Because of Girl Scouts, Maria realized all she could accomplish

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Girl Scouts is more than just an activity for your girl. It can have life-changing effects on who she becomes and what she believes she can achieve. Take Maria’s story, for example.

Maria’s journey with Girl Scouts began in Puerto Rico, when she joined as a Daisy. Five years later, she’d leave her home and troop to move to the United States. Starting a new life in a country with strange language were only some of the obstacles facing Maria.

Research shows that a girl’s confidence sharply declines by more than 25% between fifth and ninth grade. Almost 50% of high school girls don’t believe they’re smart enough for their dream career. Even when a girl experiences the academic success of a 4.0 or higher, 1 in 3 will feel they aren’t good enough to pursue their passion.

Fortunately for Maria, she had Girl Scouts.

Once she arrived in Buffalo, her mother looked for a Girl Scout troop in the area. Finding none and understanding the importance, she started her own troop so Maria could develop the friendships she needed.

With her troop, Maria was able to enjoy experiences she never imagined would be possible, like white water rafting, learning how to code, walking on ropes courses, and discovering more about how the brain works.

Her fellow Girl Scouts became her community and support, and with the help of them and their leaders, she was able to learn English and graduate high school. Now in college, the distance doesn’t get in the way of the friendships she made as a Girl Scout. These relationships are one of a kind and even if they don’t talk for awhile, they always have each other’s backs.

The confidence Maria gained did more than help her learn English, take on the impossible, and form new friendships; it helped direct the course of her life.

The lack of women in STEM-related fields is no secret, but it’s alarming when you consider that 75% of girls believe they’re good at math and science, but only 45% consider it for a career.

It’s illogical to assume that most girls simply aren’t interested when you learn girls’ interest in math and science increases as they get older, despite the decline of girls believing they’re good at these subjects.

Despite these odds, Maria had the confidence to pursue her passion. After attending a Girls Go to Neuro School event at the University of Buffalo, Maria was able to learn more about the mind and brain. This sparked an interested so she began doing more research on her own.

Now she’s a freshman psychology major on the pre-med route at Albany College.

Because of Girl Scouts, Maria realized she was smart enough, good enough, and confident enough. The activities she enjoyed were more than just fun excursions – they helped shape the course of her life.

You can help make a difference in the lives of our Girl Scouts. 

Girl Scouts takes the potential of girls and combines it with robust skill-building programs that allow them to enjoy experiences outside of their comfort zones, like building a robotic arm, learning to survive outdoors, and growing a cookie business.

Your donation makes building girls of courage, confidence, and character who makes the world a better place possible. Thank you.

Donate Today

Mark your calendars now for #GivingTuesday

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November is a month filled with promotions. What used to be shopping on Black Friday led to Cyber Monday and now you can shop amazing deals virtually the entire month long. With all this spending, why not welcome a chance to give back?

#GivingTuesday is a global movement that falls the week after Thanksgiving. It’s more than just donations; the movement is all about helping others whether it’s your time, monetary support, goods, or even your voice.

As a kick-off to the season of giving, this special day resonates around the world thanks to the power of social media. Together, we celebrate the spirit of generosity as well as the difference our philanthropy can make. Even though it’s a worldwide event, there are ways to get involved in your local community.

At Girl Scouts, we’re all about benefiting our community. In fact, its in our mission. We build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place, and often the world falls in our own backyard. We believe that when our girls succeed, so does society.

You can be a part of our mission, too. Whether it’s your time or donation, your support makes a difference in the lives of our members. We need men and women dedicated to raising the next generation of female leaders who are willing to give their time, whether that looks like leading a troop or speaking as a subject-matter expert at an event.

Your financial support can give a girl the chance to see what she’s capable of and achieve more than she imagined possible. Every gift matters to our girls.

Consider making a difference this #GivingTuesday, November 27.

Experiencing New Opportunities: The Girl Scout Difference

When talking about what Girl Scouts is all about, people usually have misconceptions about our main area of focus. Most will argue it’s cookies and crafts while others will assume it’s STEM based on all the news coverage of our programs. It’s true we’re about one thing, but it isn’t a program or area of focus.

First and foremost, we will always be an organization dedicated to girls.

Our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character doesn’t come with asterisks and specific programs and skills she must develop to get there. It’s true we have the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, but our movement isn’t based on a rigid structure.

We believe in giving girls the opportunities they desire and the experiences they didn’t imagine were possible. There isn’t a series of boxes we check off to ensure a girl reaches her potential. What we do involves partnering with her to discover what she likes.

