Results tagged “Annual Meeting” from GSSA Leader Blog: The Virtual Volunteer


Spring is in the air, and spring break is here or about to commence.   I enjoy seeing what many of you do during spring break.   Most everyone that I see photos of is enjoying the beauty of spring and the outdoors.   Funny, I wonder if there is a correlation between that and being a Girl Scout?   I suspect there is.   I'm also struck by how so many of you are people of action, not sitting on the couch much.   Most of you are out with your kids spending time investing in their fun.   It is good to watch and share in those memories.

We have some great spring programs for the end of the school year.   All look fun and like things I would want to do.   I want to remind you that the annual meeting is at Kamp Kiwanis on Saturday, April 9.   There will be an update of what went on last fiscal year with the audit results and the annual report.   We have a good day planned for girls and adults.

We continue to work to sell the excess cookie inventory.   As an appreciation gesture, we will sell cases of cookies for $25.   This includes mixed cases. If you have an interest or know of some businesses that would like to purchase them as thank you gifts, please send Teri Eversole or Amy Murray an e-mail.   They are and

Camp information is on the website, and we are working on camp sign up.   As a reminder, for those who aren't quite ready for a night in a tent, we do offer day camp for those girls who want to come home.   I know each year we have some involved in softball and other sports activities, so for them day camp is a good option.   It should be a great year at resident camp.   We are going to work on teaching lots of basic camping skills in addition to the program the girls sign up for.   As always, there is financial assistance available, and that application can be found in the camp materials at

As we think through the importance of this wonderful time of year, I want to let you know how much we appreciate the hard work and care you put into being a Girl Scout.   Thank you. Enjoy this beautiful spring!

liz_brent.jpgWe have had another successful annual meeting.    The timing of this meeting is always a challenge because of varying spring breaks around the council footprint.   We managed to hit several school districts' spring breaks in this year's venue, but happily we still had a nice audience.   We held the annual meeting at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Wiregrass in Dothan.   Thanks to them for hosting us.

One of the things that makes the annual meeting a challenge (besides the spring break schedules) is that the meeting reviews the previous year while we are at the half way point of the current year.   This happens because our annual audit is not complete until then, so we make time to review the financial results.   We will be posting the annual report and the council financial results from our audit on the website this week.

Last year was not a good one financially, a direct result of the lack of funding from the United Way of Southwest Alabama.   Because of this our organization experienced an $83,000 funding reduction with virtually no warning.   It wasn't a fair and measured funding cut and affected Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.   Both organizations are still reeling, working to continue to provide the quality of service we had with such a dramatic budget reduction.  

United Way givers tend to give on a monthly basis through payroll deduction.   We have been unable to locate those individuals in the Mobile, Clarke, and Washington counties to give to us directly to continue to provide quality service to those locations.   We do want to acknowledge we continue to receive support from Wiregrass United Way, River Region United Way, Baldwin County United Way, Lake Martin United Way, Troy United Way, Selma-Dallas County United Way and a host of United Funds.   We appreciate their vision and investment in the future of their communities through shaping young leaders.

Fewer staff has a direct result in recruitment of fewer adult leaders and therefore serving fewer girls.   The girl numbers last year were frightful, and it is heart breaking that girls who would like to be Girl Scouts cannot do so because of funding.   Fewer girls resulted in a much smaller cookie program, which is the primary source of our revenue, at 75 percent.    Thus, as we worked to reduce expenses through staff lay-offs, our revenue spiraled in a negative direction.

We continued to offer more than 50 council-hosted programs during the year, working hard to serve the girls who were committed to Girl Scouts.   Those programs included some great STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs.   We also partnered with the local universities to have events on their campuses, often using current students to assist in providing some great fun activities for girls.    Summer resident camp was a great one.   We had many girls who were willing to experience the great outdoors and move out of their comfort zones by trying things they haven't before.   That ran the gamut from mounting a horse, to putting their face underwater in a murky lake to riding the zip line.

