Volunteer Spotlight: Shamin Ladhani!

Volunteers Shamin Ladhani and Kiran Ali-Suteria

Girl Scout volunteers are a huge part of Girl Scouts’ successes: that’s why we are taking time to spotlight a special volunteer from Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI), Shamin Ladhani, and her co-leaders, for the multi-level Girl Scout troops of Jamatkhana Ismaili Center in Glenview, IL! Also known as the Midwest Ismaili Scouts or Service Unit 407, Shamin and the other leaders are amazing volunteers making an impact on our council.

Shamin began her involvement in Girl Scouts six years ago as a leader for her first daughter’s troop. One year later, she was asked to be the Girl Scout Organizer (GSO) for all five faith-based Girl Scout troops in the area. Currently, Shamin works with a Co-Girl Scout Organizer Kiran Ali-Suteria, and over fifteen other leaders, troop volunteers, and five troops that represent seventy-seven Girl Scouts and their families.

Shamin shares the spotlight with all her leaders, and especially Kiran Ali-Suteria, a Girl Scout volunteer for over five years, and Noreen Merchant, a volunteer for the last eleven years. “Kiran is the foundation of our team, who keeps things moving for our Girl Scouts. We truly have skills that complement each other to lead all our troops. Noreen’s leadership style and the work she does every year has shown how reliable and respected she is within the faith-based group. She makes Girl Scouts fun and manageable for everyone.” Besides being a leader, Noreen is a Girl Scout council delegate.

The secret to Shamin’s success is that she models the type of leadership our girls need. “It helps to model the type of leadership you want your Girl Scouts to have by getting involved in the community.” As a psychologist, Shamin also advocates for the mental wellness of her community. She is active in her community and at the national level in other non-profit work to include Girl Scouts in the conversation.

The Jamatkhana Ismaili Center in Glenview, IL, has always sponsored Girl Scouts as a part of their faith-based community. This lead to Girl Scouts in the area becoming a part of what Shamin calls a “mentoring ladder to success,” with many of the girls returning to become leaders themselves and supporting each other, their families, and their leaders through their sustainable models of community service.

Shamin says her leaders “always surprise and impress” her on how well they engage with their Girl Scouts, “especially having to work all virtually this last season.” Shamin says she is “humbled by the work they all do” and is so happy to participate in Girl Scouts.


All of us at Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana say a big thank you, to Shamin, Kiran, Noreen, and all the Leaders, Girl Scouts, and families of multi-level Girl Scout Troops of Jamat Khana Ismaili Center in Glenview. IL! We appreciate you, your dedication, work, and wonderful contributions!

Lead Girls Through Our Becoming Me Program Series

Inspired by themes from Michelle Obama’s Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers, this new program series will guide girls of all ages to become their best selves. 

Volunteer to guide girls as they explore the truth in their own stories and the power of their voices! You will work with girls during 6-8 fun-filled and inspirational virtual sessions.

Sign-up to get started »

Learn more about volunteering with GSGCNWI today!

Renew by June 30 and Enjoy Exclusive Membership Perks!

When you stick with Girl Scouts, you’re not just giving your girl something to do, you’re giving her someone to be. The bravest, boldest, best version of herself. The version of herself walks with her head a bit higher and acts with confidence.

Renew her membership for 2021-22 today and she’ll receive a FREE “We’ve Got This” patch, plus access to the newest programs for the summer and beyond! 

Learn more on our website.

Volunteer Spotlight: Jill Verde and Tisha Eisenmenger!

All of our volunteers deserve a spotlight because they make sure our Girl Scouts thrive! This week we are recognizing two special volunteers from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana from Troop 45856; Jill Verde and Tisha Eisenmenger!

Tisha began her involvement with Girl Scouts five years ago as a Troop Support volunteer for her daughter’s troop: “I was a Girl Scout for three years when I was a child, and I have so many fun memories of those times. When my daughter joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy, Jill and I decided to take the leap and form our own troop that would focus on the girl’s interests and desire to help the community. Three years later, we have worked with an amazing group of girls and families who have already done so much. These girls are going to change the world!”

Jill has eight years of experience as a Girl Scout leader, and as a team, Tisha and Jill have a passion for helping their girls share their ideas. Just this past year, their troop invited the community to explore their very own fairy garden in the Chipmunk Woods for their service project “Fairies of Volo Bog.”

