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.

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.

Super Girl Scout Cookie Dad

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Helping girls build their entrepreneurial skills one box at a time

When you buy a box of Girl Scout cookies (or 10…let’s be honest here), you directly influence a girl’s business skills. What most people don’t see are the awesome volunteers who work long hours behind the scenes to make this program possible. These volunteers are known as “Product Sales Managers” or “PSM’s” and they coordinate, organize, educate and calculate thousands of boxes of cookies each year.

One of these PSM’s is Girl Scout dad, Craig Lybarger supporting Service Unit 642 in Olathe, KS! Craig and his family found that supporting cookie sales has been a wonderful way for them to be together. His oldest daughter, Samantha, is a Brownie and their second daughter, Katarina, is in Kindergarten and a brand new Girl Scout Daisy this year! Both love the cookie program and the pride they have showing off their cookie dad.

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In Craig’s words, the job of a PSM is: “to have a discussion with the parents in the troop to support fall product sales or cookie sales, talk about recognition levels, provide dates when things are due and walk them through the program and how it works. We also talk about the girls and their goals. For the Service Unit Manager, I do that training with the troop PSMs, who then talk to the parents in the troop.”

Becoming a cookie dad was at the top of Craig’s list when Samantha’s troop was first forming. It has always been important to Craig to find a way to be involved with his children as much as possible, even with a difficult work schedule. “I have an on-call schedule, so I knew I couldn’t commit to doing something right after school. I volunteered to support the Cookie Program because I knew I could make [Samantha] proud to know that I was trying to help and be involved with her in Scouts even if I couldn’t be the troop leader,” Craig said. As a Boy Scout, son of an Eagle Scout and a Girl Scout, Craig was raised to value the Scouting experience.

For Samantha’s first year, Craig served as the troop cookie manager and after talking with the former Service Unit Product Sales Manager, he found out she was stepping down and was looking for a replacement. It stuck with him through the cookie season and at the end, he asked if he could shadow her during the final turn-in. The next year, he became the Service Unit 642 PSM.

It takes a lot of work to lead an entire service unit’s cookie program – but the impact it has had on Samantha makes it worth it. One story Craig shared captures the real power of the Girl Scout Cookie Program and the skills girls can learn in just one day of selling.

“The first year of cookie sales, in one day, one 12-hour period, my daughter changed before my eyes. The first house we went to, she rang the doorbell, her head was buried in her chest and quietly said ‘would you like to buy some cookies?’ and that was all she said. 12 hours later, at the last house, she rang the doorbell and full of energy said ‘Hi! My name is Samantha from Troop 3506 and I’m selling Girl Scout cookies! Do you like peanut butter?’ and talked to the customer about options. She changed how she conducted herself, stood up straight, shoulders back, and made eye contact with the customer, having a good conversation…in one day. To see her blossom in that 12-hour day made me so excited. She would not have done that and know how to handle herself like that if not for Girl Scouts,” Craig said.

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The passion and energy for the job, because of the power he sees in the program, is infectious. He recently inspired a woman from Overland Park to become a troop cookie manager for her troop after just one conversation. As the PSM for the entire service unit, the excitement and energy he has for the Cookie Program is being spread to all the troops in SU 642!

Beyond cookies, the opportunities Samantha has had speak for themselves in his eyes. “Samantha is learning to be nice in a safe environment and she gets to do things she wouldn’t normally get to do, like canoeing and kayaking. This summer she got to do archery for the first time, nature hikes, all those things she gets to do by being part of Girl Scouting,” Craig said.

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As a dad, he knows that his involvement in Girl Scouts is something a little extra, because not all dads want to volunteer. “Samantha got a special badge that she wore like a badge of honor that said ‘my dad is a cookie dad’ and she loved telling everyone ‘my dad’s in charge of cookies!’ To see how proud it made her, how happy it made her, that’s why I did it,” Craig said.

When it comes to being Man Enough to be a Girl Scout, Craig says: “Don’t be afraid to volunteer, don’t think it’s just for females to be involved with or what you might think about volunteering, it’s all about the child that you’re doing it for and how proud it will make them feel that you want to be involved with them, spend time with them and make memories for them,”

We know Service Unit 642 is on to great things and we can’t wait to see what their cookie sales look like this year. With thousands of girls to inspire to be business leaders, the hard work of PSM’s really makes a difference. We thank all our awesome volunteers who work behind the scenes to make sure girls have the power to be tomorrow’s leaders.

If you have an inspiring cookie story, share in the comments below!

Living United – United Way of Atichson’s Terry Knopke

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Every year Girl Scout councils receive funding from generous donors and organizations. Among these is the United Way – an organization that pools financial resources within communities and distributes it to areas of need. All the funds given to United Way stay local. Leading the Atchison Area United Way is Terry Knopke, a Girl Scout Alumna, a driven fundraiser and woman dedicated to service as a way of life.

Terry Knopke is the only full time employee at the United Way of Atchison and works tirelessly to support the organizations that benefit from the funds within the community. The United Way not only supports Girl Scout troops in Atchison, but other organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, KS Legal Service, and YMCA. In all, they support 19 deserving organizations and are committed to providing equal funding for children of both genders. “Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts always get the same amount of money from us to ensure equal opportunities,” Terry said.

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While Terry is the only staff member, she has the support a Board of Directors. Because of their support, her efforts don’t fall on deaf ears. “I have a wonderful Board of Directors […] We try to have board members from different areas because when they invite me into the board rooms…I know that when I leave…if the bosses are part of it, they’ll talk about it and say ‘this is something we need to support,’” Terry said. It’s a small community where the Board makes a real difference.

That small town feeling of community that keeps the Board dedicated, along with the beautiful, historic homes, was what drew Terry to Atichson in 1999. She even has her own piece of history – a “painted lady” home from 1883 with a special room she created with kennels for feral cats in recovery.

As someone passionate about helping animals, Terry helps with the local humane society. Her love for service is infectious, with her daughter saying it changed her perspective on life. “My daughter told me ‘Mom, I wanted to thank you for teaching me to love animals, it changed the way I look at everything.’ It  made me feel good, but I also thought ‘this is something we need to keep passing on,’” Terry said.

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Left: Terry collecting donations for the humane society, Center: Girl Scout troop 8021 building feral cat houses, Right: Terry and volunteers gathering donations.

Animal care is where Terry sees some of the impact that United Way funding makes for Girl Scouts first hand. “We have a list we hand out for the humane society, collecting money and donations, and Girl Scouts helps me with that. It’s a win-win-win, United Way has a directive to help the Girl Scouts, the Girl Scouts help me and we give to the Humane Society,” Terry said.

Jolleen Graf, leader for Troop 8347 sees the impact of the United Way and Girl Scouts every day. “[The United Way and Girl Scouts] help develop future leaders […] It helps break the stereotype of ‘… like a girl’ is a negative thing. We embrace ‘Hit Like a Girl, Fight Like a Girl, Throw Like a Girl,’ but we want that to be a compliment, not an insult,” Jolleen said.

Terry loves that Girl Scouts is included in the United Way family because of the support it gives to girls, like her daughter (a woman in STEM and GS Alumna) and shows them that it’s okay to be themselves. “Girl Scouts, which I love, is trying to teach young girls to get out there and that they can do anything,” Terry said.

We appreciate the great work that Terry and the other staff members of United Ways that support our Council do each day to support girls. Without the support of organizations like the United Way, we couldn’t continue to offer the great programs that change the lives of girls. Click here for full list of the United Ways that benefit Girl Scouts of NE Kansas & NW Missouri or click here to find the United Way near you!