Allstate Awards Girl Scouts $25,000 Grant for Healthy Living Initiative

Allstate Awards Girl Scouts $25,000 Grant for Healthy Living Initiative

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) has received a $25,000 grant from Allstate Insurance Company to support the council’s GirlSpace Healthy Living program, which supported nearly 500 girls primarily in Chicago’s Englewood community.

“Through GirlSpace Healthy Living, girls gain knowledge and skills that are the basis for healthier lives, along with the social and emotional skills that will help them be successful adults,” said Ede Crittle, Director of Community Outreach for GSGCNWI. “Additionally, girls are empowered to live healthier lives, positively impact their families and influence their communities.”

GirlSpace Healthy Living is one of three 12-week components that comprise GirlSpace, an after-school program for at-risk girls that operates year-round and partners with approximately 40 Chicago schools and Chicago Park District sites on the city’s underserved South and West sides. The program reaches about 3,000 girls annually and seeks to bring the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to life through a variety of curricular areas, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), financial literacy and healthy living.

The program has helped girls such as Madison, a second-grader at Beasley Elementary School who has struggled with childhood obesity.

“Madison now comes to the program with updates on what she is doing in her community to be active, such as helping an elderly neighbor take a walk, and she’s also discovered a fondness for kiwi and pineapples,” said LaKesha Purdue, a GirlSpace supervisor. “We recently had a jump rope contest and Madison did very well. She’s committed to doing more physical activity every day.”

Allstate, which is known for its outreach efforts, also partnered with Girl Scouts last year for an environmentally-focused pilot program, GirlSpace OUTSIDE, EcoGirls!

“Our society’s future depends on today’s youth,” said David Woolwine, Director, Corporate Citizenship.  “At Allstate, we believe good starts young. That’s why we are committed to empowering young people with the skills and confidence to step up as leaders in their communities and achieve success in their lives.”

The GirlSpace Healthy Living program is also offered in Chicago communities such as Auburn-Gresham, Bridgeport, Chatham, East Garfield, South Shore and West Woodlawn. More than 113,000 girls have been served through GirlSpace since it began in the mid-1980s.

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Chicago Girl Scout Sells More Than 30k Boxes of Cookies

Chicago Girl Scout Sells More Than 30k Boxes of Cookies

What does it take to be one of the top Girl Scout Cookie sellers in the country?

A lot of hard work, dedication and help – at least that’s the recipe for success according to Giada Gambatese, the 9-year-old Chicago Girl Scout Junior who sold 30,120 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies earlier this year.

“It’s pretty cool,” she said.

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Giada, who was also Girl Scout of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana’s top seller last year with more than 13,000 cookies, credits her record-breaking sales to some serious tech savviness. She recorded videos asking for donations to the council’s Gift of Caring Program, which sends Girl Scout Cookies to organizations that bring comfort to the women and men serving in the armed forces.

“My Papa [grandfather] was in the Marines and he helped me, so I want to help others,” said Giada.

Then she sent emails and letters to potential customers and followed up with phone calls. Afterward, she created handmade thank-you cards to everyone who donated to Gift of Caring.

“We wanted to up the ante this year so we targeted her Papa’s local President’s Club of which he is a member,” said Giada’s mom, Gianna Franzia. “All of the members are remarkable companies and were eager to donate knowing it went to aid our men and women in the armed forces.”

Originally, Giada wanted to sell 20,000 boxes, but when she heard about other Girl Scouts across the country selling more than that, she tapped into her inner entrepreneur and kicked her sales strategy into high gear with a bit of PR.

In March, Giada appeared on The Steve Dahl Show in Chicago to talk about her business approach and saw a boost in sales.

“It was really fun and cool to talk into the microphone,” she said.

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Nancy Wright, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, poses with Cookie CEO Giada Gambatese

 

Giada, whose favorite Girl Scout Cookies are Thin Mints and S’mores, is also considered a Cookie CEO, which celebrates the top five cookie sellers in the council. Cookie CEOs enjoy a busy day at the GSGCNWI’s Chicago office meeting with the council CEO, Nancy Wright; holding an all-staff conference call, lunch and much more.

