Saturday, October 14, 2017

Virginia Beach Girl Scout Works with Local Hospice Care Center

Amanda, a Virginia Beach Girl Scout, experienced a tragedy last year when her aunt passed away. In the days leading up to her passing, her aunt was in hospice care, and Amanda and her family spent time at the hospice home visiting her aunt. While there, Amanda noticed that there were a lot of activities to keep her younger sister occupied, as well as her and her teenage cousins. For her Silver Award project, Amanda decided to honor her aunt by creating a family-friendly environment at a local hospice care center.

At the hospice center where Amanda completed her project, there was a family room, but it was not inviting for families. There was a bookshelf with mostly books for adults, crayons but no coloring books and a television, but no DVD player or DVDs. Amanda spoke with the volunteer coordinator about other needs at the hospice center, and it was requested that she make blankets for children.

Amanda got to work collecting books, coloring books and DVDs. She also collected games. She made a file organizer with cards for every season with personal, meaningful notes on each one. Amanda also gathered her friends, taught them how to crochet, and they made blankets.

"I learned how to turn grief into joy," Amanda said. "Whoever did all of those things for the families at my aunt's hospice center really inspired me to do all of that and more locally."

In order to make sure that she continues to make an impact, Amanda wrote out directions for troop leaders so that they can make crochet blankets or cards as a service project while learning a new skill. Amanda's family has also committed to gathering every year on her aunt's birthday to honor her memory by making more cards for the file and crochet blankets.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Little Free Library by Troop 1694

All of the girls in Troop 1694 love to read. As Brownies, one of their favorite community service projects was holding a book drive to collect books for homeless children. As Juniors, when they gathered to brainstorm Bronze Award projects, they excitedly decided to build a Little Free Library.

With a project in mind, the girls started researching. They took time during a troop meeting to walk to a Little Free Library that had already been built and installed.

“They talked about how the structured had to be designed to withstand the weather, to be waterproof to protect the books, to be easy for children and adults to open and to be aesthetically pleasing so that it would fit into the neighborhood,” Trish Jones, a co-leader of Troop 1694, said.

The girls then downloaded blueprints to build a Little Free Library and visited a Home Depot store, where members of the staff helped the girls construct the library. A few weeks later, they painted the structure. They chose yellow for the inside and navy blue for the outside to correlate with the school colors at The Williams School, where they planned to install the Little Free Library.

Next, the girls held a book drive, and they collected 150 books to fill the library.

The girls worked with the headmaster at The Williams School to choose the perfect location to install the library. They decided to put it near the school’s vegetable garden. In this location, students and their families, as well as members of the public walking down the sidewalk, can easily access the Little Free Library.

“Local support has been very positive,” Trish said. “Both the school community and the neighborhood community are excited about the Little Free Library.”

Members of the troop selected a week during each month to be responsible for maintaining the Little Free Library. They will check it, clean it, refill it and, if necessary, repair it, during their week of responsibility. The girls plan to maintain the Little Free Library for years to come in this way, and they will eventually pass along the maintenance to a younger Girl Scout troop.

“The girls learned that they can do anything that they want to do if they come up with a plan and put their minds to it,” Trish said. “We cannot wait to see what other positive things they will do in the future!”

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Gold Award Spotlight: Start Gay-Straight Alliance Across Hampton Roads

Madison, a Norfolk Girl Scout, has earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor and achievement a girl can earn in Girl Scouting.

For her project, Madison established Gay-Straight Alliance chapters at Maury High School, Grassfield High School and Western Branch High School. She also helped to restart a chapter at Granby High School, and worked with teachers and students at two additional high schools on their plans to start chapters. Through these Gay-Straight Alliance chapters, Madison worked to address discrimination faced by LGBQT students by creating safe places at schools for them to socialize and fight for equality with their straight and supportive classmates.

Madison also hosted a welcoming, inclusive prom for LGBQT high school students and their straight allies. Nearly 100 students from across Hampton Roads attended the prom, many of whom shared that they didn’t feel welcome to attend the prom hosted by their school.

“People are afraid of people that are different from them,” Madison said. “I wanted to create safer schools and healthier communities by increasing awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ high school students.”

Madison arranged for the local chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads to continue to mentor chapters of the Gay-Straight Alliance and make her prom an annual event.

The Gold Award requires girls to identify an issue in the community and carry out a Take Action project to address the matter through leadership work. Nationwide, less than six percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn the Gold Award, which adds Madison to an elite group of female leaders across the country with the honor.

Scout Ready

GSCCC introduced nearly 100 families to Girl Scouts during Scout Ready, hosted on September 23 at Pembroke Mall in Virginia Beach and Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News. The "Be Prepared" event was designed to help families learn about safety and emergency preparedness, while offering them the chance to become Girl Scouts!

During Scout Ready, families visited booths where they learned about sand safety from a Gold Award Girl Scout, boating safety from the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, CPR from EMTA Enterprises, online safety from the Office of the Virginia Beach Commonwealth Attorney and more. Families also had the chance to tour an ambulance and police vehicle while meeting local first responders. Members of Girl Scout Troop 302 from Chesapeake helped children make their own mini first aid kits, and, with the help of children at the event, put together a bullying prevention quilt. Many families also took the time to have their children fingerprinted for the Virginia Child Identification Program.

