Making Memories: Dad Style

Four GSHPA Dads Share their Stories

As Girl Scouts we learn all about how awesome Girl Power can be, and we learn from our amazing leaders and other women in our lives. But sometimes it can be easy to forget that our Girl Scout dads play a huge role in helping us to grow into our Girl Power too. This Father’s Day we celebrate all of our amazing Girl Scout dads out there, and thank you for all you do! We checked in with a few of our volunteers to see why they love being Girl Scout dads:

David Jensen, Lancaster County Girl Scout Dad

              “I was familiar with Girl Scouting from a young age. In vague memories I remember bits and pieces of Girl Scout meetings, parades, outings, etc. My sisters were Girl Scouts and my mother was their leader. The two activities that stand out are the monthly Leader meetings in our dining room and that my sisters and mother and their troop went to Puerto Rico. Yes, Puerto Rico…for a week!

            Fast forward a bit and now I have a daughter that wants to be a Girl Scout and a wife that wants to be a leader. So my wife Anne decided to start a Brownie Troop. There were enough girls but not enough adult leaders, so I decided to be her assistant.

            We did many activities such as fishing, knots, archery, whittling, rocketry, cooking (chicken soup – which the girls’ parents somehow didn’t want to try!), Daddy/Daughter dances and even sewing.

            Slow forward (because now the knees hurt, the back is stiff and I don’t move as fast anymore). I now have a granddaughter Arianna that is a Juliette. Well here I go again… Coding badge, making Swaps and Swap holders, helping build their cookie booth and even camping.

            Recently we have helped plant 50 trees and bushes at Camp Furnace Hills, participated in the camp clean-up (and received a parting gift of poison ivy).

            It has been quite a journey so far and I have enjoyed every minute. And for all the fellas – If you know of someone in Girl Scouting, wife, daughter, granddaughter, niece etc., even though you are not a “Girl” they would be happy to have you.

            Now off to our next adventure – Rock Climbing on Sunday. Wish me luck…”

Rich Ainey, Lackawanna County Girl Scout Dad

“Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working side by side with my wife with Troop 50863 and Troop 50866. Both of these troops were started to ensure that my daughters had a Girl Scout Troop to belong to. It has been great to be able to watch not only my daughters flourish and grow, but also a number of other girls do the same.

I was there when girls operated a power tool for the first time to build a “buddy bench” for a service project. I was there to teach many girls how to shoot a bow and arrow for the first time at a community camp at Camp Archbald.

I was there to help the girls to finish and install their little free library as well as another service project. Many times I have been able to witness girls overcome a fear of something or experience something for the first time. This is just some of the many things I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy about being involved with Girl Scouts.

 One particular story I distinctly remember was our last time at community camp at Camp Archbald in 2019. We were up there for the weekend and having a great time. Some strong storms were supposed to move in on Saturday evening around dinner time. As luck would have it, the power got knocked out and stayed out as we were preparing our typical spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.

Rather than backing down and accepting defeat, we managed to finish off dinner by flashlight, serve dinner, and get everyone fed. Not only did we do that, we managed to get the generator up and working so that we could have lights in the dining hall. We also made s’mores in the ovens and made sure everyone was safe and secure.

When we woke up the next morning, power had been restored and we proceeded to finish up our weekend. I don’t think any of the girls that were there that weekend will forget all of the different events. Most certainly, they will all look back and think about the obstacles we overcame while we still managed to have some fun.

For other guys out there saying, “What can a guy do at Girl Scouts?” I would challenge them to come and find out. Become an archery instructor, help out at a cookie rally, experience a rope runner rally, come up for community camp (when COVID restrictions are lifted), help out at a camp cleanup, or do any variety of activities that include being involved in your daughter’s Girl Scout journey. I can promise you that it will be something you won’t regret.”

Matt Reed, Union County Dad

When Matt was growing up he dreamed of being a Boy Scout Leader. His plans took a turn though when he and his wife had two beautiful daughters, instead of sons! Being outdoors is his passion, and he has worked hard to introduce the girls in his troop to as many outdoor activities as possible. Matt’s troop has gone camping and kayaking, and the girls hope to soon cross backpacking off of their list too!

Jamie Stefl, Northumberland County Dad

“Throughout my life I’d heard about Girl Scouting, but it wasn’t until my daughter joined that I started getting involved. My wife had been a longtime Girl Scout so we were excited to get our daughter started in the program and it has been a family journey ever since! It has been an amazing opportunity to connect with my family while making a difference in the community. While my daughter is fully grown, and working for GSHPA, I still enjoy being involved as a volunteer in our Service Unit.

