Once upon a time, I was lucky enough to work for a brilliant Jesuit priest. He was a genius. I was a young dean and not sure I was impressed with his constant stream of ideas. I was the resident skeptic. My mentor had been a trusty, reliable, predictable boss. This new president was handsome, charming, energetic, and enthusiastic about everything. I don't know if you have ever had a friend like this, but he was constantly invading my personal space. One entire basketball game he practically sat on my leg, until I finally asked him to move over, whereupon he laughed. He knew he was sitting on my leg. He just wanted to see how long I would tolerate it.
Over the years, I learned that working for someone who was a genius took a lot of time and energy. Some days it took me awhile to even figure out what he was babbling about, but I learned to love him. I believe he was the perfect boss for me at a time when I needed to be moved out of my comfort zone and confront some change.
One of the maxims he believed, which I now embrace, is that you will not change unless you are standing at the edge of the cliff, looking down into the abyss, with someone nudging you to go over. When you look down and see what could be ahead, you will make the dramatic changes necessary to stay on the top of the cliff. His point was always that change is good. It is hard, but it also makes you better. His advice to us was that we would work smarter, and during his tenure there, we did.
This is a year filled with change for the Girl Scouts, also. As with the Southwest Alabama United Way defunding, declines in other funding sources, a lackluster cookie sale come together, we have to make some changes. Staffing is our largest expense, followed by fixed costs of properties. The check for the electric bill I signed this afternoon for one month was more than $6,700. That is what it runs each month across our properties and that was just one power company. We have many.
This year we will be looking for ways to maximize the girl experience. We want to continue the quality programs we offered the girls, but do it smarter and less expensively. We want to increase the number of girls; we do this because we believe the Girl Scout Leadership Experience changes lives. I see this daily. We want to provide the type of support to our wonderful volunteers that they desire. We have attainable goals for this year.
I was looking over the edge at the abyss as I worked on the budget. As we have staff leave, we won't be able to replace all of those positions. As I look at a long list of equipment volunteers would like at camp properties, we might not be able to afford many of those this year. However, with that said, as we work to increase girl numbers and the quality of our offerings we are optimistic about what this year holds for our girls. I will keep that list for after the cookie program. You will experience some changes this year. You will see the staff working smarter and aimed to achieve better customer service and the best year possible for your girls. Change is good! It moves us forward.