Their “Fairies of Volo Bog” project is among Tisha’s favorite memories as a Girl Scout leader: “The girls learned all about the Volo Bog and created an amazing project that has raised money and awareness of the importance of the bog has to our community. The troop has been asked to reinstall the project in August and have it as a yearly recurring display.”

Tisha and Jill are excellent facilitators of their girls’ love for community service, and they are currently participating in a painting service project for a non-profit children’s theater program in Crystal Lake. “We love to volunteer and help the community in any way we can.”

Their advice to other Girl Scout volunteers and leaders: “Get your families and friends to volunteer. It makes a difference when you let others help you.”

“We couldn’t do what we do without our Girl Scouts, their families, and our two amazing assistant leaders Sara Melzer and Aimee Briggs.”


All of us at Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana say a big thank you, to Jill and Tisha! We appreciate you, your dedication, work, and wonderful contributions!

Want to Learn More About Volunteering? Join us for a Virtual Open House!

Whether you can commit a few hours, a few weeks, or a few months, volunteering with GSGCNWI is both flexible and rewarding.

You are invited to join the Associate Board on Tuesday, May 18 at 6:00 pm for a virtual volunteer open house where we will showcase three different ways to support young women, including opportunities around the “Expert Connection” program, the “Becoming Me” program, and the Associate Board.

Register for this free event!

Lead Girls Through Our Becoming Me Program Series

Inspired by themes from Michelle Obama’s Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers, this new program series will guide girls of all ages to become their best selves. 

Volunteer to guide girls as they explore the truth in their own stories and the power of their voices! You will work with girls during 6-8 fun-filled and inspirational virtual sessions.

Sign-up to get started »

Learn more about volunteering with GSGCNWI today!

Volunteer Appreciation Month In Review!

From troop leaders to cookie captains, you are the heart of Girl Scouts, and in this past year, you’ve kept our pulse strong.

This year we’re commemorating National Volunteer Month by sending a shout out to all of our amazing council volunteers! Thank you for lending your energy and talent and for believing in the power of the girl. Thank you for giving girls the space to test their ideas and express their feelings about our ever-changing world.

We see the results. We see the confidence, the “we’ve got this” troop energy that only you can inspire. Because of you we have community. Because of you we have resilience. Because of you we have Girl Scouts. 

Additionally, every year on April 22—Girl Scout Leader’s Day—we give extra kudos to you. Troop leaders: we love you, and we’re forever grateful to you for being the role models girls look up to, especially in challenging times like these. 

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

Judith Batty, Interim CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, couldn’t let Volunteer Appreciation Month go by without giving thanks to our incredible volunteers. Hear how Girl Scout volunteers made a difference in her life, and see why volunteers are the backbone of this organization.

Read on to learn about some of our amazing volunteers and how we’ve been celebrating all April long.

Because Of You

Throughout the month, we featured the inspiring words and stories of volunteers from across our council, like Jakki and Bria:

Starr Power

We also celebrated volunteer Starr on our blog, whose 22-year-long service to Girl Scouts continues to make an impact on our girls! Read more about her and her leadership.

It’s Never Too Late to Be a Girl Scout

You can also listen to troop leader Natalie, who shares her story of her first-year of leading during a pandemic, above, or to Girl Scout alum Anusha and GCNWI Board Member Monica in conversation about their life-changing moment during Camp CEO, below!

More Girl Scout Shout Outs

The celebration does not have to stop when April ends! There are so many ways to thank the volunteers in your life (or give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back): visit our website to learn more.

Make a Difference with GCNWI

It’s not too late to embark on an incredible adventure with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana! If you’re looking for ways to have a powerful, lasting influence on girls in your community, we’d love to chat.

Visit our website to learn more about volunteer opportunities.

Join us for Becoming Me with former First Lady Michelle Obama

Girl Scouts is launching a new “Becoming Me” program series in collaboration with former First Lady Michelle Obama and Penguin Random House!

Inspired by themes from Mrs. Obama’s Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers, Girl Scouts’ new Becoming Me program aims to help girls become their best selves. Check out our blog to learn more!

