March 2012 Archives

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-- by Melinda Stallworth, GSSA Director of Advancement

Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama's 17th annual Women of Distinction luncheon was held on Thursday, March 15, at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center. Nearly 300 guests came out to celebrate the accomplishments of women who are doing amazing things in our community.

Women of Distinction honorees are role models whose professional accomplishments, leadership and community involvement inspire girls to reach their highest potential. This year's honoree, Liz Sutton, is president of Alabama World Travel and Sutton & Associates. Her accomplishments, affiliations and dedication to helping others serves as a great example of service to family, career and community.

Highlights from the afternoon included a meet and greet reception with guest speaker Robin Meade, anchor of HLN's "Morning Express with Robin Meade" before the luncheon. Troop 9334 did an excellent job presenting the colors during the flag ceremony. They also presented tokens of appreciation to former honorees who attended the luncheon. We are grateful for the parents, volunteers and girls who participated to make our event a success within our council and our community. Montgomery mayor, Todd Strange, brought greetings on behalf of the city while Robin shared messages about having self-confidence, appreciating your uniqueness and despite obstacles, continuing to strive for success. Participants were also thrilled to spend personal time with her chatting and taking photos during the book signing. We are also proud to mention that both our honoree and guest speaker were former Girl Scouts.

Special thanks to all of our sponsors and volunteers who helped make the afternoon a success. On behalf of the more than 9,000 Girl Scouts in Southern Alabama, thank you for your commitment to building girls of courage, confidence and character.

To see photos from the event, click here.

Girl Scouts go Green! As part of our 100th Anniversary celebration, "Girl Scouts Rock Mobile!" the moms will learn how to make homemade cleaning products that are environmentally friendly and economical. Here are the recipes:

DIY Countertop Spray

You will need: one clean unlabeled spray bottle (ones with measurements marked on the side are great!)
                     sharpie
                     measuring tools
                     2 C water
                     1/4 tsp your favorite liquid or dish soap (Dawn, Dr. Bronners, etc.)
                     2 tsp borax
                     4 T vinegar
                     optional: a few drops of an antiseptic essential oil such as tea tree, lemon, thyme, peppermint, lavender, cinnamon, clove

Directions: mix ingredients in indicated amounts in your spray bottle, adding the soap last to avoid excessive foaming. Gently shake to mix. Use sharpie to label your bottle clearly. Write recipe on bottle for easy refilling.

Use like regular countertop spray, 


DIY Laundry Powder

note:  A full recipe fits neatly into a 32oz yogurt or take-out container.

You will need: one clean container of your choice that holds at least 16 oz and can easily be scooped out of and relabeled ex: old yogurt or take-out containers, old wide-mouth jar such as mayonnaise, tupperware)
                     measuring tools
                     grater, mixing bowl, mixing spoon
                     4oz (1/2bar) of a clean-rinsing bar soap (ivory, Fels-Naptha)
                     1/2 cup washing soda- sodium carbonate
                     1/2 cup borax
                     optional: a few drops of essential oil
                     
Directions: finely grate soap and combine with other ingredients in a large bowl. stir until soap is well incorporated and you have an even-textured powder. Use sharpie to label container and write recipe on container for easy refilling. Use 1 tablespoon for regular loads or 2 tablespoons for large or heavily soiled loads. 


Bug-repellant Drawer Sachets

You will need: fabric bag of your choice, homemade or store-bought
                     string, sewing thread and needle, or sewing machine
                     any combination of bug repellant herbs, the fresher the better, including:
                      red cedar chips
                      bay leaves
                      rosemary
                      cloves
                      lavender
                      catnip
                      tansy

Directions: place herbs inside bag, close bag with method of your choice. place sachets in clothing drawers, sweater chests, or hang on hangers in the closet.


Links for further reading
The internet is chock full of information, some of which is actually true! The very best internet sources include university, government, and research institute websites. 

www.thedailygreen.com   additional green cleaning tips from Good Housekeeping
www.greenliving.nationalgeographic.com  concise articles from a well-trusted source
http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/  Government database of household products listing ingredients and safety information.
http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm very comprehensive list of natural cleaning tips and recipes
http://www.teachsoap.com/  Now that you have a new appreciation for back-to-the-basics cleaning, why not learn to make soap? This is Girl Scouts after all!

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After one hundred years, Girl Scouts is going strong, and why is that?   Because of you!   You're the best!   We can't say that to you often enough.   We are all glad the cookie program is over and excited about another year of a 10% increase in sales.   You have managed to do that the past three years!   How amazing are the girls of Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama?   Well, pretty amazing!