Deborah Hughes, CEO of the Susan B. Anthony House, Woman of Distinction, and Alumna, says it best:

“There are lots of activities you can engage in, but being a Girl Scout takes care of the whole person. You learn about leadership, you get to play outdoors, you learn skills in science and math, and you become a team together. If you become a Girl Scout, you won’t just learn one particular kind of thing; you’ll become a better person.”

With us, a girl can try anything. A quick peak through our program guide will reveal a number of different experiences, including:

  • Culinary Adventures
  • Car Care with Geico
  • Fashion Lab
  • Kidding Around Yoga
  • Public Speaking
  • Money Matters with Bank of America
  • Taste of College
  • Wildlife Studies
  • Snowshoeing
  • Archery
  • Wilderness Survival
  • First Tee Golf Program
  • Girls Try Hockey
  • Cybersecurity
  • Girls Go to Med School
  • Girls Go to Neuro School
  • STEM-a-palooza
  • Coding with Turing Tumble

Those are just a taste of the different experiences offered by Girl Scouts of Western New York. We regularly add new programs and troops and girls have the opportunities to explore the paths they want.

With Girl Scouts, you get to experience it all. You can find what you like and learn what you don’t. Our single-gender environment creates a safe space and judgement free zone so a girl can try something new without the fear of failure. When you’re in our sisterhood, you know you’re supported.

It’s the combination of all these things – the chance to try something new with your sisters and the new and interesting opportunities – that allows us to be the best option for girls.

Girls don’t leave our program with only a few badges and some cookie season stories; they continue on to be the female leaders the world desperately needs. They have the courage, confidence, and character to make their world better.

The Mito Warriors of Ken-Ton: The Girl Scout Difference

In Girl Scouting, our mission doesn’t end at building girls of courage, confidence, and character. We empower them to take it one step further and help make their world a better place. For Troop 30143, the difference they want to make is related directly to one of their co-leaders.


Ken-Ton troop leader Ann Marie Lesnewski, center left, celebrates with her Junior Girl Scouts Sunday after a ride to raise awareness for mitochondrial disease. Pictured around Lesnewski clockwise from bottom are Charlotte Brach, Lucy Dettbarn, Lily Foglia, Sierra Green, Jessie Harper, Grace Miller, Ella Jones and Maxine Ensminger.
Image via Ken-Ton Bee

In working towards a Bronze Award, the troop chose to raise awareness about Mitochondrial Disease. While many have never heard of this rare disease, they have a direct connection to it through one of their co-leaders.

Ann Marie Lesnewski, called ‘Miss Annie’ by her girls,  has a lifelong history with Girl Scouts, from her days as a Girl Scout at Kenmore Presbyterian Church to leading troops in the Ken-Ton Service Unit for seven years.

Earlier this year, she explained her passion for Girl Scouting to the Ken-Ton Bee:

“I wasn’t really there for what I received to put on my uniform, but for how it made me feel. It was a place that I could go to feel that I belonged, that my thoughts mattered, and where I’d be told that my dreams were attainable. I want girls to feel confident, and I want them to know that they’re valued, that their opinions matter, and that I believe that they can change the world for the better. I think girls don’t really get that message all the time in life. Kids are told what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and they’re not really given the opportunity to think. That’s what Girl Scouting really offers them is the opportunity to think, and to dream big.”

Troop 30143 embraced this opportunity to dream big and change the world for the better through their Bronze Award project, called “Mito Never Sleeps.” One of the main components was to raise awareness about Mitochondrial Disease in their community.

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On Sunday, September 16, the girls began a 24-mile bike ride to represent how the disease affects people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Despite the long ride, the girls and their decorated bikes made it the entire journey.

Another leader tweeted this touching message about the ride:

“Today I was honored to support my Girl Scouts as they rode 24 miles to bring attention to those who battle Mitochondrial Disease, 24 hr/day. These amazing girls planned, organized, made phone calls, & hit a goal that was big and scary! Troop #30143”

During the week of the bike ride, the girls also:

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    Asked the principle to have a Go Green Day at school

  • Made a presentation to their science class about Mitochondrial Disease
  • Talked to people about the disease and gave them an awareness ribbon
  • Wore seven pounds of weight on their arms and legs for 24 hours to simulate the feeling of someone who has a muscle disease
  • Wrote a letter to seven politicians to spread awareness, ask for donations for Mito research, and explain the burden the insurance companies place on the person with the disease
  • Made rocks about Mito Awareness

     

The troop explained their passion for their Bronze Award project:

“Mrs. Annie is an inspiration to us and she has taught us to be strong, independent, and confident girls. In return we want to help spread awareness for this horrible disease. And we also want to get the Pharmaceutical companies to stop the burden on the patients who need medical supplies.”

