Honoring History: Two Families Carry the Girl Scout Torch for Over 50 Years!

As we enter into year 110 of instilling courage, confidence and character in girls, we are always honored to learn how Girl Scouts has made an impact on families and communities throughout the years. Thanks to our council Historians, we are able to share stories of heroism, empowerment, and recollections of heartwarming tales throughout different periods of our Girl Scout history.

Travel back in time and read about two Girl Scout families with over 50 years of Girl Scout experience, submitted by our GCNWI council Historian, Elise:

A True Girl Scout Family

In 1968, the Girl Scout Council of Northwest Cook County, honored two families from Service Unit 611 in Skokie/Lincolnwood. These two families, the Roth and the Petroski family, had one daughter in each level of scouting, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, and Senior Girl Scout. Their mothers were leaders of troops as well. It was the first for the council to have two families with such an honor. 

On the right side of the picture is my family. My sister Michele is the Brownie, my sister Sharon is the Junior, my sister Renee is the Cadette, and I am the Senior Girl Scout. My mother was a leader for one of my sisters. We were truly a scout family! One of my many fondest memories of that time was when we all sold Girl Scout cookies. My dad felt he had to buy from all of us and so he bought one case of cookies from each. We had cookies for a whole year! 

On the left side of the picture is the Petroski family. Gayle was the Brownie, Sally was the Junior, Regina was the Cadette and Edal was the senior Scout. Their mother was also a leader for one of the girl’s troops.  

Today, two of us are still involved in scouting. Michele Roth Herman, now works for our council and I am part of the Historian Group.   

2022 Gold Award Class Welcomes 61 Girl Scouts and Six Scholarship Recipients

2022 Gold Award Class Welcomes 61 Girl Scouts and Six Scholarship Recipients

The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. It is the result of a girl taking everything she has learned and experienced throughout the Girl Scout leadership program and using those skills to tackle issues she is passionate about and drive lasting change in her community and beyond. It can also serve as proof to colleges, universities, and employers that she is diligent in creating the change she wishes to see.

This year’s Class of 2022 Gold Award Girl Scouts includes 61 young women, six of which have received GCNWI scholarship awards in addition to their highest award. Read about their projects below!

GCNWI Scholarship Recipients

Moorea G. The Journey: A Girl’s Guide to the Challenges of Life

For my Gold Award I created The Journey:  A Girl’s Guide to the Challenges of Life. It is a book meant to empower girls of all ages and guide them through the many obstacles that they will face when transitioning from a young girl to a young woman. This book discusses topics such as setting boundaries, bullying, sexual assault, gender inequity, systemic racism, homophobia, body image, and mental health. Through this book, young girls will begin to understand these essential concepts and apply them in their own lives as they go through the journey of life. 

Megan G. Sweet Dreams

My project addressed the lack of resources available to families impacted by domestic abuse. With the help of a previous Consumer Science teacher, I constructed an ongoing project to help raise awareness of domestic violence to local students by allowing them to sew and donate pajama pant bundles to the shelter as part of their curriculum.  I made a video to explain the project to the students and how they can contribute to the cause.  I also donated extra fabric to the program to encourage the students to make additional pants if they choose. 

Faith H. Rooted Paradise Club (RPC)

My Gold Award project addressed the issue of bringing the topic of black hair in the conversation and the things that some may feel uncomfortable to talk about aloud pertaining to their appearance. I created the Rooted Paradise Club (RPC) as a space for those to reemphasized that our differences are our biggest strength and it is what brings us closer together as a community than ever before. Hair has been a central topic in my life and the lives of so many other girls and guys, so founding this club allowed me to create a safe space for all to discuss different kinds of hair, which is the first and biggest step we can all take in order to acquire knowledge about the forever evolving society we live in.

Emily J. Let It Rain

My Gold Award project addressed the excess storm water in Vernon Hills and the declining pollinator population in North America by designing and implementing a 300 square foot rain garden at the Vernon Hills Arbor Theater. The rain garden will absorb the storm water before it can enter the stream. I educated my community and inspired them to consider taking action to install their own rain garden. Throughout this project I exhibited at the Vernon Hills Public Works Open House, I was interviewed twice for Channel 4 (posted on YouTube), made an English and Spanish brochure for the Vernon Hills Public Works to use on their drainage calls, and educated several Girl Scout Troops in the area about rain gardens.

Abigail M. Accessible Garden Bed

For my Gold Award project I created a raised garden bed for Woodview Elementary School in order to make participating in their garden program easier for kids with special needs. Over the course of my project I did lots of research, made blueprints, and constructed the garden bed, which was ready to use this spring. It was amazing working with different members of my community to make this happen and I am so grateful for all of their help! 

Priyanka P. Native Bee Conservation

I created and implemented bee houses for native bee species at Fullersburg Woods and worked with the Dupage Forest Preserve to add educational information pertaining to these bees to their center. I made these houses in order to attract more bees to the location and allow a habitat for them, something that is continuously being lost from the natural world. In addition, the education allowed visitors to the preserve to learn about the conservation of these insects and the efforts that it requires. I was responsible for the design, research, and creation of the houses, along with the majority of the educational add-ons. 

Animals

Grace N. Greyhound Adoption Awareness Children’s Book

My Gold Award project focused on raising awareness for the growing number of retired racing greyhounds in need of homes in the United States, especially after greyhound racing was effectively banned in the state of Florida in 2020. Through the creation of a children’s book, this project sought to raise awareness of the breed in the Chicago Northwest suburbs, as many families in that area have the means to support an adoptable greyhound. The book, titled “Born To Run,” was published in March of 2021 and donated to local institutions across the Chicago Northwest suburbs. This included 10 libraries, elementary schools, pre-schools, summer camps and pediatric offices. It was published with the generous help of Greyhounds Only, Virtuoso Press and illustrator Sara Niemiec. 

