Monday, December 13, 2010

2011 Cookie Program!


While much of the world is in holiday mode for Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and the New Year, Girl Scouts of Nassau County is getting ready to kick-off the 2011 Girl Scout Cookie Program as soon as we return from our end-of-the-year break.

While some folks are tracking Santa and his progress in Toyland, the elves that we care most about are those at Little Brownie Bakers (corporate cousins of the other baker elves who live in a Hollow Tree). Our elves are busy baking Thin Mints, Samoas, Trefoils, Do-si-dos, Tagalongs and Lemon Chalet Cremes …

Across the country and here in our community people look forward to the Girl Scout Cookie Program. The cookies are delicious, and seeing the girls out in the community helps to remind the public of our outstanding organization.

This year, order taking will begin the first week in January, and Girl Scout Cookies® will be available through booths sales until mid April. Cookie rallies will be held at Roosevelt Field on Saturday, Jan. 8, at Green Acres Mall on Saturday, January 15 and at Broadway Mall on Saturday, Jan. 22.

As good as the cookies are, the Girl Scout Cookie Program is about so much more than the actual cookies. The Cookies are just one of many tools and activities that make the Girl Scout Leadership Experience one of the most valuable resources available to girls … The Girl Scout Cookie Program affords girls the opportunity to learn and earn.

As the largest and best financial and entrepreneurial program for girls in the country, the Girl Scout Cookie Program focuses on Five Skills that girls can take and build on throughout their lives... Goal Setting, Decision Making, Money Management, People Skills and Business Enthics.

 All Girl Scout programs are designed to meet the age-appropriate developmental skills of girls and safety is always a priority. Girl Scout Daisies (kindergarten and first grade) begin with more support from parents. Online order-taking allows elementary girls to expand their sales to family and friends.

By the time a girl is in middle school and high school she can take opportunities to market her own Girl Scout Cookie Program through social media and by making presentations to businesses. The bigger the goals, the more creative, focused and time girls will need to reach their customers.



Goal Setting: Everyone needs a goal, and a plan to reach the goal. Goals without a plan are just wishes! Learning to set goals through the Girl Scout Cookie Program carry over to daily life, and goal setting allows girls to dream big and achieve! Girl Scouts may want to take a trip, engage in a special activity or set aside funds to support a project in their community – or elsewhere – that will make the world a better place.



Decision Making: Every aspect of life is impacted by the decisions that we make …In the Girl Scout Cookie Program girls can decide as a group on the activities and community projects that they wish to support. Girl Scouts learn how to make decisions based on the shared values of the Girl Scout Promise and Law, and they learn tactics for making decisions that weigh the pros and cons, and allow each girl to have a voice.



Money Management: Girls reinforce basic arithmetic skills and make change. More importantly, they learn the value of money as it applies to reaching a goal. They learn the relationship between how much things cost and the work involved to earn the money to pay for things, activities and projects. Too many children today have a significant disconnect in their lives between earning money and buying things, and the Girl Scout Cookie Program provides real experience in earning, saving and spending.



People Skills: Through the Girl Scout Cookie Program girls interact with one another through the Goal Setting and Decision Making processes. They interact with customers and learn how to describe the product and answer the customers' questions. They learn to make a presentation, and explain how buying a box of Cookies supports their Girl Scout Troop to meet their goals. Girls also learn to offer the customer the opportunity to help others by supporting our military personnel through Operation Cookie.



Business Ethics: Because a Girl Scout is honest and responsible at all stages of the Cookie Program, she puts her values into action. People see a Girl Scout as trustworthy, and, in turn, she lives up that expectation.



And Long after a Girl Scout has completed the Girl Scout Cookie Program, she will have learned the importance of earning money to support herself and to reach her goals. She will bring the values of honesty and responsibility to her own career. She will have the skills to manage a business, persuade an investor to back her, and to run a
household. She will be able to influence others in her work and in the community. She will know how to use her talents and her resources to make the world a better place – today and for the rest of her life!



For more information on the Girl Scout Cookie Program, please visit our website at www.gsnc.org . You may also contact me at Girl Scouts of Nassau County, 516-741-2550, ext. 200 or email ceravolo@gsnc. Starting in February our website will be able to direct you to the Cookie Booths nearest to you!
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Previously published on the Garden City Patch.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Girl Scouting Today


Girl scouting has never been more needed than today. Research shows that girls who maintain self-confidence, who have strong values and who have other girls and adults to whom they can turn to for advice and comfort are more likely to succeed in school and in life. 
 


Girls today often live under pressure. Their parents and schools expect high performance – in academics, on the playing fields and in extracurricular activities. Friends want them to conform. The media lures girls with images of beauty that are unreal and unobtainable, and bombards them with music, fast food, stories and constant electronic connections that give them so many confusing messages on how to look, behave and be their best selves. In other words, girls today are under a lot of pressure. 
 


This pressure and stress can directly affect a girl's physical, social and emotional health. Some girls eat too much, or too little. Others engage in behaviors that range from unproductive to unwise, to situations that put their own safety and the well-being of the community at risk. Sill others miss school because they are intimidated by bullies costing all of us - lost aid to schools, higher costs for parents and lost productivity in the workplace. The current obesity epidemic affects the entire community with higher costs for health care. Eating disorders, depression, substance abuse and gangs impact our communities with costs for remediation and law enforcement.


But there is hope. Girl Scouts of Nassau County is addressing these issues and more, every day. We work with girls at the Troop level and individually to find a safe space where they can discover more about themselves and the world around them, connect with other people and ideas, and where they can take action to make the world a better place. 



What kind of values do you want for your daughter? Values that go hand in hand with programs that will you teach your child to care for others and the earth. That will help her build real skills for earning her way in the world. That will help her make friends and bring caring adults into her life. A place where she is safe and unjudged. A place where she can have FUN! That's what we offer here at the Girl Scouts of Nassau County. 
 


For more information, speak to a Girl Scout leader at your child's school or call the Girl Scouts of Nassau County Service Center at 516-741-2550 to register your child today!
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Previously published on the Garden City Patch.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Giving Thanks

I still keep Sarah Van Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance beside my bed. It’s a wonderful reminder and tool for counting my many blessings. There is something meaningful and real when we take time to write down things in our lives that matter, and it is a practice that I highly recommend. November seems to be a time when we all try to focus on being thankful. The Thanksgiving holiday helps us to remember how much we have, and invites us to give back to those who are in need. The Girl Scout Promise teaches us to serve God and country and help people at all times.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the whole year. I like that it brings together family and
friends, with no need to buy presents. I can go to worship if I chose, but no strict requirement. I fly my flag, but don’t need to make a patriotic speech. There are lots of foods that I like. And I get to do two of my favorite things – set the big table and put out the holiday towels!