The project ended on a fun note at the 49th Annual Skills and Chills Event at Seven Hills. Keeping with the festivities, Troop 30143 wore their green Mito Awareness shirts and were adorned with different forms of power, including batteries and electricity, because the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. The girls decorated their tent with awareness information and even had SWAPs to help spread the word.

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The Girl Scout difference is exemplified in troops like these who show that Girl Scouts make a difference. Through their co-leader Miss Annie, they recognized a need for awareness around Mitochondrial Disease and took action to help with the pharmaceutical companies that take advantage of patients who need supplies.

This is just one of many amazing stories that happen around our council. We’re so proud of our girls and the work they do to help make their community a better place, and the passion they show for helping friends and family.

 

Happy New Leader November!

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November is a month built on being thankful and we take that seriously at Girl Scouts of Western New York. We’re one month into our new membership year, and we want to thank all of our new leaders!

Throughout the month, we’re celebrating our new leaders with fun giveaways, resources at the Girl Scout shop, and Facebook Lives/Instagram Stories about the Four Pillars of Girl Scouts – Outdoors, STEM, Entrepreneurship, and Life Skills. For more details, you can check out our schedule below and visit the Volunteer Training Page.

More than what we’re doing, we want to see what YOU’RE doing! Share your pictures and stories with using the #newleadergswny and #newleadernovember hashtags across social media and by emailing us your adventures at communications@gswny.org.

 

Week
Theme
Activities
Training
Takeaway in GS Shop

 

Nov. 4-10
Outdoors 11/5 @ noon
Facebook live – Youtube live – Instagram TV

All about the Outdoors with Lindsay Cray, GSWNY Senior Dir. of Outdoor Program

11/8 @ 6pm – VTK hands-on training in Rochester & Buffalo Service Centers

STEM Lab Adult Learning
11/10 @6pm
Rochester Service Center

-Mini-knot tying kit
-Local programming resources
Nov. 11-17 STEM 11/12 @ noon Facebook live – Youtube live – Instagram TV

STEM Excitement with Abby K., Americorps VISTA

STEM Lab Adult Learning
11/11 @ 9am Rochester Service Center
11/13 @ 6
Buffalo Service Center
-Mini-magnet kit
-Local programming resources
Nov. 18-24 Entrepreneurship 11/19 @ noon
Facebook live – Youtube live – Instagram TV

Women in Business with surprise guest!

None this week – We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends! -Girl Scout play money kit and activity
-Local programming resources
Nov. 25-30 Life Skills 11/27 @ 2:30pm
Facebook live – Youtube live – Instagram TV

Using my Girl Scout life skills in real life with Cheyenne Z. GSWNY alum

11/29 @6pm – VTK hands-on training at all GSWNY Service Centers -Mini-beach ball and activity
-Local programming resources

Say Hello to Friendship Circle Lodge!

We followed up our camp theme contest with another camp-related question: What do you think the new lodge at Camp Piperwood should be called?

After reviewing more than 100 entries, we selected Friendship Circle Lodge, suggested by volunteer Jody Brege!

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Congratulations to Jody for her excellent suggestion!

Friendship Circles have a long tradition in Girl Scouts because they represent the unbroken bond of friendship we share. We stand in a circle, crossing our right arms over our left and clasp hands with our friends on both sides. A friendship squeeze is then passed around as we all make a silent friendship wish.

By naming our lodge after this tradition, we’re continuing to celebrate friendship at our camps and among our girls.

 

 

The 2019 Camp Theme is…

Earlier in October, we asked all our membership for camp theme suggestions for 2019. Not only did membership hear the call, they delivered! After reviewing nearly 200 incredible suggestions, our committee selected:

2019 Camp Theme Announcement

Thank you to Ariana DiNezza, a Brownie, for your excellent suggestion! Ariana’s entry will be featured on all our camp publications for the following year. Even better, it gives you the chance to engage with us. Any time you post about camp, be sure to add #GirlScoutCampLife to share loud and proud what girls can do.

We’re still in the process of planning out all the camp details, and our theme of #GirlScoutCampLife is helping to guide us to another fantastic year of camp!