Abigail R. Pollination Awareness

My Gold Award created a native plant garden in my local community to give animal pollinators a safe place to rest and pollinate the local plant life while beautifying the town. My goal was not only to help animals, but also to educate the community on the importance of pollination and the benefits of native plants. I encouraged them to make a difference by creating a series of step-by-step videos and a Facebook page on how to create their own garden from scratch. 

Arts, Culture, and Heritage

Courtney R. Youth Flag Retirement and Education 

I combined a flag retirement ceremony with a youth educational event. I taught young adults and kids about the history of our flag and importance of respecting and retiring flags. The youth involved in this ceremony were also taught the proper way to fold a flag.

Children’s Issues

Madison D. Helping to Prevent Illiteracy in Young Children

For my Gold Award I began by looking at some key issues in why illiteracy was occurring in America. I found that an important part of cognitive development and education for young children is access to books in homes and at school. To help with this, I hosted a book drive to collect books for children at the pre-k level for a lower income school district. I collected over 500 books to be distributed to 185 students across 3 schools and be donated to classroom libraries. In addition, the locations that aided me in book collection agreed to collect books in future years to be donated to the same school district.

Inaya G. Party with a Purpose

“Party with a Purpose” aimed to address the issue of how domestic violence and foster care impact children. All too often, children who are affected by domestic violence and foster care have to deal with “adult issues” rather than being allowed to just be children. Children housed in a local domestic violence facility and some who participated in its foster care program were provided with a temporary “mental escape” from domestic violence and foster care while they were allowed to reclaim their innocence and enjoy being children through the enjoyment of a celebratory birthday party (with food and gifts) hosted in their honor. The goal of the yoga and stress management mini-workshop component of the party was to provide participants with strategies to better manage stress and their temperaments, which can lead to domestic violence situations and poor short- and long-term mental health if not properly managed.

Emily F. Give a Toy, Take a Toy Box

Playtime is an important part to childhood because it helps to support crucial development in children, yet many children don’t have access to toys. For my project, I installed ‘give a toy, take a toy’ bins in two different communities. One is outside of Little Beans Cafe, a children’s play center in Evanston, IL that offers free programs to low-income kids in my community. The other is at a public beach on a small lake in Mudeline, IL that is always in need of sand toys. These bins are for people to donate toys they no longer use, and people to take toys that they need. It is modeled after the Little Free Library book boxes found around many neighborhoods. To expand my idea, I created a step by step guide to help others create a give a toy, take a toy box in their own community.

Faith S. Project Bears that Care

For my Gold Award my mission was to distribute stuffed animals to children who are experiencing the deportation of their parents or guardians. With these bears, children will feel comfort while they are going through these trying times. I hope to spread the awareness of the immigration and deportation process a nd the toll it has on those affected, especially children.

Sarah N. Blankets for Isolettes at the Rush Copley Medical Center’s NICU in Aurora

For my Gold Award, I Ied four teams to create 30 hand-tied blankets for the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, IL. The blankets aid in the development of premature babies and provide comfort to their families. I created an instructional video and editable Google Slides and sent them to Rush Copley for future blanket making projects. I also made a NICU experience video with my parents (as I was born prematurely) that was shared on my social media, and sent out a Google Forms survey to the nurses regarding the impact of the blankets.

Caroline S. Rehoming Victims of Domestic Abuse 

Along with the help of a woman and children’s shelter, I was able to create a program to donate home furnishings to women transitioning out of shelters. My project also focused on creating a donation event to fully furnish an entire apartment for a transitioning mother and her children, with the excess going back into the program for other women. After that was completed I created a implementation and process packet for other large nonprofits to adapt.

Molly S. Busy Bags

For my Gold Award, I created 120 Busy Bags and donated them to a local hospital to help kids have a distraction while they are in the hospital. With the help of my generous community and those around me, I was able to create 30 bags for four different age levels to best fit the needs of the recipients. 

Lauren T. High School Confident

My goal was to create a website with a variety of resources (videos and text aids) with advice for incoming high school freshmen. The middle school to high school transition can be scary and I was determined to ease some students’ minds with my advice. My website contains advice and information about my high school specifically and high school in general. For example, how to schedule classes, how to manage time, how to be involved, etc. 

Civic Engagement

Jacqueline B. Jackie’s Biblioteca

Jackie’s Biblioteca was a project that came from my love of reading and my wish to share that with other little girls. I collected over 200 books, written in Spanish, to establish a library in an all-girl’s elementary school in my hometown in Mexico. I wanted the books, ranging in topics, genres, and reading levels, to be able to provide the girls with the ability to literally take their education in their own hands.

Caroline K. Coping Cards

For my Gold Award, I used my own knowledge of coping skills alongside the knowledge of other specialists and those in my community to create concise “Coping Cards”. I placed these cards in local businesses around my community to spread information about mental health skills and to help break the stigma of mental illness.

Disabilities

Mikaylah B. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Accommodations and Badge Programs

My Gold Award is solely based on the purpose of inclusion and making Girl Scouts enjoyable for all girls. I wanted there to be accommodations for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people whether it be the Girl Scouts themselves or the parents/troop leaders.

Emma G. Accessibility in the State Park

The root cause of the issue addressed by my Gold Award was the accessibility for all visitors of the Indiana Dunes State Park. My family and I enjoy visiting State Parks throughout the year. My sister has a disability that does not allow her to walk long distances so the utilization of accessible parking is very important to my family when we visit the parks. The Indiana Dunes State Park and myself recognized that throughout the years the wear and tear made the lines no longer visible to the accessible parking spaces. Not only were the lines not visible, some parking spaces were not up to ADA code. I worked with the park to fix these issues as well as create awareness surrounding the importance of ADA accessible parking and pathways. 

