Sunday, May 12, 2019

Celebrating Special Bonds of Moms and Daughters in Girl Scouts

It’s a precious gift – shared experiences between mothers and daughters that create lasting memories. Girl Scouts is the perfect place for this to happen! Many Girl Scout alum report spending special time with their moms as one of the benefits of their Girl Scout experience.

What better time than Mother’s Day to celebrate the bond between a girl and her mom as they go through the Girl Scout experience together! Maybe it’s a weekend at camp, a troop painting party or a field trip to a museum. There’s so many ways that moms and girls share time as Girl Scouts, doing what they both value and care about.

Girl Scout Claire and her mom, Carolyn Pittman, love to do things together in Girl Scouts. Carolyn has been a Girl Scout volunteer for years and currently serves as GSCCC's Board Vice-Chair. As a busy professional and involved volunteer, her time is scheduled out in detail, but she always makes time to be with Claire and that includes Girl Scout time.

Meet Carolyn and Claire!  

Carolyn, what has been your personal Girl Scout journey?  

My journey with Girl Scouts began with my daughter, Claire, when she became a Daisy at age 5, and I became a volunteer and troop leader.  Since that time, we moved from Texas to Virginia, and Claire has continuously been an active Girl Scout.  In 2014, I accepted a position on the Council’s Board of Directors and have served at large, as Audit Committee member and chair, Finance Committee member and chair, Treasurer, and currently as Vice-Chair.  Claire has now bridged to Girl Scout Seniors and is in a troop in Yorktown.

She’s been very active as a Girl Scout. Claire has earned the Bronze Award and the Silver Award along with summit pins for each level she has completed in Girl Scouts, Daisy through Cadettes.  She has also been a Cookie CEO since 2014.  Claire's favorite service project was planting a tree at Mount Vernon Elementary School.

How have you been able to incorporate Girl Scouts into your busy schedules?

Girl Scouts is an organization for girls, dedicated to help them train as innovators and leaders of tomorrow.  We could not do what we do without the lessons and support we get from Girl Scouts.  It is part of our routine. 

What special element of Girl Scouts has helped strengthen your relationship? 

Cookie sales has strengthened our relationship because my profession is business and finance.  Through the cookie sales program, Claire has developed an interest in business.  She is a Cookie CEO and now aspires to be a corporate CEO one day.

Why do you feel Girl Scouts is important for girls? 

Finding one's voice is so important, and Girl Scouts gives the empowerment to girls to find their voice in various ways.  From community service to cookie sales, from friendship to taking action, from creating and discovering to teaching and leading, Girl Scouts allows girls to find their passion and strength while supporting others on the same journey.

Why does Claire feel it is important and what is she looking forward to this summer and next year as a Girl Scout?

Claire feels Girl Scouts is important because you learn about your community and make it a better place by doing service projects.  She looks forward to planning her Gold Award project and continuing to work with her Girl Scout friends in enjoyable and productive ways, including the 2020 cookie sale.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

2019 Gold Award Celebration

On Saturday, May 4, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast celebrated the 27 girls who earned their Gold Award during the 2019 membership year. Among those who attended to celebrate the girls’ accomplishments was Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander, Delegate and Girl Scout alum Cheryl Turpin and Delegate Joseph Lindsey.

The evening kicked off at Dominion Enterprises with welcoming remarks from GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller, and words of encouragement from Gold Award Girl Scouts Camille Birdsong and Sarah Buck.

“This isn’t the end of your journey, ladies. The best is yet to come and your foundation is solid,” Buck said.

The girls honored on Saturday joined an elite group of women who have made a lasting impact on their communities by going for the Gold. From creating bookshelves stocked with resources to help teens talk about mental health to raising awareness for honey bees in need of conservation, Girl Scouts used their Gold Award projects to draw attention to issues important to them to enact change in their communities. Click here to see a full list of the girls who were honored along with the title and description of their project.