“My favorite part was meeting the CEO, she’s really nice,” Giada said.

Next year, Giada wants to 100,000 boxes of Girl Scouts of Cookies. And for other Girl Scouts who want to become Cookie CEOs, she has the following advice.

“Have help, set a goal and have fun,” Giada said. “And when you’re selling cookies, be organized. It takes time to do everything, so be patient. My mom always says ‘nothing happens overnight.'”

To learn more about the Girl Scout Cookie Program, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Juliette Gordon Low: Charitable Work and Artistic Endeavors

Juliette Gordon Low: Charitable Work and Artistic Endeavors

The following is the final installment in a series of guest posts from Karen Schillings, a council historian for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. To read part one, click here and to part two, click here.

Daisy had a very compassionate heart, but Willy tried to dissuade her from doing charitable work. However, Daisy unobtrusively carried on with her kindhearted ways and contributed greatly to Warwickshire life. She was a frequent visitor to the Stratford-upon-Avon workhouse where she would visit the destitute men and women housed there. A woman in Wellesbourne had contracted leprosy, and was shunned by the other villagers.  Daisy’s concern caused her to quietly disappear one day each week, so she could visit with this neglected woman.

Another instance exemplifies Daisy’s tremendous compassion. One Sunday morning when coming home from church, she found a tramp outside the gates of Wellesbourne House. She could tell he was cold and in a very poor way.  She urged the man to come with her into the kitchen.  He refused, but Daisy brought him a tray with some tea and bread. The man didn’t want to take it because he was convinced it was poisoned.

Daisy continued to coax him until he ate some of the bread and drank some of the tea.  She took the tray back inside the house, but when she returned to check on the man, he had vanished.  The next day he was found a few miles away dead from exposure. She soon learned that he had escaped from a mental institution.  Daisy was inconsolable over the incident, since she blamed herself for this man losing his life. Daisy Low always showed her benevolence to those less fortunate.

Because Willy was away so much on hunting trips, racing his horses, or gambling with his friends, Daisy started to feel the loneliness.  She had been an artistic soul from an early age and delved into a variety of pursuits to take up the time whenever Willy was absent. Daisy had already proved herself to be an excellent portrait artist, but she branched out into other endeavors. She took up woodworking and carved a beautiful mantel for Willy’s smoking room, along with other ornamental pieces for her home. Then she took to metal working.

It’s not for certain who taught her how to forge, but it’s suspected that the village blacksmith John Thomas Thorpe was the one who instructed her.  She took on a major endeavor by designing and then forging the gates for the entrance to Wellesbourne House.  Those original gates were later shipped to Savannah and to adorn the entrance of Gordonston Memorial Park, but are now on display at the Birthplace.  However, replicas made from Daisy’s design still hang at the Wellesbourne House entrance.

Although Daisy was thoroughly devoted to her husband, it cannot be said the same for him.  Willy had a roving eye and was very keen on women.  In 1901, Anna Bateman, an actress, was discovered to be Willy’s mistress.  This was particularly hurtful to Daisy, since she had welcomed Mrs. Bateman to Wellesbourne House on several occasions.  Now Daisy had a dilemma; how to end her marriage quietly and honorably. If she filed for divorce on grounds of adultery, then her husband and Anna Bateman would be subjected to embarrassment and shunned in polite society.

Not wishing to bring scandal to either of them, Daisy decided to leave Wellesbourne and take up residence in London.  At a later time, she did file for divorce, but on the grounds of desertion.  However, before the divorce was finalized, William Mackay Low died of a seizure in 1905.  Without her knowledge, Willy had changed his will and left the entirety of his estate to Anna Bateman.  Nevertheless, Daisy was able to persuade Willy’s four sisters to contest the will. In the end, Daisy did receive a small settlement, along with the house in Savannah.  Willy’s sister Amy Low Grenfell kept Wellesbourne House.