Kayla H. The Viking’s Library

For my Gold Award I built a mini library in one of the most diverse zip codes in Chicago. This library would provide residents with access to all kinds of books, flyers for community resources and events, and encourage community connection. I included books for kids, adults, books in different languages, and braille books. My hope for this project is that it will help everyone have equal access to books to ultimately decrease the illiteracy rate in some communities. 

Molly M. Better Together 

There are over 200 million people worldwide with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).  This project aimed to help end the isolation of individuals with IDD by promoting inclusion. A video and resources for Munster High School was created with the participation of members from Best Buddies to be used for school orientation and beyond. 

Zoe M. Diabetes Education

I created a website that could help educate people on diabetes. I focus more on Type 1 than Type 2 because I am a Type 1 diabetic. It is meant as a resource for newly diagnosed diabetics but also anyone just wanting to know more since the disease is becoming more common to see. I want to help my friends and other people to learn more about what I and millions of other people live with on a daily basis. 

Education

Sara B. Calm Corner

I worked with second and third grade students at Forrestal Elementary School in North Chicago. My project was aimed at helping these students relieve anxiety from the trauma they experience at home and the pandemic.

Samantha F. Math and Reading Flashcard Kits

I created over 100 math and sight-word flashcards.  These were given to tutors to use with underprivileged in Pre-K through 2nd grade.  I worked with the tutors to create kits which were split into different age groups and personalized ability levels.  I also included in the kits given to each student stickers, bookmarks and a chart to keep track of their progress.

Margaret H. Planting the Seeds of STEM

I established a hands-on educational program at my former elementary school that serves to encourage enduring interests in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) among its students. I supervised the construction of garden beds on the grounds of the school. Three-Sisters (corn, beans, squash) gardens are now planted and harvested in these garden beds by students as part of their course of instruction. I also established a sustainable service-based educational program whereby an extracurricular organization helps tend to the gardens during non-school hours and then finds a successor organization at the conclusion of its participation in the program.

Sophia I. Promoting Books With Female Empowerment

My Gold Award project promoted books with female empowerment and well-written girl protagonists as I donated book club materials that specifically focused on these topics along with the corresponding books. The donations were sent to organizations and community houses that ran after school literacy programs so that they could essentially serve as a “book club in a box.” Anyone could pick up these books and materials and start a book club with a group of middle schoolers. To make sure the materials I was donating were effective I ran a book club with my local middle school where I got to see how students responded to the discussion questions and activities that I wrote, as well as some that I compiled from the Internet. 

Molly K. Scouting the Rainbow

Scouting the Rainbow is a Gold Award project that provides Girl Scouts and troop leaders with a brief but robust education about the LGBTQ+ community. The project is broken down into three concise lessons, each of which highlights topics critical for gaining a basic understanding of the diverse LGBTQ+ community, including historical contexts and current issues. The project aims to show how Girl Scouts can be inclusive, effective LGBTQ+ allies.

Jui K. Open-Source Artificial Intelligence (AI) Curriculum for All

My Gold Award focused on the lack of representation in women in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). I created open-source AI curriculum this is accessible to anyone in hopes to alleviate the discrepancy between men and women in the field of AI.  

Grace S. Page Turners: Giving Old Books a New Use

Books are unarguably an essential aspect of education. However, they are often costly or difficult to obtain. Academic books can be incredibly expensive, and gently used books in large quantities can be difficult to come by. In light of COVID-19, further budget cuts and decreases to school libraries are being made. Now more than ever, book donations are essential to maintaining the quality of education in schools. I worked with schools to host book donations to decrease book waste and increase the ability to help less privileged schools. 

Thea S. Seniors Getting Virtually Connected 

As the rates of online scams against the elderly are especially high, technology literacy amongst the group is pertinent. As part of my project, I created materials to educate the elderly on subjects such as video conferencing and password management. Through these efforts I was able to make my audience more aware of these online threats and arm them with the knowledge to realize and/or prevent them from happening. 

Environment and Sustainability

Carlie C. The “BAG IT” GO GREEN Program 

My project helped to bring non-perishable, non-food items to families at risk of poverty or lack of housing. The concept of the ‘BAG IT’ program is to bring awareness of feasible solutions to students from both public and parochial schools to connect them with their community. The solution- a free, reusable, eco friendly bag made from tshirts filled with the aforesaid items to be distributed along with the Greater Chicago Food Depository food program.

Melissa G. In My Backyard

In My Backyard is made up of a series of kits to be checked out at the library. They provide information on rocks/fossils, the sky, bugs, and flora/fauna that the kids can explore at home, with examples that can be found in their own backyards. The activities, crafts, and information provides some of my favorite aspects of scouting to kids in the community.

Sarah D. School Pollinator Garden

For my Gold Award, I decided to plant a pollinator garden at my high school. Throughout 3 years of high school, I researched, prepared, and brainstormed plans for the garden.  By planting a variety of flowers and plants, and additional spots for the pollinators, such as rocks for butterflies to sun and a bee bath, I was able to create an environment for pollinators that I am very proud of.  Throughout the project, I also write multiple articles for the school newspaper about the issues regarding pollinator decline, the project, and how people individually can help at home.

Rebecca N. Bluebird Build

The issue being addressed by my Gold Award was the lack of bluebird houses in a forest preserve in Lake County Illinois. This work is important because it helped to establish a healthy animal community and a more balanced blend of native species in the area. Having sturdy, well-built, and weather-proof houses will encourage bluebirds to nest and raise families.

Kavya P. Fresh Food-Prints

I created a website that gave consumers a wide range of local farmers’ markets in the Northern Suburbs of Illinois where people can sustain their diets with locally sourced foods. This brings awareness to the fresh food grown locally and the farmers who grow the food. People can learn about the processes of growing food when they visit farmers’ markets and meet the farmers themselves, which encourages them to eat locally. 

