Girl Scout Cookie Superheroes

Celebrating Our Longest-Serving Product Sales Managers – Part 2

 Earlier this week, we learned about our first five amazing, longest-serving Service Unit Product Sales Managers (SU PSMs) who have served our council for many years. Today, you’ll meet 5 more who have served as SU PSM for 11 to 35+ years. Wow. That’s some serious commitment to G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM.

These volunteers have seen it all. From taking cookie orders on paper to moving to SNAP to increased recognitions for girls, they’ve been critical to improving the program year after year. Not only have they been vital in providing feedback for our council, they’re an invaluable resource for new cookie moms/dads trying to help their troops succeed. Without them, girls wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn these important business skills. We cannot begin to thank them enough for their incredible work and dedication!

Check out Part 1 of this blog here!

Mary Lang with volunteers at cookie deliver; Diana Nolan; Carmellya Anderson at the 2016 Volunteer Celebration and Lesma Whalon with her daughters’ troop.

 

Mary Lang – SU 635 – Prairie Village

“I am so proud to be part of this amazing organization that focuses on “Building girls [and adults] of courage, confidence, and character.”  I hope that my role as PSM helps other girls achieve these characteristics and, hopefully, enjoy their own treasured memories as a Girl Scout as I cherish mine.”

Years as a PSM: 11 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom & Alumna:

  • Daughter, Emily (Alumna)
  • Sister, Bev (Girl Scout & troop leader, leading her daughter’s troop through Bronze, Silver & Gold awards); Sister, Cindy (Alumna); Niece, Becca (Bev’s daughter, active Highest Award Alumna)
  • Mother, Gloria (Camp name was “M&M,” and a Girl Scout in the 1940s. Active volunteer even after graduating, including becoming Day Camp Director)

Her Girl Scout Story:

“Cookie Monster” – that’s the affectionate name passed from SU PSM to SU PSM in SU635! Mary became “Cookie Monster” after being asked by the Service Unit Manager.  Mary was eager to jump on board. With such an extensive GS family background – it’s no wonder! The thing she loves about the Cookie Program specifically is the skills that girls learn and her hope that she’s inspiring future “Cookie Monsters.” With all the changes she’s seen, the willingness of people to help and the inspiring stories of the girls are what keep her motivated. It’s really all about empowering G.I.R.L.s!

 

Diana Nolan – SU 611 – Liberty

“Girl Scouts is a great organization that helps to develop girls into tomorrow’s leaders.  I truly believe that Girl Scouts builds girls courage, confidence and character.  It’s an organization where girls have to opportunity to try new things that they may not have otherwise been able to do.”

Years as a PSM: 11 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom & Alumna:

  • Amanda, Shannon & Peyton (All 3 Girl Scouts K-12, now a Lifetime Girl Scouts)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Diana has never been the type of volunteer to pass up an opportunity to serve! After serving as Service Unit Registrar, Teen Manager, Day Camp Business Manager and various roles on Northland Owl Prowl committee, she wanted something that was consistent. “With Service Unit PSM position, everything is black and white, and as long as you follow the guidelines, it’s a piece of cake (at least for me).” When she began, everything was on paper, so she’s seen the growth of the program into a digital platform that eliminates manual math and double checking. Diana keeps up with this role because she believes in the power of the program and what it teaches girls about business and confidence. Her favorite thing about being a PSM, aside from watching the girls, is the friendships she’s developed in her community. Diana Nolan is awesome! She is stepping away from serving as a PSM to take on other GS volunteer positions.  We know Diana won’t be too far away and available for a cookie question or two from time to time. Thanks, Diana!

 

Carmellya Anderson; Mary Lang with mom, Gloria (Alumna) and GS daughter, Emily; Lesma Whalon

Carmellya Anderson – SU 641 (current) & SU 620 (part of her 18 years) – Kansas City

“I love the learning and program opportunities that cookies  provides to the Girl Scouts in our community. I especially love to see shy girls blossom into confident business women.”

Years as a PSM: 18 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom & Silver Award Alumna:

  • Daughter, Alana (Current Girl Scout Cadette)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Carmellya became a SU PSM after moving to Kansas City from Kentucky when she was looking for ways to meet new people. She tried serving as assistant leader, the scheduling for SU PSM worked much better for her. Fast forward 18 years and she’s still a dedicated volunteer. When she first started she “used to receive four pallets full of material to eye level. A whole lot of paper, paper, paper.” Luckily, technology has caught up to the growing needs of girls and now it’s mostly digital. What kept her motivated through mountains of paper work and years of serving was seeing girls reach their goals and establish skills that will last a lifetime. Between her volunteers and Girl Scouts, she’s found a community through serving and helping to empower G.I.R.L.s.

 

Lesma Whalon – SU 645 – Lee’s Summit/Raytown

“I love helping troop leaders order cookies and when I’m out at the stores, seeing girls selling cookies and the girls see me and go ‘yeah, I’m the cookie lady.’”

