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

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The Girl Scout Leadership Experience changes lives.  Period. As volunteers and Girl Scout parents, you know this and so do I. 

I've watched my daughter and countless others become strong, capable, successful young women through their experiences in Girl Scouting.  Whether it's exploring careers, doing science experiments, or helping feed the homeless in their communities, Girl Scouts are developing skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

Through the Girl Scout Leadership Program these girls will develop a strong Sense of Self and Positive Values.  They will be Challenge Seeking.  They will develop and maintain Healthy Relationships. They will use these skills to participate in Community Problem Solving, contributing to their world in positive and meaningful ways.  In short, they will grow up to become women who make the world a better place.

I want you to meet a Montgomery Girl Scout alumna, who credits her experiences in Girl Scouts for who she is today. Deja Chappell, who will be attending YALE says, "Girl Scouts certainly played an early role in who I am today. The curriculum, badge work, and ventures demand engagement with the world around you. The last four years of Girl Scouts consisted of me working on an urban organic farm, going backpacking for a month in the Rocky Mountains, and studying Arabic intensively in Morocco."  What an amazing young woman and what a powerful story!

It's recruitment season, and our staff is busy working our communities to recruit new girls.  We need you to join us in spreading the word that Girl Scouts is something every girl needs.  Please, tell your friends, your neighbors, your fellow parents that:

Girl Scouting is relevant.  Girl Scouting is an important key for girls' success. Most importantly, Girl Scouting is something every girl needs.

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It's my first week on the job as your CEO, and it's been a whirlwind of excitement.  School is starting across the council, and our staff is getting ready to head out into our communities to recruit new Girl Scouts.  This is my favorite time in the Girl Scout year, as it's full of such promise for new things! 

While it may be my first week as CEO, I've actually been on the job at GSSA for nearly 14 years. During this time, I've had the pleasure of getting to know many of you. I plan to spend some time this fall visiting service unit meetings and council programs, and I look forward to meeting those of you I don't know yet and learning more what is going on in your community.

To start, though, I want to tell you a little about myself.  Most importantly, I'm the mother to two precious children.  Our 10-year-old daughter is a Junior Girl Scout, who just earned her Bronze Award, and our two-year-old son is a running, giggling bundle of little boy fun. A native Alabamian, I grew up in Wetumpka, and met my husband of almost 16 years while we were working at The Auburn Plainsman during our college days at Auburn. We love to spend time together as a family, particularly if it involves traveling or our family movie nights.

As I mentioned, I've worked for Girl Scouts for many years. I'm a GS parent and also was a girl member.  I had such fun during my time as a Brownie Girl Scout at Saint James School in Montgomery, and my favorite GS memory remains my very first trip to Kamp Kiwanis. I began my work as a staff member as Development Director for the legacy council, South Central Alabama, and later served as Chief Operations Officer for that council. For the last nine years, I've worked as GSSA's Chief Operating Officer, directing the council's day-to-day operations and supervising several operational units.

I look forward to working with you and our hardworking staff in the coming years. We have great potential to make a difference in the lives of even more girls - and with your help, we will provide them with the skills they need to change the world.

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The first time I met Liz Brent, I instantly I liked her.  What I didn't know yet is what a smart, talented, remarkably kind, and funny individual she is.  I also didn't imagine what a cherished friend she would become. 

During the last nine years, I've spent countless hours with Liz. We've driven thousands of miles on two-lane roads together, made countless presentations, and worked as a team to serve our girls.  We've locked ourselves out of cars, faced down multiple snakes, and dealt with our fair share of sticky issues. One of my favorite memories of Liz involves a trip to Camp Humming Hills where she and two board members ended up getting her car stuck in the woods and having to hike back a mile and a half through a bog to get out.  The hilarious text messages from the ranger's wife kept my family in stiches all evening! 

What I really want you to know about Liz, though, is how hard she has worked for our girls.  Liz tirelessly worked to rebuild this council after it was merged during realignment. She has faced challenges that most of our volunteers and girls couldn't fathom, and she has done all of this with great wit and determination. Most of the work she has done is behind the scenes.  Liz doesn't show off or tout her accomplishments.  She simply works hard and does what needs to be done.

We have a wonderful staff, and I think I speak for us all when I say how much we appreciate Liz.  We will miss her boisterous presence, quick wit, and of course, her adorable companions -- Boykin Spaniel puppies, Lhotse and Eiger.  We also will hold in memory, sweet Amber, who was more than Liz's pet, but our honorary co-worker for many years.  

