Thursday, March 5, 2015

Meet Elizabeth City Girl Scouts Emily and Jessica

Every girl deserves the chance to see the world, and when they’re exploring new cities, experiencing new cultures and seeing new sights, Girl Scouts are expanding their horizons. In January, Girl Scout Ambassadors Emily and Jessica, along with their mother and Girl Scout volunteer Julie, traveled to New York City with a group of over 30 Girl Scouts for an action-packed long weekend to discover the best of the city.

Emily, Julie and Jessica outside of the GSUSA central office
From Times Square to the Statue of Liberty and everything in between, Emily, Jessica, Julie and their Girl Scout travel companions took advantage of all of the time that they had during their stay in New York. They had a private tour of Radio City Music Hall, experienced the breathtaking views from the top of the Empire State Building, strolled through the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw a Broadway show.

“As we stood in the halls of Ellis Island, we could picture our civics lessons in our heads as they came to life before our eyes,” Emily said. “We then took a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, and she was an amazing sight!”

For Emily and Jessica, who have been Girl Scouts since they were five years old, a highlight of the trip was visiting the Girl Scouts of the USA central office. There, they visited the national Girl Scout archives and participated in a focus group about the Girl Scout Cookie Program. They also had the opportunity to meet the CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, Anna Maria Chavez.

“We told her all about our Girl Scout careers,” Jessica said. “She looked at all of our badges and pins and asked about them. Some of them she had not seen before!”

Jessica helps Emily build benches for part of her
Girl Scout Gold Award project
Emily and Jessica, who are in their final years of being girl members of the organization that they love, are working on their projects to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting. Each of their projects benefits the SPCA of Northeastern North Carolina. Emily is building new trails to replace the walkways that have not been maintained over the past few years. Jessica is building benches and animal waste trash bag holders that will be placed along the trails. Both of their projects will help provide a nice outdoor space for people to walk and get to know the animals that are available for adoption.

Emily and Jessica will also be traveling to Raleigh later this month to take part in Girl Scout Legislative Day, an annual event to raise awareness about the issues important to girls and young women and educate legislators on what Girl Scouts are doing to address these issues.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Girl Scouts Help Put a Smile on Faces around the World

In the winter months, Girl Scouts are most often seen out and about selling their famous cookies. But on Saturday, February 28, over 200 Girl Scouts had another mission on their minds— making a difference during a day of service at the Operation Smile headquarters in Virginia Beach. Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast teamed up with Operation Smile, an international children’s medical charity, to give girls an opportunity to learn about healthcare around the world and discover how they can make a global impact from right here in Hampton Roads.

Over 200 Girl Scouts learned about the medical missions
led by volunteer teams through Operation Smile
When they arrived at Operation Smile, Girl Scouts were first led on a tour of the facility, which included seeing the business offices, the warehouse of medical supplies used on medical missions, and displays of stories and photographs that tell the mission of Operation Smile. The Girl Scouts then gathered in the theater, where they heard a firsthand account about a medical mission from a student at First Colonial High School who has been involved with Operation Smile as a volunteer from a very young age. She talked about her experience as an Operation Smile volunteer in An Giang, Vietnam and encouraged Girl Scouts to find their passion in the community and get involved.

Girl Scout Daisies created get well soon cards for children
who will be receiving surgery from Operation Smile
Girl Scouts then divided into groups, where they made get well cards and banners that will be delivered to recovering patients around the world. Girl Scouts also dropped off donations of items for Smile Bags, which are given to each child after surgery and include personal hygiene items, as well as fun goodies, such as coloring books, crayons and stuffed animals.

Community service has been a cornerstone of Girl Scouting since the organization was founded over 100 years ago. This Operation Smile Day of Service is just one of the ways that Girl Scouts are making a positive impact on their community, and the world. This April, Girl Scouts throughout southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina will be taking part in the annual Helping Hands Food Drive to help fill the shelves at food banks and pantries across the region.