Open to girls in high school only, the Girl Scout Gold Award is the most prestigious award in the world for girls (and the most difficult to earn), and it’s available exclusively to Girl Scouts. Some of the benefits of Going Gold include earning college scholarships, entering the military on rank higher and so much more.

Recognition was also given to GSCCC’s three 2019 National Gold Award Girl Scout Nominees on Saturday: Savannah Bowers, Kaylee Keegan and Ariel Hofman.

Every year, councils are asked to select their top three Gold Award Girl Scouts for this honor to compete for national recognition. This honor is given to those whose Gold Award projects demonstrated extraordinary leadership, had a measurable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to a national and/or global issue. National Gold Award Girl Scouts represent Girl Scouts of the United States of America as speakers at local and national events. Final selected honorees will receive professional public speaking training, have the opportunity to reach a broad audience while highlighting the importance and impact of their projects and are awarded college scholarships.

The event was generously sponsored by TowneBank and Raymond James.

To view more photos, click here.

Delegate and Girl Scout alum Cheryl Turpin
with Girl Scout Kaylee

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Girl Scout Leadership Experience

In Girl Scouts, we say ‘yes’ to every girl. The Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a unique opportunity for a girl to take charge of her life, learn how to use her voice and develop leadership skills that will last her a lifetime. With the help of people like Enfinity Dickerson, Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast’s (GSCCC) community troop program specialist, the dream of being a Girl Scout can become a reality for girls in underserved areas. Enfinity is majoring in Human Services and minoring in Children’s Rights at Old Dominion University (ODU). She has always had a passion for helping children and wanted to find a job where she could give back.

Enfinity has been delivering Girl Scout program in two schools in the Hampton Roads area. She just completed a mindfulness series at Cradock Middle School in Portsmouth and is presently working to deliver a robotic and cybersecurity program to girls at the Bettie Williams Elementary School. Her curriculum has consisted of the girls earning their Robotics badges and they are currently working toward their cybersecurity badges. The program uses hands-on teaching methods that allow the girls to gain valuable skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.

“They are learning about safety online, an important lesson due to the wide access to the Internet by children. Also, they are learning about computer protection and how to avoid viruses,” she said.

When girls are taught about cybersecurity, they are being encouraged to be digital leaders, which can have a positive impact on their futures. According to the Girl Scout Research Institute: 67% of girls who are digital leaders have an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers and 51% of female digital leaders have an interest in tech careers. An increase of girls who are interested in STEM can cause the gender gap to shrink in fields that have been historically dominated by men.  

Community troops also offer girls the Girl Scout experience. During their meeting the girls learn the importance of sisterhood and leading by the Girl Scout Law every time they meet.

“The girls loved learning the Girl Scout Law,” Enfinity said. “They particularly embraced the part of the Law that says ‘be a sister to every Girl Scout.’ That’s been a big part of their Girl Scout experience. The girls seem to become closer at every meeting.”  

After she graduates from ODU in May, Enfinity will continue her time as a Community Troop Program Facilitator. In her role she will be able to spread more knowledge and have a positive effect in more girls’ lives.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Women take the wheel

Last month, Girl Scouts of all levels met at Tidewater Community College for the Women Take the Wheel event. The girls were given the opportunity to explore nontraditional careers for women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This allowed girls to ask questions about the career fields and gave them the hands-on experience with some of the equipment that would be used on the job.

Both male and female professionals from the trucking industry, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard and many careers that use STEM came to speak with the girls about the importance of women in these fields. According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, more than three-quarters of the girls that have participated in events that integrate STEM professionals agree that “there is at least one adult who has helped me think about my future.” Having the chance to talk to professionals from these nontraditional careers opened girls’ eyes to paths that they may not have been exposed to and can play a pivotal role in their future.