The spoils of the cookie program go to the girls.  Here's how... We signed the contract today for a new restroom at the horse stables at Camp Scoutshire Woods, which I refer to it as the pretty potty.   No more port-a-potty if you go to horse camp.   The dock on the island at Scoutshire is almost done.   There are six stand-up paddleboards en route to our camps, three for Scoutshire Woods and three for Kamp Kiwanis.   The girls that tried them last year loved these boards, so we're giving girls more opportunity to try them.   The new sail loft is under construction at Kamp Kiwanis, and we are going to test some low zip lines for Kamp Kiwanis and Scoutshire Woods.   We also have purchased a slack line for each camp.   We have replanted Humming Hills and have been working on the buildings to ensure they will be around for a long time to come.  Time for the girls to have some fun with the extra monies they earned!

We are happy to continue to have some great girl events, because that is why we all do this work.   We have more 600 girls signed up for the Girls Rock Mobile event this weekend.   Our fund development staff has been out getting all sorts of things to make the event a huge success.   One of the events we think will be stunning this year is the 100th anniversary Centennial Bridging Ceremony at the Blount Cultural Park in Montgomery, which features a beautiful huge wooden bridge the City of Montgomery will close for us on that day for that event.  Bridging has been an important part of Girl  Scouting since its earliest days, so if you want to participate in a once-in-a lifetime bridging event, sign up for that one.   If we're lucky, one of our Juliette Gordon Low descendents will be there!   

We know that many of you will be using your cookie earnings for great trips.   Rock the Mall keeps getting bigger and better.   There's a large Girl Scout event at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and we have we have a number of troops attending the Mississippi council event.    Thanks for all you do to make the world a better place!


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As I read the many articles in newspapers, e-mails that I receive from other councils, and publicity we receive, it is clear Girl Scouts are still going and going strong!   I've been entertained by the many events and activities girls are doing throughout the country for the 100th anniversary.   And I'm excited about our own events and activities. 

Just yesterday, I had the pleasure of enjoying the Mobile Museum exhibit of 100 Years of Girl Scouting.   What a tremendous display it was! Kudos to our heritage committee for their gift of talents and time to show our girls and the community Girl Scouts through those 100 years.   We will have parts of that display and more for an exhibit in Old Alabama Town in Montgomery, and we are working on finding secure locations for the exhibit in the Wiregrass and Auburn/Opelika area.

What transcends all these articles, events, news releases and programs is that Girl Scouts has taught girls to be leaders for 100 years.   When you look at who was a Girl Scout, it is clear that leadership with these girls is not new.   In fact, leadership comes through when you read the many stories about women and what they did with their Girl Scout experience.

Girls have been taught skill building throughout these 100 years.   At first, it might have been about how to build a fire.   In fact, it is still about how to build a fire, but some of the badges are about cooking and guess what; some of the badges that were popular to begin with are still popular now.   With the changes in girls, there are badges on robotics, computers and a variety of other things that didn't exist when Juliette Gordon Low was alive.

One of the hidden values in being a Girl Scout is having a relationship with another adult who isn't a parent and might not be a relative.   I have heard Girl Scout alumnae of all ages talk about how much their troop leader shaped their live.   I've heard of troops that continue to meet, and even 30 years later that is an annual meeting they make sure they attend.   It is important for you to recognize the impact a troop leader can have on the life of a girl.   And as an educator, I realize that often that isn't recognized until years later.

Recently on National Public Radio, they did a piece of the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts.   One of the values they discussed was the importance of girls getting along with other girls in a troop setting.   For anyone that has done a cookie booth, maybe things aren't always even in life, but learning to share, understand what others are good at, and how to cope with frustration is also a valuable life lesson.

We should celebrate!   Girl Scouts makes the world a better place, and now we are starting our second century!   Thanks for being a Girl Scout!

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Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama is honoring Liz Sutton at its annual Women of Distinction event on Thursday, March 15, 2012 in Montgomery. Press Rep Cheyenne sat down with Mrs. Sutton recently to find out more about our honoree. For more information about the Women of Distinction event or to purchase tickets, click here.

Courage, confidence, character, warm, friendly and successful are a just a few of the words I would use to describe Liz Sutton, Girl Scout alumna and honoree for the Girl Scout Woman of Distinction 2012. It was a pleasure for me to interview her, and you can meet her too.

Press Rep Cheyenne: I wanted to start out saying that I am so honored to be meeting you since you did get woman of the year. Were you ever a girl scout?

Liz Sutton: Absolutely!

PRC: How many years?

Oh my goodness, now I realIy don't know but when I was at St. Bedes I was a Girl Scout. That is where I got to go camping. I was one of nine children so we could not spend the night with friends because there were just too many kids for mom and dad to keep up with. That's where I learned a lot of things and I loved to earn badges and I kept a spiral notebook. And I wrote down everything I learned and I still do that today. I still write down things and that is how I learn. I wrote it down and go back and read it and I tend to remember it. I attribute a lot of my success to my good foundation with Girl Scouts.

PRC: Do you think Girl Scouts played a role in your success?