View more photos from the day here.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tidewater Park Girl Scout Troop Hosts Black History Month Read-a-Thon

When Ernecia House thinks back to her time as a Girl Scout, she has some of her fondest childhood memories. She met some of her best friends through Girl Scouts—some of whom she still stays in contact with today. She also made great memories with her mother, who was also her troop leader. Now in her 30s, Ernecia and her mother Jan decided it was time to get back to Girl Scouting, and they have embarked on a new adventure together as the leaders of Girl Scout Troop 5161.

Girl Scout volunteer Ernecia House with Jykera, Naja and
Sa'Miya from Troop 5161.
When this mother-daughter team decided to get involved with Girl Scouts again, they learned about a new troop of Girl Scouts at Tidewater Park Elementary School who were in need of volunteers. The troop, which is funded by a grant from the United Way of South Hampton Roads Women’s Leadership Council, will help Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast provide girls at Tidewater Park with opportunities to build leadership skills, give back to the community and develop a sense of self-empowerment.

Although the troop just started meeting in January, under the guidance of Ernecia, Jan and longtime Girl Scout volunteer Toni Taylor, girls have already started forming new friendships, learning about responsibility and citizenship and setting personal goals to make themselves and their community a better place.

“Anything that you want to do, you can do it in Girl Scouts,” Taylor told the girls. “Girl Scouts is a positive place. It’s a sisterhood where we welcome all girls.”

Girl Scout volunteer Frederica looks
through a Black History Month book
with Girl Scout Daisy Sa'Miya during a
read-a-thon held by Troop 5161.
On February 23, the members of Girl Scout Troop 5161 hosted a Black History Month Read-a-Thon for their classmates who stay after school in the Boys and Girls Club at Tidewater Park Elementary School. During the read-a-thon, girls read Black History Month-themed books and then completed a variety of literacy activities, including creating an award for the book they read, writing an alternate ending and summarizing the plot. The read-a-thon was a fun and informal way to reinforce the literacy skills girls are learning in school.

Prior to the read-a-thon, the members of Girl Scout Troop 5161 already earned their first badge—Girl Scout Ways, which taught them about the history of Girl Scouting, its founder and the meaning of the Girl Scout Promise and Law. The troop members also talked about personal goals for 2015 and made vision boards, and they are selling Girl Scout Cookies.

“It’s a joy to be back volunteering with Girl Scouts after nearly 20 years,” Jan House said.

Next up, the troop has planned a field trip to Nauticus, and they will soon be working on the requirements to earn the First Aid badge.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Decoding Digital Cookie

As reported far and wide, Digital Cookie is a groundbreaking new addition to the Girl Scout Cookie Program that creates a fun, safe, interactive space for girls to sell cookies. Digital Cookie is the first national digital platform in the history of the iconic Girl Scout Cookie Program.

Check out the below Q&A for answers to some of the most common Digital Cookie questions.

What exactly is Digital Cookie?
Digital Cookie is a digital layer to the traditional Girl Scout Cookie Sale, which puts girls in the driver’s seat of their own digital sales experience. Digital Cookie allows Girl Scouts nationally to sell cookies digitally for the first time in the program’s history, giving girls valuable twenty-first-century entrepreneurial skills.

How does it work—Do I just go online, order cookies and then they arrive?
No. Like the traditional sale, Digital Cookie is a girl-driven and girl-led business, designed with each girl's safety in mind, and therefore she must initiate contact with people she knows to sell cookies.

With Digital Cookie, girls will market their own online cookie business by inviting you via email to visit their personalized cookie websites. There, you can order cookies from the comfort of your living room.

What about shipping costs?
Shipping rates are optimal for folks who buy the maximum amount of cookies available for a set rate. Ordering one box online is possible, but the best value is to order a minimum of 6.

All shipping costs associated with Digital Cookie are in line with industry standards set by many reputable delivery services. The cost associated is comparable to what a customer would pay when buying Girl Scout Cookies at a booth sale and shipping the cookies themselves.