We had five girls earn their Gold Awards last year with some outstanding projects.   This is a significant accomplishment for these girls.   It includes not only their project, which has to be significant and sustainable, but they have to complete hours of other Journeys and requirements as a part of that significant milestone.   The girls who earned their gold award last year are Morgan Alford, Amerie Gramelspacher, Katie Kirk, Bailey Sawyer and Rebecca Pober Citrin.    More information about each girl and her project can be found in the annual report.   We are very proud of these girls as well as the 27 that earned their Silver Award, and the 112 that earned their Bronze Award.    These girls are changing their world now.

Another of last year's challenges was the number of significant water leaks at Camp Scoutshire Woods and Kamp Kiwanis.   With a harsh winter the water lines, buried not far below ground level broke with a spill at Oka Misha at Camp Scoutshire Woods dumping 1,000,000 gallons of water into the lake.   The rangers worked most of the winter months addressing the water leaks at both camp properties.   As we replaced water lines we also put in additional valves so we can isolate one unit from another to turn the water off.

Since we were precariously close to ending the year spending more money than we brought in, we had our forester evaluate the pine plantation at Camp Sid Edmonds.   That pine forest was mature and needed attention, so we clear cut 69 acres of the pine plantation there to address the revenue shortfall.   It was a good time to cut timber and the funds produced from the pine plantation closed the revenue gap from fewer girls and a tough cookie program.   The pine forest will be replanted in January 2016.

The best part of the annual meeting is always awarding the Volunteer of the Year to one of our wonderful volunteers. This year's recipient was Barbara Mitchell.   Barbara has delivered Girl Scout programs and served as a role model to girls in the Dothan Public Housing community for more than twenty years.   Please read this blog entry about her many accomplishments..

For the entire annual report and financial report, please click here.


Thanks to the staff at Wehle Land Conservation Center for hosting us.   Many attendees remarked to me about how beautiful the property was, even though they had done some burning recently.   The birds were abundant, and the girls seemed to have a good time, which is what it is all about.

We welcome a number of new members to Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama's board of directors.   They are Holly Adcock from Prattville, Christie Crow from Union Springs, Carrie Gray from Montgomery, Garrad Green from Mobile, Ramona Hill from Spanish Fort, and Bill Lancaster from Mobile.   We also welcome a new board chair, Janie Corlee, from Auburn.

I would like to thank the following long-time board members for their many years of service.   They include Helen Alford, who served as the board chair for two years.   Marian Loftin of Dothan was on the board from the council's inception.   Alonzetta Landrum-Sims, from Montgomery, was part of Girl Scouts of South Central Alabama's board of directors, so she has served many years. Dr. Larry Turner, from Chatom, joined the board not long after GSSA was born.    Finally, Alisa Summerville has been involved for two board terms.   All have spent hours working in the best interest of the girls on topics most troop leaders aren't interested in, including budgets, financial statements, audits, contracts, insurance, and other facets of doing business as a not-for-profit.   In addition to these wonderful folks, I would like to thank Nancy Greenwood, who has served as the board chair for the past two years.   Nancy has provided consistent, reliable and supportive leadership during her tenure.

The other business of the meeting included electing the delegates and alternates to the 2014 GSUSA National Convention in Salt Lake City.   In the near future, we will begin to share the business before that convention for member input and comments.   We distribute that input and comments to the board delegation, so they can effectively represent you.

The report passed out at the annual meeting, which is retrospective to the 2012-2013 year, is now on the website.   The reason this goes back that far is because our annual audit for that year is not complete until February, so all the information on that report is for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

Each year, we also like to report to troops what their troop proceeds are for the cookie program.   We are still cleaning up some of the details, but we believe parents should be informed of how much the troop made in proceeds.   Each year, I'm asked whether troops make only 10 cents per box sold.   That is not accurate!  The amount varies because of troop bonus and service unit bonuses, but it is much more than 10 cents per box.   If you click here, you can search for your troop and the minimum your troop should have from the 2014 cookie program.