Volunteer to guide girls as they explore the truth in their own stories and the power of their voices! You will work with girls during 6-8 fun-filled and inspirational virtual sessions.

Sign-up to get started »

Volunteer Spotlight: Starr Hochbaum!

We can’t celebrate Volunteer Month (and Girl Scout Leader’s Day) without thanking all our volunteers, especially this week’s volunteer spotlight: Starr Hochbaum. And to all our amazing volunteers who provide invaluable support to our Girl Scouts and our community. Your leadership inspires us every day—thank you! 

A Starr in Her Own Right

Starr Hochbaum, just one of our dedicated volunteers, has been involved with Girl Scouts for 22 years, serving 12 years as a Service Unit (SU) Manager. Starr began her Girl Scout journey as a Leader for her daughters’ troop when her daughter was in fourth grade and she has continued her commitment to Girl Scouts ever since. 

When asked why she volunteers for Girl Scouts, Starr says “Girl Scouts is a great program that truly makes a difference in a girl’s life, even if they are only in for a year or two; or all twelve years. Watching the girls grow with the program, learn and discover, seeing that spark in their eyes when they are introduced to something new, always melts my heart.” 

“Being here as the SU Manager allows the leaders to keep their focus on their troops, and I have been so blessed to have met so many wonderful people through these years. “ 

Her favorite memory as a Girl Scout volunteer has been visiting Washington D.C. for the 90 Year Sing-along. “That was such an incredible event to be part of.  Just seeing a carpet of Girl Scouts covering the Monument lawn. It was truly amazing!” 

Starr told us, “Girl Scouts is so much beyond just the badges, vests, and cookies!  It’s an amazing group of volunteers (moms, dads, and grandparents even) who want to make the world a better place. Such a great foundation for our girls’ lives!” 

Starr always makes time to talk with and acknowledge her Girl Scouts and volunteers. She truly highlights Girl Led leadership at her Service Unit meetings, letting girls take the lead and share their Take Action Projects, and award information with leaders and volunteers.  

All of us at Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana say a big thank you, Starr! We appreciate you, your dedication, work, and wonderful contributions!  

Happy Volunteer Appreciation Month!

From troop leaders to cookie captains, you are the heart of Girl Scouts, and in this past year, you’ve kept our pulse strong.

This year we’re commemorating National Volunteer Month by sending a shout-out to all of our amazing council volunteers! Thank you for lending your energy and talent and for believing in the power of the girl. Thank you for giving girls the space to test their ideas and express their feelings about our ever-changing world.

Visit our website for ideas on how to celebrate the volunteers in your life.

Join us for Becoming Me with former First Lady Michelle Obama

Girl Scouts is launching a new “Becoming Me” program series in collaboration with former First Lady Michelle Obama and Penguin Random House!

Inspired by themes from Mrs. Obama’s Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers, Girl Scouts’ new Becoming Me program aims to help girls become their best selves. Check out our blog to learn more!

Join us for Becoming Me, a program inspired by former First Lady Michelle Obama

Save on Membership | Volunteer Opportunities | Early Bird Renewal

Girl Scouts is launching a new “Becoming Me” program series in collaboration with former First Lady Michelle Obama and Penguin Random House!

Inspired by themes from Mrs. Obama’s Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers, Girl Scouts’ new Becoming Me program aims to help girls become their best selves. Check out our story on Parents.com or learn more at girlscouts.org/becomingme.

Virtual Event with Girl Scouts and Mrs. Obama

You’re invited to join us on May 6 for a conversation between Girl Scouts and Mrs. Obama during which she will explore the themes in Becoming: Adapted for Young Readers and how they relate to Girl Scouts’ and young people’s experiences today. This event is open to members who join or renew by April 30.

Becoming Me Program Series

After the virtual event, we will release a six- to eight-week program series for girls in grades K-12 to earn badges that will help them explore personal strength, celebrate their own unique voice and they’ll take part in a national service project. A version of the series will be developed for each Girl Scout level, plus multilevel troops.

The Becoming Me program will be available at no additional cost to any interested Girl Scout member enrolled for the 2021–22 membership year.

Save 30% on Girl Scout Membership!

For a limited time, Girl Scouts is offering a special membership deal for new and lapsed* members!