Over the years I have attended a wide variety of Girl Scout events and activities, but I think my favorite has always been going camping. I remember the first time I went on a Girl Scout camping trip as a volunteer and it was an adventure! My daughter was a Brownie at the time and her troop planned an overnight stay at Knoebels in Elysburg. We pitched tents in the parking lot and had a wonderful time, but I don’t think I have ever been that cold! It was well below freezing overnight and we awoke to frost covering all the tents! We all had a good laugh about it once we thawed!

Since then I have continued to stay involved with Girl Scouting as a volunteer. As an engineer I was always involved with creating Girl Scout floats for the local parades. I remember helping out with cookies, well, helping get cookies out of my house that is! And I really enjoyed attending events. In 2012 our group traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the Girl Scout 100th Anniversary Celebration which was quite an experience! I’ve attended all of GSHPA’s Gold Award Ceremonies and even went to GSUSA’s National Convention.

I think my advice to any father considering joining Girl Scouts, would be, just to do it! Yes, as a dad you can experience a wide variety of things with your daughter through Girl Scouting, including camping and selling cookies, but I think it is so much more than that. It is truly an amazing experience to personally see your daughter grow through Girl Scouting.”

Each of these wonderful Girl Scout dads work hard to provide girls the best possible Girl Scout experience, and certainly prove that being “man enough to be a Girl Scout” is a wonderful thing! Girl Power champions come in all shapes and sizes, and out Girl Scout dads are great examples of this. Shout out your Girl Scout dad stories in the comments, we’d love to hear more about our amazing GSHPA Dads!

Post by: Rebekah Stefl
Post by: Colleen Sypien

Thinking Traps

 

Although our world hasn’t always talked about mental health enough, we know that everyone struggles with mental health. Just like anything health related, it takes ongoing learning and practice to be healthy both physically and mentally.

A great place to check in with yourself is the thoughts in your head. Sometimes we get so busy living life that we don’t stop to check how we are thinking about things. Negative thinking can impact your mood, self-worth, and emotional health. 

Take a minute to check in with yourself on any negative thought traps you fall into. Below are 10 common thought traps that commonly catch us all. Knowing these and being aware can help us be mindful so that we can get out of the traps and back to positive thinking! 

All-or-Nothing Thinking – This is where we think things are either good or bad, safe or dangerous, success or failure. This way of thinking tents to leave out the in between and can be unrealistic and limiting.

  • Example is a friend gets mad at you and you assume everyone hates you. 

Negative Filter– Focusing on the negative, unfair, scary things and ignoring anything positive. 

  • An example would be focusing on all your mistakes instead of the things you did well. 

Overgeneralization-Making sweeping judgements about ourselves (or others) based on only one or two experiences. These thoughts typically contain the words “always” and “never.”

  • Example is you get an “F” on your assignment and you believe you’ll never succeed at anything 

Fortune Telling- Believing you can predict the future. But you can’t because you don’t have a crystal ball and aren’t a fortune teller. 

  • Example is thinking “No one is going to talk to me at the party.” 

Mind Reading– when we believe that we know what others are thinking and assume that they are thinking the worst of us. The problem is that no-one can read minds and we can never really know what others are thinking! 

  • Example is thinking everyone is talking about you behind your back. 

Catastrophizing– Imagining that the worst possible thing is about to happen, in reality the worst-case scenario usually never happens and even if it did you’d probably be able to cope.

  • Example is thinking you will fail the test and then get kicked out of school and disowned by your parents.

Personalization– Believing that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to something you’ve said or done. You end up taking everything personally when in reality it’s nothing to do with you 

  • Example is a friend getting upset and you thinking its your fault. 

Labeling– Attaching a negative label about yourself or someone else rather than acknowledge it was just a single event or mistake. Everyone makes mistakes and we’re way too complex to be described by one word. 

  • Example is thinking your a failure instead of knowing you got one bad grade. 

Emotional Reasoning – Taking our emotions as evidence for the truth. When you use emotional reasoning, whatever you’re feeling at the time is believed to be true automatically and unconditionally, regardless of the evidence.

  • Example is feeling lonely and thinking you’re a loser 

Should Statements- having rules for how you, or others, should and shouldn’t behave. When our expectations fall short, we feel disappointed, frustrated, anxious, and even angry with ourselves.

