Girl Scouts Celebrate 50 Years of Friendship

Girl Scouts Celebrate 50 Years of Friendship

“Make new friends and keep the old” is more than just a traditional Girl Scout song. For members of the adult Troop 007, it’s a way of life.

The group, one of the few organized adult troops in the country, has humble origins in the western suburbs of Chicago.

“It all started in 1965 when we decided to have our own adult outing after a council-sponsored one,” explained Carol “Cinders” Nelson, one of the charter members of the troop. “At the time, it was part of the Girl Scout Lone Tree Area Council in Oak Park, Illinois.”

Pat “Sunshine” Mellema (left) greets Yvonne “Sam” Morehead with a hug.

That first year, the women went camping in Wisconsin. Over time, as Girl Scout tradition would have it, they bestowed upon each other camp nicknames, such as “Beaver,” “Stinky” and “Salty.” For example, Nelson became known as “Cinders” after sweeping a fireplace at camp and Rita “Little Bill” Watt was named after the Commonwealth Edison light bulb logo.

The members refer to each other by their camp names so frequently, they often forget each other’s real names.

“There was one time we went to visit a friend in the hospital and we couldn’t remember her real name,” recalled Watt. “The nurse must have thought we were crazy. It was so funny. We had a lot of fun over the years.”

After inducting 32 original members, the group had a waiting list. In order to become part of the troop, women had to be a registered Girl Scout member and referred by a current member. Husbands were often honorary members.

“It’s like a family,” Nelson said after describing the time a Sister Girl Scout’s husband made dinner for her family after her father-in-law had passed away.

Yvonne “Sam” Morehead and Jeanne “Nege” Stange pose for a picture at lunch at Mother’s Day Restaurant in North Riverside, Illinois.

The troop’s moniker derived from the James Bond series, which had premiered a few years before Troop 007 convened.

“We just thought he [Sean Connery] was so handsome!” said Watt.

As adult volunteers, Troop 007 created fun, hands-on activities for the girl members, such as the Brownie Bash, Cadette Crawl and Junior Jumble.

“They’d ask us to teach other leaders and facilitate camp crafts for children,” said Nelson. “We also taught them how to build campfires and sing the traditional camp songs.”

But the fun wasn’t limited to the girls. During Troop 007’s adult outings, each patrol would have a different theme, such as decades and superheroes, and create banners to coincide with the theme.

“Our camping days are behind us now,” said Watt. “We’re past that age now.”

After 50 years together, Troop 007 officially disbanded in October 2015, but they still get together occasionally for lunch and other outings, most often in St. Charles, Illinois where they had attended the now defunct Girl Scout Camp Wild Rose. There are about a dozen surviving members of the group in various states including Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota and Washington.

Troop 007 plans its fall outing during lunch.

As a final act of goodwill toward Sister Girl Scouts, the troop donated about $200, the remains of the troop treasury, to Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana to “help a girl or troop enjoy a camping experience.”

“It’s a way to give back to Girl Scouting,” said Nelson.

Pam “Gunner” Roti, whose mother, Doris “Beaver” Morris, is also a member of Troop 007, agreed.

“If it weren’t for the Girl Scouts, I’d be a memory,” Roti said. “I was one of the naughty ones and Girl Scouts helped me turn my life around.”

Girl Scouts Take the Stand at Project Law Track Mock Trial

Girl Scouts Take the Stand at Project Law Track Mock Trial

All rise, the Project Law Track mock trial is now in session!

On Saturday, May 14, the Project Law Track program in Chicago concluded with a mock trial at the Everett M. Dirksen U.S. Courthouse. The Hon. Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer presided. The mock trial centered around an alleged fight between two singers on a reality show.

Judge Pallmeyer asks a question during the mock trial

“I loved Project Law Track, it was an amazing experience to be able to speak in front of a jury!” said Faiza Khan, a 14-year-old Girl Scout Senior, who plans to study criminal law. “At first, I wasn’t nervous. But when I came into the courtroom, I was nervous and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to say what I needed to say but my mentor calmed me down. I think the most important part of Project Law Track is having someone help you and show you the way.”

The mock trial is the culmination of Project Law Track, a series of four interactive sessions exploring the different facets of law. The series was co-founded by Monica Weed, executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Navigant Counseling in Chicago and second vice president for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Board of Directors, and takes place in Chicago and DuPage with the help of attorneys with the Chicago Bar Association’s Alliance for Women, DuPage Association of Women Lawyers and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois.  The DuPage mock trial was held on April 30.