Years as a PSM: 20 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom & First Class Alumna:

  • Dacia (Girl Scout K-5th), Shyra (Girl Scout K-12, earned Silver Award), Alyssa (Girl Scout K-12, was featured on cookie boxes from 3rd grade to 12th grade)

Her Girl Scout Story:

When it comes to working hard for girls, Lesma certainly has the years of experience to show she’s dedicated! She became SU PSM after a council staff member asked her to step in. Unlike many PSMs, Lesma had never served as a Troop Cookie Manager, but she was the Leader for her daughters’ troops. Still, she accepted the role like a true Go-getter.  As someone that works in technology, Lesma has watched the change from excel spreadsheets to SNAP and tries to integrate new technology often. When it comes to moving Girl Scouts forward, Lesma is right there to help new troop leaders and support girls. She even attends service unit meetings just to be there for advice! Even though she’s retiring this year, Lesma knows she won’t go far. This First Class Girl Scout is a prime example of leading like a Girl Scout! Thank you, Lesma for your incredible commitment to girls!!

 

Suzan – SU 701 – Topeka

“Over the years of being a SU PSM, I have watched girls go from Daisies to Ambassadors and troops go through the program saving for trips and then listening to their experiences after.”

Years as a PSM: 35+ years

Proud Girl Scout Mom

Her Girl Scout Story:

What started as her daughter raising her hand and volunteering her mother for a job has become over three decades of service to girls. Suzan began serving in Topeka and has made incredible contributions to the program over the years. She gained the nickname “Cookie Lady” after a Brownie stopped her in the store and said “You’re the Cookie Lady, right?” and since then, the name has stuck. With her knowledge, empathy and understanding, she’s able to connect with the long time cookie volunteers just as well as the brand new cookie parent who feels overwhelmed. As she says “I truly understand the first year cookie mom or dad who is overwhelmed by the program. I was there also.” Topeka’s “Cookie Lady,” has been making a positive impact on the lives of Girl Scouts for decades and inspiring generations of girls.

 

Thank you to the 10 awesome volunteers we’ve highlighted in this two-part blog and to everyone who makes the Cookie Program a reality. Thousands of hours of work, countless sleepless nights and lots of heavy lifting go into every cookie season and it’s all because of volunteers who believe in girls. Thank you for supporting our Girl Scouts with their cookie business!

If you want to share a special memory or shout out to any of these volunteers, please leave a comment below.

Girl Scout Cookie Superheroes

             

Celebrating Our Longest-Serving Product Sales Managers – Part 1

Who can carry 1000 boxes of cookies in a single delivery? Who can inspire and support thousands of troop cookie managers and leaders through every obstacle the season presents?  Who has the heart of a champion ensuring the groundwork is set for girls to have a fantastic cookie business. Service Unit Product Sales Managers (SU PSMs) of course! These volunteers are the superheroes behind every box of Girl Scout Cookies we buy to support young business leaders. This week, we’re celebrating amazing SU PSMs who have served GSKSMO for anywhere from 7 years to 35+ years! Talk about dedication. These ladies essentially work a second job during cookie season organizing orders, checking troop sales, helping new cookie moms/dads and inspiring their service unit along the way with their belief in the power of G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM.

Today we introduce our 7 – 10 year SU PSMs and celebrate their dedication to the Cookie Program. You’ll meet Gail Alvarez (SU 640), Beth McCreight (SU 678), Linda Christensen (SU 805), Lisa Simmons (SU 716) and Regina McCullum (SU 661).

These are the volunteers who spend their weekends stopping by booth sales to cheer on troops. These are the volunteers who advocate for enhancements to the program. These are the volunteers who care about every girl they watch grow from Daisy to Ambassador and transform from girl to businesswoman. These are the volunteers who make a life changing difference by supporting a program that empowers the women of tomorrow. Doesn’t that make each bite of Girl Scout Cookie just a little bit sweeter?

 

Gail Alvarez, Beth McCreight, Lisa Simmons and Regina McCullum

 

Gail Alvarez – SU 640 – Lee’s Summit/Raytown

“I love the Cookie Program because I love seeing the troops grow their business and finding out what they’re doing with their money.”

Years as a PSM: 7 years (3yrs in Lee’s Summit, 4yrs in Raytown)

Proud Girl Scout Mom:

  • Two Girl Scout daughters (Girl Scouts K-12, now Alumnae)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Gail served as Troop PSM and was recruited by the retiring SU PSM to step into the role. She has loved being a volunteer so much she even offered to move over to Raytown’s service unit to help fill a need there. Her favorite part of the experience is getting to know the troops. “I enjoy working with my troops – both the newbies and the oldies!” She has also served on committees that evaluate the program each year and work on ways to improve. One piece of advice she gives to younger troops is to take advantage of Candy, Nuts and Magazine Program, because it gives them a financial bump right away to start doing great things. Gail loves being involved with Girl Scouts and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

 

Beth McCreight – SU 678 – Spring Hill / Olathe

“I love seeing girls accomplish things that they’ve never done before.”

