Daisy Girl Scout serves as motivational figure for ‘lead by example’ Harrisburg city cleanup event

Girl Scout Aubriella and her mother Michelle Landolfa share their experience with gun violence to inspire others to create a safe community.

By Catherine Amoriello

It’s a chilly Saturday in April as I make my way up the steep slopes of Reservoir Park in Harrisburg. I follow the narrow, winding roads until suddenly the park pavilion comes into view. As I approach, the wind is brisk and biting and the clouds threaten rain. The only reprieve comes from brief bursts of sunlight through the clouds.

Reservoir Park pavilion in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Volunteers gathered at the Reservoir Park pavilion in Harrisburg for a community cleanup event April 9.

Despite the very unspring-like weather, a large group of adults and children assembles outside the pavilion. As I weave my way through the assemblage and reach the steps of the building, my eyes finally find what I’ve been seeking – a Girl Scout Cookie booth.

Not far from the booth I spot its owner, her identity given away by her bright blue Daisy vest which she wears proudly over a pink and purple ombré coat and a purple headband to match. Seven-year-old Aubriella darts about the pavilion, eager to join the group forming outside. Although selling Girl Scout Cookies is important work, Aubriella is also at the park to participate in a “lead by example” community cleanup.

Girl Scout selling cookies.
Daisy Girl Scout Aubriella hosts a cookie booth at Reservoir Park in Harrisburg.

The cleanup has brought Harrisburg community members together, many of them children, to disperse throughout the city streets to pick up trash. Tone Cook, founder of anti-gun violence group Michael’s Memory, organized the event to give children a safe space to socialize and show them they have power to influence change in their communities, including helping to decrease gun violence. It provides adults the opportunity to show their younger counterparts how to make an impact, which the children can then pass along to their peers.

I join Aubriella and her mother Michelle Landolfa at a picnic table covered with snacks and treats for the volunteers. Aubriella sits between us, and while she’s straining to keep the cleanup crew in her sights so as not to miss her opportunity to join them, she kindly gives me the time of day (much in thanks to Landolfa’s prodding). After proving to Aubriella that I can indeed spell her name with my eyes closed, we take a more serious turn to explore one of the reasons she and Landolfa are in attendance at the cleanup event today – to share their own recent experience with gun violence.

In early March, Aubriella and Landolfa set up their first cookie booth outside of a store in Steelton. As they were selling cookies, gun shots rang out nearby, prompting Landolfa to rush Aubriella inside the store for cover.

There was fighting in the parking lot and then someone had a gun, Aubriella recounted.

One would think this act of violence would cause Aubriella to host her booth elsewhere, or maybe even close up shop for good. But in true Girl Scout fashion, Aubriella tapped into her bravery and returned to the store another day to reestablish her booth.

“She was scared, but we had made a commitment. It’s her first year in Girl Scouts,” Landolfa said of their decision to return to the site. “I felt like that wasn’t something that normally happens in our community. We set a goal so we had to go back out.”

Girl Scout and mom selling cookies.
Michelle Landolfa supports Aubriella as she sells Girl Scout Cookies at the cleanup.

Landolfa was unprepared for the community support Aubriella would receive. With an initial goal of selling 50 boxes of cookies during her first Girl Scout Cookie Season, Aubriella sold more than 3,200 boxes.

“We had the mayor come out, the fire department…We received very overwhelming support. They [Steelton community] have such a huge heart. They came out and really supported her,” Landolfa said.

I’m hardly surprised when Landolfa tells me she’s also a former Girl Scout. Upon meeting her she holds her tall frame with confidence, rocks her edgy teal hair slicked back in a chic ponytail and her brown eyes are bright with kindness and warmth. Her own experience as a Girl Scout and a lack of available local programming for children is what brought her and Aubriella to Girl Scouts.

“She’s really young, not a lot of schools have much programming for inner city kids. That’s why we got involved,” Landolfa said. “She’s really grown so much since she’s been in Girl Scouts.”