In my own life there are so many blessings that I sometimes feel a little overwhelmed with
good fortune, and I know other people who feel this way as well. I certainly have my share of whiney days where I know I need to do better, but if I was a worrier, and thankfully I am not, I would be waiting for some other shoe to drop. I am blessed with people who love me. My family is healthy. This year everyone has a job, and I continue to have the best job in the world. My brother, a Colonel in the U.S. Army, is deployed to the Middle East, but seems to be in a safe spot for the time being. This past year I have had wonderful travel adventures. My dogs make me laugh, and the cat makes my husband happy. I have lots of stuff, and plenty to read. I discovered the fun of a DVR machine. Bama has won more than they have lost. The onslaught of political commercials is behind us for awhile.

The Girl Scouts of Nassau County have much for which to give thanks! Although we
weathered a bad storm at Camp Blue Bay last summer, there were no injuries and property damages were minimal. The trees will grow back. This year our Council won awards (again) for being one of the best places to work in the whole Country (NonProfit TimesTop Fifty). So far, we have been able to continue services to our girls and maintain employment despite the recession. Our girls learned how to grow vegetables and herbs this summer on the Farm at Oyster Bay. They cleaned up beaches, collected and packed food for the hungry, and sold 55,000 boxes of Cookies to be sent to our soldiers. 67 Girls earned the Girl Scout Gold Award. We are continuing to give girls and adults the tools, tactics and language that they need to tackle the Critical Issues in their lives. And every day, somewhere in our Council, girls are having fun, learning, earning and making the world a better place through Girl Scouts!

Tell us how you and/or your Girl Scouts are giving thanks this year!

Friday, November 5, 2010

GAYteway Behaviors Normalize Bullying by Guest Blogger, Carole Aksak

“That is SO GAY.”

“That outfit is SO GAY.”

“YOU are SO GAY.”

These are the jeers of the schoolyard hurled between kids too young to know or understand what it is to be gay. They are the insults flung out there, to their peers, to each other. It starts early. It starts young. And even if you don’t know what it means, you know it is meant to hurt. So at very young ages kids are picking up those verbal arrows and tucking them neatly away in their arsenal for use upon others, when needed.

If you are the adult hearing those words, what are you doing or saying? Are you choosing to ignore the insults? In your mind, is this just another case of kids being kids? Or, do you stand there and meekly say to the perpetrator “Stop that. That’s not nice.”

Well, what’s not nice? Is it the verbal attack or being gay?

In view of the recent suicides of male teens, identified or perceived as gay, across our country over the past few weeks, adults are not doing enough to address the playground taunts of boys and girls. Name calling against any group, whispers, rumors and innuendos are all gateway behaviors that can lead to other kinds of bullying. It changes the culture of an environment, which should be safe and nurturing for our sons and daughters. When left unchecked, unaddressed, or ignored we begin to normalize bullying making it “not such a big deal” anymore.

When girls and boys, children or teens, begin to take their own lives because of the taunts of their peers, whether the name-calling is based upon facts or perceptions, it concerns me. To be authentic in your own skin is a right we are each entitled to. When any group is targeted, it impacts me. I am not safe. This is a human issue, not a gay issue. This is bullying, not kids being kids. Girl Scouts of Nassau County is on the forefront to address of these issues.

As adults, we have a responsibility to each other to address gateway behaviors before they begin to escalate to acts of violence—violence against each other or the violence suffered by our own hands just for being whomever we are. Bullying starts young, it starts early, and it starts with gateway behaviors. It’s the adult’s obligation to address it. Always, always, always respond when you hear or see bullying happening.

Girl Scouts is committed to creating a safe and nurturing environment, period. Our Promise and our Law provides us with a code of honor. We will be a sister to every Girl Scout. We will show respect for ourselves and others. And we will do that through our words and actions. Everyday. Everywhere. All the time.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wishing the Boy Scouts a Happy 100th Anniversary

The Boy Scouts of America are celebrating their 100th Anniversary this year and the Girl Scouts of Nassau County and I wish them well!

This coming weekend the Theodore Roosevelt Council – our Boy Scout neighbors here in Nassau County, NY – will be having a big Centennial Jamboree at Eisenhower Park. I’ve been hearing about this for months from Scout Executive Dave Richardson, as well as from GSNC Staffers Alice and Lorraine, who also volunteer for BSA with their sons. It sounds like such a huge undertaking – boys in tents, activities, food, fires, entertainment! Dave has invited me to be a VIP guest on Saturday, and I can’t wait to see it all in action -- We wish them all the best and hope that they have fair weather and no surprises!

Last weekend Boy Scouts of Suffolk County celebrated at Camp Hero in Montauk where they passed their 100th Anniversary Lantern to the girls in Anne Gherardi’s Troop from the Bay Association of GSNC. We were delighted that Troop 208 was part of this meaningful celebration. Ellen Bohan Gherardi, a long-time Girl Scout who grew up in Nassau County, helped to lead the event in Suffolk. It is wonderful that she included our girls on this special occasion – For the Bohans and the Gherardis, Scouting is a family affair in so many ways!


Both Boy Scouting and Girl Scouting in this country grew from the work of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in the United Kingdom. Juliette Low, Founder of Girl Scouting in the United States, was impressed by the youth development work of Lord Baden-Powell and his sister Lady Baden-Powell and began the Girl Scouts in Savannah in 1912. The rest is our history -- and our future. While we share many traditions with Boy Scouts, the two organizations remain totally separate incorporated entities, each with our own missions, policies and governance. And of course, Girl Scouts is focused only girls, kindergarten through 12th grade, whereas Boy Scouts does allow girls in some programs at the high school level.

Girl Scout Promise
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

The Girl Scout Law
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do.
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, an
d
be a sister to every Girl Scout.


Boy Scout Oath
On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my Country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Boy Scout Law
A Scout Is...
TRUSTWORTHY

A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him.
LOYAL
A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.
HELPFUL
A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.
FRIENDLY
A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.
COURTEOUS
A Scout is polite to every
one regardless of age or position. He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along together.
KIND
A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason.

OBEDIENT
A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.

CHEERFUL
A Scout looks for the bright side of things. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
THRIFTY
A Scout works to pay
his way and to help others. He saves for unforeseen needs. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.
BRAVE
A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.
CLEAN
A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps
keep his home and community clean.
REVERENT
A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the belie
fs of others.