  • Example is thinking you should never eat chocolate. 

Don’t get discouraged if you identify with these negative thinking traps. Now that you are aware, you can catch the traps in the future! 

Recognizing our negative thoughts is the first step to changing them and thinking more positively. Positive thinking habits like practicing 

gratefulness and recognizing strengths can help build positive thinking muscles! 


Post by: Special Guest Writer Gabby Dietrich

SPOTLIGHT: Wellness Wednesday

Welcome to our newest spotlight, Wellness Wednesdays! Each month we will be posting a health and wellness tip to help you be your best self! To start out this new series, we’re going to talk about our mental health, and how fitting, May is Mental Health Awareness Month!

Mental Health Awareness Month and is devoted to recognizing the importance of mental health! In 1949 Mental Health Awareness Week was created! Throughout the years the awareness turned from being just a week to being a full month for hospitals and health-based institutions to raise awareness of the importance of our mental health and end the stigma around mental health needs.   

As the years progress, and as we have experienced a global pandemic and a year of unprecedented changes, we are continuing to recognize how important mental health awareness is for not just adults, but all ages, all genders, and how each person’s mental health varies greatly.  

How do we recognize Mental Health as Girl Scouts?  

There are a number of badges that girls can earn in which they focus on mental health with a main theme of overall wellness, but also with a specific mental health requirement:   

My Best Self – Brownie Try-It 

Staying Fit – Junior Badge 

Science of Happiness – Cadette Badge 

Women’s Health – Senior Badge 

If you’re like me, you are probably looking for additional ways to take care of your mental health.  There are so many resources out there for people to choose from.  The GSHPA Staff has been talking about the best ways that they care for their mental health.  One of our favorites has been a mid-day meditation session.  We followed along to this session and this one as well.  Another suggestion has been crafting!  There are so many craft kits and subscriptions services available to find a new crafting hobby you love.  Don’t be afraid to try different things until you find something that brings you joy!   

A favorite self-care method in my family is kayaking.  We spend our Sunday afternoons in our kayaks exploring new waterways or floating on old favorites.  It’s a great way to combine our mental health, the calm that comes from being in the water, and exercise to really have a great full body and spirit workout.   

Will you share your favorite mental health tips with us?  We can all benefit from trying new ways of relaxing and recentering to ensure our bodies, and our minds, stay healthy for a long time.  


Post by Erica Hildabridle

Happy Mother’s Day from GSHPA!

Mother’s Day is a wonderful time to celebrate the women in our lives who are mothers or have been mother figures to us. I’m sure we are all accustomed to this holiday, and usually spend it giving flowers, gifts or even allowing the women in our lives to spend the entire day relaxing. We celebrate this holiday every year, but have you ever heard how Mother’s Day came to be?  

In the late 1800’s, several women around the United States tried to inspire local Mother’s Day celebrations, and are considered to be early Mother’s Day pioneers. It wasn’t until 1905, with the death of one of those pioneers that the official Mother’s Day holiday that we celebrate today really took off. After the passing of her mother, Anna Jarvis worked with a Philadelphia department store to hold the first Mother’s Day celebration in 1908. Thousands of people attended, and this inspired Anna to fight to have the holiday added to the national calendar. Her argument was that American holidays were biased toward male achievements. She worked to organize a letter writing campaign to newspapers and politicians to adopt a special day to honor motherhood. Finally, after persisting for several years, President Woodrow Wilson officially signed Mother’s Day as we know it into existence in 1914.  

Mother’s Day is also widely celebrated around the world, though not always on the same day as here in the states. For example, in Thailand Mother’s Day is celebrated in August on the birthday of their queen. In Ethiopia families gather in the fall to celebrate mothers with a large feast that lasts several days! In France, Mother’s Day is at the end of May or early June, and is typically celebrated very similarly to the way we celebrate.  

Daises: Jeannette, Genevive S., and Rosalina S. 

GSHPA Troop 70304 in Lancaster worked together to create handmade cards to give to their moms!  

No matter how you celebrate Mother’s Day, it is important to recognize and thank the women in our lives for all that they do for us. If you’re still looking for ideas of what to give for Mother’s Day, check out a list of my favorite ideas below! 

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas 

  • A handmade card or letter 
  • A fresh, summery scented candle (you could even make this yourself!) 
  • Breakfast in bed 
  • A pressed flower card or framed arrangement  
  • A day of relaxation – doesn’t have to be at a spa, this could be letting her enjoy a day to herself at home! 