Lawyers help Girl Scouts prepare for the mock trial


Ashley Gray, assistant attorney general at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, participated in Project Law Track as a mentor two years ago and was excited to return.

“I’m a former Girl Scout and my mom led my troop, so it’s always held a special place in my heart,” she said. “Project Law Track is an amazing opportunity to expose girls to law and give back to the community. Today was the culmination of a great experience. The girls did a great job.”

She also had a few words of wisdom for aspiring lawyers.

“Because law is a tough field, the most important thing is to be authentic and let that guide your career and your decisions,” Ashley said. “Stay true to yourself and you can’t go wrong. The best lawyers stay close to service. Law is a profession of service.”

To learn more about Project Law Track and other specially-designed series offered by Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, click here.

Highland Park Girl Scout Earns Silver Award for Food Allergy Awareness

Highland Park Girl Scout Earns Silver Award for Food Allergy Awareness

For many children and teens, food allergies are a matter of life or death. But Susan Tatelli, a 13-year-old Girl Scout Cadette from Highland Park, Illinois, refuses to let her peanut allergy define her.

As part of her Girl Scout Silver Award project, Susan created a video showing her self-administering epinephrine, a medication used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions, during one of her anaphylactic reactions.

“I think it’s super exciting and incredible,” said Susan of the response her video has received so far. “I’ve gotten thank-you notes and emails from people all over saying their kids had anxiety about their allergies and the video has helped them. Parents say it helps them feel safer about their kids. I’m really happy and glad that it’s helping people. I think it’s great.”

Recently, Susan completed an 18-month enrollment in a clinical trail at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, which used oral immunotherapy to help combat her severe peanut allergy. Although not 100-percent cured, Susan is now able to enjoy activities such as going to the movies and flying on a plane without fear of an allergic reaction from being in close proximity to a peanut product.

Susan after a reaction to the clinical trial.

On Sunday, May 15, Susan was a guest speaker at the 2016 Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) National Food Allergy Conference in Orlando, Florida where she shared her experience with anaphylaxis from a teen’s perspective.

“Learning to self-administer epinephrine is especially important with teens because they do stuff without their parents with them,” she explained. “If you’re somewhere having a reaction and your parents aren’t there, you have to know how to do it and take responsibility for it.”

In addition to the video for her Silver Award project, Susan has increased awareness about food allergies by hosting epinephrine readiness workshops at local troop meetings and conducting an EpiPen training session at her 13th birthday party.

Susan teaching a Lake Forest Brownie troop about epinephrine readiness in April.

“It’s important for teens to teach your friends how to administer an EpiPen so if you’re around them and have a reaction, they know what to do. I recommend injecting an orange with an expired EpiPen for practice,” she suggested. “Teach them about your allergy so they can help keep you safe.”

Downers Grove Girl Scout Leads Hair Donation Drive

Downers Grove Girl Scout Leads Hair Donation Drive

Anya Konieczka of Downers Grove has cut her hair three times to donate for use as a wig.

What made the third time different was that she convinced five other people to join her.

The fifth-grader at Lester School organized a hair donation drive to help earn her Girl Scout Bronze Award.

Anya hosted the drive May 9 at Galleria Hair Salon and Day Spa, where her stylist, Jen Jagger, trimmed her hair to shoulder length.

Anya said she was first inspired to donate her hair when a friend of her mother, Christina, had cancer.

She learned that the image of cutting her hair shorter could spur other people into action.

“I inspired another little girl at our church to do it,” she said. “If I can inspire her, I can inspire others to do it, too.”

Anya said she spent six months planning the drive, designing fliers and figuring out how to organize it.

Christina said they also needed the time to let the donors grow their hair out.

“I’m very proud that [Anya’s] not only giving her hair but inspired others to do the same,” she said.

After the hair was cut, it was put into a bag and mailed to either Locks of Love or the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program.

To show their thanks, Pantene and Locks of Love will award Anya and other scouts who donate their hair with a special badge for their vests.

Anya chose the Pantene program for her hair because it gives its wigs for free.

“With all the other things Pantene does, with shampoos and conditioners and stuff, they can spare a little bit of money,” she said.

To read the full story, visit

Photo via Mark Busch of My Suburban Life

Gear Up for The Mighty Girls Healthy Living Expo

Gear Up for The Mighty Girls Healthy Living Expo

It’s no secret that health and wellness are hot topics, which is why Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is collaborating for a second year on Mighty Girls, a Healthy Living Expo for all ages!

