Lisle Girl Scouts braved the cold Sunday to help children and adults with autism try out skiing, some for the first time, at Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports.
Troop 50796 members Maeve Doyle, Amanda Laurinec, Marley Malczewski, Emme Moore and Briana Ortiz organized the event in an effort to achieve their Silver Award, which is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn.
Aside from helping the skiers, the eighth graders also handed out handmade coloring books and “super Crayons” that are easy for children with autism to use.
Four Lakes agreed to host the event and offer free admission to the autistic skiers and their families.
Lisa Sanchez traveled from Shorewood so her 6-year-old son Max, who has autism, could try out skiing.
Sanchez said “to be able to do something like this with the Girl Scouts so he can figure out if he likes it before we go find programs,” referring to her son’s special needs Sanchez added “if can be hard to find programs that just don’t throw them in with everyone else where then he struggles to keep up with everyone else.”
Allstate Arena was a sea of green and brown uniforms 2,800 strong Saturday afternoon as the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana held their seventh annual cookie kickoff.
The event, meant to inspire girls and show them sales and business practices that make for solid fundraising, is followed by a Chicago Wolves hockey game the girls and their families can attend.
Nina Grotto, 16, of Troop 51324, was the No. 1 seller of cookies last year at 6,300 boxes — 4,500 of which were donated to troops overseas. It took three months of hard work and determination to sell that many boxes, she said. She spent the day Saturday autographing pictures for other Girl Scouts.
Whether it’s hiking 20 miles of canyon at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois, presenting an award at our council’s annual Tribute to Achievement dinner honoring civic and corporate leaders, or teaching 25 women executives to makes S’mores around the campfire at Camp Butternut Springs in Indiana as part of Camp CEO, Girl Scouts has been featured everywhere in my life.
Girl Scouting is a timeless wonder uniting different generations of women and developing strong relationships of empowerment. From the moment you become a Girl Scout, you’re connected to a variety of women leaders.
Reflecting on my own experiences, I realize Girl Scouts has grown with me as much as I have grown with the organization. The advancement of technology and current push for more females in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields have not only enhanced quality of life in America, but also guided my individual journey. For 12 years now, Girl Scouts and I have flourished together.
Throughout grade school, my troop’s annual traditions of badge-earning, cookie-selling, camp sing-alongs, and service to our community laid foundations for lifelong learning, interpersonal leadership, and a healthy sense of self-esteem. Girl Scouts transformed me into a young woman of “courage, confidence, and character.”
It’s that can-do attitude that inspired me to start a fishing club in conjunction with the national nonprofit Trout Unlimited during my senior year at Riverside-Brookfield High School. And I was able to lead an overnight fishing trip in July 2015 to Alto, Michigan.
In addition to serving as a former camp program aide, Camp CEO alumna, and Camp CEO counselor, I have had the privilege of being an honorary award-presenter and emcee for corporate fundraising events in downtown Chicago. By guiding younger girls at Camps Green Wood, River Trails, and Butternut Springs, I learned the importance of taking the initiative, collaborating ideas, and leading by example. By delivering speeches before a ballroom of CEOs – including Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA – I discovered value in effective communication, networking, and poised professionalism.
Both youthful and wise, the women leaders I’ve encountered reflect how dynamic and diverse Girl Scouts is. It evolves with the girls it prepares. Generation after generation, young ladies now grow to be proactive chief executive officers, problem-solving chief engineers, determined entrepreneurs, and all-importantly: beautiful women who become stronger each and every day.
Today, I am an honors engineering freshman and Stamps Leadership Scholar at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana surrounded by a world of thinkers, scholars, athletes, and activists. In my first-year endeavors, I have incorporated the Girl Scout ideals of citizenship, empathy, and global mindfulness.
Through the Cultural Companions program, which pairs international students with domestic students, I have found sisters from various ethnic backgrounds. In the Old Masters program, which introduces undergraduates to alumni, I have received words of wisdom from President Barack Obama’s former Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall. At Purdue’s 20th Annual Space Day, I had the honor of presenting a handcrafted plaque to Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon.