Let us know in the comments what your favorite Mother’s Day gifts to give or receive are! 


Written by Colleen Sypien

The Perfect Pairing: Girl Scout Edition

When you think of a perfect pairing for a Girl Scout cookie, what comes to mind? For me, it’s usually a glass of milk. But have you ever considered pairing your cookie with a glass of wine, beer, or even a whiskey?

Well, we did! As a thank you to our volunteers on Volunteer Appreciation night in April, we held a virtual Girl Scout Cookie Pairing and we’ve compiled our favorite tips below to share. Let us know what you think!

Toffee-tastic

  • Beers: For a buttery cookie such as Toffee-tastics, you’ll want to pair this with a scotch ale to bring out the caramel flavor.
  • Wines: To pair a Toffee-tastic with a wine, we recommend something with a stronger flavor. You could even pair this with a local cider!
  • Spirits: For a spirit, we suggest pairing with a flavored vodka (think caramel, vanilla, or anything sweet).

Bonus tip: If you prefer something non-alcoholic, we recommend dipping a Toffee-tastic in your coffee or hot chocolate!

S’mores

  • Beers: For a beer pairing, you can’t go wrong with a Russian imperial stout. Pairing the sweetness of the cookie with the roasted flavor of a dark stout will make you feel like you are roasting marshmallows over a campfire! For a beyond perfect pairing, don’t miss the local S’mores stout from Maxie’s in Cumberland County.
  • Wines: For wines, S’mores appeals to two flavor pallets, anything from a more subtle rosé to a drier merlot. You can’t go wrong!
  • Spirits: A unique spirit that pairs with several cookies, but especially S’mores, is peanut butter whiskey. We recommend Ole Smokey or Skrewball.

Bonus tip: Put your S’mores cookie in the microwave for 10 seconds to get the same gooey marshmallow as if you roasted it over a campfire!

Lemon-ups

  • Beers: For a unique cookie like Lemon-ups, you’ll want something light and airy to bring out the citrus flavor. Lemon-ups pair well with an IPA or a Hefeweizen which brings out the bright, citrus flavors of the cookie. For a local brew, head up to Troegs and check out First Cut or Joyous, which packs the perfect fruity punch.
  • Wines: For wines, you can’t go wrong with your favorite sparkling or white wine.
  • Spirits: The ultimate spirit pairing for Lemon-ups—a limoncello Moscow mule! For this easy perfect pairing, you’ll need limoncello, vodka, lemon juice, ginger beer, and lemon slices (for serving, of course).

Trefoils

  • Beers: For beer, we recommend an IPA but steer clear of anything bitter since the cookie doesn’t have as much sugar to counteract the flavor.
  • Wines: The Trefoil cookie’s light buttery flavor makes it the perfect match for a wine that is bright, fun, and lively. We recommend a semi-sweet Riesling.
  • Spirits: For spirits, you can mix and match a flavored vodka! And, if you are looking for a local option, check out Mason Dixon Distillery in Gettysburg. Their perfect pairing? Lavender lemonade!

Do-si-Dos

  • Beers: The Do-si-Do is a unique, versatile cookie that pairs well with nearly anything—from blonde ale to a dark coffee porter! The porter will accentuate the peanut butter flavor, while bringing out the sweetness of the oatmeal cookie.
  • Wines: For a wine, we recommend a merlot or zinfandel to highlight the cookie’s oatmeal caramel flavor.
  • Spirits: For spirits, we paired our Do-si-Dos with a butterscotch spirit. If you want to go local, head up to Hazards Distillery in Mifflintown to try their butterscotch flavored moonshine.

Samoas

  • Beers: For Samoas, you want to be sure to pair the cookie with something that won’t take away from its flavor. For beer, we recommend steering clear of a blonde or pale ale. Try out a chocolate stout, brown ale, or amber ale instead.
  • Wines: We recommend pairing a Samoa with a sparkling wine or a dessert wine. This is especially perfect for those with a sweet tooth!
  • Spirits: Of course, with a coconut cookie, you can’t go wrong with a coconut rum or even a cream liqueur, such as Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Tagalongs

  • Beers: For a perfect beer pairing, you’ll want something that compliments the sweetness of the cookie without overpowering it. We recommend a Vienna lager or imperial stout.
  • Wines: You’ll want a wine with an assertive flavor, but not overpowering. Think cabernet, madeira, or anything with a bold flavor to cut with the sweetness of the cookie.
  • Spirits: The ultimate perfect spirit pairing with a peanut butter cookie? Peanut butter whiskey, of course! Test out this Skrewball martini recipe to mimic the Tagalong cookie: Skrewball, chocolate syrup, and vanilla vodka.

