Girl Scouts Make Tote Bags to Help Lift Spirits of Patients Battling Cancer

Girl Scouts Make Tote Bags to Help Lift Spirits of Patients Battling Cancer

In the worst stages of her cancer treatment, what got Jessica Brubaker through were the messages of support, she said.

Brubaker now wants to assist others battling the disease. To help other chemotherapy patients, Brubaker has teamed up some Girl Scouts in Lemont Friday to assemble tote bags and write letters of support.

“We are making bags for cancer patients so they can feel better and they can lift their spirits,” said Lauren Tracy, 10, a Girl Scout at Saints Cyril and Methodius School in Lemont.

About 20 girls in the school’s kindergarten Daisy troop and fourth grade Junior Troop assembled 21 tote bags in conjunction with the #bettereveryday chemo care tote program, which Brubaker started last year with items to help “brighten the spirit of those going through treatment and bring a smile their way,” said troop leader Megan Plahm.

Using troop funds, donations from friends and family, as well as providing some of the supplies themselves, the girls filled the bags with items that would benefit chemo patients, Plahm said. According to a #bettereveryday flier, more than 150 chemo care totes have been gifted, filled with items such as reusable water bottles, Working Hands hand cream for chemo rash, Biotene mouthwash for mouth sores caused by chemo, adult coloring books, colored pencils and crayons to pass the time during treatment.

Bags also had Lifesaver candies to help offset the taste of saline during the cancer treatments, the flier said.

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As Brubaker, who is from Western Springs, prepared to meet the girls, she told the Daily Southtown about her battle with breast cancer. A mother of three small children, she underwent a double mastectomy and is nearly finished with her treatment, she said.

“After my first chemotherapy, I got very, very sick,” she said. “You’ve got to knock yourself down to build yourself back up.”

Fighting back tears, she recalled a conversation with her husband who reminded her that the only time she said she might not make it through was when she was on the bathroom floor vomiting in the toilet.

“When you’re knocked back down, it’s hard to know you will get back up,” she told the Southtown. “What helped me get back up” was knowing people cared.

In every bag she sends, she writes a personal note, and so did the Girl Scouts.

To read the full story, visit Daily Southtown. And to learn about other Girl Scout service projects, visit Girls Give Back.

Local Girl Scout Donates Unicorns to Kids with Cancer

Local Girl Scout Donates Unicorns to Kids with Cancer

After visiting her grandfather in the hospital, Galilea Gonzalez of Des Plaines, Illinois decided she wanted to help children who were in the hospital as well.

“Unicorns are my favorite and they’re special because they can help other kids,” said the 7-year-old Girl Scout Daisy.

Galilea mentioned the idea to her mother, Carmina Gonzalez, and together they came up with an idea to raise money for stuffed unicorns.

“We went to [Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana’s] program kickoff event at Allstate Arena and there was a sponsor making bath salts inside a Ziploc bag,” explained Carmina. “It was very simple and she loved it, so she said she would make them and sell them and use the money she made to buy the unicorns.”

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Galilea in the process of making bath salts.

Many bath salts bags later, Galilea was able to purchase more than 100 unicorns, which were distributed to local children with cancer. As a result of her hard work and empathy, Galilea received the “Lead Like Elena” award and was featured on the Disney Channel. The award is inspired by the leadership and bravery of Disney’s newest heroine, Elena of Avalor.

“I was excited,” Galilea said of her brief appearance on the Disney Channel.
For the Gonzalez family, Girl Scouting is a family tradition.

“I was a Girl Scout when I was living in California and I learned so many different things. We did a lot of camping and outdoor activities,” said Carmina, who’s also Galilea’s troop leader. “I come from a first-generation family and I learned a lot from my leaders. It was enriching for me and empowering and I want Galilea to feel empowered as a girl.”

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Galilea sold bath salts to buy unicorns for children in need.

Meanwhile, Galilea is having a ton of fun in her second year as a Girl Scout Daisy making friends and collecting fun patches.

“It’s fun and I want to do it every day,” she said. “I want to do it right now.”

And Carmina shares her daughter’s enthusiasm.

“I enjoy being a Girl Scout leader,” she said. “You’re teaching them, but they’re teaching you, too.”

Do you have a good idea for our blog? We’d love to hear from you! Submit your stories here for a chance to be featured.

Top 10 Reasons to Sign Up for Girl Scout Summer Camp

Top 10 Reasons to Sign Up for Girl Scout Summer Camp

It’s time to start dreaming of sunny skies, dips in the lake, and s’mores on an open fire!

At Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana camps, we provide exceptional experiences for girls to develop and grow a love for the great outdoors.

