in a self-esteem activity with the UMKC Women’s Center.

To fund her new experiences and community service, Casey learned early about the impact participating in the Cookie Program could have. She fondly remembers first supporting her sister by unloading and lining up the orders in the living room. Running a business was something that came naturally, after all Casey grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. She watched her parents develop and set up several businesses throughout her childhood.

“The Girl Scout Cookie business was just another small business for our family, but this time I had a chance to run it,” Casey said.

As Casey remembers, the Girl Scout Cookie Program was the very first business that she and Sloane did together.

So let’s fast forward… Today, Casey and Sloane run an incredibly successful business together, as sisters. They each bring a set of skills that together facilitate every aspect needed. Casey loves the marketing side while Sloane loves inventory. Brilliant! And just think it all started in the family living room! Can’t you see it – Casey developing the marketing plan to meet their goal while Sloane makes sure orders are sorted and ready for delivery?

In addition to their business savvy, Casey and Sloane’s Girl Scout “make a difference” mantra continues. These women want to give back to the community that raised them. They want to lift up the creative individuals in our community. 70% of the items STUFF sells is made by individuals in the Kansas City community. In addition, they host parties to benefit local non-profits. Most of these parties are held during the holiday season through their Season of Giving.

“We want to raise awareness and much needed funds for these difference-makers across our community,” Casey said.

It is with great excitement that we announce STUFF has selected our council as one of its charity partners. We hope you will join us from 5:30 – 7:00 pm on Wednesday, November 18. Come meet these incredible Girl Scout alumnae and buy a gift or two for a friend or family member. It’s time to start that shopping and just think 15% of all purchases during this special time will be donated to GSKSMO.

Running a business is hard work, but these two incredible sisters continue to make time to help others. They serve on community boards and advise others in business and marketing. We are thrilled that Casey is on our Board of Directors. And even better, she is a co-troop leader for Junior GS Troop 678 with a special member, her daughter. Yes, Girl Scouting continues to the next generation!

Thank you, STUFF and Casey & Sloane Simmons for all you do! We are so proud to have you as Girl Scout alumnae! Don’t forget to stop by STUFF on November 18!

Power of the Circle

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A circle to Girl Scouts conjures up such memories from forever friendships to a unified bond with others who share the same values. Daisy’s Circle brings together individuals who want all girls to have an opportunity to experience Girl Scouting. These generous alumnae, lifetime members, moms, dads, volunteers and friends have made a monthly financial commitment to support Girl Scouting across our 47 counties.

Sherry volunteers at a special camp-out for Girl Scouts in our Outreach Program. Shower caps are on as a color war is about to begin.

Sherry volunteers at a special camp-out for Girl Scouts in our Outreach Program. Shower caps are on as a color war is about to begin.

Meet Sherry Gibbs, a founding member of Daisy’s Circle. Growing up in Queens, New York, Sherry was surrounded by strong female role models. Her mother, grandmother and Girl Scout troop leader were encouraging and pushed Sherry to set and reach for her goals.

Sherry fondly remembers her Girl Scout experience and like many Girl Scouts earning badges and cookie season were her favorite times. For Sherry, setting goals, learning new skills and ultimately feeling accomplishment was the definition of being a Girl Scout.

“Girl Scouting made me aware of all the cool things you could do,” Sherry said.

Those strong female role models and cool Girl Scout experiences led Sherry to attend the University of Pennsylvania, a prestigious Ivy League School and then onto Duke for graduate school where she earned her MBA. It was during her college experience where Sherry became increasingly aware that not every young woman was surrounded by inspiring role models like she had been.

Sherry worked hard, engaged in collegiate activities and ultimately began her career path back in New York City. So there she was comfortable in her career, in her 30s and single, Sherry was ready to step into volunteering. She tried a couple of opportunities, but those didn’t feel quite right.

“I fondly remembered my Girl Scout experience and thought this would be the perfect place to give my time,” Sherry said. “I knew the headquarters for Girl Scouts was in New York City, so I just called them to see what opportunities were available.”

Of course, there were plenty of opportunities. Sherry asked to volunteer near where she lived in Harlem. After training at Girl Scouts’ headquarters, Sherry was connected with troops at Salem United Methodist Church. With the support of another Girl Scout volunteer (Miss Marshall, whom Sherry still stays in touch with) she became the troop leader for 7 Junior Girl Scouts.

At Salem United Methodist Church, Girl Scouting was fully integrated. Girls would come every Saturday for their Girl Scout meeting and then it was off to choir or dancing making their stay at church an all-day affair. Sherry enjoyed opening the door to new things for these girls.

Of course, these Girl Scouts did plenty of things like badge earning, camping, field trips, including two trips skiing. For many of these girls, it was the very first time they tried skiing. Nearly every Saturday for four years, Sherry led and grew her troop of Juniors. The girls loved their experience so much that they would bring friends growing the troop to 28 girls.

Sherry’s volunteer experience was magical bringing her as much joy as she was bringing opportunities to her Girl Scouts. However as we all face in life, Sherry wanted to take career to the next level. This career advancement opportunity led Sherry to Kansas City and our council. Lucky us!!

After arriving to Kansas City, Sherry was settling into her career when she met her husband. After a little time off for career and family, Sherry was ready to step back into volunteering. Of course, Girl Scouts was the place. She volunteered at a local church for a while, but the set up wasn’t quite the same as in Harlem. It wasn’t the right fit, but Sherry would soon see that a better and broader fit was soon coming.

In 2012, Sherry was asked to join the GSKSMO Board of Directors. She is now able to lend her voice to 23,000 Girl Scouts in 47 counties.  Sherry believes whole heartedly that she must give her time, talent and treasure to empowering girls.

“I love sharing my story and showing girls someone who looks like them,” Sherry said. “I want girls to have opportunities that expand their horizons.”

Today, Sherry is the Director of Marketing leading 40 employees at GEHA, the second-largest national health plan and the second-largest national dental plan serving federal employees, federal retirees, and their families.

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Sherry takes Girl Scouts on hike during the annual Outreach Program camp-out.

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors, Sherry volunteers with our Outreach Program. She has volunteered during troop meetings, Science City field trip and a favorite activity, the annual camp-out. Sherry loves watching girls discover the amazing outdoors.

“As girls climb the wall or zipline, they literally blossom and are so excited when they conquer their fear,” Sherry said. “Girl Scouts is all about experiences and letting girls try something they may never have an opportunity to try.”

In addition to giving her time and talents, Sherry gives her treasure. Sherry’s financial commitment is directed to girl organizations.

“I believe in the mission of Girl Scouts, and I want to do whatever I can to support more experiences for girls,” Sherry said.

Sherry is a proud founding member of Daisy’s Circle. Her favorite part of giving a monthly gift is the reminder of her gift she receives each time. This reminder showcases the impact of her gift.

Daisy’s Circle is a powerful circle with no beginning or ending. We need more members like Sherry and our more than 300 generous members. Do you share Sherry’s vision? Join our growing circle today! Learn more at www.daisyscircle.org.