If you’ve been thinking about joining or rejoining Girl Scouts, NOW is the time to do it. Through July 31 you can pay just $35 to join Girl Scouts for this membership year AND the next—a savings of $15!

How does that work?

  • The current Girl Scout membership year runs October 1-Sept. 30, 2021.
  • Annual membership dues are $25 regardless of the time of year you join.
  • Right now you can pay just $10 more to extend your membership through Sept. 30, 2022, saving you 30% of the full price!

Join or rejoin today and choose the “Extended Year” membership option to take advantage of this special rate!

*About Extended Year Membership

Girl Scout membership fees are typically $25/year, and the membership year runs October 1 – September 30 annually.

From April 1 – July 31, 2021, new and lapsed** members can pay a prorated membership rate when becoming a member through Extended Year membership. You’ll pay only $35 to finish out the current membership year AND all of the next one (normally $50 total). This prorated, 18-month membership term runs April 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022.

**This is a special, one-time offer to 2020 members who paused their membership due to the pandemic. Choose “Extended Year” when you rejoin today!

How Girl Scouts Benefits Girls and Families

Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Studies show that Girl Scouts improves girls’ confidence and makes them better prepared for life’s challenges That’s because Girl Scouts is dedicated to helping girls follow their hearts while they discover new interests, strengths, and abilities. Together with their families, Girl Scouts supports girls’ dreams, growth, and success. Contact us if you have any questions about joining!

Volunteer Opportunities

Becoming Me is not just a program for girls, but a new opportunity for adults to lean in and support girls’ journeys to finding their path and reaching their full potential.

We are seeking volunteers to facilitate the Becoming Me program series and create a safe community space for girls to explore their own stories.

Volunteers can commit to just the 6-8 week virtual program series, can lead the series multiple times, or continue with a group of girls beyond the initial program to continue to explore all that Girl Scouts has to offer!

  • You can choose the dates and times that work for you.
  • Girl Scouts staff will provide training, a facilitator guide, and a Zoom license.
  • Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana will connect you with girls who wish to participate.

Early Bird Renewal Incentive

Get excited for the membership year ahead! As an early renewal incentive, girls and adults who renew their Girl Scout membership by April 30, 2021, will be able to attend a member-exclusive virtual event with Mrs. Obama on Thursday, May 6, 2021. The Becoming Me program series will be available after May 6.

Meet the GSGCNWI Council Historians: Part Two!

Girl Scouts gathered for a tea party in early March 2020

Last week we met the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana Council Historians, a group of dedicated volunteers who work to collect, preserve, and share the history and legacy of Girl Scouts across the nation and in our area. These historians are essential to keeping the heartbeat of our movement strong, and we have more stories to share!

Read on to learn about some of the amazing, prestigious, unique items in the historian’s collection.

The Golden Eaglet

The GSGCNWI historical archive holds thousands of items spread across our council, and includes pins and insignias, guide books and records, photographs and videos, uniforms, cookie items, and much, much more. Some of these items are especially prestigious or unique, like cloche hats for leaders from the 1920s, the “enormous” wicker backpacks girls used for overnight camping, and the very first meeting minutes from the Girl Scout council in Gary, Indiana, in 1938. The original Girl Scout handbook is currently on display at the Chicago Gathering Place, and is signed by Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low herself (read our blog to learn more about what we have on display).

Among the favorite items of the historians is a quilt made as a fundraiser for Camp Manistee, a resident camp in the 1950s, which, for ten cents, girls could embroider their own square to be included. Also on the favorites list were the range of unique cookie jars from the various bakers of Girl Scout cookies in the past, evidence of the many different products sold during cookie and Fall Product seasons.

The oldest items in the archive are certainly precious, and include Brownie uniforms from 1918, khaki uniform items from 1915, and of course, the signed Girl Scout handbook. And the most unique items can even be found online: lucky for us, many of the original Girl Scout catalogs are digitized, so you can see for yourself all of the cute merch girls used to rock throughout the years, like purses, charms, and more. Probably the most interesting item the historians noted was a wool Girl Scout bathing suit— might have been fashionable, but certainly sounds uncomfortable!

And the most valuable, prestigious items are a couple of 14k gold membership pins and two original Golden Eaglet pins, the highest rank of Girl Scouting from 1919 to 1939. You can learn more about the Golden Eaglet by watching the short movie below!