Ella V. Green Sense Sustainable Food Packaging

My Gold Award project aimed to spread awareness about the sustainability of different types of packaging and how consumers can make the most environmentally friendly shopping habits when shopping in the grocery store. It is extremely important for consumers to recognize and understand the environmental impacts of the food packaging they purchase. Raising awareness about this unknown is the first step to spreading environmentally friendly shopping habits.

Health and Wellness

Lauren E. Cooking Up a Healthy Lifestyle 

My Gold Award project taught kids how to cook for themselves by hosting a class for kids as well as handing out cookbooks to many people. The class and cookbook taught the basics of kitchen safety and healthy eating. By teaching children the skills to cook for themselves, they are able to take more control over their health and decide what kind of lifestyle they want to live. This gives kids a sense of ownership over their life and provides an important life skill. 

Hermella F. Let’s Escape Anxiety

My Gold Award project was a way for teenagers to learn how to cope and identify their stress and anxiety. Learning certain techniques can help you get through your daily life and eventually for the long term. I wanted to make a difference and spread the word that no one is alone when it comes to stress and anxiety. I made a PowerPoint presentation explaining what exactly stress and anxiety are, along with several exercises that help calm you down and focus on the right thoughts instead of the wrong ones. Then I had a group of teenagers take a quiz before and after the video to observe if they had learned anything new or just feedback in general. 

Riley H. Pollinator Garden for Wings Program

Life threatening domestic violence affects more people than we think, and it happens on a smaller, local scale, which is why I decided to work with WINGS, an organization that provides housing, counseling, and education for survivors of domestic violence. There was a lack of decoration surrounding the WINGS building, making it plain and unwelcoming for clients who visit for counseling. I addressed this issue, and improved the ecosystem, by beautifying the area with colorful plants that attract pollinators. The native plants I implemented will come back year after year, enduring the Illinois weather so the counseling center will continue to be a pleasant sight to greet the clients and staff for years to come. 

Ellie H. Vegetable Information Binder

For my Gold Award I created a vegetable information binder that included recipes and information in both English and Spanish about different vegetables. I made this binder for the Roberti Community House (RCH) in Waukegan because they distribute unique vegetables that are donated from surrounding grocery stores to people in need on a weekly basis. Sometimes the people receiving the vegetables are not familiar with them or how to prepare them. With this binder the volunteers at RCH can copy the relevant vegetable page and include it with the food being handed out that day. In this way when the people receive the vegetable they can learn a little about the health benefits and how to prepare it instead of having it go to waste. 

Emily L. Mental and Physical Benefits of Volleyball for Under Privileged Children

For my Gold Award I taught underprivileged elementary and middle school boys and girls the importance of playing a sport that will not only benefits their physical but mental well-being. I provided the kids with valuable skills of volleyball and athleticism that they will hopefully continue their whole lives. I addressed the importance of teamwork, health, and life skills throughout the clinic. I also provided Beacon Place with 18 volleyballs donated from Wilson Sporting Goods and my family.

Victoria P. Body Positivity and Fitness (Zumba)

I demonstrated the importance of fitness in everyday life while connecting how being body positive is also a great health benefit that can better a person’s physical and mental stability. I taught and demonstrated a choreographed Zumba dance to a group of younger adolescent Girl Scouts. I also made a video that is posted on my YouTube channel and will be demonstrated in the Galowich YMCA Zumba program for a introduction to Zumba to the community.

Allyssa S. Conquering Teen Anxiety in the Midst of Chaos

When the world was hit with multiple crises at the same time it cast teenagers into a world of unknown, stripping them from their normal coping mechanisms and the inability to gather together. My Gold Award aimed to supply teenagers with new coping mechanisms to not only survive but to thrive and push forward with rebuilt foundations.

Suzy S. Kindness Connection Rocks

My project, Kindness Connection Rocks, involved putting painted rocks with inspirational messages in multiple Chicago Park District parks. These rocks were meant to give park visitors something to look for while visiting and serve as a reminder of their community and the fact that people are thinking of them. On the back of each rock was the link a website that I created. The website has introductory resources about mental health and how to get help. My project helps address the decrease in access to mental health resources during the pandemic and foster community and positivity in a time where people are feeling disconnected.

Kendall W. Play Hard

The issue my project addresses is the proper nutritional and hydration elements needed to assist athletes between the of ages 11-18. Sports nutrition is a foundational element for players to perform at their best. Educating players and establishing good fueling and hydration habits will help players to arrive prepared, perform, and recover from a practice, training, or competition, Athletes often realize the importance of training and continued dedication to practicing their athletics skills in order to develop their game. However, the emphasis and impact of fueling and hydrating can be overlooked causing injury. It is important for athletes to understand proper nutrition strategies can help maintain their basketball athletes performance. Nutrition is important factor among many behaviors that can be used to successfully drive individual performance.

Ava Y. Mental Health

My Gold Award aimed to address the mental health crisis in our youth and across all ages. Many people, not just people with mental illnesses, face tough challenges and emotions, and a lot of people don’t know how to cope. I taught children the signs of depression and anxiety, and how to cope with these feelings. 

Human Rights

Avery M. Selah Freedom Patio Space and Games Area

For my Gold Award, I worked with the Selah Freedom home in Florida to raise awareness surrounding sex trafficking. I helped to organize a virtual run with runner from across the United States. In assisting with the virtual run I was able to fund new sport equipment and patio furniture for the Selah Freedom house. 

Micaela M. A Helping Hand for Women Across the Globe 

For my Gold Award I created a website for women’s right issues that are not spoken about enough in the mainstream media. I covered topics like female genital mutilation and digital sex crimes in hopes that people would gain enough knowledge to make a difference for the women experiencing these tragedies. I also included why learning about these issue is important and specific ways people could help. 