On Saturday, May 21, 2016, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., hundreds of Girl Scouts from across the council footprint will gather at the Friendship Center (5100 Sunset Lane, Country Club Hills, IL) for huge unique group games, hands-on cooking activities, and even a Razor Scooter relay race live broadcast by Chicagoland Sports Radio commentators.

“It’s a complete reinvention of what a Healthy Living Expo can be,” said Gwen Tulin, manager of highest awards and program events for the council. “This is all about having an experience you simply can’t have anywhere else.”

According to Tulin, one of the most exciting features is the Barilla mobile cooking unit, Lucky Penne.

“Girls will be able to cook on state-of-the-art kitchen equipment, and then eat their creation,” Tulin explained. “Plus, Lucky Penne – how cute is that name! Well done. Or should I say, ‘Al dente!'”

Mighty Girls 2016, which is sponsored by Barilla, promises activities and events for all ages. The Razor Scooter Relay Race will run on the half hour, and many other local vendors, hands-on activities, and outdoor games will happen throughout the day.

“A healthy, balanced life is part of being a Girl Scout,” says Tulin, “and we’re lucky to have the capacity to bring large-scale events to our members. We can’t wait to see everyone there!”

Mighty Girls 2016 takes place, rain or shine, on Saturday, May 21, 2016 from 10 am to 2 pm at the Friendship Center, 5100 Sunset Lane, Country Club Hills, IL 60478. Admission is $14 per girl and $8 per adult. Register here now through May 18, 2016.

Registration includes Mighty Girls 2016 t-shirt for all participants and a Mighty Girls 2016 patch for girl participants. Non-Girl Scouts may also register for event and membership simultaneously. Bus transportation is available from each Gathering Place to the Friendship Center.

Join Us for #100DaysOfGold

Join Us for #100DaysOfGold

To commemorate the impactful work of all who have earned Girl Scouting’s highest awards, we’re celebrating with a council-wide service initiative known as #100DaysOfGold.

Service units, troops, volunteers, girls, families and supporters are invited to do good in their communities throughout our 100 days of service, starting on March 12 and going through June 20. Let’s show everyone what it means to go gold and make the world a better place!

Are you participating in #100DaysOfGold? We’d love to learn more! Please complete our quick online form and tag us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram when you share stories and photos.

Starting on March 1, anyone who participates can visit their local Gathering Place and grab a bright, fun and complimentary #100DaysOfGold slap bracelet!


Go Gold

Need some ideas to get started? Take a look at the list below and check back as new ones are added.


April 15-17

Feed the Hungry: Join North Shore Seeds at Christian Heritage Academy to pack seeds to send to impoverished people around the world. Volunteers will work in two-hour shifts. For more information or to register, click here.

April 25

Chicago Youth Service Day: Join youth across Chicago for an interactive day of service and non-violent action. Projects are youth-driven and include beautifying community spaces, serving senior citizens and learning about world hunger. Click here to learn more.

April 30 and May 1:

Kits for Kids: Help Project C.U.R.E. through their Kits for Kids program by bringing “medicine cabinet supplies” and a nominal donation to give the gift of health to other kids around the world. Join the Packing Party on April 30 at the Friendship Center in Country Club Hills and May 1 at the Vernon Hills Gathering Place. Registration is $6 per girl.

May 7:

Run for the Kids: Join the Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley at their 13th Annual Run for the Kids: Superhero Hustle 5K Run/2 Mile Walk in Villa Park. Take part in the festivities or cheer along participants with pom-poms and colorful signs of encouragement.

May 9:

Almost Home Kids: This Illinois-based organization provides transitional care in a home-like setting to medically fragile children with complicated health needs and respite care in Chicago and Naperville. Help them celebrate National Nurses Week (starting May 9) by honoring pediatric nurses who provide important care for the children at Almost Home Kids. Troops can bring a meal to nurses during the day or night shift. Or create goodie bags containing chocolate, hand lotion, pens and small snacks for the nurses. For more information, please email Lisa Snow, community outreach coordinator, at

May 13-15:

All Things That Glitter: Do you have new or gently used accessories, such as handbags, jewelry and scarves sitting around the house collecting dust? Donate your items to under-served girls at Chicago Public Schools through All Things That Glitter’s accessory drive. You can drop off your accessories at our Vernon Hills Gathering Place (650 N. Lakeview Parkway). For more information, click here.