The work the historians does goes beyond just archiving, and before the pandemic, they hosted many programs for Girl Scouts in our council over the years, ranging from “What’s WAGGGS” informational sessions, to historical tea parties and Girl Scout movie nights, to fashion shows where girls modeled vintage uniforms. Their work is essential to our council and we are so excited for what they come up with next!

Thank you to all of the GSGCNWI Council Historians:

Levita Anderson, Christine Caragher, Christine Cline, Rosemarie Courtney, Jane Doyle, Phyllis Drewno, Heidi Gannon, Janice Gerovac, Elise Gould, Nancy Hackett, Heather Linehan, Carol Macola, Mia Mehta, Catherine Mori, Kelly Pavlik, Veronica Pradelski, Margaret Rogers, Karen Schillings and Vikki Zack.

Are you interested in helping the historians?

If you’d like to learn more about the archive, how to become a part of the team, or something else about the GSGCNWI historians, email Rosemarie Courtney.

Keep Up With GSGCNWI

Meet the GSGCNWI Council Historians

If you’ve ever visited the Chicago Gathering Place, you’ll remember the cases that line the hallways, filled with guide books, uniforms, badges, and pins from the past 109 years of Girl Scouting. These artifacts remind our members, visitors, and staff that our history is as important as our future—and who better understands that than our Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) Council Historians?

Their mission statement, “to acquire, organize, and preserve artifacts related to the Girl Scout Movement, to make the collection available to our membership, researchers, and the general public, and to promote an enduring understanding of the rich history of Girl Scouts,” has held true even among the difficulties of the pandemic. In continuation of our celebration of Girl Scout Day (March 12), we are featuring these incredible archivists, who work tirelessly to preserve our council’s legacy.

Read on to meet some of the GSGCNWI Council Historians!

Honoring the Trailblazers

These historians have seen firsthand the changes Girl Scouts has undergone over the years, and part of their job is to, as Jane Doyle explained, “take what happened in the past and connect it to what we do today.” Veronica Pradelski continued: “A minute ago is history. History is every day. We have to preserve everything.” One of the historian’s most important missions is to pay homage to the risk-taking women who paved the way for present-day girls. Even camping was once taboo for girls and women to do—and as Karen Schillings puts it, “it’s a big thing for girls to appreciate all that had to be done to get to this point.”

The historians have a variety of training and educational background that lends to their project: from historic costume and textile restoration, to preservation of paper and text, to recordkeeping and photographic archival (and more). They represent the seven distinct legacy councils that merged in 2008 to become GCNWI, (Illinois Crossroads, Prairie Winds, Chicago, South Cook, Calumet, Trailways, and Drifting Dunes), as well as councils that merged into those seven entities over time.

Because of the diversity of historic items amassed over the years, the historians are now able to boast a large, fascinating collection of artifacts from all legacy councils that existed within the current geographic footprint. “We are where we are today because of those legacy councils,” Karen continues, each of them holding a rich local history carefully preserved by our historians.

Motivated by their passion for history and their love of Girl Scouting, these historians are doing the essential work of saving stories that might otherwise be lost. “Girl Scouting is the best thing going for girls and young women,” Jane Doyle said, reflecting on her motivations, “so being able to tell the Girl Scout story is what keeps me in this group.”

“My leader told me to give back to Girl Scouting what I got out of it,” Rosemarie Courtney shared. “So I never quit.”

Thank you to all of the GSGCNWI Council Historians:

Levita Anderson, Christine Caragher, Christine Cline, Rosemarie Courtney, Jane Doyle, Phyllis Drewno, Heidi Gannon, Janice Gerovac, Elise Gould, Nancy Hackett, Heather Linehan, Carol Macola, Mia Mehta, Catherine Mori, Kelly Pavlik, Veronica Pradelski, Margaret Rogers, Karen Schillings and Vikki Zack.

Are you interested in helping the historians?

If you’d like to learn more about the archive, how to become a part of the team, or something else about the GSGCNWI historians, email Rosemarie Courtney.


Check out some of these special items from the Chicago Gathering Place!

Read more about these artifacts on our blog.

Look out next week for more Girl Scout history talk with the GSGCNWI historians!