Years as a PSM: 7 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom:

  • Daughter, Rebecca (Girl Scout Cadette)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Serving as troop leader AND SU PSM? That takes a special kind of volunteer. Meet Beth McCreight, Troop 0027 leader and SU PSM! This awesome Girl Scout mom loves leading her daughter, Rebecca, and the rest of the troop through the adventures of being teens while learning how to be G.I.R.L.s. When she was asked to be SU PSM, she stepped up to the plate and has enjoyed watching changes like the increase in recognition for sales. She says the best thing about being involved with Girl Scouts is “seeing my troop doing things that they probably would not do otherwise and watching friendships develop.”

 

Linda Christensen – SU 805 – Maryville

“I have enjoyed seeing my girls go from Daisies now to Senior and Cadettes and they know how to budget. I am very proud of these girls and this process of teaching.”

Years as a PSM: 7 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom:

  • Daughter, Errin (Alumna) & Zoey (GS Cadette)
  • Granddaughters, Alli (College Girl Scout), Bridget (GS Senior) & Taylor (Girl Scout)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Watching girls go from children to young women – that’s one of the best things about being a Girl Scout volunteer. Linda Christensen knows firsthand, having 2 daughters and 3 granddaughters who are all proud Girl Scouts! She accepted the role of SU PSM when there was a need for someone to fill the position and has stayed with it ever since. For her, change is constant in the Cookie Program, but as she says “As a Girl Scout, change is good.” Her absolute favorite thing about being SU PSM? Watching the girls grow into young businesswomen. Most importantly, she believes in the power of the program and the way it inspires leaders.

 

SU 716 cookie delivery; Regina McCullum with daughter and Girl Scout Daisy granddaughter, Dalaina; Lisa Simmons at camp.

Lisa Simmons – SU 716 – Lawrence / Eudora

“[Girl Scout volunteers] have a common belief or goal in helping girls and these other volunteers are such good people!  I’m blessed to know them!  Every year there are new leaders…New friends!”

Years as a PSM: 8 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom & Alumna:

  • Daughters, Sydney (Alumna & Lifetime Girl Scout) and Skyler (Girl Scout K-8th)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Girl Scout volunteer life doesn’t end after a Girl Scout daughter graduates. That’s definitely the case for Lisa Simmons, who didn’t want to stop giving back after her daughter graduated high school. Lisa noticed that the previous SU PSM was getting promoted at work and under increasing stress, so she offered to take over because she really enjoyed the job – especially the other volunteers. In 8 years, she’s gone from taking bundles of checks and cash to the bank over her lunch hour (imagine depositing money from 80 troops over your lunch hour!) to not handling any money, allowing her more time to focus on organization. Aside from loving the people, she loves the business skills that girls are learning and that moment when Girl Scouts make a sale and see a smile on the face of a customer. She knows that’s when girls see how businesses can positively impact customers.

Regina McCullum – SU 661 – Leavenworth / Fort Leavenworth / Lansing

“This program helps build confidence, character, and courage and in the end will develop confident, kind, and courageous women. The world could use more of that.”

Years as a PSM: 10 years

Proud Girl Scout Mom & Alumna:

  • Daughters, Daneen & Deondra (Girl Scouts K-12, now Alumnae)
  • Granddaughter, Dalaina (1st grade Daisy in SU 661)

Her Girl Scout Story:

Regina is an incredible advocate for Girl Scouts. After 10 years as SU PSM, it’s no wonder! After being a Junior troop leader, she answered the call when the service unit was looking for an SU PSM and as she says, “I never looked back.” Her passion? BOOTH SALES! She absolutely loves watching the excitement on the faces of girls as they make sales to customers at booth sales. On weekends, she makes the rounds to check on the troops and see how sales are going. Talk about dedication! We thank Regina for her years of dedication, experiences and friendships with volunteers and council staff.

What incredible stories of dedication to G.I.R.L.s! Thank you to all these incredible volunteers for their years of service. Check out Part 2 of this blog (11 – 35+years) on Thursday! If you want to share a special memory or shout out to any of these volunteers, please leave a comment below.

An Everyday Hero Standing with Girls

Man Enough to be a Girl Scout: Mark Jeffrey

It takes a special person to be a hero. Police officers, firefighters and EMTs risk their lives to protect us. Meet Mark Jeffrey from Grain Valley, MO, a dad to two amazing Girl Scouts, a police officer, former firefighter and EMT. Talk about a hero among! Most importantly, Mark is a proud Girl Scout dad and volunteer, making the world better for girls. He’s certainly Man Enough to be a Girl Scout!

Mark Jeffrey loves his community.  And, his decades of public service prove it. He served as an EMT and firefighter for 13 years before becoming a community officer then a police officer for Lake Latawana, where he’s served for 16 years. This devoted protector loves being out in his community and getting to know people. When he became a dad, he knew he wanted to have his children involved in organizations that would expose them to their community. “It’s important to be involved with your kids in activities that help us bond and make them into great people,” Mark said.