LS: Absolutely, I think what they did is they opened my eyes to the world. My world consisted of my family life and school and church. So sewing and photography and mechanics and all the things that were outside of my world I was exposed to in Girl Scouts. So I often wonder how I would have learned about them. And then meeting other people and doing fun things together but also memorizing the Girl Scout promise... Just learning, you know, that God and our country is important and that serving other people is important. You learn at school. You learn at church. But to learn it in a social environment like that with your friends was great. And then I learned to sell. I was a great cookie sales person. And I love

PRC: You have worked with the small business resource center and chamber of commerce. What are the must-have skills for someone aspiring to start a small business?

LS: Great question...alright Cheyenne let's think. So what I think it takes to start a business is a great passion for whatever you want to do. You have to love it so much that when times get tough it doesn't matter. To me it is not work. I love what I do. I love to serve. I love to take care of the clients. And I love the travel industry. It's great to have a career you are passionate about. Cause if you are passionate, your clients will pick-up on that passion and they will be attracted to it. And you will enjoy it more. You'll serve them better. So I think passion is number one.

Number two is a very strong work ethic. Number three is to have a good business mind. Be good with dollars and cents. Be able to keep a budget. Be able to watch your pennies. And be able to think outside the box. Everything is not just here and neat and tidy. If it was then everybody would be doing it. So you've got to find your niche. [The Small Business Resource Center is] an excellent resource. How do you know about that?

PRC: Research. It was in your bio.

LS: Ah, very good, very impressive.

PRC: Thank you. What classes do you think kids taking now, that they probably don't like and don't see the use for, are going to need in the future? What do you say to those people who actually don't think there is a job out there that you can use it?

LS: Okay, you'll laugh at this first one...but typing. I though typing was a waste of time. But you have to understand that back then we didn't have the computers. And I just didn't understand why anybody would want to take a typing class. Two weeks after I graduated from Catholic High...my dad hired me in the travel business and I was typing flight schedules with flight numbers and departure times.

The other one is math. I love math. And math teaches you good logical thinking skills and problem-solving skills. And I think because of my math background I'm very creative when there's challenges in this office. When there is a problem, I love it. Most people shy away from it and don't want to get near it. I embrace it. You have to uncover all the facts. Then I have to put the pieces together. I like to help people think logically through it and come up with creative solutions.

PRC: I am so happy to hear you say math because right now I have an "A" in it and people say don't need it any more.

LS: You will never believe how good math is for you 'cause it gives you a lot of good logic.

PRC: What advice would you give to Girls Scouts and to girls in general that you think would help them in their life and what they want to succeed in?

That's a million dollar question. Okay, I would teach them so much. One is that you are a child of God and you are every bit as important as every other person in this world. When I first started in business it was a man's world and I was an inferior person to them. I was intimidated by them when I would go to talk to them. But I had to go meet them because I needed to get their business in order to be successful. And when I got married I realized my husband is a normal guy. These guys are probably normal too. And that was when I started realizing, I may be a woman in the South but I am every bit as professional and competent as they are. I may not have as many years' experience as they do but I am still valued and should be respected. I had to respect myself and who I was. Hold myself up high

PRC: Why do you think Girl Scouting was important to you?

I think it taught me so much about life. I learned so much being in a big family. But I think Girl Scouts opened the world to me and taught me there is so much more out there than I realized. And I learned about friendships and I learned about respecting adults. Which I learned from my parents but it was reinforced in Girl Scouts. And we would have speakers come and talk to us. And then I learned about arts and crafts. I didn't know anything about arts and crafts till then. And I started making dolls and little things. So I think that gave me some hobbies. It wasn't just about me or about my little world in this bubble. There's a great big, old world out there. So it was awesome.

PRC: I think your job shows you love this world.

LS: I do. I do. I love people and I love this world.

PRC: And I want to say thank you for allowing me to interview you.

 Click here to read the rest of Cheyenne's interview.

Or you can click here to listen to the interview (this large file make take a few moments to load)

During the Fall Product Sale,
Girl Scout Troops of Southern Alabama collected and donated
one pallet, 76 cases, 912 cans of Honey Roasted Nuts,
valued at $4,560
to Operation Troop Aid.  

It's ALL Thanks to You and Your Girls!
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Summer Resident Camp information is now up on the web sitefor you to see.  With two amazing camps and many different sessions (including sessions focusing on horseback riding, swimming, boating and traditional camp), there is sure to be camping experiences that are right for your Girl Scout or troop.

We have Mom & Me sessions this year, two for Daisies and one for Brownies so our littlest Girl Scouts can bring a special female grown-up with them to camp.

We are also offering troop camping this year at Kamp Kiwanis. Bring your troop  and two leaders and set your own agenda and pace. We will provide archery, canoeing, arts and crafts directors and even do most of the cooking for you! You can also participate in many of the regular camp activities.