Girl Scouts of the USA and our own Girl Scouts of Nassau County are already at work on our 100th Anniversary in 2012 . It’s looking to be a very big deal, with events starting in March 2011 and going through until March 2013 . We have already begun meeting with our sisters in Suffolk County to plan something BIG for Downstate NY Girl Scouts! We are in the early stages of planning, and if you have a great idea to share, please let me know!

In the meantime, don’t forget to send your
recipes for 100th Anniversary Girl Scout Cookbook

















Friday, October 15, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

For 69 days...Chilean Miners Demonstrate Real Courage, Confidence and Character by Guest Blogger, James Langan

2100 feet below the Earth's surface, 33 trapped miners wait in darkness to be plucked from what might have been their grave. Surviving for 17 days on rations meant for two, 32 Chileans and a Bolivian refused to surrender to the death that gleefully awaited them – each ingesting only a spoon-full of tuna fish and a little milk every 48 hours so that all would have an equal chance to live. With resolve and dignity, they said “no” to a fate that had never before taken “no” for an answer. And so they live, still. With no cause for hope, they kept hoping – and made sure the rescue party found them. With no reason to believe they would emerge alive from the rocky jaws of the mountain that had engulfed them, they kept believing – and politely asked for toothbrushes instead of last rites. How absurd of them! Yet, right before our eyes, the absurd becomes sacred; ordinary miners, nobility.



In a world poisoned by pettiness, vanity, and mindless consumerism, where image trumps reputation, and the hypnotized multitudes fall victim to the tyranny of status and profit, 33 shirtless men entombed in a dank Chilean copper mine show the rest of us how to live. Instinctively, each man understood the intrinsic value of his fellows; and all worked in concert to accomplish what no man could have accomplished alone. And thus did the miners mutually re-enforce their collective will to survive so that survival itself became possible. By daring to break down the forbidding walls of their own angst and doubt, they found the strength do what had to be done to see their loved ones again. These men are true heroes and role models for every Girl Scout.



Imagine what could be if the whole world did that! And if the bottomless well of pettiness then ran dry and the stink of vanity went away. Indeed, what would happen if we all awoke and suddenly grasped the true nature of our human potential? And if we all stopped being so tiny-minded and instead embraced the humanity and courage of the Chilean miners and made them our own? Would we then be able to say “no” to another fate that has never taken “no” for an answer? And yet another? Could we then, in turn, be rescued from the dungeon of egoism into which our media-dictated priorities have surreptitiously cast us? Could it be that by their example the trapped miners are unwittingly rescuing us? If so, will we find the wisdom to allow ourselves to be rescued? 



And what of other examples of raw, unpretentious courage? About nine years ago, masses of New York's bravest selflessly cast themselves into the breach to rescue whom they could from a 110 story inferno in lower Manhattan. Hundreds never returned. In 2009 a US Airways pilot, scorning the taunts of destiny, brought an Airbus whose heart had stopped beating in flight to a safe landing on the Hudson river. All aboard survived. Rare as precious gems, a lone man or woman – or a group of individuals –inevitably comes along when we least expect it to remind us of the nobility of which we are all capable and what it truly means to be.



The trapped miners, the New York City firemen, and the US Airways pilot, simply went to work to feed their families. Meeting basic needs and responsibilities and honoring an unspoken commitment to their fellow human beings is what motivated them. Deep underground, 32 Chileans and a Bolivian were literally “mining their own business” when the Earth swallowed them whole. Undaunted, they humbly declined fate's best offer and chose to live instead. Like the intrepid firemen and the steely-nerved pilot, they chose to answer only to their better selves. In response to these stunning examples of courage, confidence and character – three words that the Girl Scouts of Nassau County live by - we can only say: “Thank you, thank you very much.”

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James Langan is an Information Technology Administrator at Girl Scouts of Nassau County. In addition, he also works with his Girl Scout colleagues to support language translation.

James has followed the Council’s work on Critical Issues and is passionate about spreading awareness on the various issues facing children today. We look forward to hearing from him on other topics again soon.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Just so you know...by Guest Blogger, Carole Aksak

Just like the color of your skin, the color of your eyes, how tall you are or how short you are, your weight is…On the hoof; everyone sees it. And when everyone sees it, everyone can make a comment. And when you start to comment on a particular group and what they look like, you start to point fingers, create an opportunity for ridicule, and make a particular group a target. That makes me, uncomfortable. Targeting fat kids, is not that different than proclaiming that every willowy, lithe, middle school girl, is secretly sticking her finger down her throat or subsisting on a few lettuce leaves and steamed broccoli.

Every child has a right to good health; physical, mental and emotional. We should be raising awareness on childhood “health promotion” and how we can each be part of it. The Girl Scout Research Institute has produced two studies, Weighing In: Helping Girls be Healthy Today, Healthy Tomorrow (2004) and The New Normal? What Girls Say About Healthy Living (2006.) The studies were a precursor to Beauty Redefined: Girls and Body Image Survey (2010), a nationwide survey which included more than 1,000 girls ages 13 to 17 (all are available for download at www.girlscouts.org.) These three publications give us a glimpse into the physical, mental and emotional health of kids. The adult view comes from the obesity epidemic and the desire to address it. Beauty Redefined offers the perspective of the girl and how she struggles to be “just right” among her peer group, focusing less on good physical health and more on fitting in. It tells us what “healthy living” means to girls.

Obesity is a serious issue affecting children and adults. So are the foods which are highly refined, low in nutrients and energy dense, and then highly marketed to kids. Super-sized portions, screen-time instead of outdoor play time, food price and availability, food insecurity are the real issues we need to address, and they affect every child, fat or skinny. Let’s teach all kids that when it comes to their bodies…Respect it, Honor It, Fuel It.

Please contact Carole Aksak at 516.741.2550 ext. 254.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pay It Forward - The Power of a Mentor


It’s been years since I had heard so many lilting “Yes, Ma’m’s” as last month when I attended the orientation session for the University of Alabama School of Commerce and Business Administration’s Women’s Initiative Program. I’m delighted to be a mentor in this program and I’ve already met dozens of interesting and accomplished professional women who are sharing their time with students. I’m looking forward to learning from the other mentors and the students. Some of the mentors were more seasoned, like me, others seemed to be in the mid-points of their careers, and several were young women who have benefited from the Women’s Initiative Program as mentees in recent years and are ready and able to pay it forward. (Think how our Girl Scouts value getting to work with college girls and those who are just starting their careers.)