Neither Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) nor Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast make any money from shipping and handling charges through Digital Cookie or booth sales. GSUSA has worked closely with our councils to ensure all cookie revenue—every penny after paying the bakers—stays with the local Girl Scouts and their council, and is reinvested into programming and activities that benefit girls.

How safe is Digital Cookie?
Digital Cookie emphasizes the safety of both girls and customers. Girls and their parents/caregivers take an Internet safety pledge before using the web-based platform, and parents/caregivers must approve all updates and changes girls make when customizing their Digital Cookie site. Girls using the mobile platform will adhere to the same safety standards as those participating in traditional Girl Scout Cookie sales.

As a customer, your personal information will not be shared outside of the Girl Scout organization.

Both Digital Cookie systems are fully Payment Card Industry compliant and consumers can feel absolutely confident that their financial information is not stored. Both the online and mobile platforms of Digital Cookie transmit financial data to the respective credit card processors and "scrub" credit card and other identifiable information from the systems.

Girl Scout Troop 629 Earns Silver Award

Members of Girl Scout Troop 629, Talia, Nicole, Darielle and Alyssa of Chesapeake, have earned the Girl Scout Silver Award, the second highest honor and achievement that girls can earn in Girl Scouting. The members of the troop, who share a love of history, realized that they do not learn much about the history of Chesapeake in school. For their project, in coordination with the 50th anniversary of the City of Chesapeake, the girls decided to make sure that the history of Chesapeake is not lost upon its citizens.

Members of Girl Scout Troop 629 with
GSCCC Board Chair Cheryle Mack after presenting their
project at a GSCCC board of directors meeting.
For their project, the girls visited the historical markers in Chesapeake, did research about the historical events and people that are commemorated on the markers and put together a video about the information they learned. The girls then visited local civic leagues, community centers and Girl Scout events to share the history of Chesapeake with members of the community. They presented their project at a meeting of the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast board of directors and set up a display at a Girl Scout volunteer retreat. The members of the troop also created bookmarks with facts about Chesapeake, as well as coloring and activity pages to leave with children so that their project left a lasting impression.

“I enjoy giving back to the community,” Talia said. “Making a positive impact on the people around us helps us to feel more connected to where we live.”

The members of Girl Scout Troop 629 spent approximately 60 hours on their project to earn the Silver Award.

In addition to this work, the girls in Troop 629 have spent time at Dominion Village Assisted Living Facility in Chesapeake, where they read to the residents, lead games, conduct musical performances and more. The troop also participates in the annual food drive at Deep Creek United Methodist Church and the annual Girl Scout Helping Hands Food Drive.

The Girl Scout Silver Award is a girl-led endeavor and the highest achievement earned by Girl Scouts in middle school.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cookies are here!

Over the weekend, more than one million boxes of Thin Mints, Samoas, and six other varieties of Girl Scout Cookies arrived in the region. On Saturday, over 2,200 cases—that’s over 26,000 boxes of cookies— were delivered to the home of Girl Scout volunteer Cathy French, who will be responsible for helping York County Girl Scouts fill their cookie orders.

Cookie coordinator Cathy French takes a well-deserved
Thin Mints break after receiving over 26,000 boxes of
Girl Scout Cookies on Saturday.
French, who has already placed an additional order to restock her inventory of cookies, got involved with the Girl Scout Cookie Program over 30 years ago when her daughter first joined Girl Scouts. As a military spouse, French moved all over the world and she helped out with the cookie program wherever she went. It was the early 1990s when she first started to help organize the cookie shipments in Poquoson and just a few years later, she took on the volunteer role of cookie coordinator. Throughout cookie season, she is responsible for helping to track the cookie inventory and move cookies around to make sure girls have what they need to meet their sales goals.