Thank you, Liz, for giving of yourself to make the world a better place.  Thank you for being our leader, and thank you for being my friend.   I wish you and Hal the very best!

It is an honor to accept the role of CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama.  I look forward to serving our girls and each of you in the coming years.  But first, I want to thank retiring CEO, Liz Brent, for her many years of dedicated service.  She will, most definitely, be missed.

 

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My goal as CEO will be to maximize the Girl Scout experience for our girls.   I have a passion for our mission, and know that Girl Scouting changes lives -- be it girls from Butler in a rural grant program, traditional troops in Mobile or Montgomery, in-school Girl Scouting programs in Beauregard or Rockford, or Camp Sunshine, a well-recognized initiative for girls in public housing communities.  As a Girl Scout alumna and mother, I've seen our organization from the eyes of a girl and a parent, not simply an administrator, and I understand first-hand the importance of the work we do.

  

I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this wonderful organization. In the coming years, I look forward to working with you to blaze new trails, serve our girls, and make the world a better place. 

 

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I am packing up my office, thinking about what "retirement" might look like for me.   I've replaced my beloved Amber, my golden retriever rescue that many of you knew with two Boykin spaniel puppies.   They are not the same as Amber, comfortable and familiar, it's a challenge.

I'm packing up two offices, with gifts, photos and nostalgic items collected from more than nine years of working for a very large contingent of girls.   It provokes many memories of fun times, girls who have become successful women, and today's girls, working toward that same end.   What fun it has been, how many I have seen grow and become leaders, women who will contribute to their community.

As some of you may be aware, my husband and I have commuted for the past nine years.   So the spaniels will be joining an elderly golden retriever and a very smart 3-year-old black Labrador retriever.   I expect there will be many days that I will yearn for the commotion of the office, too many things to do, money to juggle, requests to consider, blogs to write, not enough hours in the day.   During a large part of the year I had options on girl events I could attend to see Girl Scouts in action.   What a wonderful opportunity that was, to see girls learning, growing, honing skills.   These girls get out of bed on Saturdays and do things, they don't sleep in and play video games, and they are girls of action.    I suspect my Saturdays might have different options in retirement, not as fun as the ones I have had.

I was fortunate when I came to Alabama that I had the support of the board and the volunteers.   Trying to forge one entity into two independent organizations with very different cultures was no small feat.   Where other CEOs for realignment failed, I was fortunate to have a group of adults who were in this endeavor for the girls.   The key thing we could all agree on was this is about the girls, not me, not where the headquarters is, it is for and about girls, nothing else.   By focusing on what is important and what we could all agree on, we experienced much more success than others.   That is to the credit of the many people engaged in this merger nine years ago and their ability to pay attention to what is important: the girls, our future.

As I take my leave, sad to go, but looking toward the future, I would ask that you continue to keep the girls as the focal point of all you do with Girl Scouts.   As you welcome a new CEO, Karlyn Edmonds, someone not new to this endeavor, I would ask that you would continue to be as supportive to her as you have been to me.    Karlyn is hard-working and well-positioned to take GSSA to the next level.   Many of you know Karlyn and are familiar with her many skills.   Know that her strongest attribute to be the CEO is her commitment to the girls of this organization and its mission.

I will always look back on these nine years with great fondness and wish for the continued success of GSSA as a great Girl Scout council that builds girls who will lead us into the future.

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Time for school to begin,  and  it's the start of a new Girl Scout year! This time of year our membership staff is frantically working to line up as many recruiting events and activities as possible.   We do not have a large membership staff, so like during cookie season, everyone in the office is turning their attention to membership.   We did gain some lost ground on membership last year, but the long-term trend is still on the downward slide.   This is disheartening; especially when we recognize the value that Girl Scouts has made in our life or the lives of the girls we interact with.

We have many schools and events we simply cannot get to, even though they would be happy to have us recruit at them.   We are always interested in utilizing the assistance of others.  If you are willing to assist us, please coordinate with the field executive for that area, since each has a clear idea of what works best for their assigned territory.  We certainly appreciate any time you can give to help us make sure Girl Scouting reaches as many girls in southern Alabama as possible.

Thanks for all you do to make Girl Scouts successful.

