CEO: 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.

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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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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.

 

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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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