As our conversation nears its end, volunteers begin gathering inside the pavilion. Cook takes a moment to speak about how the cleanup is one of many stepping stones to creating a safe and beautiful community. He reminds the adults of their responsibility as role models to not just tell children to make a difference, but to show them how to make a difference. Many in the crowd nod their heads and audibly confirm their agreement.

Girl Scout with mom.
Aubriella shares her story of resilience and mission to lead by example with community members.

Eventually, Cook waves Aubriella forward to stand before the volunteers. He asks her to share why she’s at the cleanup today. Her eyes dart across the crowd, taking in the faces and cell phones all pointed in her direction. She shifts nervously on her feet, and although quiet, she speaks.

“I’m going to be a good example. I’m going to clean up the park.”

Cook further clarifies Aubriella’s intent. “She’s going to be cleaning up to make a safe space for other kids in the community.”

Other children are then called to stand alongside Aubriella. Some appear as young as 2 years old, others are in their teens. Cook motions to the young group.

“This right here is what’s going to lead us.”

Girl Scout cleaning up the park.
Aubriella joins volunteers to participate in the community cleanup.
Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at camoriello@gshpa.org.

Donate Girl Scout Cookies to Operation Gratitude and make a military member’s day

By Catherine Amoriello

Operation Gratitude President and CEO General James Johnson
Retired Maj. Gen. of the U.S. Air Force James Johnson, Operation Gratitude President and CEO

As Cookie Season nears its end, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) would like to remind all you cookie lovers that not only are you able to buy cookies to enjoy yourself, but you have the unique opportunity to buy cookies to give back to others through GSHPA’s Gift of Caring donation program in partnership with Operation Gratitude.

Operation Gratitude is a nonprofit that provides care packages to deployed troops, recruit graduates, veterans, military families, first responders and health care heroes. By donating to Operation Gratitude, Americans are able to express their appreciation to all who serve and protect our nation.

Operation Gratitude anticipates sending out 30,000 care packages by the end of May. Through donations received through GSHPA’s Gift of Caring program, each package will include two boxes of tasty Girl Scout Cookies along with other donated goods such as snacks, hygiene products, handmade items and a paracord bracelet. Retired Maj. Gen. of the U.S. Air Force James Johnson, Operation Gratitude President and CEO, said the cookies provide a special taste of home for package recipients.

“When people talk about this feel of home – Girl Scout Cookies are definitely the type of thing that transmits that. I think we all have an experience with Girl Scout Cookies,” Johnson said.

GSHPA has partnered with Operation Gratitude for its Gift of Caring program for the past two years. The partnership was born of GSHPA’s own connection to the military through Janet Donovan, GSHPA President and CEO, who served as a U.S. Navy Two Star Rear Adm. and holds more than 30 years of military experience. Between Donovan’s military history and Operation Gratitude’s mission to provide quality products that bring joy to its recipients, it was the perfect blend of common interests.

In 2021, GSHPA donated 46,000 boxes of cookies to Operation Gratitude. This year, the organization has a goal of donating 50,000 boxes of cookies. In an effort to reach this goal and spread awareness for the Gift of Caring program, Jess Delp, GSHPA Director of Product Program and Retail; Nancy Levy, Operation Gratitude Director of Donor Relations; and Johnson have all agreed to get a Girl Scout Cookie pie in the face if GSHPA hits its target for donations!

“Normally this wouldn’t be my thing. I’m actually excited that this may generate donations. I think it will be fun for the Girl Scouts,” Johnson said at the prospect of being pied in the face.

The idea for the cookie pie in the face incentive came from none other than a group of Girl Scouts during the Operation Gratitude phonathon event. They decided one lucky Girl Scout will have the pieing honors, selected through a random drawing of all girls who participated in the Cookie Program this year.

As of April 11, more than 32,000 boxes of cookies have been donated to the Gift of Caring program. With less than one week of Cookie Season left, GSHPA encourages customers to use the Girl Scout Cookie Finder to donate cookies online through a troop near them. For those who need help donating through the Cookie Finder, check out the slideshow below to see how you can donate in just five simple steps! You can also reach out to the GSHPA Member Services team at 800-692-7816 or at MemberServices@gshpa.org for assistance.

Donate today and help GSHPA meet its donation goal before Cookie Season ends!