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I was fortunate to have an opportunity to be up at Sail Away camp last week.   This camp is a specialty camp that is focused on sailing all week long.   Because it requires higher-level skills, such as swimming and good strength, it is intentionally a camp for older girls.   It isn't often that I get to observe our older girls in action.    But this was an especially gratifying experience.

When you sail you don't move to your destination in a straight line, you tack, which is back and forth, zigzagging, rather than directly.   You have to rely on the wind, or lack of wind to move you to your destination, so arrival is not necessarily in your hands solely.   You also have to work to get to your destination; sailing is an active sport, not passive.   You are always looking for the wind and determining your next move in relation to the shifts in the wind.

What I observed was a group of girls who were highly skilled.   There were a few younger ones, working with the Sunfish, which has only one sail, so in some ways it is harder to deal with.   They were doing a great job working their way along the edge of the cove to move out into the more intense wind of the length of the lake.

There was another larger group of more experienced girls, who were working on rigging the larger boats with two sails.   Once rigged, those girls quickly tacked out to get into the big air of the lake to sail.

It was amazing to watch.   These girls were skilled, self reliant, resilient, and knowledgeable.   They were good about listening how to rig the boat, then proceeded to rig their own.   From there they took action.   They were told what to do, watched, and then managed to take care of their own boat and they were on their way.    They illustrated their confidence, their ability to think in action, and make adjustments.

If you ever wonder about the quality of the leadership skills that being a Girl Scout imbues, watch these girls sail.   They exhibited many leadership qualities.   They were able to put together many leadership skills to hone a skill they will possess for a lifetime.   Although sailing might be a metaphor for later life, sometimes we can't take the direct route, our path is indirect and fraught with unanticipated challenges.   But after watching these girls, it is clear they have benefitted from honing their leadership skills and will have capabilities they can apply to life's challenges.

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As I sit here writing, there is a slight breeze off Lake Martin, although the humidity is pretty high today.   This is the best office in the world. I spent 30 years in higher education in a basement office with no windows, so you have no idea how much I have enjoyed my summer offices in the woods.

As I write this, I see girls standing on stand up paddleboards, kayaking in the slough, now with skills they did not possess when they arrived.  Some didn't want to try the stand up paddleboards, but summoned the courage to give it a try.   Now they can paddle around without ending up in the water, but seem to enjoy falling in, too.

There's another group in the Sawyer-Weil Pavilion, singing songs with different hand motions, while some are working on making lanyards.   The song floats across the water and through the woods.

There's the whirrrrrrr of the zip line running.   Girls are donning their helmet, putting on the harness, getting connected to the lanyard and experiencing a thrilling rides down the line.   Some are concerned about taking that step off the platform, but these girls have courage, so they will try it.

Away from where I sit, there are girls learning to swim.   Many come to camp and can't swim.   I learned to swim in a murky lake. It is hard to put your face in a body of water where you cannot see your feet, but they do it.   They learn how to swim, how to get out to the floating dock, and how to have confidence in the water.

These girls have slept with spiders in their tents, hiked around camp in the dark, lived with mosquitos and other bugs, and heard noises by sleeping in the outdoors they have never heard before.   They have cooked their own food in the outdoors, sat at a campfire, and learned songs to hike by.  They have become more independent.   They have done what a very small percentage of the population does, learned outdoor skills and how to live in the woods.   What a wonderful gift.   I'm fortunate to meet many older women who talk about how learning to camp and these experiences changed them.   They still value this experience at the end of their lives, so what seems to just be "a week at camp," will be a memory that will last a lifetime.

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One of my favorite holidays is the Fourth of July -- not only because it is during the summer, but also, as with many, I'm a patriot. There's something special about Independence Day that transcends fireworks, picnics, and family fun

What is interesting about my work is the many people I work with are patriots, too.    Girl Scouts learn about the American flag.   They learn how to handle it, how to post the colors, and how to respectfully discard a flag through a flag retirement ceremony.   If you have never experienced one, they are well worth it.   I was invited to a retirement ceremony a number of years ago in Dothan, an event I will never forget.   The girls who participated did a wonderful and respectful job, reading about the colors and what each meant.

One of the longstanding tenets of Girl Scouts is honor and respect for country.   It has been one of the elements of the leadership program that has been present for more than 104 years.   The girls in the room have spent the time to learn about the flag and what it means -- white purity and innocence, the red hardiness and valour, and the blue or chief, vigilance, perseverance, and justice.    Have a great Fourth of July holiday and take a minute to remember the meaning of the holiday.