Thin Mints

  • Beers: Similar to Tagalongs, Thin Mints pair perfectly with an imperial stout.
  • Wines: For a wine, steer clear of anything that will overpower the cookie. Try out a dry merlot, malbec, or port wine.
  • Spirits: Check out the Bailey’s with Mint or a Coffee Liquor, it will elevate the mint flavor for you.

Bonus Tip: If you are looking for a fun, kid friendly pairing, have some Thin Mints and Cheddar cheese, it’s so tasty!

Let us know your favorites in the comments below!


Written by Rachel Lilley, Volunteer

Thank you Volunteers!

Happy National Volunteer Month! Here at GSHPA, it’s the volunteers that make everything we do possible. We have over 2,900 volunteers that dedicate countless hours to making sure every girl has opportunities of a lifetime. To all of our volunteers, we thank you!

This past year, especially, we’ve leaned on you more than ever. A global pandemic isn’t something that we ever imagined happening, but with all of the extra support of our volunteers, we were able to persevere! Our volunteers stepped up when we needed it most, for that we are very grateful.

We closed our camp gates, office doors, canceled our in-person cookie booths, stopped meeting in person, and went 100 percent virtual. This was something new to all of us, and we had to learn how to navigate a digital world together. The transition wasn’t perfect. In fact, we’re still working on some things, but you and your support and participation were with us every step of the way.

“Despite a pandemic, despite the downturn in the economy, despite all the obstacles ever imagined, Girl Scout Volunteers were still serving and volunteering for the girls,” said Chief Operating Officer Deb Bogdanski. “It is such a testament to the dedication and focus of our volunteers – thank you for everything that each and every volunteer contributes!”

Your efforts do not go unnoticed. We see you encouraging your Daisy troop to be their best selves. We see you putting in extra hours of your personal time to ensure that each girl in your Girl Scout troop is selling cookies to meet their goals. We see you inspiring the next generation of leaders, engineers, artists, teachers and beyond!

This National Volunteer Month (and every day), we want you to know just how vital you are to the success of the best girl leadership development program in the world – a place where every G.I.R.L. can unleash her full potential and make amazing things happen on her terms, largely because of you!

Thank you from our GSHPA leadership team!

Janet Donovan, President and CEO

Deb Bogdanski, COO

Krystell Fox, CFO

Nancy Venner, Chief of Strategy and Public Policy

What is a Cookie Drive-thru?

Introduction 

It goes without saying that the way we receive product has exponentially altered over the course of these last 12 months. Whether it’s selecting curbside delivery for restaurant orders or having your groceries delivered to your door, we’ve all had to adjust our expectations about how we receive the products we are accustomed to having. The same holds true for how customers will receive their cookie orders during the 2021 Girl Scout Cookie Program. 
 

What is a Cookie Drive-thru? 

A Cookie Drive-thru is somewhat self-explanatory. Girl Scouts will arrive onsite with Girl Scout Cookies in hand. Customers will be able to drive up to the Girl Scouts station, pay for their order and receive their cookies without having to leave the comfort of their vehicle. Today’s Girl Scouts recognize the importance of creating an effortless experience for the customer, which is why you’ll see many girls utilizing contactless payment features through mobile devices.   
 

Why is a Cookie Drive-thru Important? 

The Cookie Drive-thru presents a way to keep Girl Scout Troops safe as they participate in the Cookie Program and engage with the customers. The Cookie Drive-thru is not a new concept to the Girl Scout Cookie Program and we anticipate they will become much more prevalent during this year’s program. 

Closing 

For over a century, the Girl Scout Cookie Program has adapted and persevered in the face of certainty and uncertainty. It is without a doubt that the repercussions of this global pandemic will have a permanent impact on how Girl Scouts sell cookies but if we know anything about these aspiring entrepreneurs, it is that they are up to the challenge and will continue to use courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place for years to come.  

Call-to-Action 

To find where Girl Scouts are selling cookies near you, visit girlscouts.org/findcookies 


Post by Jess

Alumni Spotlight – Amy Beamer

Girl Scouting Sows the Seeds of Community

I met Amy Beamer Murray through a former colleague, Michele Engle, when I was busy with publishing work at the Central Penn Business Journal. Michele told me that I was going to love Amy immediately. She was not wrong.  