Life Skills

Katherine O. Friendship Jamboree

My Gold Award aimed to address how many children suffer from feelings of loneliness or a lack of deep friendships. This program gives children opportunities to discover what they love and build strong and lasting relationships. Also, my program taught young kids coping skills.

Outdoor

Julia S. Picnic Tables for St. Francis Xavier Parish

The church I go to, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, sits on a large plot of land. We hold many events (including festivals, cookouts, bible summer camps, and even Sunday masses) outside, but it requires a lot of time and labor to haul up folding chairs and tables from the church basement. I worked with the church to create picnic tables that will be stationary and not require time and labor to set up.

Poverty

Kayleigh G. Little Food Pantry

My Gold Award project aimed to address the issue of families and students who are experiencing food insecurity in my community. This is especially important since the pandemic has taken so much from our community such as jobs which allow people to buy necessities to survive. I created a Little Food Pantry where locals could donate food or take food based on their need. 

Alma F. Creating a system for providing clothing to the homeless

For my Gold Award, I worked with a local Evanston non-profit, Connections for the Homeless, to organize their storage room. When I began my Gold Award, Connections for the Homeless was having a difficult time getting clothing to people because their storage room was unorganized and lacking materials such as sorting tables, laundry baskets and racks. I worked to gather these supplies and provide a solution for their storage and organization needs. 

Grace L. Pack Up Homelessness

Pack Up Homelessness was a two-part project. The first part was collecting donations and sorting through them. These donations were then sorted and used. The donations not used for the second part of my project went to WINGS, Home of the Sparrow, and the food bank. The second part of my project was packing goodie bags or survival bags for people experiencing homelessness. During this packing, over 20 volunteers participated in helping with the packing and over 100 bags were successfully handed out!  

Linnea M. Fix It Up

I addressed the issue of homelessness with my Gold Award project. There are many people living in America who do not have stable housing. This is especially dangerous in the winter time when sleeping on the streets may become deadly. The Interim Housing Program run by COOL Ministries helps families move into permanent housing, and gives people the life skills they need to stay off the streets. Helping COOL Ministries with their mission will allow them to help more homeless families for years to come.

Sheila M. Helping Food Pantries Respond to Allergies

Food insecure people with allergies are often unable to access donations at food pantries that safely meet their dietary restrictions. This can have life-threatening consequences, so for my Gold Award I decided to help pantries provide more options for those with allergies and dietary restrictions.

Public Safety

Katherine B. Bike Safety and Conservation Videos

I often see people riding their bikes in unsafe ways and they don’t know how to take care of the bike. My Gold Award worked to create videos about bike safety and maintenance. Through researching, creating and showing these videos I hope to raise awareness of bike safety in my community and beyond. 

Nicole P. Self Defense 

My project was about teaching  girls how to defend themselves if they are in danger. I talked about different ways you can be on the lookout for any strange behavior and to be aware of your surroundings. I also taught the girls a couple of moves to use if they are ever in need. 

Sports

Hannah F. Tennis for Everyone 

For my Gold Award I created a program for children to learn tennis. My friends and I taught basic skills and provided tennis equipment for each child to keep. I documented everything I did and created a step by step sheet for girls on my high school tennis team to recreate this program in the future. 

Cate R. Equestrian Jumps for DuPage County Forest Preserve

I worked alongside the DuPage Forest Preserve to build and install new jumps in the Equestrian Center. By building jumps for them I both enhanced their already existing
equipment and resources available, and taught others more about horseback-riding and what goes along with it. 

STEM

Erika V. When Women STEM

My Gold Award project is dedicated to getting girls interested in STEM at an early age and focused on closing the gender gap in this field. This involved interviewing women role models in STEM fields as well collaborating with them to create videos. Additionally, I also lead inspiring science activities with large groups of girls that proved very successful. Finally, I built a website that acts as a resource to inspire girls and let them follow their dreams. 

Girl Scouts “Keep It Cool” as Engineers For a Day at NASA!

Girl Scouts “Keep It Cool” as Engineers For a Day at NASA!

Nearly 100 Junior, Cadette and Senior Girl Scouts took part in the NASA Keep it Cool Engineering Challenge last month and got to walk a day in the life of a real engineer.

The workshops, held at the Vernon Hills and Joliet Gathering Places, provided the perfect opportunities for girls to connect with Girl Scouts outside their own troop, or even from another city. Girls were assigned to groups of four and worked as a team throughout the day. They learned about the history of cryogenics, the steps of the engineering design process, and picked up some basic vocabulary to use before it was time to dive into the first hands on activity of the day- ice calibration!

This step challenged the girls to work together to create ice melt using measuring cups first packed with ice, then sealed inside plastic Ziploc bags, and set inside large bowls of warm water. Girls used thermometers to track the temperature of the water and graduated cylinders to measure and record the amount of ice melt. As the girls tested their process out multiple times, it became evident just how many STEMinists there are in GCNWI!

Working in groups proved easy for some, tougher for others, but by lunch all of the groups were working together well and had formed a real comradery with one another. Girl Scout Juniors Madeline and Peyton met each other for the first time when they arrived at the Joliet GP at 9 a.m., and by the end of the day, the girls were exchanging phone numbers and making plans to see each other again.

For the afternoon session, groups were able to utilize a wide variety of materials with the goal of creating an insulation for their model cryogenic tanks that would keep the ice in its frozen state for as long as possible. Groups worked together to strategize how to improve upon their designed prototypes, and by the end of the day, there were some truly unique creations. Cryogenic tanks with multiple layers of cotton balls, duct tape, cork, foam, felt, paper, and aluminum foil. The sky was the limit, and the girls challenged themselves and each other to continuing improving their designs.