Next year, I will travel abroad on an eight-day medical trip to Quito, Ecuador during my spring break. One of 20 Purdue students selected by Timmy Global Health, a nonprofit sustained by medical professionals and student volunteers to expand healthcare access worldwide, our clinics will provide checkups, medications, hospital referrals, and over 15,000 vitamins to 600 children, adults, and senior citizens.
As a future biomedical engineer with the desire to make a global impact, I look forward to this opportunity to touch lives abroad. To this day, Girl Scouts maintains great presence in my life. Had I not been motivated to pursue a STEM career by Android app development workshops with my Camp CEO mentor at Motorola Mobility and hikes through the woods with physician executives and CEOs of engineering firms, my life’s path would have surely taken a different course. For this, I am grateful.
If I have learned anything after twelve years of being a Girl Scout, it is this: “We are the innovation generation, the game changers, the ground breakers. Each an integral part of herstory.” And, of course, I can’t forget this quote from a classic camp song: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.”
Lauren Primer is a Girl Scout alumna and freshman engineering student at Purdue University. She’s also a Stamps Leadership Scholar, Trustees Scholar and Honors Engineering Learning Community Board Chair among other accomplishments.
You already know Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with your friends, but did you know it can also help you sell Girl Scout Cookies? Social media is a fun and easy way to market your cookie sale in today’s digital world.
Marketing is important to let your customers know what you’re selling, when you’re selling and where you’re selling.
As always, be sure to follow the rules of Internet sites, including rules based on age of use, parental approval and knowledge, and public laws. Don’t forget to talk about guidelines for going online with your parent or guardian and take the Girl Scout Internet Safety Pledge.
Now that you’re a full-blown cookie professional, check out some tips to share your pride, goals and accomplishments online to help boost your sales:
1) Share your story. Tell people who you are, why you’re a #CookieBoss and what you love about Girl Scouts. Do you have a goal to sell a certain number of boxes this year? Do you want to go camping, or are you saving up to travel abroad with your cookie money? Be sure to include that information as well! Be sure to tell people what you plan to do with your earnings to help them make a connection.
2) Share your inventory. Help your costumers discover a new favorite or reconnect with an old classic by telling them about the cookies you carry. Ask friends to vote for their favorite flavor. Meet someone with a food allergy? Ask them if they’ve heard about Toffee-tastic, our gluten-free variety. If they don’t want to purchase cookies for themselves, tell them about our Gift of Caring that sends cookies to women and men in the armed forces.
3) Share the five skills. You know the ones: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. Show them what these skills look like in action with plenty of photos. Use the hashtag #5skills to share stories of growth and learning through the Girl Scout Cookie Program.
4) Share the love. Word of mouth is the best way to let people know about your business. Recruit everyone you know to spread the word about what the Girl Scout Cookie Program does for girls just like you! Did you learn a new skill? Did you try something for the very first time as a Girl Scout? Are you planning to surpass your cookie goal of last year and use that cookie money to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip with your troop? Let your friends and family know how excited you are to be a Girl Scout!
5) Share our posts. We’re here to help you. Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for fun, shareable posts you can use to market your cookie sales to your online followers and follow our blog for more helpful tips.
Do you have cookie stories you want to share with the council? Are you saving your cookie money to make an impact in your community, travel abroad or go camping for the very first time? Let us know what you’re doing with your cookie money for the chance to be featured on our social media channels! Send your stories, pictures or videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A beautiful event unfolded recently at the Islamic Center of Naperville, where two Girl Scout groups met for an interfaith event that paved the way for a lifetime of understanding and friendship.
We should all be more like Girl Scouts.
Heather Mieloszyk, a troop leader for her second- and seventh-grade daughters, was inspired to educate herself and her Scouts on the Islamic faith after some of the elementary students she teaches brought treats to school to celebrate Eid, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast daily from sunrise to sunset.
The students’ parents put Mieloszyk in touch with Saima Hasan, a program director for the Girl Scouts troops who operate out of the Islamic Center of Naperville. Hasan and her fellow troop leaders got to work planning a day of fun and fellowship.