Amy is smart, kind and has a dry sense of humor that is perfect for late fall afternoon porch conversations. During her daylight hours, Amy is the COO at Pavone Marketing Group, which has its headquarters in Harrisburg and other offices in Philadelphia and Chicago.  

Amy is a prolific letter writer and I just recently found out that she was Girl Scout.  

I just joined the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania organization in early November. Part of what I want to do with the GSHPA is find former Girl Scouts to share their stories about leadership and the impact Girl Scouts had on their lives. 

Here is snapshot of my friend, Amy Beamer Murray.  

Tell us a little about yourself: Where did you grow up? Your schooling and how you ended up in the career that you have now with Pavone? 

I grew up in a small town – Newport, Pennsylvania – which is about 30 miles northwest of Harrisburg. From there, I went to Elizabethtown College and graduated with a degree in business administration. When I graduated in 1990, the country was in the midst of a recession, and, while I’d love to be able to say I had some grand plan, the truth is I just wanted to find a job that was interesting to me, get some experience and figure it out from there. I started working at an advertising agency in Harrisburg, working in traffic and project management. When the creative team left the agency to start their own shop, I followed about a year later as their first employee. And the rest is history. I’ve been with Pavone Marketing Group for 29 years and am currently its chief operating officer, working with almost 100 marketing and communications professionals. 

What are some of your favorite memories regarding your Girl Scout experience? 

My mom got me involved in Girl Scouting as a way for me to be more social. Even at an early age, I was an introvert who was in my own head and who enjoyed the company of adults . . . “that Amy, she’s eight going on 80,” they’d say.  

So, my mom thought it would be good for me to interact more with kids my own age. As Brownies, we did all kinds of arts and crafts, learned patriotic songs, and made sit-upons and foil packets for our day camp excursions.  

We were lucky to have the picturesque Little Buffalo State Park in our backyard – and we did hiking, picnicking and swimming activities there. As Girl Scouts, we did more of the same, but also started volunteering in different ways around the community and we went to overnight camp.  

I remember winter camp especially well because I took a transistor radio with me so we could hear if the US hockey team beat the Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics (that seems very quaint now, doesn’t it?). Cadettes and Senior involvement meant more opportunities to earn badges and volunteer. And there were cookie sales at each level!  

Has your experiences in Girl Scouting affected your leadership style/experience now? If so, can you explain? 

I think those experiences sowed the seeds of community service at an early age. When you grow up in a small town, many of the town’s activities center around the school, churches and community groups. In Newport, the adults were involved in the Lions’ Club, Jaycees, and the volunteer fire company and EMS service, and youth sports. And, for the kids, church youth groups and Girl and Boy Scouts were our vehicles for volunteerism. There was a spirit of teamwork and camaraderie within our troops, while instilling the responsibility to give back to the community by identifying needs (like picking up litter, packing food for distribution, visiting nursing home residents and organizing activities for younger kids) and doing something about it. In my role as COO, that’s pretty much the ball game – identifying needs and doing something about it! 

You are a prolific letter writer (which I love about you) How did this habit start and why is it important for you. Also, share, on average, how many letters that you write a month? 

My mom was always sending greeting cards to sick people and shut-ins in our church and I picked up the knack early on. Once I got to college, writing letters was the only way other than telephone calls to stay in touch with my friends (remember the days of no email or internet?), and so that’s when it really took off. And now I do it because I know people really appreciate it because it’s so uncommon in this day and age. It really has become something between and ministry and an obsession for me. On average, I probably send between 20 and 40 cards per week for a myriad of reasons – birthdays, thank you, thinking of you, get well, sympathy. And I send cards for all holidays and occasions. I’ve become a connoisseur of all different card companies and have even befriended a few of their owners and artists along the way. I simply can’t imagine not doing it! 

A few years ago, you started sharing publicly how practicing mindfulness has helped you mentally and physically. Can you explain that and elaborate a little? 

About a decade ago, I was dealing with some serious issues with chronic fatigue syndrome, and I started looking at alternative therapies as a way to manage it. Having a mindfulness practice has certainly helped. I think a lot of times people think mindfulness means doing meditation, but that’s only a small part of it. And a form of meditation can be as simple as taking a walk with a friend or your dog. Our pets are wonderful teachers when it comes to mindfulness, in that being mindful really means being present in the current moment – not thinking about the past with regret or the future with anticipation or dread. I do devotions and prayer each morning and try to take time throughout the day to move/walk and do some intentional breathing. I also seek out periods of silence (no tech/media) which is also helpful in calming the mind. And an opportunity for gardening is just around the corner! I believe that having a mindfulness practice has been essential to my ability to deal with the pandemic and the anxiety and uncertainty that it has brought to so many folks. 