Mark and his wife, Erin, have three children – all involved in Scouting. Son, Chase (12) and daughters Alexis (9) and Elizabeth (5) have been in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts since kindergarten. Mark has recently become an assistant leader for Alexis and Elizabeth – helping with shirt designs, cookie sales and general troop support. “I was in Cub Scouts for one year and it really stuck with me, so when my kids were born, I saw it as an opportunity to get back involved with Scouting,” Mark said.

Scouting is important to the family because it lets the Jeffrey kids explore and do things outside the house. “Scouting provides life skills that help you become a good member of society. It teaches girls they can go as far as they want. Kids get the opportunity to explore, learn and discover their interests, so they grow up to be great men and women of society,” Mark said.

Alexis is part of Girl Scout Junior Troop 716 and volunteers with Girl Scout Daisy Troop 1854, Elizabeth’s troop (PS – Michelle Twyman, leader for Troop 879, has a daughter in this troop too!). Elizabeth was inspired to join Girl Scouts because of Alexis. The two have a very close relationship and as Mark says, they’re almost like twins. Having an older Girl Scout participate means the world to the new Daisies who are working hard on their first year selling cookies.

“Elizabeth’s troop is crazy about cookies. She’ll ask anyone she sees to buy them. She went to one of Chase’s Boy Scout meetings and started asking them to buy cookies,” Mark said. What a go-getter!

The Jeffrey family is active in PTA for Matthews Elementary, supported Service Unit 646’s Holly Jolly Jamboree and participates in Grain Valley’s Police Explorers. The Police Explorers is a program introduces kids to law enforcement careers through interactive activities like learning to use handcuffs and touring the police station. While his daughters are too young to officially join, they’ve participated in many activities.

Each year in the PTA, Mark is a driving force behind the annual carnival fundraiser for the school. He builds activities, helps organize and is very hands on with the event. For Mark, it’s all about getting to spend more time with his kids and make their life better. “As a dad, my kids are my world. To see my kids having fun and being part of that, I get to be a dad and having fun with them, be part of their life,” Mark said.

Girl Scouts in particular allows Mark to be a male role model and watch his daughters become G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM.  “It’s important for girls to have good, male role models in their lives and a girl’s father should be the first one she sees,” Mark said.

Thank you to Mark, Erin and all the amazing supporters of Girl Scout Troops 716 and 1854 in Grain Valley, MO! Your hard work helps girls shine every day! THANK YOU! If you know of another amazing Girl Scout volunteer, share their story in the comments below.

A First Class Girl Scout and Volunteer

Spotlighting Claudia Boosman

G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™ are capable of anything. One of the best parts of being in Girl Scouts is being surrounded by people who never set limits on what you can dream to be. Meet Claudia Boosman, a Highest Award Girl Scout, former troop leader, proud alumna and member of Daisy’s Circle who learned in Girl Scouts that she could be anything she wanted to be. As a mom, she knows more than ever, that Girl Scouts helps girls be the best G.I.R.L.s they can possibly be!

Claudia began her Girl Scout journey in the 1960s when her mother and a friend started a troop. All her friends joined and Claudia found herself enjoying the experience of selling cookies door-to-door and trying new things. She loved primitive camping at Camp Oakledge and the challenges Girl Scouts let her conquer. “It was a whole world of trying and learning something,” Claudia said. Most importantly, Claudia found Girl Scouts to be a place where she could be anything.

“No matter what I did with Girl Scouts, I was never told I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. This was pre-feminism, so I wasn’t thinking about it in those terms, but there was so much positive reinforcement and I was constantly told ‘you can do that,’” Claudia said.

As a naturally driven girl, Claudia became a Highest Award recipient, earning her First Class Award in the 1970s. “I was driven and liked to accomplish things, I could do all of that with the First Class Award,” Claudia said. That sense of accomplishment has made her a proud alumna who supports the program today, especially since it encourages team and individual skill building. “Girl Scouts matters because it’s one of the few activities where a girl can explore and learn as an individual […]there’s a balance of group and individual activities – especially with the Highest Awards,” Claudia said.

After getting a Journalism degree from the University of Missouri, Claudia entered the corporate world and became a mom of twin girls. Her girls, Jo and Kate, became Girl Scouts as Daisies with Claudia serving as leader for Troop 439 in Lee’s Summit. As a leader and a mother, Claudia got to experience time with her daughters that she wouldn’t otherwise have.

When the girls were Daisies, Claudia remembers a project on kindness that showed her the skills Girl Scouts was teaching. The troop drew pictures of their friends and said nice things. Claudia showed them her drawing then crumpled it to show the power of negative words. “The shock on all of their faces was incredible. The message was: ‘this is what happens when you say hurtful things.’ It was a great moment and message that Girl Scouts can provide to show girls a life skill,” Claudia said.

While in Girl Scouts, Claudia and her daughters travelled with the troop and had incredible experiences together. They even won an award in a Lee’s Summit parade! Girl Scout life is about experiences, and the Boosman family certainly lived those to the max! “Girl Scouts is all about the experiences you can’t get anywhere else. It gets girls in the door and into experiences they just won’t get anywhere else,” Claudia said.