The young women in the program are all either Juniors or Seniors in B-School, with varying majors and concentrations - accounting, finance, marketing, etc. Through the Women's Initiative they receive extra opportunities to learn about the world of work that are not covered in the classroom. Some of the info is basic -- resumes, interview skills, what to wear and some of it will be more intrinsic - office politics, weighing career options, field trips, getting to see how a corporation or even a single office really runs. The students can ask questions in a safe environment and build their knowledge base beyond the textbook. Most importantly, the experience should give these young women an extra networking edge when they venture into the job market, and networking is priceless! Each girl is paired with an individual mentor, plus they garner the extra advantage of being able to connect to dozens of the other mentors and other grads who have been through the program. (Sounds a little like having that Girl Scout Gold Award open doors for our girls.)

My mentee's name is Bethany and she's a senior from Atlanta. Bethany is interested in learning more about the not-for-profit sector of the business world. She’s done volunteer work and understands that there has to be a strong business infrastructure to support the good works that get done for the clients. I hope that I can give her practical advice. I want to learn from her about the issues that are near and dear to her and I also want to hear how she and her peers envision using social media in their work lives.

When I graduated from college in the 1970s, I don’t think I’d ever heard the word network with the exception of a TV station or an electrical grid! I moved to a town where I knew no one and just took the luck of the draw with civil service tests, cover letters and my resume. In my first job as a Planner for the State of Alabama’s Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, I was blessed to have a boss who saw my potential and taught me so much about the workplace. He was a mentor and a mensch. I learned so much from him and we still stay in touch with one another.

I’ll keep you posted on my work with the Women’s Initiative over the next year. I’d love to hear from others who have served in formal and informal mentor/mentee relationships. What have you learned from one another?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mags&Munchies Raffle Giveaway via Facebook!

A Mags&Munchies Prize Goodie Bag is yours to win!

Starting Monday, 10/11 for three weeks (end date of 10/29) the Girl Scouts of Nassau County will be raffling off a weekly Mags&Munchies Prize Goodie Bag filled with Gummi Berries, Three Pack (honey roasted cashews, spicy peanuts and wasabi almonds), Snack Depot Tin (chocolate covered pretzels), Girl Scout Lantern Tin (Mint Meltaways) and White Chocolate Covered Pretzel Balls. It’s easy to enter, here’s how!
  1. Tag* the Girl Scouts of Nassau County Facebook page within your Facebook status and mention the Mags&Munchies Program.
  2. The more times you update your Facebook status tagging the Girl Scouts of Nassau County and talking about the Mags&Munchies Program, the more times you will be entered into the raffle to win the prize!
  3. Status updates will be tallied starting each Monday at 12 noon through that week’s consecutive Friday at 12 noon.
  4. A random winner will be picked each Friday at 1pm and announced via the Girl Scouts of Nassau County Facebook Page.
We hope you’ll participate and good luck!

* To tag the Girl Scouts of Nassau County Facebook page in your status, simply type in the “@” symbol and begin typing the words, Girl Scouts of Nassau County. A drop down menu will appear and the Girl Scouts of Nassau County name will show. Click on the name and then continue to write the rest of your status. The Girl Scouts of Nassau County tag will appear blue in color. You must "like" the Girl Scouts of Nassau County Page to be able to tag us.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Have you had “the talk” with your child, yet? by Guest Blogger, Carole Aksak

Hopefully by now you've had the talk. Not once, but as an on-going discussion with constant reinforcement. I am writing, of course, about your child’s responsibility to do the right thing.

The airwaves, the cyberworld and the print media are rife with information about sexting and texting, cyberbullying, social bullying and just plain overall meanness. There is a lot of angst out there about just who’s responsibility it is to make sure your child does not suffer at the hands of a bully - overtly, covertly, anonymously or in plain view. Parents expect the schools to address it; schools say it all starts at home. Our policy makers have jumped into the fray and are desperately trying to legislate behaviors, responsibility and culpability. The bottom line is:

We all have a responsibility to fully understand what bullying is; where and when it happens. We need to look at the way we each think about bullying and understand what action, re-action, or inaction does within a bullying situation. Because…

Our own understanding and feelings about bullying is imprinted onto our children. If we never learned to recognize and react in an appropriate manner, we can’t expect our children to react to conflict or bullying in a different way than we do. And, this I know…

All parents want their children to grow up to be leaders, not bullies.

All parents want their children to be compassionate, caring and kind; to be confident and strong, rising up against the physical, social and emotional denigration of someone weaker than they. So I ask you once again…

Have you had “the talk” with your child, yet?

For more information about healthy relationships or to bring a speaker to your parent group, please contact Carole Aksak at 516.741.2550 ext. 254.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

100 Years of Girl Scouting Cookbook!


In 2012, we will celebrate 100 Years of Girl Scouting. As we look ahead to the next 100 years of scouting we can’t help but look back and remember the journey we have taken to reach this milestone and celebrate the women that helped start this amazing adventure called Girl Scouts. Plans are underway to make this the biggest celebration that Girl Scouts has ever seen. To start the celebration, Girl Scouts of Nassau County is compiling a 100th Anniversary Cookbook which will be sold beginning at GirlFest 2011. We need your help to make this project a success!

In our effort to make a difference and share our vision of a healthy attitude towards food, as part of our Healthy Living initiative, we are gathering healthy recipes from our membership. What is a healthy recipe? To me it means no additives and preservatives, no ingredients that aren’t natural. Good old fashioned whole food! Flour, sugar and salt are all natural ingredients…so I challenge you all to send us YOUR healthy recipes.

If you’re not a cook then perhaps you have an idea for a title for the cookbook or a memory or quote we could use. Check out our website and click on the 100th Anniversary link on the home page. Fill out the submission form to send your recipe(s), suggestions, quotes or pictures. Happy Healthy Cookin’!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bullying: It's not just someone else's problem by Guest Blogger James Langan


Bullying is not just someone else’s problem; it affects all of us. Every child has a right to an education, and bullying denies that right. A child constantly subjected to fear, threats, humiliation, and physical abuse is in no condition to learn. The school thus becomes, in the bullied child’s mind, a prison; and the child’s psychological state is reduced to that of a terrorized captive – whose main goal is not learning, but rather escaping from the incessant torture committed at the bus stop, in the playground, on the Internet, in the cafeteria, and even in the classroom. Emotional and physical survival become the only priorities, and all else gets cast to the wayside. In extreme cases, suicide becomes a distinct possibility. Of course, the bullied child understands none of this – anxiety not being particularly conducive to reflection.

The experience of being
bullied is both immediate and concrete. In any case, prolonged exposure to bullying can cause life-long scars and the permanent destruction of the child’s true potential. An uneducated child will eventually become a burden to us all, in one way or another.