Daisy needed to put the heartbreak of her marriage and Willy’s death behind her.  Without a career or the prospects of remarrying, she set her sights on traveling.  However, this strong woman wanted to have a purposeful life and continued to search for something meaningful to do.  In 1911 at a luncheon, she had the good fortune to be seated next to Sir Robert Baden-Powell.  Daisy was extremely impressed with all that Sir Robert had accomplished, especially his organization of a youth group for boys call the Boy Scouts, and then for girls called the Girl Guides. The two soon became good friends, and he encourage her to do something useful with her life.

Having Robert as a friend put Daisy’s life on a new path, one she had desired to walk for a long time, that is, being of service. Robert’s inspiration gave Daisy the courage to take an enormous step on that path.  Having rented a summer home in Lochs, she called together a group of girls in the Scottish Highlands, and started her first troop of Girl Guides.  When she returned to London for the fall and early winter, Daisy started two more troops. Having made arrangements with friends for her Girl Guide troops to carry on in her absence, Daisy set sail for America in early 1912.  By coincidence, Sir Robert was on his way to America as part of tour to promote the Boy Scouts, and he found himself on the same ship as Daisy.  Supposedly, during the voyage, Daisy and Robert made plans to organize the Girl Guides in America.

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The “People and Places Important to Daisy” at Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana’s Chicago office.

On March 12, 1912, the first Girl Guides meeting was held in Savannah, Georgia with 18 girls joining the troop.  In 1913, a National Headquarters was opened in Washington, D.C., and the organization’s name was changed to the Girl Scouts of the United States of American (GSUSA).  Juliette wanted to put her girls on an equal footing with the boys, which prompted the name change from Girl Guides to Girl Scouts. Juliette’s vision and remarkable dedication kept the movement alive. Since its inception, the Girl Scouts of the USA has promoted courage, confidence, and character through the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law, touching the lives of over 50 million American girls.

Juliette Gordon Low died in Savannah, Georgia on January 17, 1927.  She was buried in her Girl Scout uniform.  A note was placed in her pocket which read: “You are not only the first Girl Scout, but the best Girl Scout of them all.”

Daisy’s legacy has been well recognized over the years. In 1944, the Liberty Ship S.S. Juliette Low was launchedIn 1948, the U.S. Postal Department issued a stamp in her honor.  The Gordon home in Savannah where Daisy was born was purchased by GSUSA in 1953 and is now an Historic Landmark.  A portrait of Juliette has been hanging in the Smithsonian’s National Gallery in Washington, D.C. since 1973.  A bust of Daisy was placed in the Georgia State Capitol Hall of Fame in 1974.  Daisy was inducted in 1979 into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.  An office building was named the Juliette Gordon Low Federal Complex in Savannah in 1983.  On May 29, 2012, during the 100th anniversary year of Girl Scouts of the USA, President Barack Obama presented the highest civilian honor to Juliette Gordon Low, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

I had the good fortune to visit Wellesbourne during a recent trip to England.  The house Daisy so loved is now an office complex.  However, it was nice to see the replicated gates and to imagine what a lovely home it once was.  I’m sure the many people who enter those gates today are unaware of the lovely lady who once lived there.

To read more, visit ourwarwickshire.org.

Juliette Gordon Low: Marriage and Celebrities at Wellesbourne House

Juliette Gordon Low: Marriage and Celebrities at Wellesbourne House

The following is a guest post from Karen Schillings, a council historian for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. To read part one, click here.

When Willy returned to England in 1881, the impetuous couple continued to correspond, disregarding parental objections. Daisy was given the opportunity to see Willy at Beauchamp Hall in Leamington when her father consented to her first trip to Europe in 1882. Her second voyage overseas in 1884 gave her another prospect to encounter Willy, even though Daisy assured her parents that her trip to Beauchamp Hall was to visit with the Low sisters.

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Marriage

Daisy and Willy strengthened their commitment to each other that summer. Just a few months later, Willy came to Savannah, and the courtship continued. When the couple made know their intention to marry in February of 1886, Andrew Low insisted on a waiting period of a year; otherwise, Willy would forego his inheritance. Willy and Daisy agreed to the arrangement, but then Andrew suddenly died in June. Even though it was customary to have a year of mourning, they decided to get married as soon as possible. Willie Gordon, unwilling to relinquish his daughter totally, requested that Daisy come home to Savannah for six months of each year. The couple agreed, and the date was set for December 21, 1886.