Catch Up with the GSGCNWI Blog

Celebrating Black History Month: Meet Jakki Smith!

We are continuing our celebration of the fantastic work our Black Girl Scouts, members, and staff contribute to the movement. This week, we have the pleasure of introducing Jacqueline (Jakki) Smith, a current Regional Membership Manager at Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI)!

“My first encounter with Girl Scouts was at my church. Both of my daughters were interested, and I let them do their thing. At the time, the fifth grade Juniors were meeting with the Daisies and Brownies and being basically babysitters. I met young ladies that were going to quit [Girl Scouts] because they said it wasn’t fun for them.”

“At that moment, I said ‘Okay, let me see what I need to do.’ I had no idea what Girl Scouts was, I was never a Girl Scout, but my daughter enjoyed the program. And I became a leader overnight.”

“I know at the time it was optional for girls to have their uniforms, but not for me. I required the girls to wear [them] and we were always on point at council events. They would see all of these African American girls getting off this bus and they’re dressed from the top of their head to their toes. They wore their uniforms with such grace and pride.”

Jakki’s free-spirit allowed her and her Girl Scouts to make the most of the amazing programming opening up for Girl Scouts at the time, like the Studio 2B program, “which was such a trend-setting series for Cadettes. They were talking about the internet, about scholarship money, how to take care of their vehicles, how to budget, just life stuff you need to know.”

And her mentorship had a massive impact on the lives of the girls she led: “Out of the 40 girls [I had], over half of them received the Gold Award. They wanted to go as high as they could and they were very proud to be Girl Scouts. Still to this day, my daughter is thinking about coming back and being a troop leader. It was so rewarding for me to be a part of that foundation of helping girls identify who they are, to build that confidence, to see those skills in the workforce.”

For Jakki, being a role model to young African American girls was invaluable. “It is still a very fulfilling experience. It is rewarding to see the desire, the passion, has transferred to every girl. So to be able to touch my African American daughters and my Brown daughters, and all of the women of color, is powerful. I hope to inspire them to see the beauty of being different, to teach them that their voices are powerful, and we want to hear what they have to say.”

“Girl Scouts has always been a trendsetting organization, and I believe that’s one of the reasons I’m still with them, because we have loosened up and our eyes are open to all of the possibilities. We’re in this space of innovation and creation and it’s blowing everyone’s mind, this momentum and liberty and creativity.”


Thank you so much to Jakki for talking with us, sharing her story, and reinvigorating our mission.

Black History Month is just one month out of the year, but Black excellence and Black girl magic is something to be celebrated, cherished, and protected every single day. We remain committed to sharing and telling the stories of Black girls all year long.

Meet Girl Scout troop 65708, a troop dedicated to “making true-blue friends, saving the planet, standing up against stereotypes, and using their team power for the greater good.”
Meet Girl Scout volunteer Erica Cox from Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles and learn all about the Girl Scouts for Black Lives Instagram!
Meet Dr. Renee Matthews, leader in the healthcare industry, social media influencer, and Girl Scout champion.

Black Girl Magic

From taking civic action for social change to expanding access to clean air and water, to championing STEM education for marginalized populations, to addressing food insecurity, there’s no limit to what Girl Scouts can do—because they show us just that.

Read GSUSA’s blog to meet just a few of our Girl Scouts who are impacting their corner of the world in major ways to create a better place for us all.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We are asking for all Girl Scouts—girls, volunteers, alums, supporters, families, staff, and our suppliers and service providers—to commit to taking action to make the world a more equitable place. We have a lot of work to do—join usYou can start by signing the Girl Scout Anti-Racism Pledge.

Visit our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Page for more resources and ways to take action and take a stand.

Join the 21 Week Equity Challenge!

United Way of Grundy County and Will County are proud to join United Way of Illinois, and other local United Ways across the state to embark on the “21 Week Equity Challenge” and invites everyone to take this learning challenge.

This free, online learning program will provide lessons and resources for Illinoisans to learn about racial issues and systemic inequalities, together. The “21 Week Equity Challenge” encourages individuals, families, friends, and co-workers to have racial equity conversations to gain a deeper understanding of the impact systemic racism and inequality have on our state and in our local communities.

Learn more on their website.

Celebrating Black History Month: Meet Dr. Renee Matthews!

