For girls, growing up has never been more complicated. In the age of social media, bullying and peer pressure can start at a very young age. And our girls are feeling the impact. With cases of bullying on the rise, a gift today helps a girl find her voice— girls like Phoebe.
Phoebe encountered bullying beginning in 2nd grade. She felt alone and didn’t know how to ask for help. Phoebe knew she wanted a group of friends to surround her, support her, and like her for being herself. It wasn’t until she saw a Girl Scout troop in her neighborhood that she found hope that she could have that. She joined Girl Scouts right away.
From her very first meeting, Phoebe didn’t feel alone anymore. The other girls instantly welcomed her into the troop and made an effort to get to know her. This was a new experience for Phoebe and lifted her confidence. Even though she was the new girl in this group, she didn’t feel like an outsider, as she often did at school.
Girl Scouts gave Phoebe a safe space. She found an all-girl environment where she was not pressured to change herself in order to fit in or be seen—Phoebe found value in her uniqueness. She knew she could overcome challenges and grow from them. She went back to school with a newfound courage to talk to her teachers about the bullying and ask for help.
Phoebe learned a lot in 2nd grade, and Girl Scouts has been there for her ever since. Now in 8th grade, Phoebe credits Girl Scouts for building her courage, confidence, and character, so that she can practice a lifetime of leadership.
Each Girl Scout program proved to Phoebe that she could learn something new, achieve a goal, and have fun. For Phoebe, troop activities encouraged teamwork and collaboration; Girl Scout camp taught independence and resourcefulness; and the Girl Scout Cookie program instilled a strong work ethic and people skills.
Phoebe knows she’ll face challenges in life, and now she has the skills and experiences to help her soar. It doesn’t hurt that she also has her Girl Scout Sisters in her corner. Phoebe is excited for all the new adventures that await, even going to high school with hundreds of new people.
Now Phoebe sees new possibilities for her future, and she’s discovered her dream of owning a restaurant. With the skills she’s honed in her Girl Scout troop, she knows how to take the lead and make her dream a reality.
You are an important part of Phoebe’s Girl Scout experience. As a Girl Scout supporter, you are part of the village that has helped Phoebe become the confident and
courageous girl of character that she is today. You are part of the 112-year history of Girl
Scout leadership that has shaped the lives of millions of girls like Phoebe.
The following is a guest post from our outdoor conservation and stewardship specialist, Lauren Somogyi…
You might ask, what is a Monarch Waystation and why do we need one?
Well, to start, the monarch butterflies are currently on the path to extinction. Their populations have been declining for many years due to loss of habitat, insecticide and herbicide use, and intensive agriculture.
Monarch butterflies are considered an indicator species, which can help determine whether environments and ecosystems are healthy. If an indicator species population declines, it is possible that their specific living environment is also changing and something is wrong.
Also, while conserving the monarch butterflies, we help other pollinators as well, such as bees, by providing these native plant based habitats. Conserving these habitats can have a cascading effect to the conservation of the entire ecosystem.
So, now, why is having a Monarch Waystation important?
Creating a Monarch Waystation will help provide habitats for monarchs to breed, develop, and survive. The more areas that have these designated areas, filled with milkweed and other critical plants, the easier it is for monarchs to find areas to live.
A Monarch Waystation is an area that contains specific host and nectar plants critical to the survival of the monarch butterflies. These waystations are managed specifically to provide food, shelter, and habitat for monarch butterflies.
Following the guidelines provided by Monarch Watch, a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program, these waystations need to be at least 100 square feet and be exposed to six hours of a sun per day.
The plant criteria includes having at least 10 native host plants, made up of two or more species, as well as multiple native nectar plants. The host plants provide a location for butterflies to lay their eggs and are the sole food source for developing caterpillars, while the nectar plants provide food for the adult butterflies.
The main host plant for Monarchs is milkweed. Milkweed is the only type of plant that monarch caterpillars feed on when growing and developing. It is a critical plant to the monarch butterfly. By including these plants in waystations, abundance food sources are available to the monarchs.
How can I help?
Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana is offering multiple workshops next year for girls to come out and assist in developing our butterfly garden and Monarch Waystation.
We want girls to be able to learn about conservation techniques, specifically to the monarch butterflies, as well as engage them in hands-on gardening activities that will help them develop skills that they can take home.
We hope to provide fun and education workshops for girls to gain a better understanding of the environment around them and care for the Earth.
Let It Grow: Butterfly Buddies is open to girls in kindergarten through fifth grade. To learn more and to register, click here.
When Mary Ann Tuft was in high school back in the late 1940s, her teacher invited all the girls in the class to be in an exclusive sorority – everyone except for Mary Ann that is. She was not invited because she was Jewish. Although that may have been very deflating for some girls, Mary Ann had her Girl Scouts troop that accepted her no matter what.
Because Girl Scouts was so impactful on Mary Ann’s life, she decided to be one of the founding members of the Juliette Gordon Low Society – Girl Scouts Planned Giving Society. Mary Ann, who currently lives in Chicago, is happy to give back to an organization that has given her so much.
Mary Ann fondly recalls her troop leader and experiences as a Girl Scout. She says she felt a sense of belonging and her experience helped build her confidence as a young girl. She went camping across the country where she developed the love of the outdoors.
Learning how to collaborate and work as a team were key components of camping, she explains. They shared common goals and worked together to accomplish them. “There was a focus on others,” says Mary Ann. “We helped each other, it was never just about oneself.”
Today, hanging in her kitchen, is a Girl Scout certificate from 1947 for a cooking class she completed. At age 83, she laughs at this because now she is the first one to call a caterer.
One Girl Scout opportunity led to the next Girl Scout opportunity for Mary Ann. After graduating from college, she started teaching the third grade and served as a volunteer Girl Scout leader. One of her favorite memories was taking the girls to Colorado Springs to go camping like she did when she was a Girl Scout.
Then Girl Scouts of the USA asked Mary Ann to be a representative to Girl Scouts in Israel. She lived in Israel for six months and never stayed in a hotel. She lived with many different families and learned a new culture and way of life. “Girl Scouts had always been ahead of the times,” says Mary Ann. “Girl Scouts has always accepting of other cultures.”
When she returned from Israel, she served as a national trainer for the Girl Scouts. Her leadership courses were even better than her college courses. With troop leaders, she shared her love and enthusiasm for Girl Scouts. Then those troop leaders passed on that love of scouting to future generations of girls.
“Girl Scouts is the ultimate training course for life,” says Mary Ann. After leaving Girl Scouts of the USA, she went on to be the Executive Director of the Radiological Society of North America in Oak Brook, Illinois. And then went on to start her own business, Tuft and Associates.
She says, “None of this would have happened without Girl Scouts.” She has owned her own business for 30 years and is still working today. “Any success I have had,” she says, “is because I had Girl Scouts as my foundation.”
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,
CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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 launched. In 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.