“I do this for the girls,” French said. “Being a cookie coordinator takes a lot of flexibility, but I am committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure that girls have the cookies they need all season long.”

By 2000, French also opened up her home to be a cookie cupboard—a place where troop leaders and other Girl Scout volunteers could come to pick up cookies for girls to sell.

French works with fellow cookie coordinators on the Peninsula to shuffle cookies around and help fill orders. She is a dedicated volunteer who makes sure that girls get what they need when they need it. French knows firsthand that troops are dependent on their cookie proceeds in order have fun and educational experiences all year long, and she makes it a point to ensure girls never run out of cookies to sell.

Girl Scouts will be selling cookies at booths across the region through March 22. Cookie customers can use the Cookie Finder app or visit www.girlscoutcookies.org to enter their zip code to find cookie booths nearby. Members of the public can also enjoy Girl Scout Cookies at the upcoming Samoa Soiree, an adult-only tasting event where top chefs in Hampton Roads use Girl Scout Cookies to make unique desserts and appetizers. More information can be found at www.gsccc.org.


View photos from the Virginia Beach cookie delivery here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Meet Samoa Soiree Participant: Home Republic Brewpub

With a winning smile and a solid handshake, Barbara McElroy, co-owner of Home Republic Brewpub in Virginia Beach, regularly stations herself  near the front door to greet guests. It’s not hard to figure out why this young entrepreneur is a success, but helping run an up-and- coming restaurant and brewery isn't the only job she shoulders. By day, Barbara holds a pharmaceutical sales position and squeezes in graduate courses at The College of William and Mary where she intends to earn a MBA next year.

Barbara McElroy
Like most entrepreneurs, she seems to have “power ups” racked up for future use and endless energy. That impression has a solid foundation. She says it takes a lot of organizational skills, determination and planning to make it all work–  skills she says were learned in Girl Scouts.

“Selling Girl Scout cookies definitely taught me skills I’m using today,” she said emphatically. “ I used cold call sales techniques even back then. I'd research my neighborhood and surrounding area, get phone numbers and then start calling going from top to bottom on the list. I had a sales pitch to use on the phone, and I had one that I used when I went door to door or at cookie booths. It was a great way to learn how to speak to customers and it gave me confidence in public speaking that I used in school. Now, I’m using those same skills in my job!”

Barbara grew up in the Richmond area and was a Girl Scout until she graduated from high school. Selling Girl ScoutCcookies is a big part of her memories, but having fun with her troop and the good feelings that community service brought to her are also part of her internal scrapbook. Her community service included time spent with disabled children in an equestrian program where children had an enjoyable experience while developing muscle tone, balance and coordination. Her work in community service helped her earn the second highest award a girl can earn in Girl Scouts, the Silver Award.

Barbara also recalls the great times she had as a teen in Girl Scouts where she was challenged by white water rafting and other high adventures. Skill building, good times and the relationships she built, are all part of the memories she took away from those years as a Girl Scout.   

“My mom was my leader for most of my years in Girl Scouts,” Barbara recalls. “My sister is just one year younger than me and was a Girl Scout, too. It was nice to have something we all shared. I think we’re closer because of Girl Scouts. “   

Chef Jeremy Wallace
Barbara and her fiance, Curtis, who earned the rank of Eagle as a Boy Scout, opened Home Republic Brewpub last June. Their smoky burger and King Kolsch beer that is brewed on the premises are winning selections and have had great reviews, but many say the She Crab soup is the best on the menu. They’re excited to be part of Samoa Soiree, and their lead chef, Jeremy Wallace, has been experimenting with Girl Scout Cookies to come up with a winning recipe. Jeremy will be in competition with 18 other top chefs from Hampton Roads at this year’s event taking place on Saturday, March 7 at the Half Moone in Norfolk. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online here.

You can watch Barbara and Jeremy on The Hampton Roads Show on February 25 at 11 a.m. on WAVY-TV 10. Jeremy will be cooking up a savory dish using Samoas.