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It is with a heavy heart that I announce my retirement as the CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama.   For those of you involved many years ago, you may remember that I was hired as the first CEO of GSSA at the point of the merger discussions.   What I found was, although there were many issues to address merging councils, the joy of working with girls, and the many wonderful volunteers and staff made the hard parts of the task very rewarding.

I have served as the CEO for the past nine years, and believe this is one of the best jobs on the planet.   I believe the leadership experiences girls gain from their Girl Scout experience is unparalleled.

As some of you know, I have had a "commuter" marriage for the past nine years, flying to Kansas City one long weekend a month to be with my husband.   After a 30-year career in higher education and nine years in Alabama, it is time for me to move into a new phase of my life, allowing others the opportunity to experience the joys of working with girls and shaping tomorrow's leaders.

The current plan is that I will serve until the Sept. 30, which marks the end of our fiscal year.   Know that I will always cherish the nine years I have spent with the many wonderful girls, volunteers, parents, and staff of GSSA.  

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Ready to think about doing some running?   We are hosting a THIN MINT SPRINT in Mobile on August 20.   We have presented this event before, and it is always a lot of fun, whether you are a runner or not.   We try to make it a healthy event, so you can run, walk, jog, or whatever you choose for the fun of it.   It is a sanctioned event by the Port City Pacers, in case you are in search of points for a qualifying event.

This year, the THIN MINT SPRINT will be held within the University of South Alabama's campus.   It is a family-friendly event, so bring the kids, bring the spouse, or bring the troop (or all three!).   Because it is within the confines of the USA campus, it should be a safer event than the usual road race.   We also plan to have a health fair in addition to the other activities of a run and fun run.

It should be some early fall fun right around the time of the beginning of school, so consider putting it on your calendar as a family outing. It's a great way to have some fun and support Girl Scouts at the same time.

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It is week 2 of resident camp, and I am surrounded by giggles, learning lashing, watching swimming lessons, and the canoeing is about to begin.   Each year, I'm struck by the value of camp for girls.   We are emphasizing outdoor skills this year, so girls are learning to build fires, outdoor cooking, and other survival skills.   These skills will last a lifetime.

I'm always stunned and amazed at what they will try, given just a gentle nudge and watching kids do it.   This includes putting your face in the lake where you cannot see the bottom, working your way up on a stand up paddleboard, going down a zip line, or spending the night in a tent.   Although for us, some of these things seem like no big deal, facing your fears can be daunting at that age.   For some it is spiders, for others snakes (I'm still no real fan of snakes), and for others it is the dark of the night outside in a tent.   It is always amazing to see how they summon the courage to face down what scares them, confront it, and become a confident skilled leader.   It is good to never underestimate the power of confidence built at resident camp.


While others are spending their summer gaming, watching television, or texting, we have a large group of girls who have gone cold turkey from their electronics, and heard the bullfrogs and cricket frogs, cicadas, and birds instead.   They have hiked, learned about the outdoors, sung songs, and become tomorrow's leaders.


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Now's the time to take some of the cookie proceeds your troop has left and register your girls for next year.   I'm always amazed at how few folks take advantage of early bird registration.   Troops that are intact and ready to go in the fall practically have their pick of the use of all our camps, since camp reservations don't usually ramp up until October. This means there are all sorts of good opportunities to use camps and do things in the early part of the school year.

Early bird registration, as with all Girl Scout registration, comes insurance coverage.  If you are not registered, you don't have Girl Scout insurance coverage.   Your troop, by being registered, can sign up for the fun and exciting council events we have scheduled for the fall.   The program staff is busy working on plans for fall (yes, it does seem really early, but they start now).   Some of the new events in the works are two Journey weekends, a day program at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, and so much more!

Also, if you register now, this is simply one less thing to remember in the fall.   We know that, when school starts, everyone is in need of your funds for one thing and another.   Consider it, your girls get an early bird patch if you register by June 17.

Click here for more information on Early Bird Registration.

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We had a wonderful time celebrating those Girl Scouts who earned Bronze, Silver, or Gold awards this past year.   Since it was the 100th anniversary of those awards, our staff planned two wonderful recognition events.

The first event was held in Mobile.   Gigi Baroco, our council archivist, put together a wonderful display of requirements for the various awards and some great uniforms.   It was amazing how captivating the displays are for girls earning awards.   