From day camp to resident camp and weekend getaways to family events and teen leadership opportunities, we have options for everyone. Need more convincing?

At Girl Scout Summer Camp, girls will…

1. Develop leadership skills alongside fellow campers and staff, like hearing the importance of having initiative.

2. Discover a sense of self by participating in activities that will build her confidence to make positive choices and stand up for her individual values and needs.

3. Gain independence through caring for herself and her belongings, and taking responsibility for her actions with the encouragement of our dedicated and compassionate camp staff.

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4. Overcome obstacles by challenging herself to attempt and learn new things with the goal of building character and generating a personal sense of accomplishment.

5. Become part of a Girl Scout camp community by learning to recognize opportunities to help others and be comfortable asking for help when it may be needed, and in doing so, discovering that camp is a fun place to spend the summer and a home away from home.

6. Rediscover the impact of personal connection by introducing herself to and bonding with fellow campers who share her passions and interests to build lasting camp memories and lifelong friendships.

7. Cultivate life skills for the future by being exposed to a diverse mix of people, programs and environments that strengthen natural curiosity, improve creativity and foster essential social skills.

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8. Practice by doing in a safe environment with enthusiastic and talented staff who encourage trial and error as an opportunity to grow, and using hands-on learning as the model for success in an active outdoor setting.

9. Relax and “unplug” from the constant hum of technology to reconnect with nature and escape the constant pressures and distractions of everyday life in order to fill the summer days with experiences that will allows her to better engage in the real world.

10. Have fun while experiencing living outdoors, making new friends, singing at the top of her lungs, expressing her creativity through art, developing the courage to explore the world, and discovering more about herself (so that she can share it with you)!

Ready to sign up for Girl Scout Summer Camp? Registration starts at midnight on Feb. 1, 2017!

Girl Scouts Celebrate 100th Anniversary of the First Known Sale of Cookies By Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts Celebrate 100th Anniversary of the First Known Sale of Cookies By Girl Scouts

A century ago, a group of innovative girls started what would become a national tradition: Girl Scout Cookies.

This year, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first known sale of cookies by Girl Scouts with the debut of the new Girl Scout S’mores™ Cookies. The s’mores-inspired crunchy graham sandwich cookie with creamy chocolate and marshmallowy filling will join Girl Scout Cookie classics such as Thin Mints®, Samoas®, and Trefoils®.

Local Girl Scouts began taking orders for Girl Scout Cookies from family and friends earlier this month. Meanwhile, cookie lovers can find their favorite varieties at booth sales near public places throughout the area beginning Feb. 17 until March 26. Cookies sold by GSGCNWI are $5 per box.

“When you buy Girl Scout Cookies, you help power unique opportunities for Girl Scouts to take the lead in powerful, everyday ways,” said Nancy Wright, CEO of GSGCNWI. “We are excited to introduce the new Girl Scout S’mores™ Cookies and give customers a delicious way to help our girls learn important life skills, such as goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics.”

The first known sale of cookies by Girl Scouts occurred in 1917, when the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma baked cookies and sold them in its high school cafeteria as a service project. Since then, the Girl Scout Cookie Program has evolved into the largest entrepreneurial training program for girls in the world.

Girl Scout Cookies not only help Girl Scouts earn money for fun, educational activities and community projects, but also play a huge role in transforming girls into G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™ as they learn essential life skills that will stay with them forever.

“The most important skill that I have learned is how to communicate with strangers,” said Nina Grotto, a 17-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador and one of GSGCNWI’s top cookie sellers. “As a kid, I was always really shy and I wouldn’t talk to anyone, but selling Girl Scout Cookies helped me to talk to people that I don’t know … I learned that being creative is always better than staying inside the box. It’s when you do something different from everyone else and tackle an issue in a new way that you succeed.”

Every penny of net proceeds earned from the sale of Girl Scout Cookies is reinvested locally into exceptional programming and activities for girls. At the troop level, girls manage the decision-making process for how to spend their troop cookie money and often reinvest it in their neighborhoods through service projects and learning experiences, including travel. Customers who purchase Girl Scout Cookies are not only getting a tasty treat—they are also investing in their communities and girls.

“With the money that my troop earns through cookie sales, I can pay for travel opportunities, programs and camps,” Nina said. “It also allows me to give back to my community because I also use the money toward community service projects.”

For more information about Girl Scout Cookies, including the official Girl Scout Cookie Finder app, please visit girlscoutcookies.org.

A Message From Our CEO

A Message From Our CEO

Dear Girl Scout Family, Neighbors and Friends,

I am writing this message to you today from my heart, knowing that unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. Thanks to the outpouring of calls, emails and social media posts, I understand with greater urgency that our work as a Girl Scout Movement is more important now than ever before.