We continue our celebration of Black excellence in Girl Scouting and beyond by introducing Dr. Renee Matthews, leader in the healthcare industry, social media influencer, and Girl Scout champion. Dr. Matthews has an illustrious career: she’s been featured in Ebony and Essence magazines, was a contributing writer for Good Enough MotherEssence, MadameNoire and Black and Married With Kids, appeared on television shows like The Oprah Winfrey Show, and currently hosts the Ask Dr. Renee show, among so many other things. Dr. Matthews has a deep commitment to Girl Scouting as well, serving previously as a Daisy Girl Scout troop leader, currently as an assistant to the Service Unit Manager of SU 272, and as a mentor at Camp CEO. Read on to learn more about her!

“My mom was a Girl Scout, my grandma was, my aunts were too,” so Girl Scouting for Dr. Matthews was a family tradition. “I have severe asthma, so at the time, I had to take breathing treatments every four hours. The one time I went camping, my dad was recovering from brain surgery. Being the best mom and wife she is, [my mother] was like, ‘This girl has to go on this trip.’ She asked all seven of her sisters and they all said no.” But Dr. Matthews’ mom, knowing how important camping is to a Girl Scout, did not give up. “My mom explained [the situation] to my grandmother, who is from the island of Antigua, and in West Indian culture, they don’t do sleepovers.” Her grandmother went on the trip anyway, and years later, Dr. Matthews is a seasoned Girl Scout camper.

Dr. Matthews’ role as a Girl Scout leader came years later during Black History Month, while visiting a senior residence on the South Side of Chicago as a volunteer with the Metropolitan Board of the Chicago Urban League. “One of my friends brought all these young girls,” and after learning that they were Girl Scouts, Dr. Matthews became determined to become a leader. “Sure enough, that following September, I was in.”

Dr. Matthews is a committed advocate for women and girls, serving also as a mentor for the Save a Girl Save a World program, and is particularly concerned with addressing the health concerns of Black women. “My whole mission is to teach girls they can do anything. With a little work comes reward. I think the Girl Scouts really instills in girls that they can do whatever they put their minds to.” Dr. Matthews’ especially uses her non-traditional career as a freelance writer and public speaker as an example that Black women can carve their own paths: “Some of these girls may never meet anyone that has been on TV, or on a plane, or even left the South Side of Chicago. I want to show them, ‘I am a Black girl’, and that’s a big deal.”

Camp CEO Class of 2019

Thank you to Dr. Renee Matthews for sharing her story, and make sure to follow everything she does, from podcasting, blogging, and much more.

Black History Month is just one month out of the year, but Black excellence and Black girl magic is something to be celebrated, cherished, and protected every single day. We remain committed to sharing and telling the stories of Black girls all year long.

Meet Girl Scout troop 65708, a troop dedicated to “making true-blue friends, saving the planet, standing up against stereotypes, and using their team power for the greater good.”
Meet Girl Scout volunteer Erica Cox from Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles and learn all about the Girl Scouts for Black Lives Instagram!

Black Girl Magic

From taking civic action for social change to expanding access to clean air and water, to championing STEM education for marginalized populations, to addressing food insecurity, there’s no limit to what Girl Scouts can do—because they show us just that.

Read GSUSA’s blog to meet just a few of our Girl Scouts who are impacting their corner of the world in major ways to create a better place for us all.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We are asking for all Girl Scouts—girls, volunteers, alums, supporters, families, staff, and our suppliers and service providers—to commit to taking action to make the world a more equitable place. We have a lot of work to do—join usYou can start by signing the Girl Scout Anti-Racism Pledge.

Visit our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Page for more resources and ways to take action and take a stand.

Join the 21 Week Equity Challenge!

United Way of Grundy County and Will County are proud to join United Way of Illinois, and other local United Ways across the state to embark on the “21 Week Equity Challenge” and invites everyone to take this learning challenge.

This free, online learning program will provide lessons and resources for Illinoisans to learn about racial issues and systemic inequalities, together. The “21 Week Equity Challenge” encourages individuals, families, friends, and co-workers to have racial equity conversations to gain a deeper understanding of the impact systemic racism and inequality have on our state and in our local communities.

Learn more on their website.

Tips For Engaging Girls Virtually!