A move to Wellesbourne House

At first, the newlyweds resided in Savannah and occupied the luxurious Low home. However, during the summer of 1887, the couple returned to England. At this time, Willy had two rented homes, one in Leamington, near Beauchamp Hall, and the other near Blair Atholl in Perthshire, Scotland. However, he wanted to own a country home befitting his social position. To that end, he purchased Wellesbourne House in rural Warwickshire in 1889, a 55 acre estate. Having inherited 750,000 pounds from his father’s fortune, Willy could well afford the purchase price, and then he set about making improvements. The estate grew to 20 bedrooms with a stable for 40 horses, a cottage for the gardener, a separate laundry facility, a greenhouse and a garage where the first Wellesbourne automobile was housed. This was a home for entertaining and living the good life. Daisy was excited to have a home of her own, and thoroughly enjoyed selecting the furnishings. From all accounts, Daisy was delighted with Wellesbourne House and relished being the lady of this stately home.

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Being a part of the Marlborough set, a group of high society individuals who were close to Edward Albert, the Prince of Wales, meant that Willy and Daisy had many social events on their schedule. Willy became president of the Wellesbourne Cricket Club and was also a member of the Warwickshire Yoemanry, his voluntary cavalry unit. In May of 1895, the Prince of Wales attended a Warwickshire Yeomanry dance. Daisy was flattered to be the only woman in the room of whom the Prince asked to dance. In 1896, Edward actually visited Wellesbourne House with his entourage. Daisy presided over a lovely luncheon for her honored guests.

To read the full post, visit ourwakshire.org.uk, and stay tuned for the third part about Juliette Gordon Low’s her charitable work and artistic endeavours.

From Savannah to Wellesbourne: The Story of Juliette Gordon Low in Warwickshire

From Savannah to Wellesbourne: The Story of Juliette Gordon Low in Warwickshire

The following is a guest post from Karen Schillings, a council historian for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana

It may seem curious to discover that the woman who eventually founded the Girl Scouts of the United States of America spent a good portion of her life in Wellesbourne. However, examining Juliette Gordon Low’s upbringing and ties to England will explain how Warwickshire became a part of her life.

Early life

At the dawn of the American Civil War, Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon was born in Savannah, Georgia, on October 31, 1860.  Her mother, Eleanor “Nellie” Lytle Kinzie, was from a prominent family that helped to establish Chicago.  While her father, William “Willie” Washington Gordon II, was part of a notable family from Savannah, Georgia.  Soon after her birth, Juliette’s uncle made the comment, “I’ll bet she’s going to be a Daisy.”  From that time on, she was known to her family as Daisy.

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Juliette Low’s birthplace in Savannah, Georgia

Although the Civil War caused much upheaval for the Gordons, their status and connections did help to protect the young family to some extent.  As an officer in the Confederacy, Willie Gordon could have his wife and family with him as he took on various assignments.  However, he eventually ordered his wife back to Savannah when the war became more dangerous. At first, Savannah was not effected greatly by the war, but this did not last.  Eventually, Union troops, headed by General William T. Sherman, occupied the city. General Sherman was a longtime friend of the Kinzie family. He arranged for Nellie to have safe passage to take her three young daughters to Illinois, where they stayed with her parents for the remainder of the war.

Once the Civil War ended, it became safe for Nellie and the girls to return to Savannah, making it possible to be reunited with Willie. There were still many hardships to bear as the family tried to recover from the ravages of war.  Willie had to rebuild his cotton mercantile business which struggled for quite some time. But Willie was determined to regain the pre-war prosperity his family had enjoyed.  With diligent work, he experienced financial success, and the Gordon family could again live a very comfortable life.