Though Claudia is no longer a troop leader, she’ll never forget the power of seeing a girl’s eyes light up. “Any mom that’s thinking about being a leader – just jump in and do it. You’ll get all the support you need and the excitement of the kids makes it so worth it. It’s the hugs. The kids would hug me after we did something and it always blew me away. You just don’t get that in the corporate world,” Claudia said.

In addition to her service as a volunteer, Claudia joined Daisy’s Circle, GSKSMO’s monthly giving program, to make sure Girl Scouts is available to any girl who wants to join. “I want to be part of making sure Girl Scouts is as widely available as possible, for any girl who’s interested,” Claudia said. “You put your money where your heart is, and Girl Scouts is where my heart is.”

We can’t thank Claudia enough for her continued support of Girl Scouts as an advocate and member of Daisy’s Circle. I think it’s safe to say Claudia is a prime example of what it means to be a G.I.R.L.!

If you know of another amazing Girl Scout Alumna or member of Daisy’s Circle – share their story in the comments below. Were you part of Claudia’s troop? Share your favorite memory!

The Gift of Language

Spotlighting Girl Scout Volunteer Carla Redondo

Para ver este blog en español, haga clic aquí

Have you ever thought about what it’d be like to speak a second language? For many girls in our council being bilingual isn’t just a skill they have, it’s a pride point. Being bilingual is a verbal badge of honor that shows they’ve not only learned to speak to a wider audience, but learned about another culture. Carla Redondo, a proud Girl Scout mom and volunteer, believes that being bilingual is a powerful way to help her daughter excel in the world. That’s why she’s stepped up to provide a critical skill to Girl Scouts as a volunteer – English to Spanish translation.

Carla and her family moved to the US seven years ago from Venezuela. They moved to Lawrence, KS because her husband, Roberto, became a Fulbright scholar and was working on his Phd in architecture! He’s now a KU professor and Carla has been able to focus on the most important thing in their lives – their daughters, Helena (8) and Carlota (2 ½). Before leaving Venezuela, Carla got her degree in architecture and was working as a supervisor on projects for her firm. Once in America, she added graphic designer to her extensive list of skills, which has made her an especially valuable resource for Girl Scouts.

When daughter, Helena, became a Girl Scout, Carla was exploring the Spanish section of the Girl Scout website. While there, she saw a note asking for volunteers and contacted Lisa Peña, Manager of the Hispanic Initiative at GSKSMO. The two started talking and the rest is history!

The family loves that Helena is in Girl Scouts because they see her exploring new things. “I think it’s a great experience for her to learn outside of school,” Carla said. It’s the time that she gets to spend with Helena learning about things like nature – which is what she’s noticed her daughter taking a particular interest to. Because Helena attends a school with a no homework policy, Girl Scouts gives her activities to pursue that don’t include watching TV most of the time! “We spend quality time together and even though I’m not a Girl Scout, I’m learning alongside my daughter,” Carla said.

Not only is Carla the assistant troop leader for Helena’s Brown Troop 3861 in Lawrence, she also generously gives her time in other important volunteer roles. Carla is a Puente Volunteer (a communication liaison between a Spanish speaking mother and an English speaking troop) in Shawnee, she’s translated New Leader Express training materials and serves as a bilingual trainer for new leaders.

Her biggest project recently has been to translate the entire Cookie Training Manual! What makes Carla extra special for this project is her background in graphic design, which meant she could translate right in the software that it was designed in. She spent 23 hours translating that one manual – THANK YOU, CARLA! The best part? Seeing her daughter proud of the work she’s doing.

“When I was comparing the two versions of the Girl Scout Cookie Manual, one in English, one in Spanish, Helena asked me why I had both, I told her ‘I did this,’ and she felt so proud,” Carla said.

The time and effort Carla gives to support other Spanish-speaking Girl Scout families and girls is simply incredible. For her, it’s more than just giving back, it’s about instilling pride in her daughter. “By volunteering with Girl Scouts, I’m opening [my daughter’s] eyes to how beneficial it will be to her when she grows up, to be bilingual,” Carla said.

We can’t thank the Redondo family enough for the gift of their skills and time. They’re truly opening up a world of Girl Scouting to girls through language.  Thank you for making a difference in the lives of girls.

If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities, like Carla, let us know! Also, if you’re a Spanish-speaking family and interested in Girl Scouting, please contact Lisa Peña (lpena@gsksmo.org)!

Four Generations of Girl Scouts

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Spotlight on Girl Scout Alumnae and Volunteers Doris Frost, Janet Pelton, Becky Blankenship and Girl Scout Cadette Katie Blankenship

There’s a special bond that Girl Scout mothers and daughters have. From sharing stories of badge earning decades ago, teaching the newest Girl Scout about how to cook on an open fire, to traveling together to the birthplace of the organization that you all hold so dear to your heart, Girl Scouts brings women even closer together who are already connected through their family tree.

