Together We Are Girl Scout Strong

Together We Are Girl Scout Strong

Dear Girl Scout Family, Neighbors and Friends,

Yesterday, on International Day of the Girl, Boy Scouts of America announced plans to open its membership to girls. I want to assure you that Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is more committed than ever to ensuring that girls take their rightful place as leaders in their communities, their country and the world.

With more than 100 years of research, experience and results, Girl Scouts remains the premier leadership organization for girls. Our unique girl-led approach and girl-friendly environment is unmatched in creating a safe space where girls are free to be themselves, take risks and thrive.

Research shows that participating in Girl Scouts helps girls develop key leadership skills they need to be successful in life. Compared to non-Girl Scouts, our girls are more likely to have confidence in themselves and their abilities; seek challenges and learn from setbacks; take an active role in decision making; and solve problems in their communities.

In fact, the Girl Scout Gold Award, which represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouts, requires girls to identify a community issue, create a sustainable solution and take action. With more than 80 hours of community service, the Girl Scout Gold Award is a top-tier credential that enables girls to earn college scholarships and enter the military one rank higher.

Simply put, Girl Scouts works. And we’re here to stay.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Nancy Wright

CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana

 

To learn how you can make a difference in a girl’s life, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

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Learn About Financial Literacy at the Girl Scout Game of Life

Learn About Financial Literacy at the Girl Scout Game of Life

Think “financial literacy” is a snoozefest? Girl Scouts sure don’t! In fact, for the third year in a row, the Girl Scout Game of Life is pumped up to show you just how interactive, engaging, and yes – FUN – learning about money can be.

On Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., hundreds of Girl Scouts from across the council footprint will gather at Journey World at the Joliet Gathering Place (1551 Spencer Road, Joliet, IL) for this interactive adventure where girls choose a career, earn a salary, and navigate their way through games and activities to learn about money and more.

The Girl Scout Game of Life, presented in partnership with RSM US LLP, is for all ages. Depending on grade level, Girl Scouts have careers to try out and goals to meet. Did you go last year? Fear not! So much is new and glimmering with charm to even the most skeptical Girl Scout:

New at the Girl Scout Game of Life

* Brand new careers to try, including Young Adult AuthorMiddle School Teacher, and Professional Chef!

* The World’s Best DMV, where you can make your license (with a real photo!) and select the car of your dreams

* A cool, branded Girl Scout Game of Life wallet for Girl Scouts to keep their special Game of Life license and paycheck in (and real currency ).

A fabulous vacation suite where you can celebrate your first paycheck! Missed last year’s video? Check it out here!

“It’s a complete reinvention of what learning about fiscal responsibility can look like,” says Annie Gilmartin, Manager of Financial Literacy and Journey World. “While it might sound like we’re playing the board game, I promise upon Shakespeare’s grave that I will personally dispel that misconception into a thousand tiny pieces. Come to the Girl Scout Game of Life to see just what I’m talking about!”

According to Gilmartin, one of the most exciting parts of the Girl Scout Game of Life is watching parents and troop leaders learn as well.

“It’s easy to forget that the building blocks of financial literacy are about need versus want, and that you can make saving money into a game by re-framing how you think about things. And, if our inaugural Girl Scout Game of Life [in March 2016] is any indication, everyone had an amazing time doing just that.”

The Girl Scout Game of Life takes place on Sunday, November 5, 2017 from 1 pm to 4 pm at the Joliet Gathering Place, 1551 Spencer Road, Joliet, IL. Admission is $15 per girl and free for adults. Register here now through October 29, 2017.

Local Girl Scouts Give Back to Kids in Hurricane Victims

Local Girl Scouts Give Back to Kids in Hurricane Victims

After watching a CNN special about students displaced after Hurricane Harvey, 12-year-old twins Allyssa and Ashley Smith joined forces with their Sister Girl Scouts in Troop 50384 to collect school supplies for kids in need.

“I saw the interview with a few students who were crying about losing all their stuff and not being able to go back to the same schools with their friends,” said Allyssa. “It made me really sad and I wanted to do something to give them hope that it was going to be okay. I thought if they had a new school bag with new stuff, it would let them know I care about what has happened to them even though I don’t know them.”

And her sister agreed.

“It is very important to help people in need because it can inspire them to get through their tough times into better times,” Ashley said. “There are so many mean people in the world who do bad things, but if more people are nicer and do good things to help each other, we can overcome the badness in the world. If no one starts, then the world will get worse. I want to be a part of the good people.”

Kids in the Gap

Inspired by a group called Kids in the Gap at their church, the girls and their friends decided to “stand for kids who can’t stand for themselves,” said Joyce Smith, Allyssa and Ashley’s mom.