But bullying also spawns
other victims: Unrepentant bullies who are not put in check before it’s too late become deprived of the possibility of understanding, appreciating, and respecting the rights and the dignity of others. This puts them on a collision course with a lifetime of pain and suffering when inevitably thrust into the world of adult relationships – be they within the context of a marriage, the law, a job, or common social situations. In addition, the bully’s moral development will be delayed if nothing is done since bullying others is clearly a symptom of the inability to distinguish between right and wrong and that it is simply wrong to harm others. Bullies must be made to understand that by humiliating others they actually are demeaning themselves much more so than they could ever imagine. Each and every child has the right to strive for his or her maximum level of development in all domains; and we, as adults, are responsible to make sure that that happens. That is the main point of all that we do.

Finger-pointing will not solve the problem: Parents blame the schools,
and schools blame the parents, and the suffering continues unabated. Only when both sides mutually agree to a cease-fire and begin to work together in good faith will the end of bullying be in sight. Politicians pontificate, and lawmakers legislate, and all manner of measures are proposed to leave the impression that the situation is under control and that the guilty will be punished. It is indeed a lovely show that accomplishes nothing. So something else is needed: An ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure, respecting the dignity of others needs to be part of the curriculum in the education of every child at the earliest– in the home and at school. This will take some effort, but is far preferable to condemning bullies and the bullied alike to a lifetime of pain and lost opportunities, never knowing what could have been.

None of us want our children to be bullied or to be bullies; instead, we want our children to be
kind, compassionate human beings with the education and moral development needed to build a better tomorrow. So talk to your children, their teachers, the school administrators, and even to other parents. This is not about “Us versus Them.” But rather, about working together as members of a community with the common goal of putting an end to the destruction of our children’s lives. And to ensure that they prosper and receive every chance to fulfill their true human potential, as is their right.


James Langan is an Information Technology Administrator at Girl Scouts of Nassau County. In addition, he also works with his Girl Scout colleagues to support language translation.

James has followed the Council’s work on Critical Issues and is passionate about spreading awareness on the various issues facing children today. We look forward to hearing from him on other topics again soon.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Valley Stream Girl Scout Troop 2053 Gives Back by Guest Blogger Kristen Wraith


What happens when you give a group of Girl Scouts and their friends with little or no experience, tools, and tell them to help build a house for a week? You get a 60' x 5’ sidewalk trench, a full room of sheet rock and hundreds of square feet of newly hung siding. Well, at least that is what happened when Valley Stream Girl Scout Troop 2053, led by Lorraine Pergola and JoAnn Scala, spent the week working for Habitat for Humanity in Salem, New Jersey.

After years together as a troop, the girls decided that they wanted to do something meaningful before they went their separate ways and with everyone entering either college or senior year of high school, this would be the last chance to do something together as a group. They decided that with the money they had raised from years of cookie sales that they wanted to do something that would introduce them to a new experience while helping those in need at the same time. Habitat for Humanity was the obvious choice as it offered a great life experience as well as important lessons in home improvement, and gave the girls the opportunity to see their work materialize in the form of a house for a single mother of two young children.

As Jaclyn Stamile, a Senior at South High School, put it, "even though many of us were beginners in the construction business, seeing part of a home completed for another person is fascinating".

The group of fifteen, consisting of both girls and boys along with their adult chaperones, applied for the project through Habitat for Humanity's Collegiate Challenge. The Collegiate Challenge is a week-long program specifically for those sixteen years of age and older with the goals of skill building, eliminating poverty and getting the volunteers connected to the surrounding area. With many locations around the country available, the group decided on New Jersey because of the opportunity to help people close to home and to avoid the burden of the extended travel as would have been necessary for many of other locations.

Once settled in the church which they would call home for the week, the group traveled to the work site and divided into three crews based on skill and interest. Those comfortable with heights tackled the scaffolding, those willing to do some heavy lifting took on the sidewalk and the remaining volunteers moved indoors to work on measuring and hanging sheet rock.

After lessons from the site managers, they got to work, facing both the hot July temperatures and summer thunderstorms during their week. Yet, everyone quickly began to master their own part of the job and the tasks that were at first daunting, became routine.

"Working as a team for Habitat for Humanity didn't feel like work at all," said
Will Hunter, a Senior at North High School. " To be involved in the process of giving someone a home was extremely rewarding."

Even as skills developed, physical and mental limitations were challenged throughout the week . As the days went on, the scaffold grew from two stories to three and the ladders had to go up to match. As work on the sidewalk progressed, roots and old concrete slabs needed to be broken apart and pulled up when least expected, but everyone managed to work together to get around every obstacle that they were faced with.

"In the beginning, I was nervous working on the lower levels of the scaffolding," said Kristen Wraith, a freshman at Harvard University. "But by the end of the week we were 25 feet up and I was fine. It just took a little getting used to. I did it because I enjoyed seeing the before and after of what we had done."

One volunteer, Travis Lopez, a freshman at Rochester Institute of Technology, had worked for Habitat once before and jumped at the opportunity to do so again. He acknowledged how a group can grow to cooperate and build together when working for a common cause. "Even if you have never met the people you are sharing the experience with, after a day of work you develop a friendship and a special bond."

This was the case for all of the Valley Streamers, who quickly adjusted to working with the professionals on site. They learned to take criticism and more than once, had to redo some of their work. Still, there were no hard feelings because by the end of the week, they had picked up on the technical terms of the job, were able to raise and lower scaffolds, side a house, finish a roof, level a sidewalk channel, measure and cut sheet rock, and use all of the tools necessary to get their jobs done, all in the hot, summer sun.

Yet, everyone kept in mind the reason that they were working in the first place, an idea that was reinforced when Ciara and her daughter, the future homeowners, showed up on the site to thank the volunteers for their work.

"As teenagers we can not easily donate money out of our pockets, however we can donate our time and will power," Hunter said of lending a hand. "I am thoroughly grateful to have been a part of that experience and would strongly consider helping out again. When Ciara came to the site, it put a name and face to the work, and seeing how fascinated her daughter was with all that was being done was an added incentive to keep going."

This feeling was mutual for all involved. The best possible encouragement for these teens, according to Christine Schaefer, a freshman at St. Josephs NY, was working from the heart to give others a home. After seeing the family that will be getting the house, the group said that they felt more of a connection to what they were doing.

The joy of helping others was what helped the teens power through the week without a hitch. This joy was best summed up by Travis Lopez, who commented, "By working with Habitat for Humanity, I was able to play a small role in the massive change of the homeowner's life. By changing the life of another, you change a bit yourself, which to me is the true reward".

