Happy Birthday, Juliette – Happy Birthday, Daisy!

A birthday message from GSHPA President and CEO

Close your eyes and make a wish!

Have you ever blown out the candles on a birthday cake?  Most of us have.  I can remember the single candle on our oldest daughter’s first birthday cupcake, and the cake in full blaze at my grandmother’s last birthday celebration.   I can remember my childhood birthday cakes; my mom always let each of us choose our favorite and she would bake it – even if no one else liked it.  It always came from a box – add 2 eggs, 1/2 cup water, and 2/3 cup oil, but it couldn’t have tasted better.  My childhood birthday cake was always Butter Brickle with Heath Bar.   

When I had my own children, I did the same for them.  For all three, their childhood favorite was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.   When they were old enough to help bake, they made my birthday cake – and, of course, it was covered from top to bottom with sprinkles.  

After dinner, the candles were placed on the cake, the lights turned out and the match was struck. Then each candle was lit and the singing began.  “Happy Birthday to you.  Happy Birthday to you. . .” And then – the wish.  “Make a wish!  Blow out the candles!”   

I think back to what Juliette Gordon Low, affectionately called Daisy, might have wished for in her childhood. Did she wish to see the day when women might vote?  Did she wish for a movement that would last a century?  I think back to my own childhood birthday wishes.  Honestly I don’t remember any of them, even birthday wishes as an adult.  I am sure there were definitely years when I hoped for a particular present when I blew out the candles, but generally, I remember being caught off guard when my mom said, “Make a wish and blow out the candles.”   How could that be?  Every year, it is the same.  The lights go out, the singing begins, and I have to make a wish, yet, I never felt ready to do so.  

Perhaps, it’s because even as a child, I understood that wishes were just that: wishes.  A dream so light, airy and fun, but not likely to come true without something more.  Even as a child I somehow understood the saying, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”   Somewhere along the line, I learned that wishing isn’t enough.  You need a vision and you need a plan.  I think Juliette Gordon Low came to understand that as well. Her vision to see young girls become resilient and self-reliant women and her plan to do that one girl at a time started in Savannah, Georgia with 18 girls. Juliette Gordon Low’s wish slowly grew into the largest girl’s leadership development program in the world with one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands. 

Juliette Gordon Low’s wish slowly grew into the largest girl’s leadership development program in the world with one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands. 

So how do we further today’s Girl Scout vision of creating girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place? We still do it with a plan – one girl at a time, one leader at a time.   We each bring new girls to the movement.  We each help every girl to experience all the pillars of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience from life skills to entrepreneurship to the outdoors, to STEAM.  We each participate in projects throughout our own communities as reflected in our highest awards of Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.  And all of us live by the Girl Scout Law.  So that is my wish, but that is also my plan.   

On this, what would have been Juliette Gordon Low’s 160th birthday, I wonder what she might wish.   Today, on Juliette’s birthday let’s every one of us close our eyes and make a wish that every girl gets to experience Girl Scouts.  Better yet, let’s close our eyes and make a plan.  I think that’s what Juliette would wish.   

A birthday message from Janet Donovan, GSHPA’s President and CEO

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