At that event the girls receiving their Gold Awards were Huntir Bass, whose project, Team Red, White and Blue, was to present a Gold and Glory 5K Run/Walk to benefit veterans.   Amerie Gramelspacher focused on Suicide Prevention and Awareness for her high school by doing a number of activities to heighten awareness of prevention possibilities.    Abigail Legge's project, the Buddy System, matched high school tutors with elementary school children in need of tutors to improve Math and English skills, as well as serve as role models.   Morgan Mitchell's project, Delicate Embrace Angel Gowns, took donated wedding dresses and remade them into bereavement gowns for children who do not make it out of the hospital.  Nicole Nobles did Barks for Books, where students at Spanish Fort Elementary School read to Hoss the dog, an excellent nonjudgmental listener.   Jeralynn Servos' project, Give a Book, Build a Future was creating a reading corner at the Prodisee Pantry where children can be read to while their parents are shopping at the food pantry.   When they are done, a book can be taken with the child.

Some of the recipients elected to speak, thanking those in the audience for their support.   Receiving these awards is not only about what the girl achieved, but it is done with the assistance of others.

The second event was held in Montgomery a week later.   This one featured Lt. Col. Keisha Douglass as the speaker.   Lt. Col. Douglass is the battalion commander for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command for the same area of GSSA's footprint.  Her remarks were to "be your best self.   You can accomplish anything."   Part of her point was that you can accomplish anything, but it is important to have mentors and a support system.   Lt. Col. Douglass enlisted in the Army as soon as she graduated from high school as a private.   After 10 years serving in the Army, her superiors suggested she attend Officer Candidate School.   This was not what she had wanted, but with much encouragement she did and has completed three degrees and continued to move up in the U.S. Army.   She was such a hit that she was mobbed after the event for autographs and photos.

The Gold Awards in Montgomery included Abby Campbell, who, through her project Baby Showers for Women's Hope, solicited needed items from the Auburn community to give to single mothers who live in poverty, to help them to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children.   Elizabeth Prior's project, Parkerson Mill Creek Awareness Campaign and Restoration, focused on identifying Parkerson Mill Creek and working with the City of Auburn and Auburn University to recognize where dumping into the creek went and its ramifications.   Lucy Puranen did Operation Treble Clef, where middle school band participants are paired with high school band participants to encourage retention of band members.

Thanks to Jeannie Napper, Karen Edmondson, and Melinda Stallworth for their work on making these events a success.

Both of these events were well received and highlight that you should never under-estimate what a girl can do.   All these projects were simply amazing.   We are very proud of all our award recipients.

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It is that time of year when Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March #1 wafts through the air.   There are graduation parties and newly-minted graduates deciding what the next step is in their life journey.   Having spent 30 years at a university, I know that it also means a very large graduation ceremony with way too much food, lots of family, photos, and hopes for good weather.

When you look up the definition of commencement, it is a beginning or a start.   Other words used to define it are an opening, a launch, an initiation, an inception, or in Alabama terms, a kickoff.   As we reflect on what all the Girl Scouts who are graduating this year, we look back on the many things they have accomplished.    We have seven Gold Awardees graduating this May.   We have thespians, musicians, athletes, and all of these girls can do anything, as illustrated by the fact they are still participating in Girl Scouts.

We wish the Girl Scout graduates of 2016 a future filled with changing the world, one day at a time, one person at a time, and a journey filled with courage, confidence, and character.


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Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.   For those of you who have met me out and about, you might know that I was often accompanied by someone gold.   She was a rescue golden retriever who wasn't necessarily the healthiest pet, but an animal that loved to be around girls, camps, and council events.

What I have often learned in life is sometimes others know more about what is good for me than I do.    After living here two years with no dogs, I contacted Gulf South Golden Retriever Rescue to see if they had a golden retriever for me.   I had a lengthy discussion with their volunteers (who, by the way, are wonderful).   My criteria was that I needed a dog I could have around the girls.   Because I travel a lot, my dog would need to be happy in the car.   Also, I needed one that I could have in the woods, when I am there alone and with others -- in other words, a dog that would not run off.  They discussed the different goldens they had available at the time and decided they had one that I should look at.   So one April Saturday I drove to New Orleans and met a foster parent, Alicia.   This was clearly an interview.   The question is whether I could handle the dog and whether the dog would connect with me.   This is when I met Amber.