The troop partnered with the Aurora Fire Department to reach their goal of 500 filled school bags for students in the Houston Independent School District.

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“By helping others, you are encouraging them. Showing compassion and giving kindness can really uplift a person when they are experiencing a rough time,” said 13-year-old Girl Scout Cadette Kendall Winston. “It lets them know that ‘I care for you,’ which can be great for someone who is hurting or suffering. My family and church family have also taught me that it is a blessing to help people when they need it most.”

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So far, the girls have received more than 100 bags from people in the community, as well as retailers such as JCPenney and Five Below. In addition to school supplies, each bag will contain a note of encouragement from the Girl Scouts as part of their Silver Award project, which is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn.

“You never know when you may need help and you would want someone to help you,” said a 13-year-old Gelani Clark. “Right now, we are blessed to have more than what we actually need so why not be a blessing to someone who may be down on their luck if you can? When you have been blessed to have so much, it is good to give a blessing to others.”

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The girl are also collecting toiletries for those affected by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Items can be dropped off at Aurora Fire Department stations.

“Girl Scouts has taught me that when you help others and give back to the community, you have a better impact on the work and it teaches you to be kind,” said 13-year-old Girl Scout Cadette Edniah Hamilton. “You have to think of others who may be less fortunate than you, so it’s nice to give back and help whenever you can.”

To learn more about how you can help with disaster recovery, please visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

 

Gurnee Girl Scout Collects Pet Food in Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

Gurnee Girl Scout Collects Pet Food in Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

After learning about displaced animals due to Hurricane Harvey, Alexia Porter knew she had to do something.

“I just saw all of the animals being rescued on the news and I felt bad, so I wanted to do something,” she said. “My mom said, ‘you’re a Girl Scout, you can figure it out.'”

And figure it out she did. Alexia, a 9-year-old Girl Scout Junior from Gurnee, Illinois, immediately started texting family members and friends to help her gather pet food for the Houston SPCA. She also visited local pet stores for supplies as well.

In about a week, Alexia collected more than 100,000 pounds of pet food – so much so that The Shipping Point in Gurnee needed a semi-truck to haul it all.

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“The Houston SPCA called to say ‘thank you’ and to tell her she was an angel of a Girl Scout,” said Dena Porter, Alexia’s mom. “She was so honored and felt such a huge sense of accomplishment and pride for helping so many defenseless animals left orphaned in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.”

Alexia, who has a pet Dachshund named Hershey and a Blue Siamese cat named Elsa, is passionate about helping animals and hopes to someday become a veterinarian … or a doctor, teacher, singer or dancer.

“I felt really good because I think it’s awesome that we went from a really little truck to a big one,” she said. “I learned about giving back in Girl Scouts, and to be kind and caring in the Girl Scout Promise. I use it every day.”

To learn more about how you can help with disaster recovery, please visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org.

Girl Scouts Celebrate Innovation at ‘Smart Cookies’ Fundraiser

Girl Scouts Celebrate Innovation at ‘Smart Cookies’ Fundraiser

More than 300 people attended Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana’s (GSGCNWI) eighth annual Smart Cookies Awards Breakfast on Sept. 20, 2017, at the Union League Club in Chicago. 

This year’s honorees were Rita Sola Cook, Midwest Region Executive, Global Commercial Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Chris-Tia Donaldson, CEO, Thank God It’s Natural; Katy Lynch; Co-founder of Codeverse; and Jennifer Sherman, President and CEO, Federal Signal. 

“This event provides us with the opportunity to honor innovators and entrepreneurs who have stepped outside of their comfort zones, defied gender stereotypes and pursued their passions,” said Kathy Scherer, board president for GSGCNWI. “It is exactly what we hope to inspire in every girl who becomes a Girl Scout.” 

During the breakfast, which raised more than $130,000, guests enjoyed LEGO robot demonstrations from Newton Busters, the GSGCNWI team that placed 10th at world championships earlier this year, as well as the chance to purchase Girl Scout Cookies from a solar-powered cookie booth built by Troop 60194. 

According to the National Science Foundation, half as many girls as boys are interested in STEM careers. While 50 percent of girls ages 7-11 found STEM subjects to be fun and enjoyable, this percentage dropped to 31 percent and 36 percent in the 11-14 range. 

“The older girls get, the more likely they are to be influenced by gender stereotypes,” said Nancy Wright, CEO of GSGCNWI. “But Girl Scouts is changing that. We help girls build their confidence, self-esteem and resilience so they have the necessary qualities to not only survive in male-dominated industries, but thrive.” 