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Girl Scouts Rock Mobile! is approaching rapidly. One of the crafts we will make is repurposed tshirt shoulder bags. We need to have the bottoms of all the shirts sewn. All About Sewing on Schillinger's Road has graciously opened their shop and machines to help with this. They will allow individuals and troops to come up on Saturday, March 10  to sew the shirts. If you are able to help with this, please contact Beverly Crews(crewsbe1@att.net ) before Saturday.

Volunteers are needed to make "Girl Scouts Rock Mobile!" the best event ever! We still have plenty of work to do and could use your help! The next Anniversary Committee meeting will be Sunday, March 18 2:00p.m.  at the Mobile Volunteer Center. If you would like to be involved and have a lot of time (or a little) please contact Mary Anne Brutkiewicz at mbrutkiewicz@girlscoutssa.org.

We need recycled materials for our Girl Scouts Rock Mobile Celebration on March 24. Please help us by dropping off the following items at the Mobile office: old gently-used t-shirts,  and clean grocery or department store plastic bags, especially colors other than white. We'll be using these items for our eco-crafts at the celebration. If you have any questions, please contact Jeannie Napper at jnapper@girlscoutssa.org.

 

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Almost every day, I receive a reminder about the impact of the media on what we think, believe and how we see the world.      A few weeks ago, an Indiana politician felt the need to share his views on how Girl Scouts is ruining the American family.   His comments were "from the internet."   They didn't have much back-up or additional documentation from original sources.   His remarks were picked up on Fox, CNN and other national news outlets.   Of course, this set some phones ringing to troop leaders, service unit managers and our offices.

It was news to me that Girl Scouts was anti-family.   In fact, we work hard at having events that involve as many as we can within the confines of our insurance limitations. So, I would like to provide a brief outline for parents, troop leaders, and service unit managers about this council and its policies.

GSSA doesn't have a relationship of any kind with Planned Parenthood.   We don't talk to them, do any programs with them, send them any funds or accept any funds from them.   There is no relationship between GSSA and Planned Parenthood - period.

GSUSA has said multiple times that it does not have a relationship with Planned Parenthood.   Further, Planned Parenthood also denies having any relationship with GSUSA.

GSSA doesn't participate in any sex education.   We believe those discussions are best left for families and their church community.   The programs we present and materials we use don't address sex education.

Anna Marie Chavez, the new GSUSA CEO is a practicing Roman Catholic.   Because there has been an increasingly tenuous relationship with the Catholic Church, she has initiated a conversation with staff who works with youth programming to address misunderstandings between GSUSA and the Catholic Church.

The new Journey materials have been reviewed relative to criticisms about third-party websites that advocate for particular perspectives that might not be in concert with GSUSA.   In an effort to address those concerns, any references in the Journey materials that are questionable have been eliminated with replacement references.   These materials are available at the service centers.   Going forward, GSUSA will not reference any third party websites that might not convey messages that mesh with the Girl Scout curriculum.

Anna Marie Chavez, on a recent podcast to Girl Scout staff, provided what I believe is the philosophy under which we operate.   We do not teach girls what to think.   We teach girls to stand up for what they believe in - and we will continue to do so in the future.

For your convenience, here is a printable version of what GSSA stands for.

 

The Refugee Resettlement Program is the branch of Catholic Social Services created to meet the special needs of refugees. The Mobile Catholic Social Services Refugee Resettlement Program is the only refugee resettlement program in all of Alabama. Their goal  is to make the refugee families feel welcome and to ease their transition into this country. They need the help of generous key people and organizations to assist in welcoming our new neighbors. 

Opportunities exist for older Girl Scouts to help with ESL classes. Girl Scout troops of all ages are encouraged to collect needed items for this program. For a complete listing and to volunteer, click here.   
Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama has teamed with Secure the Call to do a unique and worthwhile Forever Green Take Action project. Secure the Call is a volunteer driven non-profit organization which collects old cell phones and reprograms them to use for 911 calls for the elderly and victims of domestic abuse. They are  then distributed in communities through locally based organizations. Last year, Secure the Call  collected over 30,000 unwanted, used cell phones from throughout the United States. These phones were converted to 911 emergency phones and kept out of landfills. Cell phones contain both inert substances and toxic materials which can persist for up to 10,000 years in the environment if not properly discarded. By helping keep these phones out of the trash, Girl Scouts help provide valuable protection to the environment as well as a great service to those who may not otherwise have a way to contact 911 in an emergency.

Troops and individuals may bring used cell phones to the Mobile or Montgomery Service Centers March 1-30. Cell phones will also be collected at "Girl Scouts Rock Mobile!" March 24 during the Eco Fair. 

If you would like to organize a collection for your troop, click here for further information.

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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 communications@girlscoutssa.org.   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.

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