What are some ways you can recommend participating in the Girl Scouts as a volunteer? 

Being a leader has to be a wonderful and fulfilling way to get involved. Working as a part-time chaperone is also a way to be involved. And as Girl Scouts are pursuing a variety of badges, I would imagine there are opportunities to volunteer as a subject matter expert as well. In the past, I volunteered as part of a partnership with Junior Achievement to work with Girl Scouts who were pursuing their business badge. 

I know you are big fan of cats. Tell us about your kitties. Their names and personalities. 

My husband, Paul, and I are parents to six cats. I always joke that three of them were unplanned, but we couldn’t say no when a kitty was in need. We have two pair of tiger brother/sister siblings and they’re our oldest and youngest cats. So, those four are Jasper (who is Paul’s boy) and Frances, age 12, and Ollie (who is a total train wreck) and Maude, age three. Sandwiched in between them are our two black cats, Otis Jones, age 6, who is totally a momma’s boy, and Fiona, age 10, who is our deaf girl and sleeps 23 hours a day. Truth be told, Frances and Maude are probably the best archetypal house cats that we have. The others are all just a little nuts. 


Post by Cathy Hirko

Faith Like a Girl Scout

Happy almost Girl Scout Week GSHPA Blog Fam!  We are so excited to be gearing up for the 2021 Girl Scout Week which kicks off on Girl Scout Sunday, March 7th.  Make sure you keep an eye on the Blog next week, because there will be so many exciting posts celebrating Girl Scout Week as we lead up to our 109th Birthday!   

I would be remiss if I did not also wish you a Happy International Women’s month!  We are excited to celebrate International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8th, the second day of Girl Scout Week.  There are so many exciting things happen in March I can barely stand it!  

Now, let’s talk about the first day of Girl Scout Week, the kick off for a full week of celebration that girls across the country celebrate, Girl Scout Sunday!  (Stay with me, there is a little bit of a history lesson before we get into the good stuff!) 

As we all know, Juliette Gordon Low (JGL), met and worked with Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts while in London.  She worked with him on creating the female equivalent while in London.  Together, they then came to America to build the Girl Guides of America movement.  Juliette learned so much from Lord Baden-Powell; how to run a youth organization, activities that were important for girls to learn including confidence, courage, and character, and the importance of creating a space for girls of any religion to participate together, as a unit.  Lord Baden-Powell made it a point to never tether the Boy Scouts to a specific Religion, and JGL followed suit.   

On March 12, 1912, Juliette Gordon Low hosted the first Girl Guides of America meeting (later the Girl Scouts of America) in her carriage house (it was the early 1900’s version of a garage).  There were 18 girls in attendance, that Juliette invited herself.  Some were from families of prominence in Savannah, and some from the local synagogue!  The mixing of religions was something that was seldom done in the early 1900’s.   

When the time came to recruit Troop Leaders for the newly established Girl Guides of America, JGL asked four women to lead the first troop.  Three of those four women were Jewish.  Two of the three of those original leaders went on to hold high ranking positions within the Girl Scouts of America in the first established councils.  Again, the mixing of religions was not something that was commonplace in the early 1900’s, but JGL did not care about the social norm, she cared the girls who joined her organization had the best possible experience, and she knew that would come from powerful female leaders.  

Random Fun Fact! Did you know that the first commercially baked Girl Scout Cookies were made in a Jewish Bakery?  Bonus points if you know what year the first cookies were made commercially!  (If you need a helping hand for your guess, take a look at this article!) 

Juliette Gordon Low was a woman of faith.  She was progressive in her thinking about religion and the relationship it should have in your social engagements, which made her an outcast.  However, her church, the Christ Church of Savannah, was no stranger to being ahead of the times.  The Christ Church was the first Georgian church to have a female ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons.  (To learn more about Susan W. Harrison take a look at the Christ Church of Savannah’s historical timeline!) 

While the Girl Scouts are still a non-denominational organization, and we welcome girls of any and all faiths. Girls are encouraged to recognize that faith can be a driving force for many.  What you put your faith in is where we all differ, and that’s what makes this such a great organization.   