We are always happy to take questions about the annual report, financials or any other questions.   Please send them to

The very best part of the 2014 annual meeting was awarding three Girl Scouts who earned their Gold Awards.   They are highlighted in this annual report.   We would like to congratulate them and all the girls who earned Bronze, Silver, or Gold Awards this year.   These girls rock!  


This year we will be celebrating the Girl Scout Leadership Experience at the annual meeting.    The scheduling of this meeting is always a challenge.  The annual meeting is set on the same weekend each year, but the date of Easter changes.  Between Easter and the different spring breaks on school calendars across our council, we can never find the perfect weekend for everyone.  With that said, we will still celebrate what we are about: GIRLS!

GIRLS are simply amazing.   And GSSA girls are REALLY amazing.   We have a robotics team that, despite being a new group, has done well at competitions.   We have girls who go out in the woods on a regular basis and learn skills they will use for a lifetime.   We have lots of girls who sold lots of cookies this year.   Some who didn't speak up before can now confidently approach strangers with a sales pitch -- a young budding entrepreneur.

Many of our girls drop out of Girl Scouts at age 11.   And what experiences they miss by doing so!   Those girls who do continue the Girl Scout Leadership Experience become exceptional individuals.   They are skilled in many life skills.   Of those who continue, we award 90 Bronze Awards each year.   This is usually earned by troops who do great projects.   We have about 40 girls earn the Silver Award each year.   And last, but certainly not least, this past year we have seven girls who have earned the Gold Award.

We thought we would highlight the young women who have earned the Gold Award and who will be presented their award at the annual meeting at Wehle Conservation Center on March 29.

Elizabeth Schloss is from Prattville. She is finishing her freshman year at Auburn, where she plays xylophone in the band.  For her Gold Award project, Elizabeth set up tutoring sessions for Hispanic kids. She involved her Beta club at school and held sessions at a local church after Spanish mass. Elizabeth said one of the most successful aspects for her was that the parents started coming with their kids, so she ended up with adults being tutored as well as kids. Also, a principal at a local elementary school heard about her project and asked her to come and do after school tutoring at the elementary school.

Adrienne Spivey is from Montgomery, where she is a senior at Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School.  Adrienne's Gold Award project involved educating children about Alzheimer's disease. She created and produced a video to help children understand changes they may see in their elderly relatives and feel more confident interacting with them. Adrienne has these words for girls who are thinking about going for the Gold Award: "Taking on a serious Girl Scout project could seem impossible. Think about the difference you will make by doing it, though. Think about the lives you'll change. Think about how you'll be campaigning for something you not only believe in, but that you created. This project may seem overwhelming, and even be a bit challenging at times, but the outcome and the rewards are worth it all."


Ann Claire Carnahan is a senior at UMS-Wright in Mobile.  Ann Claire worked with staff and volunteers at Keep Mobile Beautiful to create and promote a website for their organization. Keep Mobile Beautiful is a city of Mobile department that operates as a not-for-profit environmental organization and depends heavily on volunteers. Ann Claire designed and built a website, and used social media and presentations to bring awareness to the public about the services that Keep Mobile Beautiful offers. Ann Claire offers this advice to girls interested in going for the Gold: "I would advise girls to align themselves with a community organization that already has a need you can work towards fixing. Listening to the organization's needs gave me the framework I needed to construct an airtight, meaningful project."

These young women (and all the others who have earned awards this year) are outstanding examples of why we work hard, and why we celebrate girls.


Each year we conduct an annual meeting, which provides an opportunity for us to share information about state of the council, examine the council's financial situation, and conduct business.   We move this meeting around the council and attendance varies from year to year.

We try hard to make it interesting, but what we have discovered is that many of you prefer sessions about how to make the Journeys come to life for your girls or best practices for your troops, rather than the excitement of the business meeting.   We are obligated to conduct this business, but we have looked at your evaluations and listened to what other councils do.   This year we are going to try something new and have a program event as a part of the annual meeting.   We are planning events both for volunteers and girls.  