The day’s activities concluded with group presentations, sharing what worked well and what could be improved upon next time. These two-day long workshops were made possible through funding from the NASA Glenn Research Center. Program Specialist Jauzlyn Hardy and Program Manager Heather Wirth took part in three training workshops in March, led by subject matter experts from NASA, in preparation for guiding Girl Scouts through the challenge.

“My Mom always asks me after an event – was it worth it?  And this one definitely was!” said Annabelle M.- Girl Scout Junior.

Girl Scout Completes Bronze Award by Creating Fitness Program for Kids

Girl Scout Completes Bronze Award by Creating Fitness Program for Kids

Girl Scout Cadette, Kailee Robinson, saw the toll the pandemic was taking on not only her, but also kids everywhere. Social interactions were altered or put on pause, and people were restricted to the indoors and not being as active as they could be.

Kailee wanted to help people find strength during trying times. She began to work with her father, a personal trainer, to learn proper technique, study nutrition, and create workout plans to share with her peers. Kailee used her passion for fitness to create KR’s Kids Fit Patch Program- a virtual platform where people can engage in everyday workouts that keep you active and allow you to “Play hard and live long!” – the KR’s Kids Fit motto.

Check out Kailee showcasing her passion below:

In order to receive a KR’s Kids Fit patch, participants will need to go through a series of activities that include watching some of Kailee’s fitness video’s on Youtube to get a feel for the type of exercise you can expect to be doing while in the program, attending a free LIVE workout session with Kailee herself, and sharing what you’ve learned with family and friends. The program also includes education and activities centered around how to incorporate healthy eating into your everyday lifestyle.

Get Involved

Participate in Kailee’s KR’s Kids Fit Patch Program and start your journey towards healthy living today!

Prospective participants can visit our GCNWI Patch Program webpage and search for KR’s Kids fit to get started.

Once all of the KR’s Kids Fit program activities have been completed, families can order their patch at the Girl Scouts GCNWI shop.

Girls Like Bugs, Too! Spark Day at Rose Pest Solutions

Girls Like Bugs, Too! Spark Day at Rose Pest Solutions

Earlier this month, Rose Pest Solutions welcomed Brownie and Junior level Girl Scouts to indulge in their fascination with bugs and nature with a fun filled career exploration event at their headquarters.

Rose Pest Solutions provided girls with lots of great history about their company and its mission- to preserve and protect the environment with chemical free solutions- and gave them a tour of their home office. Of course, our inquisitive Girl Scouts had questions for the staff who made themselves available, including an operator who showed them the call system, talked about some of the craziest calls she’s received, and a technician who demonstrated his equipment and talked about the kind of calls he goes out on.

Then it was time to meet the bugs!

Girls got a chance to touch and hold live Madagascar cockroaches and examine specimens under microscopes! While working towards their STEM badges, the Brownies and Juniors also had the opportunity to look inside a real wasp’s nest and learn about the important role honeybees and other pollinators play in keeping our fruits and vegetables growing plentiful.

Other engaging, interactive activities included providing stations where girls could dress up like beekeepers, do bug/butterfly/ladybug/bumblebee themed crafts, and even included a pollinator station where girls could make gifts to bring home to the special person in their life.  

Check out some highlights below!

Girl Scout Spark days were designed to provide girls the opportunity to visit several different companies to learn about STEM careers. From engineering to distribution to animal care, there are many exciting careers to explore! Our girls have connected with industry professionals at such Spark Day events as Scout Out Engineering at Groupon, NIPSCO Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, Animal Aptitude at the Shedd Aquarium, and Spark Day at IKEA.

Want to facilitate a career exploration event with Girl Scouts? Join the Expert Connections!»

“They changed my life.” The Heartfelt Story of Troop 56505

“They changed my life.” The Heartfelt Story of Troop 56505

“This was the best decision of my life. The thought was to introduce them to new things and change their lives, but it turned out, they changed my life,” troop leader Darnetta Jones said on her decision to become a Girl Scout volunteer.

Darnetta’s journey with Girl Scout’s began when she was younger, in which those positive encounters with meeting new friends and enjoying the outdoors led her to want to create those experiences with her own daughter. Darnetta started off as a Daisy troop leader for the DuPage AME Church Girl Scouts with 5-8 girls before blossoming into a troop of 16 Cadettes.

Sister-Sister Connection

People in the community began to take notice to how active the girls in Darnetta’s troop were. A mother approached her with four kindergarten-aged girls who were eager to be a part of her troop. Though Darnetta had Cadette’s, she saw a need, and like a true Girl Scout, stepped up and took action! Darnetta agreed to start the Daisy troop while she trained and searched for a leader and co-leader.

“I paired Daisies with older girls… I told the older girls they have little sisters and I want them to help monitor them. They were so excited!” Darnetta said on her strategy to blend the girls so she could continue providing and exposing girls to Girl Scout experiences. “I keep saying I’m going to turn them over to another leader, but quite honestly, I’m finding it very difficult to let go. They are the most beautiful little girls I have ever met.”

Since January 2022, the blended Girl Scout family has participated in various community events, earned patches/petals, organized Girl Scout cookies and passed out to families, and plotted seeds for a garden they plan to grow this summer where they can learn about healthy living, eating and exercise.

Darnetta also has done as exemplary job in introducing the younger girls to fun outdoor experiences by taking them on a ski trip to Lake Geneva to sled and ice skate, and Timber Ridge Lodge for swimming and relaxing in the lazy river. Check out some of their adventures below:

Up for the Challenge

Darnetta is ready to flex her resiliency with a new territory, as she welcomed a girl with a physical disability to her new Daisy troop.

“I feel like she is a blessing because this allows me the opportunity to be more creative, more inclusive, and ultimately more knowledgeable about disabilities,” Darnetta said.  “This new member challenged me to take a closer look at the Girl Scout Promise/Law in order to teach the other girls in the troop: To help people at all times, to be friendly and helpful, to be considerate and caring, to be responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others.”