Now, let’s talk about some of the awards girls can earn based on their faith! 

Girls are able to earn multiple different faith based awards.  The official Girl Scout awards include the My Promise, My Faith Pins.  These pins are able to be earned annually from first year Daisys through Graduating Ambassadors.  These pins are earned by choosing a line from the Girl Scout Law and studying how that line corresponds to their faith.  The girls are tasked with researching poems, songs, or stories in their faith that also show the line they’ve chosen from the Law.  They are also tasked with researching inspirational quotes from women and in talking to women within their faith or outside of their faith to discover how they live the line from the law.   

What makes this award unique is that it is not denominational.  Girls of any faith could earn these awards.  In our thirty county foot print we have had girls earn this award in almost every religion.  We currently have a troop finalizing their award in the Hindu Religion!   

Girls can also earn awards specifically focused on their individual religion.  To Serve God awards are created by members of Faith Based organizations who are also Girl scouts.  Girls work with advisors, whether spiritual or Girl Scout, to earn their religious award.  There are more than 29 different denominations with advanced awards offered through the Pray Pub organization in partnership with the Girl Scouts.   

These awards, like all of our awards, are unique to the girls who earn them.  No two projects ever look the same and no two girls ever bring the same experiences to their Girl Scout Experience.   

To learn more about the My Promise, My Faith Pins or the awards offered through the Pray Pub Partnership, check out here, or here, your place of worship, or your Girl Scout Handbook!  


Post by Erica

Prioritizing Appreciation

The past year has brought about MANY changes, of course… you know that.  It’s changed the way we work, socialize, even grocery shop, (again, not breaking news).  What it has not changed is the need to encourage and recognize employees.  If anything, it’s even more important to show our employees that they are appreciated.  So, how do we do that?  

Recognizing employees can come in many different forms.  For example, I am a gifter.  I love to give gifts as well as receive them.  My first draft of this posting was done with a pen I received as a valentine from GSHPA’s Staff Appreciation Committee.  While I’m a gifter, not everyone is.  Some people thrive on one to one interaction, some people prefer to receive hand written letters, and some people prefer activities.  How we all feels our best is different between each person.  So how do we show appreciation to each employee when there are so many with so many different needs?   

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Well that is the real question and is something that the Staff Appreciation Committee struggles with at each meeting.  We know the importance of engaging our staff in different ways to ensure each and every one of our 56 employees feel appreciated.  While we are a smaller organization, some of our efforts can be duplicated amongst bigger, or even smaller, workplaces as well.   

Check out some examples of what we at GSHPA have done to appreciate our staff;  

  1. We sent Valentine’s to everyone.  A stress taco and a heart pen!  
  1. We held a virtual holiday party with 6 different activities for everyone to participate in.  
  1. We spent an afternoon choosing our words of intention for the year and the SAC is creating printable reminders for each staff person.  
  1. Each staff member receives cards for their birthdays and work anniversaries in conjunction with the leadership team.  
  1. We have two very active social groups that meet monthly after work.   
  1. Currently, we are hosting a step challenge for any staff members who wanted a little extra support in hitting their daily and weekly step goals.  

One of the items mentioned above is the social groups that meet monthly after work.  We’re really excited about this newly formed aspect of the Staff Appreciation Committee!  In December we started a Craft Club.  Each month, a club member “hosts” a Zoom event and teaches the rest of the club how to do a craft, typically one that matches the season.  Our other social club, the Book Club, began at the end of January.  Each month we choose a book and read throughout the month.  When we are able to meet, we spend some time discussing the book and also then choosing a book for the next month.  The best part of each of the clubs though, the socialization and bonding that happen while were crafting or discussing the book.   

While these ideas can all be implemented into the workplace, they can also be used engage your troop members.  Planning a troop meeting, whether in person or virtually, you can create some activities for your girls to participate with.  A platform that has been a huge hit with our staff, and free to use, is Kahoot.  It can be used in person or virtually and it makes creates a fun, competitive activity for your girls. Another way to show your girls how much you appreciate them and how much they are going through, reaching out individually. Give them a call or a text to chat with them about their day or their current goals.

Another way to show them your appreciation is to recognize them individually during a virtual (or in person) troop meeting. Create awards for each of your girls that are leader judged. For example, Best Zoom Background, Funniest Pet Story, Best Quarantine Skill, or anything you can imagine!

What are some ways your employers have shown you their appreciation?  Have you done anything to show your girls your appreciation of them?  


Post by Erica