With Easter landing on the weekend we normally have the annual meeting, this year's annual meeting will be April 6, the weekend after our usual time. We have a very popular event the same weekend as the annual meeting, the sleepover at the Montgomery Biscuits baseball game.   This event includes a great parade, sometimes presentation of girl awards, and some fun during the game.   The culmination is a sleepover in the outfield with a movie on the Jumbotron.   Rather than create our own competition, which we sometimes do with programs, we are working to couple this popular event with the annual meeting.

We are having the annual meeting at Kamp Kiwanis starting fairly early in the day.   For those who want to make a weekend of it, we will have the camp available for overnights at the property on Friday night.   We are planning on a fun-filled day on Saturday, with the business meeting as a part of the itinerary.   Then, for those who are interested in more fun, there is the Montgomery Biscuits game Saturday evening.   You can elect simply to attend the game or spend the night on the outfield as part of the Biscuits events.

We hope this provides a great opportunity for a weekend of Girl Scout fun and activities for the entire family!   If you are interested in serving as a council delegate to the business meeting, please contact the council membership staff member for your area.


At this point, the council is 4.5 years post "realignment."   Many changes have occurred during that time, and I hope many of them are good.   But, as we can see with the 100th anniversary, things change as other values and issues remain the same.   We continue to build leadership in girls, and that hasn't changed over time.  

We are gearing up for the annual meeting, which we move around the council to try to have as many areas as possible host the event.   This year, it will be held at the First United Methodist Church of Prattville on Saturday, March 31, starting at 9:30 a.m.   Because there is a wedding in the facility later that day, we have to vacate the church by 2 p.m., which means we will start a tad earlier than we would like.  

The business before the membership is a set of changes to our council's bylaws.   Betty Richardson, GSUSA governance staff member, has recommended some changes that go along with trends in governance best practices.   The changes involve board terms, percentages to call a special meeting and use of technology to conduct an annual meeting.   A redline copy with the recommended changes in the bylaws is posted on our website in the 2012 Annual Meeting packet.   If you have questions or comments, please send them to   We will also review the annual finances and certified audit for 2011, and the board slate of new officers and proposed board members.  

We hope you will be able to join us for the annual meeting.   We have a volunteer from Atlanta who is coming down to do a workshop on the Journeys that has been very well received in the Atlanta council.  We think it will be of use to you, as well.



liz_brent.jpgThis weekend our annual meeting will be in the Wiregrass.   We have been moving the annual meeting around the council, so every area has an opportunity to host it.   It is hard to find the right time for the annual meeting.   We have been trying to do it the first weekend of April.   Unfortunately, we have two large council events on top of the annual meeting, something we will work not to repeat next year.   Since many of you can't make the annual meeting, here are a few nuggets I will be sharing:  

The cookie sale was FANTASTIC!   Thanks for your patience in working with the girls to have such a successful program.   The girls sold 9.45% more this year than last year.   And last year we were up 9%; that is AMAZING in this economy.  

We completed the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which ended September 30, 2010, with 15% of income over expense.   This is the third year we have closed out the year in a positive financial position.   We still need to plant 117 acres of trees at Camp Humming Hills, which will consume some of the extra cash.   In the meantime, I have been working to improve all our camp properties as we have had the funds available.   Hopefully you will notice some of those changes.  

I'm working on a draft facilities master plan for comment.   We will take those comments, integrate them into the facilities master plan, then work to start a capital campaign to fund some of the improvements at all our properties.   I visited all of the council properties with a property consultant from GSUSA a few weeks ago.   He was positively impressed with our properties and indicated he didn't feel that we had too many.   Hopefully this business news, coupled with some quality council programs are creating a great leadership development experience for the girls you work with.   Thanks for all you do!

