A couple of weeks ago, we were sent a letter by the Southwest Alabama United Way. The letter informed us that Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama was "defunded" for 2014 and 2015 in Mobile and Clarke counties, but that Washington County funded us again. This year, Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama received more than $80,000 from the Southwest Alabama United Way for Mobile and Clarke counties. Not only did the organization "defund" Girl Scouts, they also "defunded" Boy Scouts and a number of other agencies.
We have requested a further explanation, since the executive director has not accepted telephone calls from our constituents asking why this decision was made. In response to my letter asking for further data, he noted that the board chair and I should attend a meeting on Tuesday, May 21, 2013, with all the other unhappy agency directors.
The Southwest Alabama United Way has undergone a "planning process" to identify what are the building blocks in Mobile, Clarke and Washington counties. One can only conclude that Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are not a "community building block." The new strategy is to fund "programs" not agencies. The information that has been given to us is that we didn't provide outcomes metrics and data in our application and that is why we were "defunded." I can assure you we did. The second volley was that the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, the program that defines Girl Scouting, isn't a "program."
As you can imagine, we are disappointed by these responses to a more than 50-year partnership with the Southwest Alabama United Way. One would like to think that "defunding" Girl Scouts would have merited a telephone conversation by the executive director of the United Way, but sadly, he has never even been to our office in the two years he has been on the job.
We are Girl Scouts, and we will continue to change the world. We are appreciated and funded by the Baldwin County, River Region, Wiregrass, Pike County and Lake Martin Area United Ways and several United Funds. We had something similar happen three years ago in Lee County. Those in the know suggested that the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts be "quiet" about it. Well, three years later, most people who live in Lee County don't know we aren't funded by the United Way there, and our girl numbers have declined because of a lack of public investment, so being "quiet" didn't really work well for us.
As someone who sees what more than 3,500 adult volunteers and over 9,000 girl members do to become contributing citizens of their communities, I believe that Girl Scouting is a critical "community building block."
If you live and work in Mobile, Clarke, or Lee counties, please remember Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts receive zero funding from those community organizations when it is time to donate to the United Wa,. Thank you to Baldwin County, River Region, Wiregrass, Lake Martin and Pike County United Way agencies for understanding that building future leaders is a vital "community building block" and an important investment in our future.