June 3-4 and June 10-11:

Forget-Me-Not Days: Help the Alzheimer’s Association raise awareness about the disease by collecting donations outside storefronts, business offices, tourist attractions and more. Chicago collections take place June 3-4 and collections in the suburbs will take place June 10-11. In exchange for a donation, volunteers will distribute Forget-Me-Not flower seeds to plant in honor of the more than five million people living with Alzheimer’s. To learn more or find a volunteer opportunity near you, please click here or contact Rebekah Marquez at

June 11:

Beautify Your Gathering Place: Get your hands dirty planting flowers and spreading mulch at your Girl Scout Gathering Place, then make a recycled craft to take home. You’ll also receive a fun patch and a pair of gardening gloves. For more information and to register, click here.

Special Events for Girl Scout Alumnae:


June 18:

Chicago Park District Service Day: At Nichols Park in Hyde Park (1355 E. 53rd Street, Chicago) from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., join your Sister Girl Scouts in cleaning up the park, mulching, weeding, gardening and other projects that may come up. It’s a great opportunity to work along with other Girl Scout alums to help make the world a better place. Suggested attire: closed-toed shoes, comfortable clothes and gardening gloves. Street parking is available.

To register, please visit For more information, please contact Pat Broughton, VP of Philanthropic Innovation at or 312-912-6342.


Alexian Brothers: With locations throughout the Chicagoland area, there are plenty of opportunities to care and help others while learning about the healthcare field. For more information, click here or email Laura Ingrim at

American Heart Association Patch Program: A healthy heart is critical to a healthy lifestyle, which is why we’ve teamed up with the American Heart Association to promote heart awareness. To learn more about the program and to register, visit our blog.

Amnesty International: There are plenty of ways to get involved with Amnesty International and lobby for human rights. Sign a petition, attend an event or start a campaign at your school. Learn more here or email Emily Walsh at for details.

Bernie’s Book Bank: Want to share your love of reading with at-risk children throughout Chicagoland? Volunteer for Bernie’s Book Bank in Lake Bluff, IL. You can drop in at the warehouse or collect books on the bank’s behalf. Learn more here or email

Bridge Communities: Connect homeless families to a better future by volunteering with Bridge Communities in Glen Ellyn, IL. You can also earn “A Heart for the Homeless” patch. For more information, click here.

Chemo Survivor Kits: If you’ve ever had a family member or friend diagnosed with cancer, you know how difficult the process can be. By collecting a few simple items in a small tote bag, chemo patients will know the small difference you made. Register here.

Chicago Cares: Volunteer at locations around the city, such as Mercy Homes, local schools, and Garfield Park Conservatory, with Chicago Cares. Details here.

Clean up your playground or park: Make the world a more beautiful place by picking up trash in your neighborhood.

Clean your closet: Get a head start on spring cleaning by donating your gently used clothes to a local family or refugee shelter. Click here to find out how Girl Scout Madison Fanta started a clothing drive in Saint John, Indiana.

Connection of Friends: Enrich the lives of teenagers and adults with special needs by volunteering with Connection of Friends in Wheaton, IL. Learn more and apply today here.

Connections for the Homeless: Team up with your troop to host a donation drive for this nonprofit organization that helps people dealing with homelessness in Evanston. The most commonly needed items include household size toiletries, cleaning supplies, linens and blankets. You can also gather a group to cook and serve dinner at Hilda’s Place Shelter or sign up for a Second Saturday for Service where you can help clean the shelter, sort donations, organize the food pantry and more. For more information, click here.

Cradles to Crayons: Looking for a fun and easy way to give back? Create customized “KidPacks” for children in need. Click here for more details or email Kelsey Miklos at

Cuddle Comfort: Create cuddly small pillows or lap blankets as welcome gifts for pediatric patients, senior citizens, homeless shelters and emergency rooms. Register here.

Deborah’s Place: Help women heal, grow and lead at Deborah’s Place, a safe community for women experiencing homelessness in Chicago. With ongoing, individual and group opportunities available, there’s a chance to give back for everyone.

Donate gently used books, toys and games: Make another kid’s day by donating items you don’t use anymore to a children’s hospital or family shelter.

Elmhurst-Yorkfield Food Pantry: Volunteer during client shopping hours and food deliveries at the Elmhurst-Yorkfield Food Pantry. For details, click here.

Gilda’s Club Chicago: There are different ways to help people who’ve been affected by cancer by helping at Gilda’s Club Chicago. Whether it’s greeting members at the reception desk or playing with children and teens, find out how you can get involved here.