How to Donate Girl Scout Cookies to Operation Gratitude in 5 Easy Steps

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at camoriello@gshpa.org.

Hanover-based orthodontic practice gives back through Girl Scout Cookies

EDITOR’S NOTE (March 29, 2022) David Ross Orthodontics pledges to purchase two cases of Girl Scout Cookies per troop, not per girl.

By Catherine Amoriello

Dr. David Ross of David Ross Orthodontics
Dr. David Ross of David Ross Orthodontics

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) is more than halfway through its Girl Scout Cookie Season and our girls are going stronger than ever! While Girl Scouts work hard to sell their cookies and hone their entrepreneurship skills, it’s important to remember that Cookie Season would not be possible without the support of many individuals. From our bakers, to our volunteers, to our cookie-loving customers, we appreciate all who support our Girl Scouts in reaching their cookie goals. One such supporter of the Girl Scout Cookie Program is Dr. David Ross of David Ross Orthodontics out of Hanover, Pa., and Lutherville-Timonium, Md.

This year will be the fourth year the practice is pledging to purchase two cases of Girl Scout Cookies per girl. As an orthodontic practice that serves a mostly younger demographic, supporting girls aligns with Ross’ philanthropic goals.

“The core of our practice is children. Anything that comes into our focal point of supporting kids, supporting programs that support children or supporting schools has always been the main focus of David Ross Orthodontics,” Ross said.

Dr. David Ross of David Ross Orthodontics with young Girl Scout and Girl Scout Cookies.
A Girl Scout shows her appreciation for David Ross Orthodontics’ support of her cookie endeavors.

Ross began the practice’s cookie initiative as a way to eliminate the challenge girls face of having to go door-to-door, or wait for customers to come to them to buy cookies. The initiative not only provides direct support to Girl Scouts and their troops, but gives back to individuals making a difference in the community as well. All cookies purchased by Ross are donated to first responders in Hanover, including police officers, firefighters, nurses and other community heroes.

“We support them [Girl Scouts] and take the cookies to support others in a pay it forward concept, which is how we run our business,” Ross said. “We have always done this, but the pandemic adds to the ‘thank you’ for all the hard work they do. Giving back to them has been so great and something that we want to do.”

In 2021, the practice purchased and donated more than 35 cases, or about 420 boxes, of Girl Scout Cookies. The practice does not have a limit to how many girls it will support through buying cases of cookies, and it welcomes any girl from any troop to get involved by emailing marketing@davidrossortho.com or calling/texting their office in Hanover at 717-637-4131.

And in case you were wondering, yes, Ross not only donates cookies but enjoys them himself as well! The orthodontist’s favorite Girl Scout Cookie is Thin Mints (but they have to be frozen).

Catherine Amoriello is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator specializing in writing and editing for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at camoriello@gshpa.org.

Lisa Hall Zielinski, Director of The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center, shares entrepreneurship wisdom

By Colleen Buck

As we continue our Cookie Season here at Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA), we remain focused on bestowing entrepreneurship knowledge and skills upon girls to help them succeed in their cookie endeavors. As our young entrepreneurs are busy out in the field promoting and selling cookies, we got the chance to chat with former Girl Scout and entrepreneurship guru Lisa Hall Zielinski, Director of The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Zielinski kindly imparted valuable entrepreneurship advice for us to share with all of you future female business leaders, so read on to learn how to take your passion for entrepreneurship to the next level!

“I think women of all ages can do amazing things when they put their minds to it, and we can achieve more by working together.”

Lisa hall zielinski, director of the university of scranton small business development center (SBDC)
Lisa Hall Zielinski, Director of The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Lisa Hall Zielinski, Director of The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

According to your online profile, you were raised in a family business. Can you describe what that experience was like and how it influenced your career path?

Growing up in my family’s automotive business, I learned a little bit about everything! I helped out with everything from finances to inventory to changing tires and rebuilding engines. I was voted Most Mechanical in my high school class – maybe not what every girl dreams of, but not every girl is the same. I learned to appreciate small businesses and how important they are to families and communities and, while I was not always clear about exactly what I wanted to do for a career, I knew small businesses would be an important part.