Friday, August 20, 2010

Girls Scouting has never been more needed than today

Being a girl has been a different row to hoe for females across the years, and across cultures and continents. In many ways today girls in twenty-first century USA have reached parity with males and even moved ahead in a few areas. But the pressure to succeed, to meet the expectations set for girls by their parents, their schools, their peers and the relentless onslaught of the media to look and act and consume in certain proscribed ways has never been as rough for girls as it is today.

When girls lack confidence and courage they are more at risk for their physical, social and emotional health. The obesity crisis rises up against the pandering of the media for girls to grow up too quickly, to buy things that they do not need, to conform to images of beauty that may be totally unreal and unattainable. When girls do not feel confident and safe, they are more likely to miss school, and engage in behaviors that put themselves and their communities at risk.

Girl Scouts are addressing these issues and more, every day. We work with girls at the Troop level and individually to find a safe space where they can discover more about themselves and the world around them, connect with other people and ideas, and where they can take action to make the world a better place. Cookies, crafts and camping are all terrific ways for girls to build skills, appreciate the environment and learn to make their own way, but those activities are just a small part of the programming and values that Girl Scouts provide. Robots, science, music, travel, adventure, problem solving and tackling community problems such as land use and hunger are all in the Girl Scout’s Journey.

And Girl Scouts are taking action -- locally and across the country. Girl Scouts of Nassau County’s Critical Issues initiative has been working on the problem of relational aggression, social bullying and cyber-bullying for the past five years. This year, with the help of the New York State Girl Scout Legislative Network, the NYS Dignity for All Students Act was passed in Albany. US Representative Carolyn McCarthy is working on the issue of bullying and a Suffolk Girl Scout recently testified before Congress on how Girl Scouting had helped her to address bullying in her life. We are supporting HR 4925, the Healthy Media Images for Youth Act , so that girls see true and reasonable portrayals of healthy people in the ads that come at them each day.

Research shows that girls who maintain self-confidence, who have strong values and who have other girls and adults to whom they can turn for advice and comfort are more likely to succeed in school and in life. Girls Scouting has never been more needed than today …

Monday, August 16, 2010

Girl Scout Teamwork is Stronger than a Storm!

It was a dark and stormy night on Wednesday evening, July 21, the last night of Camp Blue Bay’s Session #2. An alleged water spout traveled through Gardiners Bay on the East End of Long Island, wrecking havoc on the Springs section of East Hampton, and hitting our property. Rains poured and winds blew. Trees fell over. When the storm passed after less than a half hour, the Camp was dark. Very dark.

First, as the storm began, our staff acted quickly to move all the girls inside the Activity Building for their safety. All of the girls and staff remained safe throughout the night. The storm took out power and phone service. A few staff were able to use their cell phones, but then the power outage rendered the cell phone towers out of service. The Counselors kept the girls singing for hours and hours, until they fell asleep on the floor. Some girls were a little shaken, but everyone of them was safe and well, and they have the stories to tell for many years to come!

Once we learned of the problem here in Nassau Coun
ty, we posted word on our webpage and Facebook page that all the girls were safe, but with no electricity, we would not be able to send girls out for Session #3 the next morning. Until the sun came up, we would not know how bad the damage was, and with no electricity we could not run our water system. We knew that at a minimum we would need to delay camp by one day, and possibly more.

The next morning our Camp Staff jumped into action. Camp Director Catherine Mottola and our Rangers assessed the damage, while the counselors worked quickly to get all the girls ready to return home. The buses could not get in until the town roads were cleared. While most girls were expected by their parents that day, girls scheduled for multiple sessions also had to come home. Office staff back in Garden City got to work calling all the parents for the session that was being completed, and the one scheduled to go out that morning. It was hard to deliver news that was so disappointing since some girls wait all year to go to Camp Blue Bay!

By Thursday afternoon, we recognized that we would not be able to open Camp Blue Bay for Session #3. More calls were made to families, more postings to the internet to keep everyone informed. By 7:00 p.m. more than 100 families had received the news. We promised to work to try and reopen for Session #4 on July 29.

The next step was to get to work
on repairs; so much to be done and only one week. The tasks were monumental and everyone at Blue Bay had an assignment. First was to clean up the debris and personal belongings that had been strewn throughout the camp by the storm. Simultaneously, they had to identify and prioritize the most hazardous sections of the Camp. Call the tree surgeons. Work with LIPA to determine when the electricity would be restored and once the power was restored, bringing the wells back up and running was a big job.

There were dozens and dozens of trees down. A few were on wires and structures, so they
were the first that had to go. Then the ones that were in danger of falling on paths where girls needed to be. Catherine and her team identified the trees. The professionals got them down on the ground – many required the use of cherry pickers. Our Ranger staff then sawed the fallen trees into to moveable pieces, and our Counselors moved brush into piles and stacked wood. It was amazing organization and teamwork. And they did much of this work in 90+ degree heat and high humidity.

This was certainly not the job our Counselors had signed on to do, but they did it willingly and with great, good humor. Because of the leadership of Laura Bissett-Carr, Manager of Program and Outdoor Services, who spent that weekend with her husband working on the ground at Camp, the dedication and focus of Catherine in mobilizing her team, the sheer hard work of Rangers Jon Paul and Jim, and a great crew of professional tree surgeons, Camp Blue was able to reopen for Session #4.

I was on the bus with those campers who arrived on July 29 to the Camp, and I don’t know who was happier, the girls or the Counselors that were awaiting them!. The improvements to what I witnessed between the Friday after the storm to July 29 were staggering. The Camp was not perfect, but it was safe and ready to go. And for that we can thank God, for leading our girls through the storm safely, and for providing the leadership of Laura and Catherine and the hard work and determination of all who worked through the heat to get Camp Blue Bay ready again for the GIRLS!

There is still work to be done and we will continue to work to restore the Camp throughout the fall and into next Spring. Some areas will be noticeably different with the trees cleared away, but it is the way of the forest to restore itself in its time. Meanwhile, we are so happy to be open for business for the GIRLS who make Camp Blue Bay a place of learning, leadership and laughter.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Guess who is up to their elbows in dirt? Girl Scouts, that’s who! -By Guest Blogger, Patte Conway




About 105 Daisy to Senior Girl Scouts are volunteering their time throughout the summer and into the fall at The Farm in Oyster Bay. They are helping plant seeds and plants, weed, stake up tomatoes, harvest the produce, and anything else that needs to be done! They are learning what it takes to maintain a tremendous Community Organic Garden! In the Girl Scout tradition, we will be donating our bounty to those in need, tasting some new veggies, and feeding the local rabbits.