Thank you, Darnetta, for championing for our girls and providing them with the experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.

Happy Volunteer Appreciation Month!

A Girl Scout Treasure: The Herstory of Heidi Gannon

A Girl Scout Treasure: The Herstory of Heidi Gannon
GSGCNWI Council Historian Heidi Gannon proudly displaying two of her uniforms; on the left, an Intermediate uniform from the 1940’s and, on the right, an adult uniform from the 1990’s.

The Council Historians for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana are constantly seeking out and preserving the treasures of the Girl Scout movement.  However, “treasures” come in many forms, so it’s no wonder that Heidi Gannon, a Council Historian, is also considered to be one of the council’s most cherished treasures.

As a volunteer for over 50 years, Heidi has worked tirelessly to support Girl Scouting in as many ways as possible. As we continue to celebrate our volunteers all April long, let’s take a look back at the herstory of a Girl Scout leader and real life “treasure.”

On My Honor

Heidi started in Girl Scouts in 1947 at the age of 11, becoming an Intermediate Girl Scout on the Southside of Chicago, and later moving up to Senior Girl Scouts. She earned her First Class Award and continued as a girl member throughout her high school years. Heidi has fond memories of her girl years, especially of camping, troop trips, selling Girl Scout cookies, and various troop activities.  The camping trip that stands out in her mind was to Sweet Woods in Glenwood and that it was freezing cold!  Going to Springfield with her troop was another significant and memorable experience, which was a real bonding time for her troop. Heidi also recollects being the top cookie seller for her troop one cookie season. However, she does admit that her Dad helped her by taking the order form to work with him.  And the troop activity which Heidi will never forget was a Halloween scavenger hunt in the neighborhood because of all the crazy items the girls had to find.

To Help People at all Times

In 1967, Heidi started her journey as a volunteer when she became a leader for her daughter’s troop.  At that time, she was part of the Dolton Association in what was then the service unit in South Cook County Council (SCC).  She remained in her position of troop leader from 1967 to 1979, staying with her girls through Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, and Seniors.  However, when her girls aged out, Heidi never stopped volunteering.  She had already stepped up to be Association Chair (service unit manager) for the Dolton Association during the 1970’s and was a member of the Service Team from 1979 to1992, taking on such roles as Association Secretary, Association Organizer/Consultant, and Association Sunday Service Chair.  She also served as Dolton Association’s Delegate to the Council.

Heidi’s volunteer service did not end at the association’s borders; she took on many roles that were council-wide positions.  Heidi was a Council Trainer and even chaired the Council Training Committee. Heidi was then asked to serve on the SCC Board of Directors, which she did for several terms during the 1980’s and 1990’s.  As a member of the Board, she was assigned a variety of positions, such as Nominating Committee Chair, Adult Selections Committee Chair, Council Self-Evaluation Task Group Member, and Council Pluralism Task Group Member.  Heidi was also on the Board of Directors when it was decided to build the Friendship Center and funds were being raised for the project, something in which she continues to take pride in.

Heidi Gannon (right) with fellow historian Veronica Pradelski at a Promise Circle 100th Anniversary Display of Girl Scout history.

To Make the World a Better Place

Heidi has always served where needed, so when South Cook County Council started a Heritage Committee in 2007, Heidi was quick to come on board.  Her knowledge of the history of SCC made her an excellent volunteer for this committee.  After the merge of the seven metro councils, Heidi continued to serve in the capacity of Council Historian, faithfully executing all her duties.  She has been an invaluable member to the group of historians preserving South Cook County’s Girl Scout history, always willing to assist in any capacity that she can. Whether she is helping to identify people and/or places in old photos or creating a display for an event or for the cases at 20 S. Clark, Heidi eagerly offers her assistance. 

Because of her dedication to the movement, Heidi has received many Adult Recognition awards, including the Thanks Badge in 1979, Thanks Badge II in 1992, and induction into the GSGCNWI Hall of Fame in 2019. Heidi also received a 50 years of service pin in 2018.

A Sister to Every Girl Scout

Heidi stayed in Girl Scouts because she felt the program was good for the girls, and she continued to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow Girl Scout adults.  Memorable experiences with her Girl Scout sisters include the 1993 Convention in Minneapolis and the GSGCNWI Historians’ visit to Our Chalet in Adelboden, Switzerland.   The 1993 Convention was a great bonding experience for all of the delegation from the South Cook County Council.  Heidi thoroughly enjoyed the “road trip” with many of the volunteers riding in a van that was driven by fellow volunteer Deb Dilley.

Heidi feels that visiting Our Chalet was a wonderful way for her to form an even deeper relationship with her sister Council Historians. In September of 2018, a small group of council historians spent a week in the Alps at this WAGGGS World Center.  Heidi will always remember what a special time this was for all who were there.

Although volunteering for Girl Scouts has been a focus for Heidi, her heart for services reaches many areas. She also volunteered as her son’s Den Mother for Boy Scouts. She is very active in her church, volunteering in the Infant Program and leading her Bible Study Fellowship group for over 20 years.  Heidi has also served as a census taker.

Heidi Gannon has certainly led an exemplary life of service to Girl Scouts and to her community.  She is definitely a “treasure” to all those who know her.

Happy National Volunteer Week from GCNWI!

Thank You for Powering Community at Tribute to Achievement

On March 29, 2022, the power of community enveloped us as we celebrated our Tribute to Achievement Event at the Four Seasons Chicago Hotel. 

It felt amazing to be together, and not just in spirit. We celebrated, reconnected, laughed, and felt energized by the heartbeat of our mission. We were honored to recognize our awardees who have made the world a better place by advancing opportunities for girls and women. 

Learn more about our three extraordinary honorees who are perfect examples of what makes a community powerful – civic engagement, empathy, determination, selflessness, and leadership.  