WAVY-TV 10 Meteorologist Deitra Tate met families at Scout Ready in Virginia Beach, where she shared information about preparing for hurricanes and other weather events. She also handed out hurricane preparedness guides and signed autographs for fans.

Miss Scout Ready but still want to join Girl Scouts? Attend a sign-up event near you, or register online.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Volunteer Kickoff

Nearly 100 volunteers attended our annual Volunteer Kickoff, which was held on September 23 at Old Dominion University. Volunteers rallied around Team G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader), and enjoyed an energizing day in preparation for the new Girl Scout year. As part of the Team G.I.R.L. theme, volunteers wore their favorite team gear- jerseys, T-shirts, hats and more, and captured their enthusiasm in the Team Spirit Photo Booth.

For many volunteers, a highlight of the day was hearing from Chesapeake Girl Scout Lea, who was selected as one of 10 Girl Scouts from across the country to be honored as a National Young Woman of Distinction for the work that she did for her Gold Award project. At the kickoff, Lea spoke about her project, which focused on oyster restoration to help clean the Chesapeake Bay. After hearing from Lea, many volunteers took photos with our local star.

During the event, GSCCC CEO Tracy Keller accepted a check on behalf of the Council for $50,000 from the Arconic Foundation. This money will be used for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and programming. 

Volunteers also had the opportunity to take part in a wide range of workshops, including Volunteer Toolkit, Highest Awards, Outdoor Skills, Troop Organization and Craft Ideas. And, community partners set up exhibits for volunteers to learn about opportunities for their troops.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

GSCCC CEO Recognized with Angels in Adoption Award

Tracy Keller, Senator Mark Warner, Dan Keller
Senator Mark Warner celebrated Dan and Tracy Keller of Chesapeake as 2017 Angels in Adoption awardees for their outstanding advocacy of adoption and foster care issues. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which orchestrates Angels in Adoption, honored the Kellers at an awards ceremony on September 26 and a gala on September 27 in Washington, D.C.

After learning that they would not likely have biological children, Dan and Tracy Keller embraced foster care parenting in 2005 with the goal of adoption. In 2010, they became the proud parents of four adopted children, who are now ages 11, 12, 13 and 14. While they have faced many challenges on their road to adoption, the Kellers navigated it all and have expanded the definition of “family” by creating a support system for their children with grandparents, relatives and caring adults who understand what the children desire most—permanency.

“While our journey from foster care to adoption was an arduous one, it led to the amazing family we have today,” Tracy said.

As a result of the Keller’s commitment to advocating for adoption and foster care issues, other children have befitted. Tracy, who works as the chief executive officer for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, has led many efforts, including Backpacks for Foster Care. She also gives volunteer time with groups such as the Great Bridge Rotary and the City of Chesapeake’s Human Services Advisory Board—groups that have championed projects for underprivileged children. Tracy also speaks about foster care and adoption at community events.

“Angels in Adoption is a unique, annual opportunity to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the power of adoption and the unspoken heroes who have made the dream of a family a reality for children,” Becky Weichhand, executive director of CCAI, said. “Since the program’s inception, more than 2,600 Angels have come to Washington to share their firsthand adoption experiences with members of Congress, highlighting the joys, as well as the barriers encountered in the process.”

Angels in Adoption is CCAI’s signature public awareness event and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of children and orphans in the United States and abroad. The program was established in 1999 as a Congressional press conference to honor outstanding individuals. Since then, the program has developed into a yearlong public awareness campaign, culminating with the awards gala and celebration in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Top 5 Reasons New Volunteers Won’t Want to Miss the GSCCC Open House

Just like girls need mentors and role models, new Girl Scout volunteers need friends and guides to help them on their journey. A great place to find this support is at the bi-annual GSCCC Open House! The next one is scheduled for Sunday, November 19 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at A Place for Girls, the GSCCC regional program center in Chesapeake. Here’s why you won’t want to miss out:
  1. Tour GSCCC facilities. Did you know that we have a nearly nine-acre nature area in The Outback behind A Place for Girls—perfect for learning outdoor skills? And, did you know your troop can rent The Lodge or the Fun Room at A Place for Girls for an overnight experience? Check out all of our facilities during a tour at the open house.
  2. Meet GSCCC staff. Want to put a face to the name of the GSCCC staff members you communicate with via email and over the phone? Many staff members will be at the open house and would love to meet you face-to-face!
  3. Shop and save. During the open house, volunteers can receive 10 percent off of their purchases in the GSCCC shop. 
  4. Network with fellow volunteers. One of the most beneficial parts of the open house is the chance to share stories and swap tips with other Girl Scout volunteers. Share troop organization tips, talk about favorite spots for outings, discuss ways to engage parents and more!
  5. Take a class. Stick around after the open house for some Girl Scout learning. From 3 to 5 p.m., you can take one of the following classes: Girl Scout Program Basics, Part II; Girl Scout Songs, Ceremonies and Traditions; or Troop Organization Tips. Be sure to register ahead of time for these!
As you can see, GSCCC Open House is one event you surely don’t want to miss! We hope to see you there!