The Daisies (kindergarten and first-grade Girl Scouts) greeted each visitor with a flower. The girls shared snacks (cupcakes and dates) and created pins with different colored beads to swap with one another. The visiting girls learned to write their names in Arabic and received bookmarks with Arabic phrases of goodwill translated into English.
“Today’s youth should serve as tomorrow’s ambassadors of peace in a troubled world,” Hasan told me. “They would use their positive experiences with various cultures, religions, races and ethnicities and build a world of understanding, which in some way will contribute to the healing and prosperity of this great nation.”
Girl Scouts in Downers Grove, Illinois celebrated the true reason for the season by visiting a local nursing home. Troop 50972 sang Christmas carols and performed poetry and piano pieces for residents of Immanuel Residences.
“As a Girl Scout troop leader, I try to help form thoughtful girls … thoughtful with one another and other people,” explained troop leader Jennifer Haselhorst. “I think a lot of times, kids don’t get to interact with older people and this was an opportunity for them to get to know somebody on a personal level.”
The girls and residents also worked together to create 50 Christmas cards for veterans at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois.
“My favorite part was making the cards and talking to the residents,” said Jennifer’s daughter, Gretchen, a 7-year-old Girl Scout Brownie. “It was also fun getting to know them better.”
Girl Scouts are known for leaving places better than they found them. And former troop leader Virginia Cubalchini, 86, of Park Forest, IL left the world a better place than she found it through her nearly 40 years of service as a volunteer.
After learning about Mrs. Cubalchini’s death in August 2015, two of her Girl Scouts, sisters Lois Shadrick and LaDonna Carr, made a donation to American Forests to plant 50 trees in honor of her love for camping and the great outdoors.
“We would go to Camp Butternut Springs every year and clean the trails and the vines off the trees,” said Shadrick of Downers Grove. “We’d name trees as we planted them and as I was looking for something timeless to honor Mrs. Cubalchini, I thought about those trees.”
Her sister, who described Mrs. Cubalchini as the “epitome of a Girl Scout leader,” agreed.
“She taught us to enjoy your surroundings and take in the beauty of nature. Don’t take it for granted. Stop and look around and appreciate it,” Carr said.
Mrs. Cubalchini’s daughter, Virginia Williamson, who lives in Frankfort, was touched by the gesture.
“My mom was all about the environment and spending time outdoors before it was fashionable,” she remembered. “She was just a caring person, extremely sensitive and very friendly. She always wanted to be of service. She saw how Girl Scouts could shape girls’ lives and give them a support system.”
One of Mrs. Cubalchini’s Girl Scouts, Nancy Aguirre, even stepped up to be her caregiver while she was recovering from a medical emergency. The two spent several days a week together reliving fond Girl Scout memories and singing camp songs.
“It was an honor to give back to her and do something nice for her after she’d done so much for us,” said Aguirre, who lives in Park Forest. “This was one of those connections you never forget and you look back on as a very special lifelong friendship.”
Carr, who lives in Aurora, credited Girl Scouts will helping her self-esteem.
“I didn’t talk a lot when I was younger, my sister did all the talking for me,” she said. “But I came into my own after I became a Brownie. Girls Scouts helped me come out of my shell and I blossomed.”
But perhaps the most important lesson Mrs. Cubalcihini taught her daughter as both a mom and a troop leader was to “be passionate.”
“She was a single parent who raised two daughters and had three jobs at the same time, yet she still found time to be there for her Girl Scouts and give,” said Williamson. “She just enjoyed it so much and gave of herself. You get so much back when you give and her life was a true testament to that.”
After noticing a need for clothing at a local food pantry, Madison Fanta, of Saint John, IN, decided to do something about it. At age 9, she started donating her own clothing to the pantry to help other children. Shortly thereafter, her collection expanded to a dedicated room at the pantry and Maddie’s Helping Hands was born.
On Friday, November 13, Madison, a 15-year-old Girl Scout Senior, was honored for her work during the 11th annual Power of Children Awards by The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, IN. The award recognizes young philanthropists (grades 6-11) across the country for their significant contributions to society.
