November 2012 Archives

Go Ask A Girl


Have you heard the maxim, "out of the mouths of babes?"   I was reading the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) data for something else I was working on, and it made me ponder how to best describe what you do with your girls when you meet with them, work with them on projects, take them to events and activities, and participate in the cookie program.   I think we don't often see it for what it is, but GSRI accurately describes the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) with the following outcomes that adults assist girls in achieving:

  1. Girls develop a strong sense of self - have you not seen that happen with your troop?
  2. Girls develop positive values - as we feel that we don't discuss values enough, here's an opportunity to shape values of the girls you interact with.
  3. Girls advance diversity in a multicultural world - Girl Scouts do work hard on appreciating the differences of others, not criticizing them.
  4. Girls feel connected to their communities, locally, and globally - the Journeys curriculum works hard to get girls to identify resources and issues in their community and beyond.
  5. Girls feel empowered to make a difference in the world - girls can and do change the world, everyday, in this council and beyond.

As we take stock of what has transpired so far this fall and look to the future, always remember you are building leaders.

Here's what the staff at GSSA is particularly thankful for this year - and every year.

We are grateful for girls who are willing to build their courage, confidence and character.

We are grateful for the parents who entrust their girls to the care of others to become a leader.

We are grateful for the adults who step forward to share their time and talents to build girls of courage, confidence, and character.

We are grateful for those who have gone before us, to build an organization with a 100- year history that people respect.

We are grateful to the communities that support our collective efforts through their financial assistance.

We are grateful to school districts, public utilities, and government entities that provide us with places to meet, camp, and build skills.

We are grateful for the opportunities given to serve the community we live in and give back.

We are grateful to operate within a community of like-minded people who understand the importance of making the world a better place.

We hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

The Big Picture


I spend my days working my way through an endless list of e-mails. Some of these messages are extremely important to the successful functioning of this business. Yes, operating a Girl Scout council is a business.

Actually, as you examine it, GSSA is considered a medium-sized business because of the number of employees and the size of the budget.   Like any businesswoman, I always work to balance listening to the many voices of girls, volunteers, and staff with the BIG PICTURE.   The BIG PICTURE involves moving GSSA forward and moving it away from an unhealthy reliance on the cookie program as our primary source of income.  

More than 80 percent of GSSA's income is derived from the cookie program.   We are written up each year in our audit management letter about this unhealthy sole revenue stream and the second largest source of income, United Way and United funds agencies.   Our allocations are cut by these organizations each year by $30,000-$50,000.   This is because of the difficult economy and declining gifts to them. >

GSSA is a very successful council.   You and many others have increased our girl numbers by a modest amount the past four years.   The cookie program has grown geometrically in relation to the increase in the number of girls.   We do have girls in grant programs who participate in the cookie program.   One of our girls was one of the top 10 Young Women of Distinction last year for her gold award project.   GSSA was the recipient of a couple of GSUSA Department of Justice grants to work with girls whose mothers are incarcerated.

This is the time of year that I need to remind volunteers and parents of a few important things.   It is important that you register.   So far this year, our registrations are running 25 percent behind last year.   If you and your troop aren't registered, you are not insured, so please register, because if something should happen, none of the Girl Scout insurance is in force.

We are always looking for adults.   GSSA and other Girl Scout councils usually have more girls than they can accommodate, and it is the adults willing to take this responsibility on that we lack.   If you know an adult, or a group of adults that are interested in being a troop leader, please let us know.   At this point, we have more than 200 girls waiting for adults to be their troop leader.   This is the hard part of what we do -- turn girls away because no one will step up and share their gifts

Being involved in Girl Scouting makes the world a better place.   You are changing the world, one girl at a time.   That is the part of the BIG PICTURE that really matters!


As much as I love Girl Scout cookies and could eat a lot of them; a healthy diet requires me to eat a wide variety of food.  Just like you and I need more than just cookies to keep our bodies going, so does our council.

Making the world a better place has always been important to Girl Scouts.  When we work together we can make a bigger difference in the world.  Like many councils across the nation, we have been working to build a culture of philanthropy within our organization, and this week, as we were discussing how best to share our stories, it was clear we believe in what we do and we are making a difference in our communities. 

Girl Scouts is in business to change lives, and we collectively do a good job of it.   You are our partners, in the trenches, at meetings, in a car, taking girls to the zoo, a museum, and events throughout southern Alabama and beyond.   You believe in changing lives because you do that every day with your girls.   They trust you, they rely on you, and you deliver.  

As we ask our volunteers for funds, some respond, by saying, "I give you my time, so I have already given."   We appreciate your time, as it is valuable.   When we do the math on how many hours you give to change lives, it is staggering.   However, just as I cannot live simply on a cookie diet, the girls of this council will not survive over time on just the proceeds of the cookie program.  

Our girls are FANTASTIC at selling cookies, but it is not enough to sustain the hundreds of acres, 36 buildings, 36 bathhouses, utility bills, financial assistance, salaries, tractors, and vehicles needed for Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama to succeed.   I understand not having enough money to go around at the end of the month, but I do believe that our 3,500 adult volunteers, who give generously of their precious time, understand why cookies will not sustain us. 

As we work to build a council that isn't living from one cookie program to the next, please help us identify others who want to invest in changing lives.   If you have thoughts or ideas on others who are willing make an investment in changing lives, please contact Melinda Stallworth at



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