It is imperative that we stand in unison and advocate together on the issues that impact girls and women around the world — this is beyond politics or party. This is about basic respect, dignity, unity and everyday leadership.

I assure you that our passion for empowering girls and supporting their individual voices has never been greater. We continue to elevate girls and women, respecting all members of our Movement, such as the time four brilliant Girl Scouts represented our council at the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women.

Our power lies within our diversity and strengthens us in all aspects. We must support our girls as they elevate their voices and take action, which builds courage, confidence and character.

We are an organization that has taken the lead for more than 100 years and we’re not backing down. The need is imminent and the time is now to ensure everyone sees our girls and women as equals. According to a recent survey, 86 percent of people believe we’re facing a global leadership crisis and I, for one, believe that Girl Scouts is the solution.

So join us today in building a better tomorrow. Because our girls are the future and the future is now.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Nancy Wright

CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana

Get to Know Your Girl Reps to the Board

Get to Know Your Girl Reps to the Board

At Girl Scouts, we know that one girl can make a difference. And when there’s a group of girls banding together to make a change — watch out, world!

Recently, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana inducted the newest class of Girl Representatives to the Board of Directors. As Girl Reps, this select group of older girls will have an opportunity to influence the council’s governance process and impact the way Girl Scouting reaches our communities and members.

Plus, they’ll gain real-life leadership experience that prepares them for success in future academic- and career-related endeavors.

To learn more about what they’re looking forward to this year, check out the video below and click here to learn more about the application process. And who knows, maybe we’ll see YOU here next year!

Girl Scouts Awards $10K in College Scholarships

Girl Scouts Awards $10K in College Scholarships

Six Gold Award honorees from Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) have received a total of $10,000 in college scholarships in honor of their commitment to making the world a better place.

This year’s recipients are Amber Adams-Holecek, a sophomore at Central Michigan University from Chicago; Karyn N. Baldwin, a senior at Illinois State University from Hoffman Estates; Alecia Bell, a freshman at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaignfrom Hillside; Rachel Bennett, a junior at Culver-Stockton College from Hazel Crest; Brianna McCormick, a freshman at Roosevelt University from Oak Park; and Gloria Elizabeth Tabaczyk, a junior at Michigan State University from Hinsdale.

“The Girl Scout Gold Award provides a hands-on experience for young women to take action and provide a solution for a problem in their communities,” said CEO of GSGCNWI Nancy Wright. “By establishing this scholarship, we’re investing in the next generation of women leaders and creating opportunities for them to flourish in college, their careers and life.”

The Girl Scout Gold Award, which is celebrating its centennial this year, is the highest award that a Girl Scout aged 14-18 may earn. Commitment to earning the Gold Award develops skills related to leadership, time management, and community awareness, which set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship. The Gold Award recognizes the work of Girl Scouts who demonstrate leadership culminating in 80 hours or more of a significant service project that fulfills a need within a girl’s community (whether local or global), creates change and is sustainable.

More than 20 recent Gold Award honorees applied for the inaugural GSGCNWI Gold Award scholarship, which was made possible by generous endowments to the council. High school seniors who received their Gold Award as a Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador in GSGCNWI are eligible to apply. Applications for next year’s scholarship will open March 15, 2017.

As awareness of the Girl Scout Gold Award continues to grow, so does its prestige. An increasing number of colleges are offering financial incentives to those who earn Girl Scout Gold Awards and admissions counselors view it as a sign of an individual girl’s ability to lead. To learn more about the scholarships available to Gold Award honorees or to donate to the GSGCNWI Gold Award scholarship fund, please visit www.girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

According to the Girl Scout Research Institute’s report, The Power of the Girl Scout Gold Award: Excellence in Leadership and Life, Girl Scout Gold Award recipients receive greater lifetime benefits than their peers with regard to positive sense of self, life satisfaction, leadership, life success, community service and civic engagement as a result of their experience in Girl Scouting, including earning their Gold Award.

Girls have earned Girl Scouts of the USA’s highest awards since 1916, just four years after the organization’s founding in 1912. These awards include the Golden Eagle of Merit, Golden Eaglet, Curved Bar, First Class and the current Girl Scout Gold Award which was introduced in 1980. Over the course of the last century, millions of Girl Scout alumnae have positively impacted their communities and the world with their creative, impactful and sustainable community service, or Take Action, projects.

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana impacts the lives of more than 52,000 girls and nearly 20,000 adult members in 245 communities in six Illinois counties (Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kankakee, Lake, and Will) and four Indiana counties (Jasper, Lake, Newton, and Porter). Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. For more information, visit www.girlscoutsgcnwi.org.