“My project was inspired by my Nana, who works at a local food pantry,” Madison explained. “When I went there and saw all the kids and people in need of clothing, I asked my family and friends to donate clothes for people in need. I think it’s important to give back because not everyone enjoys the same privileges.”
As one of five recipients, Madison received a $2,000 grant, which she plans to use for purchasing undergarments to distribute at the food pantry.
“Madison’s project reveals her compassionate and philanthropic nature,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO, The Children’s Museum. “Her vision to clothe the underserved in her community, and her commitment to grow her project through recruitment of significant numbers of volunteers from the elderly to fellow Girl Scouts, demonstrate that Madison is precisely the kind of inspirational young person the Power of Children Awards program was created to honor and recognize.”
Madison, who is a lifelong Girl Scout, plans to use Maddie’s Helping Hands as the basis for her Gold Award project. The Girl Scout Gold Award, which celebrates its centennial in 2016, is the highest award that Girl Scouts ages 14-18 may earn. The leadership skills, organizational skills, and sense of community and commitment required to complete the process set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship. Girls complete seven steps to earn the Gold Award, including the completion of a significant service project.
“The Gold Award is important to me because it means that I am growing as a Girl Scout and I’m able to accomplish more than I ever thought,” she said. “The most important lesson I’ve learned as a Girl Scout is to give back to the community.”
To learn more about Maddie’s Helping Hands, watch the video below:
Behind every Girl Scout is a dedicated and passionate volunteer showing her the way. This month, we’ve asked two of our amazing troop leaders to share why they love Girl Scouts and how you can influence the next generation.
Being a Girl Scout is a tradition in my family. When I was a Brownie, my mom and grandma shared with me pictures and stories from when they were Girl Scouts. My favorite part about being a Girl Scouts was earning rewards during Cookie Season. My sister and I were always BIG cookie sellers in our troops.
As an adult, I’d forgotten all about this experience until one day I was at a community service project with another organization and saw one of my friends with all these young girls with her. I asked who they were and she told me it was her Girl Scout troop. I immediately wanted to get involved and give back to the organization that’d helped me so much.
That was five years ago in February and by Christmas, I had attended my first meeting as a Girl Scout troop leader. I love volunteering with Girl Scouts because it gives me a chance to interact with kids as I’m not a mom yet. I love talking to the girls to find out what they are thinking and helping to mold them into young ladies.
Sometimes, the girls enter Girl Scouts very timid, but after a few meetings, they have so much to say! I remember the first year we sold cookies at a local grocery store. The girls were so shy they barely wanted to speak to the customers.
But that all changed by the third weekend when they had their sales pitch in place and we sold so many cookies! Perhaps my favorite moment as a troop leader is passing out the cookie rewards to the girls because they work so hard to sell as many cookies as they can.
Since I’ve become a Girl Scout Daisy troop leader, I’ve met some wonderful women and I’ve also taken on leadership roles within my council as a delegate and product manager for our service unit.
We need more people to volunteer with the Girl Scouts so we can all mentor and mold more young girls into remarkable women. Every day, these girls teach me so much about myself. I love being part of an organization that is more than 100 years old and has helped develop numerous amazing female leaders. I believe it is my honor to serve God and my country and to live by the Girl Scout law.
Dr. Renee Matthews has appeared on television shows such as, The Oprah Winfrey Show and TVOne’s NewsOne Now with Roland Martin where she discussed different health topics. Dr. Renee also hosts The Ask Dr. Renee Show, a weekly show to motivate and inspire viewers to “live the life they deserve.”
She’s been a contributing health writer for numerous websites such as MadameNoire.com, BlackandMarriedwithKids.com and BlackDoctor.org, as well as a sought after speaker for various health organizations and schools. In addition to writing about health, Dr. Renee conducts speaking engagements on social media, branding, motivation, and becoming an entrepreneur.
To read part one of our volunteer guest blog series, click here. To learn more about Girl Scouts or sign up as a volunteer, please visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.
Stock photos courtesy of Girl Scouts of the United States of America