Girl Scout troop leaders, think back to your childhood. What do you remember the most? If you are a Girl Scout alum, what do you remember about Girl Scouts?

We bet it’s not the grades you got on tests, awards you received, badges you earned in Girl Scouts, or what your Girl Scout troop accomplished. Most of us remember places we traveled, the things we experienced, the friends we had, and the way we felt during those times – the moments we felt most engaged in whatever we were doing and having fun!

Your girls will remember how their Girl Scout sisters and leader made them feel safe and included during this time of isolation. While you may feel the pressure lately, please know that now is not the time to be a perfect leader. Give yourself some grace, you don’t have to have it all figured out! Empower yourself to let the girls lead this virtual experience with you.

Here are 7 tips for keeping girls engaged virtually:

Keep the Sisterhood Strong

Building in social time is important to keep your girls engaged virtually. Let the girls have conversations and be silly together. This strengthens the bonds among the girls when they can’t be together in person!

Tip: Designate the first 10 minutes of your meeting to allow girls time to share what they’ve been up to and how they are feeling. Build in time to give the spotlight to the girls, whether it’s a sketch, striking a pose, leading jumping jacks, yoga poses, or reciting the Girl Scout Promise.

Make it Girl-Led

Giving girls choices virtually can seem tricky at first but is made easy with virtual meeting tools like polls, virtual reactions, or raising your hand. What girl-led looks like at each Girl Scout level is a little different:

  • Daisies – Provide girls with “this or that” choices like which activity they’d like to do first
  • Brownies – Girls vote between a short list of badges or activities using the poll feature in Zoom
  • Juniors – Ask a girl to facilitate a game or activity within the meeting or have a girl ask questions to lead a troop discussion
  • Cadettes – Girls decide what they want to do during their meetings – whether that’s deciding which badge to earn, which guest speakers to invite, or the schedule of the meeting.
  • Seniors and Ambassadors – Girls should work together to run the virtual meetings – planning, researching, and facilitating

Change Up Your Meeting

Taking advantage of learning tools online and different visual stimulation for your meetings will help keep the girls’ attention and interest. Switch things up between leader presentations, videos, quiz games, girl-led discussions, or even virtual field trips. Check out our Girl Scouts from Home page for ideas and inspiration!

Tip: Have you tried an unplugged activity during your meeting? Give the girls 15 minutes to complete an activity on their own away from the computer. Set a timer for them to come back and share what they did!

Play a Game

A game is a great way to keep virtual engagement high while letting the girls interact with each other! You can even tie your game to your badge or Journey work (such as themed charades)!  Here are a few ideas:

  • Try out these digital icebreaker games
  • Create a game like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune using an online tool
  • Lead a scavenger hunt for items girls can find in their home
  • Start or close a meeting with Show-and-Tell

Make Appropriate Meeting Adaptions

It’s no surprise that a Daisy’s attention span is much shorter than a Cadette’s. In order to keep girls engaged at every level, you should make age appropriate meeting adaptations. GSUSA has recommendations for the length of virtual meetings– make sure to read up.

Shared Ground Rules

Make girls part of the troop decision making right from the beginning. Have the girls help establish rules that everyone can agree to, like when to keep cameras and microphones on or off, raising hands when girls want to speak – or a fun rule like at the end of every meeting we do show-n-tell!

Tip: Share your screen with girls as you type out the list of virtual troop rules and store them in a folder with other troop documents online

Be Flexible

Sometimes meetings will run short depending on the girl’s attention span that day or the girls may be really excited about the topic you’ll run 20 minutes over the planned meeting time! It’s perfectly okay and a result of having a truly girl-led troop! Following the girls’ lead on what they are interested in might mean taking a break from your planned activities to explore a new topic. Have fun and learn along with them!

More questions about setting up your virtual meeting?

Visit the Learning Portal for all the related resources and the Girl Scouts from Home webpage for new ideas.

Zoom licenses are now available for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana troops and volunteers who want to meet and participate in council programs virtually! Your girls can stay connected, continue building their skills, and have a blast no matter where they are.

Also make sure to check out our Zoom resources for volunteers on our webpage.

All GCNWI programs for January through March are now LIVE!

Get excited and start registering today.

Mark your calendars because registration for Camp and and Outdoor Programs opens on Feb. 1!