Girl Scout Help: If you want to give back and you’re not sure where to start, begin with Girl Scout Help, which connects Girl Scouts with various volunteer opportunities.

Greenheart Travel: Want to rescue animals in Costa Rica or save elephants in Sri Lanka? You can make a difference by volunteering abroad with Greenheart Travel.

Honor Flight: Pay homage to the brave women and men who served our country by becoming an Honor Flight volunteer. Help these heroes get their day of honor in Washington, D.C. by clicking here or emailing Kathi Krankoski at

Humanitarian Service Project: Support families in need by volunteering with Humanitarian Service Project in Carol Stream, IL. Opportunities include food and toy sorting.

Host a bake sale or lemonade stand: Whip up a batch of your favorite sweet treat and donate the proceeds to your visit charity.

La Casa Norte: Serve youth and families facing homelessness by getting involved with this Chicago-based organization. Learn more about open volunteer positions here.

Little Hands – Big Hearts: This volunteer opportunity is perfect for little ones who want to make a big difference. For more information, click here.

Meals on Wheels Chicago: Visit with seniors residing in independent living communities with Meals on Wheels’ Friends Beyond the Years program. Details here.

Midwest Soarring Foundation: This nonprofit is dedicated to “educating the public about various American Indian cultural issues, environmental issues, and building community among all people.” To learn more or to volunteer, click here.

Northern Illinois Food Bank: Help the hungry by volunteering at one of three locations in Northern Illinois. Children ages 8 and older can volunteer with families or in groups with adult chaperones. For more information, click here.

Jamaica Volunteer Expeditions: Learn about agriculture and farming, environment and conservation and more when you volunteer abroad in Jamaica. Find out more here.

Organize a blood drive in your community: Recruit donors and help schedule appointments. Create thank-you cards to hand out at the drive. Visit the American Red Cross to learn more.

Restoration Workday: Make use of your green thumb and help restore biodiversity and function to our native ecosystems with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.

Ronald McDonald House Charities: Support the families staying at your local Ronald McDonald Houses and Ronald McDonald Family Room by collecting wish list items, volunteering in the Houses to bake sweets and creating a craft for patients and siblings to enjoy. Each location has specific needs that groups can directly help with and support. Register here.

Send cards to soldiers: Thank women and men in the armed forces for their service to our country. While you’re at it, send cards to veterans, too!

Share Your Soles: Help provide shoes for children and adults in need by volunteering with Share Your Soles. Learn how you can get involved here.

The Puppy Mill Project: If you’re a passionate animal lover, check out volunteer opportunities with this Chicago nonprofit. To sign up, click here.

Visit a local nursing home: Take some time to visit senior citizens at a nursing home in your community. You can read with them or have fun making crafts. Don’t live near a nursing home? Offer to help an elderly neighbor with household chores.

Volunteer at an animal shelter: Help cute critters ready for adoption by volunteering to play with them and groom them. Or you can collect items for the shelter, such as food and supplies, or make toys for the animals.






Downers Grove Girl Scout Earns Sweet Victory

Downers Grove Girl Scout Earns Sweet Victory

When Abbey Testin, a 17-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador, was searching for design inspiration for a recent cake contest, she didn’t have to look very far.

Abbey, who’s been a Girl Scout since she was a Daisy, created a cake in honor of the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts and earned first place at the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) state conference in the fondant cake category last month.

“I was really, really excited when I found out I’d won,” Abbey said. “I was so excited because I worked really hard on the cake and really wanted to win. There were a lot of great cakes at the competition.”



For the design, Abbey wanted to combine the Girl Scout camp experience with the iconic Girl Scout Cookies. She included a Girl Scout sash with excerpts from the Girl Scout Law. The students were judged on the cake’s overall appearance, creativity, their uniform and piping technique.

“I remembered the 100th anniversary was in 2012 and I just really love Girl Scouts and I needed a really good theme I could expand on,” she said. “I’ve always really liked dessert. I started baking because you can make things cheaper than you can buy them. I like making my own things and trying my own recipes.”

In addition to Food Network shows, such as Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes, Abbey draws inspiration from Pinterest.

“I like to take ideas from 10 different cakes and combine them all into one cake and make it,” said Abbey, who sells cakes to family members and friends.

In college, Abbey has plans to study family consumer sciences so she can one day become a teacher.

“But I’ll probably continue baking on the side,” she said.