On May 15, 2010 we had “Dig It Day”, our kick off event, where the girls & leaders got a tour, heard what was expected, and planted some perennials, potatoes, and bush beans. As one parent said, “Where else but Girl Scouts can a girl get this experience?” After a morning spent in the garden, everyone enjoyed the beautiful day with a picnic lunch.

Since then Troops have been tending to the garden on their designated weeks at The Farm. Under the direction of 5th generation caretaker, Amanda Roberts, everyone is learning about what it takes to grow vegetables at this wonderful garden site. Amanda even taught the girls about a Native American method of planting called The Three Sisters.

Besides gardening, we are giving our girls and leaders a place to relax. I have heard more than one person say they feel like they are in another world! A world where the hubbub of everyday life seems to disappear the moment they enter the garden.

GSNC is planning an old fashion picnic to reward all who tend the garden, on Monday July 26, 2010. We are also ending the growing season with a Harvest Day, where the Troops will help clean up the garden and enjoy some food prepared from their own hard work. What better way to see how our food goes from seed to table!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Passing of Debbie Capps


This has been a difficult week at Girl Scouts of Nassau County. When we came to work on Tuesday after the holiday weekend we were dumbfounded to hear that our colleague and friend Debbie Capps had passed away. Debbie was 51 years young.

Debbie had worked since 1999 in GSNC’s Information Technology Department, when we were still in our technology infancy. Debbie was a whiz with computers and quickly became a jack of all trades. In her early days here she maintained our website, worked on hardware when needed, and made sure that all staff knew how to use the software on our desks.

Over the years she was promoted to Data Base Administrator; working with E-Council, she made sure that all of our data was managed safely and securely and that we could get the reports we needed. When our Fall Products and Cookie Programs went to online ordering it was Debbie who led the way. She generously re-arranged her work hours, had her phone calls forwarded to her home, and during the Product Program seasons she made herself available to our volunteers after dinner and into the wee hours to make sure that they got the answers they needed to support the Product Programs -- and most importantly to support the girls.

Debbie always saw the big picture – she realized that technology was a tool to help all of us in our work to build girls of courage, confidence and character. Debbie always went out of her way to make the world a better place. Taking calls late at night. Volunteering at girl events. Serving on staff teams.

Debbie was one of those ideal employees … impeccable performance reviews, always commended for going the extra mile. She was not part of one group or another, she was a friend to all, loved and respected by each of our staff team and by hundreds of volunteers.

Debbie led a full and happy life aside from work. When I came to GSNC in 2000 she was a newly-wed, having married her husband Tom a few months before. She was a devoted mother to her two grown daughters, a great daughter, sister and friend. She was artistic, loved crafts, funny and always up for a challenge. Her daughter described her as the best Girl Scout Leader ever. Perhaps she was such a great staffer because she had been such a great Leader and it added to her understanding of our work.

I’ve been blessed with a long and strong career, filled with interesting people who are devoted to the work that they do. I’ve only had a few staff people who have passed away when I was in previous jobs, and they were all much older and known to be in failing health. I know that we marked their passing with sadness and regret as well.

Debbie – Deborah Ann – Capps will be so missed because she was so loved. My condolences and prayers go out to her husband Tom, her daughters Stephanie and Melissa, her many family and friends, and to her coworkers here at GSNC. There is such a hole in our hearts and in our office.

P.S. The above photo of Debbie was taken at May’s “Cultural Festival Cruise,” a girl program where Debbie gave of her time and expertise.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summertime for Girl Scouts! By Guest Blogger, Pat Paluszek


Summertime, summertime...finally, we’ve reached the point in the year where we can kick back and relax. Think summer breezes at the shore, gardens blooming, and the coolness of a shaded trail. As life slows down, for the rest of us, the Girl Scouts of Nassau County are busy with summertime activities! We hope you’ll join us for some summertime fun...

Girl Scout Daisies can make sun prints and use magnifying glasses to investigate nature at our Lazy Daisy Days of Summer program in late July. Bats are back in our area, you can see them in the evening as they snatch mosquitoes from the air. At Tackapausha Preserve, Brownies will earn Go Batty! and hear why these creatures are so important to our environment. Juniors will earn Your Outdoor Surroundings when they visit with us at Sagamore Hill following in the environmental footsteps of our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. Seniors and Ambassadors can participate in our Fire Island Adventure as you canoe with us off the shores of the Watch Hill Salt Marshes while earning Paddle, Pole and Roll. You’ll see nature at its best in this environment.

If you need a break from the sun, Juniors and Cadettes can hear tips about skin care from specialists at Clinique. Or Juniors can also get prepared to babysit while earning Caring for Children. In early July, Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors can come to What’s Your Tolerance Level? to build effective tools to challenge bullying and prejudice in your schools and communities.

In August, Brownies can build and fly kites and Juniors can use their creativity exploring art in nature in beautiful garden settings. Summertime and baseball go hand in hand and all Girl Scouts and their families can come to cheer for the Long Island Ducks at Citibank Park.

It’s not too late to come to camp. Join us at either of our day camps in Cantiague or Wantagh or at sleepaway camp at Blue Bay. You’ll experience the great outdoors and traditional activities tied to theme weeks.

Please check the Girl Scouts of Nassau County website under Program Spotlight or Register for Program for registration information. If you need more information about programs, email Pat Paluszek at paluszekp@gsnc.org . We hope we’ll see you this summer at one of these programs!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bronze, Silver and Gold! By Guest Blogger, Donna Rivera-Downey


It's Award Season in Girl Scouts...Patches and pins are being awarded and the metallic theme of Bronze, Silver and Gold abounds. Each community has their own way of celebrating the girls' accomplishments. Some have them walk across wooden bridges; others have tea parties or large community gatherings. Some invite politicians and others invite only family members. Each celebration is special and will be remembered by the girls. One special ceremony for our girls is the Gold Award and Eagle Scout recognition ceremony by the County Executive.

This annual event is a way for County Executive Edward Mangano to recognize these Scouts for earning the highest recognition in their Scouting organization. He also is recognizing the value of their service to Nassau County. Yesterday, Mr. Mangano took time out of his busy schedule to greet these young men and women; he commemorated their accomplishment with an official citation and picture. This is the part the parents love! 210 boys earned their Eagle Scout rank while 66 girls earned their Gold Award this year. Why is there such a difference in the numbers? Maybe the answer lies in the way our award is earned.

At this year's ceremony, the Boy Scout speaker, James Fisher commented about the amount of work it takes to earn the Gold Award. He was astonished by the fact that our girls have to do work on their project alone, put in so many hours, usually tackle issues that impact a broader base of the community, and the effect of their project must be sustainable. These feature alone can make the attempt overwhelming, but those girls who earn their Gold Award are truly unique and should be praised.