Girl Scout Cadette Katie Blankenship is a fourth generation Girl Scout in her family. You might say that she was destined to be a Girl Scout that it’s in her DNA. After all her mother, Becky Blankenship was a Girl Scout. Her Grandmother, Janet Pelton was a Girl Scout. Even her Great Grandmother, Doris Frost was a Girl Scout!

As Doris recalls her own Girl Scouting experience, it doesn’t sound much different from the ones her great granddaughter Katie is having today. She remembers having awesome leaders, going camping, earning badges and just generally being a G.I.R.L. (Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader)™.

Today, Becky and Janet are both troop leaders, and Doris is a retired troop leader. Between the four of them they have over 100 years of Girl Scouting experiences and stories!

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Doris (front), Janet (left), Becky (center), Katie (right)

Katie’s grandmother, Janet, went through all the Girl Scout levels herself then when her daughter Becky was old enough, she volunteered to lead her troop of Girl Scout Brownies (the first level of Girl Scouting in the 1980s) and saw them all the way through earning their Gold Award! When Becky left for college, Janet started all over again, with a brand new troop of Girl Scout Daisies, but this time she recruited Doris to join her on the troop leader adventure, and oh what an adventure Doris had with her daughter and the group of girls they led!

After 12 years of Girl Scouting, in Janet & Doris’s troop embarked on an 8-day cruise to culminate their Girl Scout experience before life took them in all different directions. That Girl Scout trip is what got Doris on an airplane for the first time in her life, at 84 years young.

“That trip was wonderful, the best time I ever had,” Doris said!

Doris (left) & Janet (right) on the cruise!

Doris (left) & Janet (right) on the cruise!

After that trip, Doris hung up her Girl Scout volunteer hat, but Janet decided to dive right back in and start all over again with her third troop; all while still continuing to serve as Service Unit Manager for Service Unit 661.

While Doris and Janet were leading their troop in Leavenworth, Kansas, Becky was stepping up for troops who were without leaders in Emporia, Kansas, while also going to school full time at Emporia State University!

After graduating college, Becky moved back to the Kansas City area, got married and had Katie! In January, before Katie was set to go to Kindergarten, Becky called her area service unit manager and let her know that she could count on her to lead the Daisy troop where Katie would go to school that fall!

Becky always dreamed of giving Katie the opportunities through Girl Scouting that her mother, Janet, had given her.

“Girls have opportunities they wouldn’t have without Girl Scouts,” Becky said.

This past summer, Janet and Becky took Katie’s troop on the council-sponsored trip to Savannah, Georgia, the birthplace of Girl Scouts. A trip that was important for Becky to experience with her mom. “She gave me my start in Girl Scouts and I wanted to have the experience of going to the birthplace with my family,” Becky explained.

“It was really neat that we got to do that last trip together,” Janet said of the cruise with Doris. “I’ve gotten to do so much with Becky now.”

Janet (left), Katie (center) & Becky (right) on the council-sponsored trip to Savannah, GA.

Janet (left), Katie (center) & Becky (right) on the council-sponsored trip to Savannah, GA.

For this family, Girl Scouting truly is in their DNA. Through all the things that life has thrown at them, they credit Girl Scouts for keeping them going. “Being a Girl Scout leader was a lifesaver during the times that my parents were sick. Most people quit being a volunteer when those things happen but it kept me sane,” Janet explained. “Girl Scouts is what keeps me happy.”

Girl Scouting has come full circle for these four women. Doris loves hearing what Katie is accomplishing through Girl Scouts and what exciting activities and trips Janet and Becky are doing as leaders for their girls. The memories that the four of them have all overlap and constantly remind them of what they’ve experienced not only as Girl Scouts, but as a family.

“All of the things Girl Scouts get to do are good. Everything is a learning experience for them,” Doris said.

Thank you Doris, Janet and Becky for all you’ve done to empower girls and instill the Girl Scout leadership experience in their DNA!

 

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Standing with the Next Generation of Girl Scouts

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The Taliaferro family is a shining example of a Girl Scout family who does more than participate as volunteers – they’ve become members of Daisy’s Circle to support the next generation of Girl Scouts. Girl Scout dad Henry, Girl Scout alumna, Kathryn and Girl Scout daughter, Caroline, believe in the power of Girl Scouting because of the opportunities it provides for girls to thrive. Kathryn is the troop leader for Caroline’s Girl Scout Junior Troop 3084 from Blue Valley and sees firsthand the work that Girl Scouts does to help girls become G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters. Innovators. Risk-takers. Leaders.)TM.

Troop 3084 love to take advantage of all the opportunities our council offers. “The opportunities that are available now are amazing, especially with community partners. You have everything there for you. [Girl Scouts] has already reached out and made connections with organizations that have resources that we need,” Kathryn said. The troop has attended the Girl Scout night at the Lyric Opera, rock climbing and many other activities.

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Troop 3084 had their first camping experience at Camp Prairie Schooner this fall and Kathryn saw Caroline face her fears in a way she didn’t expect. When the troop went ziplining, Caroline was a little nervous about the experience. Despite her fears, she was able be take a risk thanks to the support of her Girl Scout sisters and the camp staff member who reminded her that it was a “challenges of choice.”