“I loved everything about the event because I was able to join in on the demonstrations,” said Girl Scout Brooke. “I learned how to tie a maritime knot. I explored a simulation of a cargo ship, an 18-wheeler tractor trailer truck and a fire truck. I loved the Coast Guard boat and got to explore many interesting items (bullet proof vest and a cold-weather suit).”

Hands-on activities such as augmented reality (AR) technology and maritime simulators gave the girls a chance see how they would be able to use different technologies in various jobs. This allowed the girls to learn about STEM in new ways.

Augmented reality intrigued a lot of the girls. They learned that AR was used by Newport News Shipbuilding to quickly scan different items on the ship and instantly know whether something needs to be fixed and how to do it.

“We are using it [AR] to learn how to fix things on the ship,” Girl Scout Daisy Juliana Kiefer said while using the AR to point at different objects in the room.

Girls and their mothers were surprised at how many STEM opportunities there are for women.

“When I signed Sofia up for the event, I knew the direction of the event was something she’s never been exposed to before,” said Anna Patrizi, mother of Girl Scout Brownie Sofia. “As a parent, I feel like it’s important to give your child those opportunities. Women Take the Wheel seemed like such an empowering event.  We learned so much together. I think that’s what made this event extra fun for her. I watched her learn how to read a map, steer a cargo ship with the use of a simulator, learn the process to make parts from 3D imaging and make repairs with digital technologies. But most important, we learned these evolving jobs are available to women!”

Events like this and many others hosted by the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast help girls see the opportunities that are available to shrink the gender gap in careers that historically have been male dominated. There is no better time than the present to make a positive change in STEM careers with a larger representation of strong G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Remembering Dr. Aleli Romero

It is with sadness that we say goodbye to Dr. Aleli Romero who passed away on April 10, 2019. Aleli served on the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast Board of Directors in the mid- 90s and accepted the position of Board President in 1999. Aleli was one of the early donors who supported A Place for Girls (APFG) when it opened in 1996. The First Aid Room at APFG is named in her honor.

After her term ended in 2001, she continued to volunteer and helped organize community health fairs, bringing together Girl Scouts and the Filipino Health Alliance. In addition, she launched a physician’s mentoring program, providing Girl Scouts with an opportunity to work-shadow a health professional.

Aleli wasn't a Girl Scout growing up in the Philippines, but her service as an adult volunteer reflected our Girl Scout core principles of leadership, strong values, social conscience and personal conviction. During an interview in 2008, she said, “My Girl Scout participation stems from a belief in the organization's mission of encouraging and empowering girls.”

Aleli will not only be remembered for her Girl Scout volunteerism, but her many other volunteer roles in the community. She was the founder and organizer of Dance for Cancer, a fundraiser that benefits the Patient Assistance Fund at Chesapeake Regional Hospital’s Cancer Treatment Center and Lee's Friends in Norfolk. As with all things, she found a way to include Girl Scouts and recruited them to help with decorations upon many occasions. She was also a founding member of the Philippine Cultural Center of Virginia and helped organize an exchange program where Girl Scout troops were invited to participate in events at the Center and members from the Center spent time at A Place for Girls.

Aleli was an inspiration to all, but especially to children. She felt strongly that it was our role as adults to be mentors and role models. To the Girl Scouts she would meet, she said, “Study hard, because you can be a doctor when you grow up,” a message she received as a girl in third grade from a favorite uncle.

Girl Scouts and the community will dearly miss her. She is survived by her husband of 55 years, Deacon Cris Romero, her eldest daughter, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Romero and her husband Tim Turner, her son, Alchrysanth G. Romero and partner Michael Kruelle, and youngest daughter, Dr. Cynthia Corrine Romero and her husband, Dr. Marc. Munoz. Dr. Aleli Romero also leaves behind a legacy of generosity, joy and service especially within the lives of her patients over 35 years, the Filipino-American community and the region of Hampton Roads.