Briana Lestage, a Gold Award recipient was our Girl Scout speaker. She spoke of her project which addressed the issue of Childhood Obesity. Briana focused on the values she has learned in Girl Scouting. She describes herself as a woman of integrity and it is obvious that she has incorporated the Girl Scout Promise and Law into how she lives her life. Briana and her sister Gold Award recipients have made a difference with their Gold Award projects and will continue to make a difference as they grow and mature as young women of distinction.
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Donna Rivera-Downey is the Director, Marketing for Girl Scouts of Nassau County. She became a professional Girl Scout in 2001 after 22 years in retail banking. A life-long Girl Scout who volunteered her time as a Girl Scout Leader for her daughter. Donna is active in the Hicksville-Jericho Rotary and serve as a trustee on the board of the Hicksville Public Library and Public Relation Professional of Long Island.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Last Call - Operation Cookie

There's still time to donate to Operation Cookie. Send a case or box of Cookies to our military troops overseas and remind them that we're thinking of them. To provide a taste of home simply visit www.gsnc.org and look for the Operation Cookie logo! In the meantime, here are a few videos we recently took regarding Operation Cookie!







Tuesday, May 18, 2010

First Advocacy "Call to Conversation": GSNC Talks with girls about today's critical issues

Girl Scouts of Nassau County had our first Advocacy “Call to Conversation” on May 12th! About 25 girls and parents put themselves on the frontline to help our Council move our Advocacy Agenda forward. It was an enlightening evening as we listened to the girls and heard the concerns of
parents.

Girl Scouts of the USA, our national organization, selected GSNC to be an Advocacy Champion Council last year. We are one of about 16 Councils across the country who are part of the 2009 wave of Councils working to give our girls a voice to speak out on issues of importance to them and to empower our girls to be ready to take action on these issues with elected officials and others who can help make changes.

When girls and their parents entered the room there were pictures, newspapers and magazines all around the room highlighting the critical issues facing girls today. Issues like bullying and cyberbullying, some cases that have resulted in suicide. Ads with provocative and very thin girls selling jeans, or something else? Stories about teen pregnancy. Images, images, images, and words and stories. The first order of business was find out the girls’ first reactions to these stories and pictures. We had each of the girls write what they thought on sticky notes to get the conversation started.

We then reviewed the three GSUSA Advocacy Priorities, Relational Aggression (which includes bullying and cyberbullying), Media Images and Disordered Eating. We asked the girls if they had other issues that they wanted to include as their most pressing issues. They girls agreed with the priorities set by GSUSA.

The girls present were most concerned with bullying -- in all forms – and with media images. With that two groups were formed and the parents were sent to another room to discuss their concerns on these issues. An adult facilitated the girl groups for about 20 minutes and then they were left to talk among themselves, while one of the girls served as scribe for each group.

We gathered lots of feedback on the issues that do matter to girls. We heard some heartfelt stories of how social bullying can tear a girl apart and affect all aspects of a girl’s life, including her willingness and ability to perform her best in school and relate to her peers and family. It’s one thing to read these stories in the newspaper, and another to speak with someone who has first-hand knowledge.* And everyone is confronted by media images that are unrealistic, but still leave their mark on girl’s self-esteem …

This was a start. We are just beginning. We’ll be meeting again on June 14th to continue the Conversation and begin to craft our Call to Action. We hope that you will join us. Visit our website for more information, or contact Carole Aksak, 5516-741-2550, ext. 254, askakc@gsnc.org

*Note: In the meantime, we offered girls, and their families, access to GSNC resources to assist them in meeting their most pressing challenges.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Friends: Old and New


“Make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other gold …” is a recurring theme in Girl Scout land, and a pretty good motto for any of us who don’t want to go it alone in the world. In March and April we have been out and about keeping the Girl Scouts name in front, and having a great time connecting with some terrific people. Some are proven friends and supporters of the Girl Scout family, and others are great new people that I am anxious to get to know better, for work and for play!

So, Hear! Hear! To making and keeping our friends …

Over the past few weeks Girl Scouts has re-connected with all our Congressional Representatives that are part of Nassau County – Gary Ackerman, Steve Irael, Peter King, and Carolyn McCarthy! We thank each of them and their staff for making time for us.

To Town of Oyster Bay Councilman Anthony Macagnone, and Council Woman Rebecca Alesia – Both of these hardworking elected officials got right to business helping the Girl Scouts make connections, through a grass planting on the beach in Oyster Bay, as part of their Women of Distinction event where our own Council Historian, Carol Gorst, was recognized. Mr. Macagnone came out to support our Walkathon and moving forward we hope to do a Town Meeting in Oyster Bay on the problems of social bullying and cyber-bullying!

We also met with elected Nassau County Legislators David Denenberg, Judy Jacobs, Rose Walker and Diane Yaturo. They continue to support our Girl Scout events and want to be more involved in our work on the critical issues facing girls.

GSNC will be presenting Constance Fratianni Wysota with the 2010 Juliette Low Award of Distinction. Connie is a terrific Girl Scout Leader, mom and supporter of the Girl Scout movement. We’ve known one another for years through Girl Scouts, but it is going to be so much FUN to work together on our Annual Luncheon … She just might just be our new BFF!

Girl Scout volunteer Natalie Borneo invited me to be a guest of her and her company, Marsh USA, at the annual Dress for Success gala in Manhattan! Wow! There were over 1,000 people there and they raised over a million dollars, but the best part for me was sharing the evening with Natalie and new friends … women I hope to get to know better. It was like a girls night out, and for a very good cause!

I’ve also been back to Chicago this month to see my good friend Jeanne and Steve, where I reconnected with their three daughters and got to meet their two new granddaughters. It doesn’t get much better than that!

And the GSNC Girls Go the Distance Walkathon brought over 700 people – Girl Scouts, their families, plus many new friends – to our website to register and show their support for our Healthy Living Programs. The Walkathon Committee was lead by our friends and Board Members, Allison Kasson and Melissa Connolly, who told their friends, and then Bonnie Porzio and Domenique Moran agreed to lead the Walkathon Corporate Committee, and they told their friends … and with the Committees alone we had over 50 Girl Scout friends, old and new! We can’t wait to see how many friends we can find for this event next year.

For May and June, Diane McFarlane, our President and Chief Volunteer Officer, has scheduled time to meet informally with each of our candidates for the Board of Directors and Council Nominating Committee. And we will be seeing so many of our Girl Scout family at the Annual Meeting on May 24, and at literally a dozen or more Association and Community events!

We hope that you will tell all of your friends about the fun you have with your other friends and see all the connections that you can make.