What are some of your responsibilities as director of The University of Scranton SBDC?

As Director of The University of Scranton Small Business Development Center (SBDC), I oversee the organization and lead an awesome team of staff and interns who provide educational programming and individual consulting to entrepreneurs in eight counties in Northeastern and Northern Tier Pennsylvania. Aside from leading the team, I manage our operation from start to finish. I make sure we are on task on every project, achieve goals and keep in compliance with all policies and grant guidelines. Collaboration is also a major part of my job, working with colleagues and partners across the region. I also teach some of our training classes, and I teach undergraduate classes in the Kania School of Management.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The people and the variety! My team, our university students, our partners and the clients we serve are what I love most about my job. I am an extrovert and get my energy from connecting with others. I also like the variety of my work. I get to do a little bit of everything and I use many of the skills and knowledge I learned through my education – leadership, marketing, psychology, accounting, math, and so on. Believe it or not, I even use algebra!

What challenges do you face in your job?

Running a nonprofit means lots of juggling. There is never enough time or funding to reach all of the people or do all of the projects. With so many people to serve, it can be really hard for me to prioritize and set boundaries and to help my team do so also.

Lisa Hall Zielinski with Tomorrow's Leaders Today (TLT) participants.
Lisa Hall Zielinski with participants of the Tomorrow’s Leaders Today (TLT) program.

Can you speak to the importance of mentorship within the field of entrepreneurship/business?

I think mentorship is positive in any field, but especially when it comes to entrepreneurship and business. Having someone else to talk to and learn from can be extremely helpful, especially when you are on your own trying to run a business. You don’t have to do everything exactly as a mentor would do, but hearing their experience and getting their input can be really helpful when it comes to overcoming challenges or pursuing opportunities.

Do you mentor any girls/women in the area of business and/or entrepreneurship?

I have worked with many women and young women over time, starting with my time at Keystone College where I ran a leadership center and continuing when I came to The University of Scranton through my work with the SBDC. I have closely mentored a handful of young women because I think it’s critically important that we help each other succeed. I think women of all ages can do amazing things when they put their minds to it, and we can achieve more by working together!

The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world. What challenges do you think Girl Scouts face in the program that might mirror challenges adult entrepreneurs face?

No matter what your age, it’s hard work to market and sell products or services with all of the information and competition in our world today. Coming up with new and innovative ways to reach customers is something every entrepreneur should be thinking about these days and it’s not easy. The good thing is that Girl Scout Cookies are delicious! (I have two favorites, by the way, Caramel deLites and Lemonades!)

What benefits do you think entrepreneurship skills provide young girls?

I believe the skills young girls can learn through entrepreneurship are skills for life! Through entrepreneurship, girls can learn critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, innovation, self-discipline and much more. They can build skills in financial literacy and leadership and learn how to set and achieve goals. All of these things help build strengths that are important no matter what they choose to do in life. Also, we need more woman-owned businesses! Through entrepreneurship, women can create their own economic independence, create jobs for others and make a positive impact on our economy.

Lisa Hall Zielinski recognized as Northeast PA Business Journal's 2013 Top 25 Women in Business.
Lisa Hall Zielinski was recognized as one of Northeast PA Business Journal’s 2013 Top 25 Women in Business.

What advice would you give to girls interested in a career in business/entrepreneurship?

Try lots of things and don’t be afraid to fail! I keep quotes posted near my desk to create a motivating environment. This one is from Woody Allen: “If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” While most of us strive for success and want to avoid the pain of failure at all costs, I think we often learn more from our ideas that don’t work and it often leads us to come up with even better ones!

Were you a Girl Scout? If yes, can you share your favorite memory from your time as a Girl Scout?

I was a Girl Scout and my mom was a leader. I have very clear memories of meetings, specific projects and outdoor adventures. I remember towers of cookies piled in our kitchen during cookie time! I also helped my mom when my younger sister was a Daisy. In fact, the day after I got my driver’s license, I drove a car full of Daisies to the airport for a tour!

Colleen Buck is a Program Coordinator for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email at csypien@gshpa.org.