Amber was given her name because of her large and beautiful amber eyes.   The vet in the animal shelter in Houma gave her that name.   But later decided, after having her there for a long time, she should be put down.   She had heartworms, a raging yeast infection on her back that smelled, and two types of parasites.   The vet declared Amber "unadoptable."   Despite this pronouncement, the angels from Gulf South Golden Retrievers went to the animal shelter to fetch Amber.   Alicia took her to her house, where she had two goldens of her own.   She said the first night Amber would not come inside off the deck.   When it started to rain, Alicia went out with a leash and finally pulled her into the house.   Amber was very polite, not getting on the furniture or doing anything offensive.   With much love and lots of veterinary care, she was nursed back to some semblance of health.   She had one true love in life, a tennis ball.

Alicia decided that Amber and I were compatible, so I put her in the car, and we drove back to Mobile, stopping once en route.   She was quiet, attentive, but polite, and somewhat distant.   I learned quickly that she wasn't all that healthy.   After work everyday I would take an hour-long walk up Spring Hill, through the Spring Hill College campus, through the golf course, and then back to my apartment.   The second time I did this I thought I was going to have to leave her and get the car, she could not walk that far.   What I learned was she was still sick and really was never able to walk a lot, unless it was at camp.

Over time I discovered that Amber was a wonderful companion.   She was independent and reserved, but a wonderful teacher.   Because she had this yeast infection, the hair did not grow on her back, so when a girl would see her from the front, she looked very pretty.   But once you were close, it was clear she had some imperfections.   The girls would ask, and I would always explain that it is really what is on the inside that counts; sometimes what you see on the outside can be misleading.

Her teeth were broken, and she never wanted to smile because of those broken teeth.   The vet said she as likely left out on a chain and probably had chewed the chain to get off and that broke her teeth.   Even though her teeth were jagged and rough, she never curled her lip at anyone.   You could crawl on her, do anything you would want to her, but she was never aggressive with anyone.

Amber had a special affection for babies.   The first time I met her we went down the street to visit a baby.   The baby rolled a tennis ball to her nose.   She nudged the ball back to the baby, who giggled with delight.   How did she understand that was a baby and needed this more gentle care?

Amber and I traveled thousands of miles in the council car.   She loved the car rides.   She would get into the back, onto her "throne," and fall asleep, getting up to turn or stretch only occasionally.   When we arrived, she would check to see where we were and get out and go about her business, knowing we traveled to many different locations.   As she got older she would bark and "ask" to go out in the car if she didn't feel like she was in the car enough on a particular day, especially on the weekends.

Amber loved to go to camp.   I would stop, get out of the car, and she would look around to see what camp we were visiting.   She loved all of them, although she always had some trepidation around Lost, the very large dog at Humming Hills; not because she didn't like him, just because he is so large.   But days at camp were always welcome days, she would run, sniff the air, and see what she could find.

Again, sometimes we don't understand who becomes a friend.   Her favorite dog was Scout, a pug belonging to "Woody," our longtime volunteer and sailing camp director.   She and Scout would play and frolic together.   I never understood it. Scout could stand underneath Amber's stomach, he was so short, and she was so tall.   But she was always excited to see Scout, and he loved to see her.

She was good with girls that are afraid of dogs.   They would come near her, often scream, she would never flinch.   She would never do anything other than accept them and their lack of familiarity with a kind and gentle look.   She became the ambassador of what a good companion animal can be.

Amber was my companion for the past seven years, working for GSSA to bring joy and love to those she was around.   Two weeks ago she passed to walk across the rainbow bridge.   Where she will have a mouth filled with tennis balls and peace.   Thanks to all who loved and cared for her during her years with me.

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In the upcoming weeks, we will have two large celebrations, one in Mobile and one in Montgomery to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scout Gold Award.   As many of you know, this is one of three pinnacle awards girls can earn as a Girl Scout.   These are the Bronze Award, the Silver Award, and the Gold Award.

We have many troops working to earn these awards doing lots of projects around the council and within their own community to "Make the World a Better Place."   This will be a celebration of those projects and that hard work.   It is a great opportunity to hear what the girls have accomplished, as well as meet these high-achieving Girl Scouts.

The event will be held on Saturday, May 14, at the Renaissance Riverview Hotel in Mobile and Saturday, May 21, at the Capital City Club in Montgomery.   It includes lunch and some fun, and is $16 to attend.   If you can't attend, but want to be supportive, you can sponsor the lunches of some of our distinguished girl recipients.  Please contact Jeannie Napper at jnapper@girlscoutssa.org for more information.