“My daughter is a little more shy and reserved, so she did not want to do zipline at all. The staffer handled it really well. He told her ‘this is a challenge of choice,’ which communicated to her that there wasn’t pressure. Because of that, the girls didn’t make fun of each other for not doing it, and eventually, after watching all the other girls go, she was able to do it,” Kathryn said.

At the core, Kathryn wants the troop to have a traditional Girl Scout experience that includes things like camping – just like she had. As an alumna, Kathryn remembers enjoying the Girl Scout experience as a girl and the unique opportunities she was able to experience. She also sees the power of the sisterhood Girl Scouts creates. While the Taliaferro family has two adult children who live in other states, Caroline doesn’t have any siblings living at home, so Girl Scouts gives her a sisterhood that Kathryn and Henry feel are important to her overall development.

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Having been a Girl Scout in the past, Kathryn sees a resurgence of the program and she wants to be part of it. “We enjoy giving and we’ve had such a good experience with Girl Scouts. Plus, I feel like Girl Scouts is really making a comeback, so the chance to be involved in something that gives opportunities to girls of all economic and social backgrounds is great,” Kathryn said.

As members of Daisy’s Circle, the Taliaferro family went on a site visit to Emerson Elementary, home to Outreach Girl Scout troops supported in part by Daisy’s Circle.  “I’ve never had anyone reach out to me to show me the direct impact of our gifts. You sign up for something…but this is the first time I’ve been invited to see how it works. I try to get ideas from other troops, so while I was there I was learning about some things to bring back to my troop and seeing the impact was great,” Kathryn said.

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Giving to help the next generation of Girl Scouts is important to the whole family. “[We give because] Girl Scouts has a great synergy within the community with all the connections it makes and the opportunities our daughter has. Plus, the organization is well managed, there are good people involved and the money goes to good use,” Kathryn said.

What an incredible example of a troop leader and Girl Scout family who stands by girls! Not only do they give selflessly of their time as volunteers, but of financial gifts that propel programming forward and provide opportunities for girls all over our council. If you’d like to learn more about Daisy’s Circle, check out www.daisyscircle.org. Thanks to the Taliaferro family for all they do and a big “WAY TO GO” to Caroline for conquering her fear of the zipline!

Do you know an awesome Daisy’s Circle Girl Scout family or have a great story to share about Girl Scout opportunities? Share in the comments below!

An Officer and a Gentleman

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Troop Leader, Police Chief Tom Alber is Man Enough to be a Girl Scout

When it comes to leadership, there’s no bigger advocate than new Girl Scout troop leader, Chief Tom Alber. As a proud Eagle Scout, leadership guru and police chief, there’s no wonder why Tom and his wife have their girls in the best female leadership program around – Girl Scouts! Talk about “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout!” Chief Tom knows that along with co-leader Monica, they can help the girls in Troop 1346 in Kansas City, MO find their voice and become the leaders of tomorrow.

When we say Chief Tom Alber’s leadership resume is impressive…we mean it. He’s the Police Chief for Garden City, 1st VP of the FBI LEEDA Executive Board of Directors (he helps pick teens for FBI leadership training), and a retired U.S. Army Officer – just to name a few! “Our young women need to develop leadership skills, and that’s what Girl Scouting does. I’m a military retiree and in my service I could see a real difference between those who had been in scouting programs and those who had not,” Tom said.

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Scouting is important to both Tom and his wife, Kathleen, who’s also a police officer. Tom’s family was involved in Scouting and Kathleen is a Girl Scout alumna. “Scouting has always been important in my family and we had active troops that kept us involved. When my girls expressed interest, it was a no-brainer. Of course you’re going to be a Girl Scout,” Tom said.

Troop 1346 is a multi-level troop of Daisies through Cadettes. Tom’s daughter, Emma, is a proud Cadette who already has a multi-page list of activities she wants to do. A goal Tom has for the troop is for them to lead each other. “The #1 thing that keeps people form leading is public speaking. That’s why I want our Cadettes to lead the Juniors, the Juniors to lead the Brownies and so on,” Tom said.

Every day, the Albers go to work serving the community and they want to instill that sense of service in their girls. At their first troop meeting, Troop 1346 was asked by their school principal to participate in a hygiene bag drive. Of course, the Girl Scouts were eager to jump on board.

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Troop 1346; Right: Emma leading the Promise at their first troop meeting.

Pulling from Tom’s own experience as a Boy Scout, the troop is working to increase membership with a recruiting technique that’s also a public speaking exercise. The girls are encouraged to wear their uniforms to school the day of the meetings and leaders are helping them learn how to talk to people who ask about Girl Scouts. Not only will this help the troop, it’ll help the girls learn to be an advocate.

In addition to their volunteerism, leadership and advocacy, the Albers family supports the ambitions of their daughters. Their youngest, Samantha (GS Junior), is an aspiring Vlogger (video blogging), so the Albers family let her participate in a PSA they created. This gave her experience using video to create a message. Tom was proud to say “I’m a Girl Scout leader…I really am a Girl Scout leader!” in the video.