To learn more about how you can get involved with Girl Scouts, visit girlscoutsgcnwi.org

Girl Scout Go-Getters Guest Post Part III

Girl Scout Go-Getters Guest Post Part III

In this guest blog series, we’d like to introduce you to a few members from our Girl Scout Go-Getters team, which will be participating in the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Our final post is from Rebecca Brewer…

Why am I running for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana?

Well, it was THAT moment that did it. You know the one.  The moment in which you remember a distant experience from the past and realize the deep influence it had been quietly making, your whole life.

It was late 2014 and as an adult settling into a new city, I longed for a new volunteer opportunity. The local Girl Scout council crossed my path. After just a few short weeks into my troop leader journey, I felt overwhelmed with the realization of the impact my own distant Girl Scout years had made in my life.

As a girl, I enjoyed a few wonderful years as a Girl Scout Brownie and, later, a Girl Scout Junior. I remember my first camping trip, many chatter-filled troop meetings, the joyful pride of completing projects around our community, and looking at all of the different badges available, eagerly choosing the next one.

Finally, there was the unforgettable feeling that only comes from exceeding one’s goals, cookie sale goals that is.  This, of course, achieved after many long walks through the neighborhood getting orders, the careful organization, labeling, and bagging of the orders, and then the longer walks to deliver cookies while the family station wagon – packed full of orders – crawled along the evening lit street.

My parents, church, and school all taught me about friendship, honesty, the value and reward of hard work, and the joy of doing something you really really love, but Girl Scouts allowed me to experience the deep impact of those values. When I became an adult, I was ready to take on my career and own my world.

Like many girls, my Girl Scout days faded slowly behind the experiences of high school, college, and starting a career. But when I was reviewing all of the fun options I had available to me as a Girl Scout leader — to pass on the same Girl Scout Promise, Law, and values I had learned so many year before — I became profoundly aware that they had always been a part of my motivation and drive and I reveled in recalling all that they had inspired me to achieve, so far.

And now, what would the girls in my troop do with it? How would they impact their communities and the world? I became so excited for them, and the future!

Over the decades, Girl Scouts continues to be a place where girls can learn who they are, what they love about life, and explore the interest of the present moment! They learn and grow alongside other girls, guided by women and men who believe that, in every girl, lies a leader, a game changer, and a history maker!  I love that I get to be a part of it all!

I’m running in the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana because the girls of today are the women the world will need tomorrow! It is a unique forum that offers something for every girl, no matter her interest, her ability, or her current circumstances. Every girl can become the woman she wants to be – that’s the opportunity that Girl Scouts provides.

To learn more about you can support Kassie and the Girl Scout Go-Getters, please click here.

 

Conagra Brands Foundation Awards $20K to GirlSpace Chicago Healthy Living Program

Conagra Brands Foundation Awards $20K to GirlSpace Chicago Healthy Living Program

Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GSGCNWI) has received a $20,000 grant from Conagra Brands Foundation to support the council’s GirlSpace Chicago Healthy Living initiative.

“The Conagra Brands Foundation focuses a majority of its efforts on making a positive impact on the issue of hunger in the communities where we live and work. To help alleviate hunger, we support a variety of high impact community initiatives including healthy and active lifestyles programs,” said Nicole Noren, Senior Specialist, Community Investment, for Conagra Brands. “The GirlSpace Chicago Healthy Living program provides girls with education on how to make informed, healthy food choices and reinforces valuable principles needed to lead a healthy lifestyle. Not only is there clear alignment in our end goal, the outcomes from this program will provide the girls an increased understanding and knowledge of how to live a healthy lifestyle. We are proud to support this program and excited to partner with the Girl Scouts.”

The grant has helped Girl Scouts such as Deanna, who is a student at Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Paideia Academy in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood.

“Currently, Deanna lives in a community that is a food desert and she can’t go to her local store to get fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Ede Crittle, Director of Community Outreach for GSGCNWI. “Since participating in our healthy living program, she has learned the importance of adding more fruits and vegetables to her daily meals, as well as exercise and proper sleep.”

Additionally, Deanna shared that Girl Scouts has been a lifesaver for her.

“She believes Girl Scouting has helped her build the courage and confidence to achieve her full potential and she wants to be a dietician or fitness instructor when she grows up,” said Crittle.

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.

“We know that alleviating hunger is a multi-dimensional societal issue and has to be addressed through various avenues,” said Noren. “We believe that providing access to nutrition education and healthy lifestyle programs is a key component to alleviating hunger.”

The program is offered in other Chicago neighborhoods as well such as Auburn-Gresham, Bridgeport, Chatham, East Garfield Park, Englewood and Woodlawn. More than 113,000 girls have been served through GirlSpace since it began in the mid-1980s.