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I'm writing this on a Monday morning, following events at most of our camp properties all weekend.   We had girls doing all sorts of things this weekend, but mostly they were learning while having fun.

It is simply amazing to see so many people outdoors, working with girls to learn about their environment and their world.   They honed their skills that will serve them for a lifetime and and got to experience new things.    There was zip lining, canoeing, archery, horseback riding, sailing, tie-die, starting fires, making a meal over an open campfire, s'mores, and a campfire to round out the evening.   The weather wasn't quite perfect. Although the sun was warm, the wind was brisk and the evenings chilly.   But the girls and their mentors integrated that into their weekend experience.

As we have talked to girls who shared this experience, whether it was Camp Scoutshire Woods, Camp Sid, or Kamp Kiwanis, everyone reported they had a great time.   In fact, some that we talked to were wildly enthusiastic about the weekend they had.   This is what fond memories are made of, and I have to think it was not only the girls who had a memorable weekend.

Thank you to all who went to a lot of work and effort to make that weekend so fantastic for so many.   We appreciate all you do to make the world a better place.

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I suspect we all have those who have gone before us that we look up to or consider our heroes.   One of mine is Eleanor Roosevelt.   Wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, she had a troubled childhood with a father who was an alcoholic.   She felt like she was an unloved child, despite being from a very wealthy family.   She was not especially attractive, and her grandmother reminded her of that deficiency frequently.   Mrs. Roosevelt had many children and then had to confront her husband's debilitating illness, polio.   Mrs. Roosevelt would have not preferred to be in the limelight for a large portion of her life. However, her husband sought public office after public office, serving as a three term President of the United States.

Mrs. Roosevelt was simply amazing on many fronts.   This is not to say she was without flaws.   However, like a fine wine, the older she was, the more she saw life from the lens of many with whom she visited and worked.  She was a humanitarian, a stateswoman, and she changed her world for the better.

Sometimes we know others though the nuggets they leave behind.   In the case of Mrs. Roosevelt, gems of wisdom that quickly express thoughts that I agree with or experience.   As I muse through some of Mrs. Roosevelt's thoughts, I think of many of you, who might not have the visibility of Mrs. Roosevelt, but who exemplify many of her nuggets of wisdom by what you do with girls to change the world.

Here's some of Mrs. Roosevelt's wisdom that remind me of the many volunteers I encounter. I hope you will enjoy some of them as much as I do.

A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.

You must do things you think you cannot do.

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

Since you get more joy out of giving to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.   You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror.   I can take the next thing that comes along.'

The giving of love is an education in itself.

You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.


I am privileged to see many of you face difficult issues.   I see you share your love.   You make others happy.   I've seen the notion of woman as a tea bag in action, facing many complicated issues with girls and doing some amazing things.   But most important, you are building the future by the beauty of your dreams.

Thank you for what you do to build girls into women of courage, confidence, and character.

 

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Building birdhouses, marking trails, horseback rides, sailing, making paper, what fun girls can have on their weekends.   Learning never looked so much fun.   I saw girls doing all sorts of things this weekend, learning and giving back to others while enjoying each other, the woods, and nature.   When asked if they were having a good time, they all gave an enthusiastic "yes!"

We have some great council programs planned for the remainder of spring, and I know of many troops who have some fun stuff planned as they draw this school year to a close.   I often wonder if the girls who do not participate in Girl Scouts have any idea what they are missing?   Do they recognize that there is so many opportunities they could have that will shape what they know and who they will become.

A part of what I saw this weekend and is pervasive at the programs we have is the commitment and devotion of many adults who take the time from their weekend to make this happen for their girls.   I know sleeping over this past weekend at camp was not a warm night.   Spending hours getting girls to an event, dealing with the chaos of sleeping in a tent or at camp, and returning them home takes a lot of time and patience.   I have the opportunity to meet many of you, who are always generous, kind, and caring.   I am always struck with how unselfish and wonderful our volunteers and parents are.

We don't always let you know how much of a difference you make in the lives of those you shepherd.   When I have the opportunity to talk to older Girl Scout alumnae, especially those who continue to meet 40 years later, it is the troop leader they talk about.   They enjoy one another, but they always talk about how the troop leader taught them to swim, took them out of the state for the first time, or taught them to cook over a campfire.   Those stories are simply wonderful.   You might not continue to meet with your troop 40 years from now, but never underestimate how much impact you have on the lives of those you touch through this endeavor.

Thank you for what you do to make the world a better place.

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