We hope you were able to make it to our Annual Meeting in Daphne last weekend.  It was a fun day, and a special time for sharing the great ideas our volunteers have.   And how could you resist those adorable "Dancing Daisies" from Troop 8287?! They were too cute!


Just in case you weren't able to join us, here's a quick snapshot of the day's events.  Troop 8202 started the meeting with a flag ceremony, and a special fashion show, led by council archivist Gigi Barroco.  A special presentation by Laurel Ritchie, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for GSUSA, share the highlights of Girl Scouts new brand campaign, which will debut nationally in July. Volunteers also attended their choice of two volunteer forums, which were designed to allow them time to share stories and ideas.  The forums centered around how to run your troop efficiently and effectively.


After lunch, Helen Alford, 1st vice chair of the board, presented special council scholarships and awards. Jessica L. was awarded the Ellen Autrey Anderson Gold Award Scholarship, and Abigail B. was presented the Loucretia Hollingsworth Scholarship and the Blanchard-Hinton Lifetime Scholarship.  


After the awards presentation, Board Chair Ellen Brooks called the business meeting to order.  After stewardship reports from the board and CEO, the delegates unanimously voted to approve the following board members: Ramona Blankenship, Pedro Mandoki, Liz Braswell, Nancy Greenwood, Jason Bryant, Carlos Gant, Marian Loftin and Larry Turner, Ed.D.


The meeting ended with a discussion of the council's vision for the 2010-2011 year by incoming board chair Helen Alford.  


Check out the photo gallery from the annual meeting!


Whether you did or didn't attend the annual meeting, we want to hear from you.  Please take just a few minutes to complete our survey on the annual meeting -- it's the only way we can improve in the future! 

GSUSA just let us know that in celebration of Girl Scout Week, the CBS Early Show will air a Girl Scout segment tomorrow morning (Thursday, March 11, 2010) beginning at 7:30 a.m. (We believe this is Eastern Standard Time, but haven't been able to confirm yet.) At about 8:30 a.m., one of the hosts will conduct an interview with Laurel Richie, Chief Marketing Officer, about new things going on in Girl Scouting.   Laurel Richie is the special guest speaker at our annual meeting, March 27!


Girl Scouts from at least five Tri-State area councils will fill the CBS plaza; and former Girl Scout Gold Award earner Chelsea Masterson--along with current Girl Scout Troop Leader from Girl Scouts of Jersey Shore (see Troop Web site: is expected to chat alongside Laurel about the benefits of Girl Scouting.


Happy Girl Scout Week!  

Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama's annual meeting is Saturday March 27, 2010 at Daphne United Methodist Church. The event, which will be held from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., is no ordinary annual meeting.  There will be a fashion show of vintage Girl Scout uniforms, entertainment from local troops, discussion forums and even a special guest speaker from GSUSA.


The guest speaker is GSUSA's Laurel Richie, Vice President of Marketing & Communications and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). The new Girl Scout brand campaign, which is Laurel's major responsibility, will have just launched as she visits Alabama. Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama will be one of the first councils to hear about the campaign in detail, and the first to get a personal briefing from the CMO.


The cost is $15, and includes lunch.  To register, send the Event Registration Form along with your payment by March 15 to the Mobile Service Center.

Our annual meeting is approaching (March 27), and the council will be contacting volunteers to serve as delegates.  Being a delegate is a very important job and you may wonder what exactly a delegate does. Delegates are members of the Girl Scout movement who are 14 years of age or over and are registered within the council's jurisdiction.


As a delegate of the council, some of the duties include participating in important elections, such as electing the officers of the council, the members-at-large of the Board of Directors, the members of the Council Governance Committee and the delegators to the National Council of GSUSA. Delegates attend to other business that might come before the members as well.  Learn more about the role of the delegate in our council's bylaws

Cookie Bites


Cookie "Taste Test" Adds Tasty Fun to Annual Meeting

Volunteers tested their taste buds at our recent annual meeting.  During a special cookie taste test, guests at the meeting were asked to try samples of the top-selling cookies from Little Brownie Bakers (our current council baker) and ABC Bakers.  These samples included, Samoas/Caramel deLlights, Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties, Thin Mints and Trefoil/Shortbread.  It was a lot of fun to watch everyone examining - and even smelling - the different cookies!