The family invites friends to the wake service scheduled for Friday, April 26 at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 3314 Sandra Lane, Virginia Beach. Visitation starts at 5 p.m., Novena Prayers begin at 6 p.m., followed by a service and reception. The Mass of the Resurrection will take place on Saturday, April 27 starting at 11 a.m. at St. Matthew Catholic Church.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

2019 National Park Week

Anyone who’s ready to shake off winter and get outside will be happy to hear that the United States’ largest celebration of our national heritage, National Park Week in 2019 runs from April 20 to 28.

During this exploratory week, NPS hosts special events at parks nationwide, and both weekends that fall within National Park Week offer free admittance.

In addition to soaking up some time outdoors, Girl Scouts can take advantage of this special week to work on their Naturalist and Outdoor badges or to start earning their 
Girl Scout Ranger patch . This patch’s requirements let Girl Scouts decide how they want to give back to parks by joining an existing volunteer program or by designing a new project with park employees. Volunteer programs include everything from educational programs to service projects that protect park resources. After five hours of service, girls earn a Ranger certificate, and after ten hours (or more!), they can collect the coveted Ranger patch. 

Don’t forget to share your pictures with us and share your community service stories by submitting them here!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Bridging into adulthood, a Girl Scout story

A voice for the girls. That is how Girl Scout alum Alexa Goldblatt describes herself. She wiped her face of joyful tears as she crossed the Girl Scout Promise-adorned bridge she constructed for her troop’s bridging ceremonies. That night, as she removed her vest for the last time, she knew that her accomplishments as a Girl Scout, though no longer showing outwardly, would always be in her heart.

“I can’t see myself without Girl Scouts. I have learned so much and I gained my best friend,” she explained.

Her best friend Alli Widger, who she met when she joined her troop when they were Girl Scout Brownies, bridged with Alexa that night. The girls’ troop leader, Joanne Sundberg, knew how close the two were and felt they should complete their Girl Scout journey together. Alli moved to Oregon, but Joanne was not going to let distance get in the way of the sisterhood Girl Scouts created. She arranged for Alli to come back to Virginia to take the last step into Girl Scout adulthood with her best friend.

Alexa and Alli
Alexa, who recently moved back to Hampton Roads from Italy, joined Girl Scouts as a Daisy and worked her way through the Girl Scout levels, eventually earning the Buck Harris Award, Bronze Award and becoming a Cookie Captain. When she found out about the move overseas her family would be making, she knew Girl Scouts would still be a part of her life.

“It’s a lifestyle for me. I wasn’t going to let a move affect that,” she said.

Before leaving GSCCC, Alexa served as a girl member on our Board of Directors, which she feels helped her to start a Girl Advisory Board (GAB) overseas. A true go-getter and leader, she was also on our property task committee and heavily involved in the community.

In Europe, she helped get Girl Scout leaders the training they needed for things like CPR and First Aid so that they could be better equipped when taking girls on trips. She also started a Cookie Captain program in Italy, bringing leadership opportunities to more Girl Scouts overseas!

Joanne with Alexa
For her, making the move to Italy wasn’t as daunting as many would think because of the foundation Girl Scouts laid for her.

“I’ve seen girls come and go in my troop because of the military. Girl Scouts taught me to be open to new experiences,” Alexa said.

Now a Girl Scout adult, Alexa plans to continue her legacy of being involved with our Council. She would like to start a Daisy troop and join the property task committee again to continue being a voice for the girls.

GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller,
Past GSCCC Board Chair Carolene Goodwyn-Harris
and Alexa
“Whether you want to build your resume, blaze a particular career or make new friends based on your shared Girl Scout experience, you’ve got a worldwide sisterhood to add richness and fun for the rest of your life,” Joanne said.

As National Girl Scout Bridging Week approaches, we are reminded of the impact girls like Alexa have on the community through Girl Scouts. Bridging is an important transition in a Girl Scout’s life. It’s a defining moment when she becomes aware of her achievements and is ready for new adventures and responsibilities. It’s also a celebration of all she has achieved throughout the year.

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