Another highlight of the evening was seeing the stories of girls, parents, and troop leaders come to life in this short video.

Thanks to the support of everyone who attended or donated to the event, more than $675,000 was raised to advance our mission and build more girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. 

To relive the magic of the evening, or to share it with others, check out the recording above and see the slideshow below!

A Special Thank You to our 2022 Tribute to Achievement Sponsors! 

Powering Community at Tribute to Achievement

People power communities. Every person who steps up to engage, listen, and act with compassion and purpose contributes to the health and wellness of a community. Especially girls.

Girls see a world of possibilities. They demand equity, offer compassion and kindness, and jump into action to resolve social issues whenever and wherever they see a need. But right now, girls also need support as they navigate peer pressure, unrealistic expectations, racial inequity, gender bias, and other threats to their social/emotional and mental health. To thrive, girls need advocates who rally around them, encourage them, and invest in them. They need you.

Please join us on March 29 to support the critical work of Girl Scouts and sustain access to leadership and formative experiences for every girl in our community.

We are honored to recognize our awardees who have made the world a better place by advancing opportunities for girls and women.

Meet the Honorees:

Luminary Award

Jessica Sarowitz will be receiving the prestigious Luminary Award. Jessica is the Managing Partner of 4S Bay Partners LLC, a family office management company that oversees several private businesses, real estate, and investments in diverse industries such as domestic and international payroll, UK payroll, film-making and commercial & residential real estate holdings.

Jessica is also the Managing Family Director of her family’s charitable foundation, the Julian Grace Foundation, which funds various philanthropic ventures through an entrepreneurial and social impact lens. These ventures have included orphanages and clinics in Central America, innovative education programs for foster kids, state-of-the art urban centers for arts and technology education, vocational training, environmental causes, the preservation of indigenous cultures and many other educational and social justice programs.

Jessica is passionate about correcting the source of a problem in authentic partnership with communities in need, as well as providing people a steppingstone to transformative opportunities and experiences. Jessica is also an avid tennis player and believes that a healthy lifestyle can fuel the mind and body to positive outcomes.

The Girl Scout’s Own Award

The Girl Scout’s Own Award honors our very own GSGCNWI Board Member, Sherina Maye Edwards. Sherina is the President and Chief Executive Officer of INTREN and joined the company in 2020 having originally served as a member of the Board of Directors.

Sherina has led INTREN to a significant increase in operational efficiency, cost reductions, and safety excellence, resulting in record-breaking financial results. Sherina has held a broad range of leadership roles that provide the breadth of experience and understanding required to lead innovative change.

In addition to her extensive involvement with various civic organizations, Sherina is founder of the Women’s Energy Summit and the Women’s Energy Network of Chicago. She is nationally recognized for championing diversity and inclusion within the utility and energy sector and her leadership led to the creation of the Illinois Utilities Business Diversity Council and the ICC’s Office of Diversity and Community Affairs.

“I could not be more proud to serve the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana as a board director and as a friend,” says Sherina. “The mission of this phenomenal organization aligns with everything I believe in – nurturing and cultivating leadership amongst young women and training them up to be our future leaders with the ultimate courage, confidence and character.”

Corporate Award

Receiving the Corporate Award is Bank of America, a long-standing partner of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. Accepting the award will be Cindy Murray, Managing Director of Global Operations. Bank of America has been a valued collaborator with Girl Scouts GCNWI over many years and we are thrilled to honor this relationship.

Cindy is the executive for Unemployment Operations within Global Compliance and Operational Risk (GCOR). Prior to joining GCOR, Cindy was the head of Loan, Lease and Trade Operations. This team has responsibility for the global end-to-end implementation, servicing, and operations for credit offerings to business banking, commercial and corporate clients, leasing products, trade finance solutions, and traded loan products. Cindy was instrumental in leading the efforts to develop and implement automation solutions and technology enhancements to improve the overall client experience.

On receiving the Corporate Award, Rita Cook, President Bank of America Chicago said, “It’s a tremendous privilege to accept the Corporate Award from the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, which recognizes Bank of America’s longstanding partnership with this esteemed organization. For nearly two decades, we’ve proudly supported Girl Scouts programming that puts young girls on a path to positive futures and helps them become agents of change in our communities. There’s no greater honor than supporting our next generation of young women.”

Don’t Miss Out

Join us on March 29 to celebrate these incredible honorees, along with girls and women who are leading with purpose and passion.

Thank you to our sponsors

Sponsors as of March 2, 2022

A Sister to EVERY Girl Scout: The Influence of African American Leadership and Girl Scouts

February commemorates the month of African American culture, accomplishments, and historical contributions to society. It is a time to celebrate and uplift Black voices and champion their stories of triumph throughout American history.

Girl Scouts honors Black History Month by sharing with you four trailblazers who helped shape the Girl Scout Movement. The contributions of these women allowed young African American girls to increase their visibility and leadership skills on both a local and national level.

Dr. Gloria Dean Randle Scott: President of the Negro Girl Scout Senior Planning Board (1950’s) who—despite segregation—was able to gain the leadership skills needed to be the first national president of Girl Scouts of USA. The Girl Scout Trefoil was redesigned during the last year of her presidency to highlight and add visibility to the diversity of the organization.

Josephine Groves Holloway: Josephine Groves Holloway was a champion of diversity and was instrumental in founding the first all-Black Girl Scout troop in Nashville, helping to desegregate troops in Tennessee. Josephine was also the first African American Girl Scout staff member, serving as a field advisor, district director, and camp director.

Bazoline Usher: A distinguished educator whose ambition and tenacity led to the opening of seven new elementary schools to spearhead Black education in Atlanta. Bazoline then recruited 30 black teachers, mothers, and female volunteers to create the first African American Girl Scout troops in Atlanta in 1943.