The results of this fun survey were interesting and surprising.  It was almost a tie between the Little Brownie Tagalongs and the ABC Peanut Butter Patties, as many of you liked the creamy peanut butter in the ABC version.   The ABC Shortbread cookie and the Trefoil ended in dead heat, too, with some of our guests enjoying the sweeter Little Brownie cookie and others preferring the buttery taste of the ABC cookie.  The Little Brownie Samoa and Thin Mint won the taste test in their categories, and we received some interesting comments.


This cookie taste test was a part of our council's ongoing efforts to make our volunteers participants in our decision-making processes.  We want to make sure we have the best cookie baker for the girls of Southern Alabama and appreciate your input in this process.  Look for more cookie information coming soon!

P4043502.JPGWe certainly hope you were able to make it to our Annual Meeting in Montgomery on April 4.  It was a fun day, and a special time for sharing the great ideas our volunteers have.    View the slideshow from the event.


Just in case you weren't able to join us, here's a quick snapshot of the day's events.  Troop 9418 started the meeting with a flag ceremony, and Troop 9334 followed by singing an invocation.  Volunteers then attended their choice of three volunteer forums, which were designed to allow them time to share stories and ideas.  The forums centered around the following topics: Letting Girls Take the Lead, Sharing our Success Stories and Program Pathways and Journeys.


During a lunch of barbecue, potato salad, coleslaw and a fabulous cake made by one of our Opelika volunteers, Daisy troops 9780 and 9351 presented our wonderful lunch entertainment of special songs.  After lunch, Helen Alford, 1st vice chair of the board, presented special council scholarships and awards. Leah N. was awarded the Ellen Autrey Anderson Gold Award Scholarship and the Blanchard-Hinton Lifetime Scholarship, and Haley C. was presented the Loucretia Hollingsworth Scholarship.  


After the awards presentation, Board Chair Ellen Brooks called the business meeting to order.  After stewardship reports from the board and CEO, the delegates unanimously voted to approve the following new board members: Melissa George, Leslie Johnson, Alicia MacKnight, Becky Jo Peterson and Alisa Sumerville. 


Ms. Brooks ended the meeting by discussing the board's vision for the future and by thanking our volunteers for their hard work.


Join us for the Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama Annual Meeting.  The meeting will be on Saturday, April 4, 2009, at Whitfield United Methodist Church, 2673 Fisk Road, Montgomery.  Registration will begin at 10 a.m., and the meeting should conclude by 2 p.m.  The cost to attend the meeting is $15, and lunch will be included.  In addition to the business meeting, there will be time set aside for volunteer forums, so that you can connect with other volunteers to discuss important topics relating to Girl Scouting. 

There will also be a Girl Scout Silver and Gold Award workshop held separately from the annual meeting.  The workshop will be from 1 - 2 p.m.  If girls are registered for the annual meeting, it's included in the price.  To attend only the workshop the fee is $2 for materials.   

To register for the annual meeting or the girl award workshop, send the Event Registration form to the Montgomery Service Center or by March 27.

Do you have a special dance or presentation you developed for Thinking Day?  We are looking for girls to share their special Thinking Day performances at the Annual Meeting!  The meeting will be Saturday, April 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Montgomery. 

If you are interested in auditioning, please send us an audition video, or let us know when your Thinking Day is and we'll try to visit in person. Because of  time limitations only five to eight troops will be selected to perform.  Performances should range from 2-3 minutes in length and can include a song, dance, poem, short story, play, etc.  For more information, please contact Cheryl Miller at 334.272.9164 ext: 2302.

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