What do Emma and Samantha think about their dad being her leader? Samantha said: “I hope he doesn’t embarrass me, but I’m really excited!” Emma was excited not only because it’s her dad, but because she likes his leadership style. “I wanted him to be a troop leader so bad. I like things structured, and he’s good at that… he’ll do meetings that are structured where we can get things done,” Emma said.

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As Chief Tom says, leadership is vital to the long term success of girls. “We always think about leadership development of the boys, but not always about the girls. It’s important to me that my girls develop those skills because that might be the next president, congresswoman, CEO or police chief [sitting in my troop meeting] and they need that development just like the boys.”

We can’t wait to see all the amazing things Troop 1346 is going to do in the coming years. With Chief Tom, co-leader Monica and the other parents and volunteers, we know they’re destined for greatness. You can follow Chief Tom on Twitter @ChiefTomAlber! If you have a great story about a guy who’s “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout,” share in the comments below!

Raising girls to be G.I.R.Ls (Go-Getters, Innovators, Risk-Takers and Leaders)

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Nazario Wilcock is Man Enough to be a Girl Scout

There’s nothing quite like dedicated Girl Scout parents. Meet Nazario Wilcock, a Girl Scout dad from Sabetha, KS dedicated to raising his daughters in a world of courage, confidence and character! The Wilcock’s family knows what it means to be gold standard Girl Scouts! The family has helped lead two daughters and 5 other Girl Scouts to be Gold Award recipients. It’s amazing to see what great mentors can do for girls!

Nazario (“Naz”) is definitely “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout.” When his daughters Hanna and Elisha became Girl Scouts, he knew he wanted to be involved in the Girl Scout world. Troop life became an important part of the life because of the lessons on basic respect and self-worth that Naz and his wife, Joy, wanted the girls to learn. “Girl Scouts teaches girls about respect, The Golden Rule – ‘do unto others and you would do unto yourself,’ – and promotes self-worth,” Naz said.

Hanna started in Girl Scouts as a Daisy and from the beginning, Naz and Joy saw how impactful achieving success was to their daughters. “The day [Hanna] got her first petal, she was jumping up and down, just so excited. It got me excited as well,” Naz said. When she was old enough, Elisha joined and the troop split into two. Joy led a troop and Naz continued to help as “Troop Dad” with another dad named Jeff.

Left: Troop 7200 having fun; Troop 7200’s annual Murder Mystery Party with alumnae

Left: Troop 7200 having fun; Troop 7200’s annual Murder Mystery Party with alumnae

Throughout their girl years the “Troop Dads” would help with transportation, show the girls how to set-up camp, and support the troop. During elementary school, some girls almost had to drop because they couldn’t get to troop meetings. The Wilcock family sprang into action. Naz arranged a van and they provided free transportation to any girls who couldn’t make it to the meetings. What an inspiration!

Naz sees his involvement in Girl Scouts as a way to be part of his daughters’ lives. “If dads don’t get involved, all they will have is regret.  There’s so much I would have missed. I would have listened to them talk about ‘oh, we did this and that,’ but instead I get to say ‘I saw them do this, I saw them do that’ because I was there and I got to be part of it,” Naz said.

 Once the girls reached high school they were back in the same troop, Troop 7200 and continued to do amazing things. Recently they were awarded “Troop of Distinction” at the 2016 West Region Volunteer Appreciation Event!

Troop 7200 at the 2016 West Region Volunteer Celebration

Troop 7200 at the 2016 West Region Volunteer Celebration

The Wilcock daughters received their Gold Awards in 2015 and 2016. Hanna used her talents as an artist to create the “Santa Comes To Town” project, painting a winter backdrop and building a sleigh for Santa. Elisha developed the “Offline Project,” a PSA about Cyber/Internet addiction. Naz and Joy were by their sides the entire way – inspiring them to achieve their goals and feel the same pride they felt as Daisies earning their first petals. “Once my girls got [their Gold Awards], the pride they held and sense of accomplishment they had…we realized how powerful those projects really were,” Naz said.

Troop 7200 has 5 Gold Awardees, including Madison Williams who received her Gold Award for raising awareness about the bee population and Dayna Williams for her project, “The Butterfly Effect.” Two more girls are working their Gold Award projects now.

The real power of Girl Scouts is the lasting impact it has on the confidence of the girls – and that’s why the Wilcock family believes it was so important to make a priority. “[Girl Scouts] shows my girls, in so many different ways, just how important they are. By working with them in Girl Scouts, I’m telling them ‘you are important and there’s a full organization showing you that,’” Naz said.

The most important thing is to just be part of the lives of girls. “I want to say one thing to any dad who ever thought about [getting involved]: quit thinking about it and get involved. It’s worth it,” said Naz. This is why Naz really is “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout” – he had the courage to be involved.

We thank Naz and the entire Wilcock family for their dedication to service and empowering girls to make a difference. If you know of an awesome “Man Enough to be a Girl Scout” – leave a comment below!

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.

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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.