A family of well educated women

Nellie came from a family of well educated women, and she expected the same for her daughters.  Early on, Daisy was learning to read and write in the home of a local teacher. At the age of twelve, she was sent to a boarding school in New Jersey. A year later, she attended the Virginia Female Institute, and afterwards, Edgehill School, also in Virginia. She studied such subjects as mathematics, English grammar, spelling, French, piano, and drawing. Daisy was quite artistic, so she enjoyed drawing the most.  Her studies concluded at a finishing school in New York City where she learned how to dance, curtsy, and sit properly, the important skills of the day for members of polite society. In this era, it was understood that an elite Southern girl was being educated to take her place in society and to be a good wife, not to espouse a profession.

To read the full post, visit ourwakshire.org.uk, and stay tuned for the second part about Juliette Gordon Low’s marriage and move to Wellesbourne House.

We Should All Be More Like Girl Scouts

We Should All Be More Like Girl Scouts

The following is a personal message from Nancy Wright, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana…

As I watched the events unfold in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend, I could hardly believe my eyes. Words are inadequate in describing the violence, racism and hatred that was broadcasted throughout the world. My condolences go out to those who were injured and the families of Heather Heyer, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates.

Throughout the weekend, I kept thinking to myself, how do I explain what happened to our girls, who are a shining example of kindness and compassion? How do we make sense of senseless tragedy?

And then it hit me—-it is during times like these that we must join together so that our actions and voices are louder than those who carry hate in their hearts. In fact, being a positive example of leadership is something Girl Scouts have been doing since our founding in 1912.

Take, for example, the interfaith event where Muslim and Christian Girl Scouts joined together for fun, fellowship and friendship. Gatherings like this truly embody the Girl Scout Law: “I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.”

Or more recently, there are the young girls who have been placing “kindness rocks” around our camps and communities. The rocks, which include brief motivational messages, are intended to inspire others to complete random acts of kindness.

As Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens once noted, “we should all be more like Girl Scouts.”

Our girls get it. Indeed, they are teaching the world to be kinder, more compassionate and more understanding through their words and actions.

Because as Nelson Mandela said: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

What is one action you’ll take to spread love and kindness this week? How will you take the lead like a Girl Scout? Let us know in the comments.

Girl Scout Who Petitioned Hasbro Speaks Out

Girl Scout Who Petitioned Hasbro Speaks Out

Hi, my name is Annie Rose. I’m writing this to tell a story. It’s true, and it happened to me. But it’s not really about me.

It’s actually about how little people can do big things, and about how everyone can have a voice, but only if they aren’t afraid to speak up. I’m going to tell this story to show that that’s all true, and that you can do anything if you believe in yourself. Never give up!

One normal day- or, at least it was- I learned that the main character, Rey, had been left out of the new Star Wars Monopoly. That made me so MAD! I am a firm believer in equal rights, and leaving Rey out of a known and popular game was literally screaming out “FEMALE CHARACTERS DO NOT MATTER!” Which is so not true!

And, even though most children don’t know it, the toys they play with influence their thoughts. So, we need kids to see a female character, not one that’s popular because of her looks, but because of who she is. Kids hear too often that women are objects, judged solely by their looks. They need to hear that women are just as important as men.

So I wanted to do something about it. I mean, there was no doubt about it! So I picked up my markers and paper, to write a passionate five-color letter about female rights. It was kind of scary, wondering what people would say or do, but I knew I was doing the right thing. That kind of took away my fear. Then my mom tweeted it so everyone could see it.

But things didn’t happen immediately. That’s just not how the world works. After a little while, Hasbro, the toy company that made the Star Wars Monopoly game, responded. It took 18 months to get Rey added. But now, we play the game with Rey (probably the most popular game piece).

I want other little girls- and boys- to see that even at 8 years old, like I was when I wrote the letter, you can make a difference. All you have to do is try. Try, even if it is scary.

And, all of you little kids who hear or read this, never give up. You can do anything. I believe in every single one of you. If you see something that you think is wrong, stand up. And every one else will stand behind you.

Lastly, I want to thank anyone and everyone who stood with me throughout this. Maybe just by acknowledging the tweet, maybe by writing back. Maybe I don’t know their names, maybe they are close friends I’ve known my whole life. But I just want to thank them all for standing with me through something meaningful to me.

Thank you.

Thank you all for reading this,

annierose

Annie Rose (age 10 now)