Rebecca Mattison, GSWNY volunteer, receives award for saving a child’s life

Rebecca Mattison has been a volunteer for Girl Scouts of Western New York for nearly 15 years. During her time, she’s led troops, served as the Service Unit Manager for Sweet Home, and now plans events for the service unit. 

Recently, the skills she learned from being involved with Girl Scouts saved a child’s life. 

At the end of October, Rebecca shared her story on Facebook, starting by saying her biggest fear was realized at work. A first grader ran to her, choking. She continued:

“He was turning purple and grabbing at his throat. I asked him if he could cough or talk, he could not. I yelled to my co-worker, Deb, ‘he is choking call the nurse!'”

Rebecca then informed the boy she’d have to hit his back and leaned him over her arm, hitting him three times in an attempt to dislodge whatever was causing him to choke. She stood him up and realized it was still stuck.

Recognizing the need for urgency, she considered using the upper thrust but decided he was too small. Rebecca instead tried the back thrust one more time and leaned him over once more.

After one hit, she heard an amazing sound – the obstruction had come out. A ball of nacho grande was seen on the floor. 

With the immediate danger over, Rebecca stood the boy up and asked if he could breathe. Realizing he could, they began walking toward the nurse, who met them halfway. Later, she saw him and let him know how smart he was for immediately running to an adult.

Rebecca explained why she decided to share her story:

“I am telling my story to say everyone should know basic first aid, especially if you work with kids near food. It’s true what they say, you think you would panic in this situation, but I went into the zone and did what I had to do.”

She concluded her tense and heroic story by adding:

“I have been trained in First Aid/CPR due to Girl Scouts and I am thankful for that.” 

In response to her actions, we awarded Rebecca the Girl Scouts of Western New York Special Commendation Award in recognition of her outstanding act of service and heroism in saving a child from choking and her embodiment of the ideals of Girl Scouts. 

We thank Rebecca for her service, selflessness, and all she does to empower the next generation of female leaders!

A 40-Year Volunteer Shares Her Story: The Girl Scout Difference

The story below comes from Theresa Kasper, a 40-year volunteer with Girl Scouts in Western New York. While she explains the difference Girl Scouts made in her life, we wanted to explain the difference she’s made to us.

With a four-decade history, it isn’t surprised that she’s well known around our council. As soon as you mention her name, most staff have something great to say. Usually it involves the fact that she won’t say no to a girl.

Theresa believes so passionately in Girl Scouts that she makes room when a girl needs troop. To accomplish this, she has meetings twice a week just to accommodate all of her girls. She seeks out girls who need Girl Scouts and gives them opportunities to do whatever they want to learn about, including camping and kayaking. Coming from Niagara Falls, a lot of her girls have never been to camp and likely wouldn’t without Girl Scouts.

Her work with the girls doesn’t end when they age out. Theresa makes an effort to keep in touch with her girls and many leader now as a result. When you’re in the community, it’s likely you’ll run into someone who asks about Theresa because she was in one of her troops. 

Kelly Garrow is a Service Unit Support Specialist who was leading a troop in Niagara Falls before becoming an employee. When it was time to make the transition, she needed someone to take over her troop of older girls. Theresa was so excited for Kelly that she took all her girls. 

Stories like this are what make Girl Scouts and our council shine. We wouldn’t be nearly as successful without leaders like Theresa who are dedicated to our mission and making sure that every girl has the opportunity to become a girl of courage, confidence, and character. 

My Story by Theresa Kasper

There was no such thing as a sleeping bag in 1962.  I was tagging along with my big sister Joyce and her friend Maryann as we rolled blankets, clothing and toothbrushes into a bedroll for Joann’s first campout at Windy Meadows.

Joyce and I begged our parents to allow us to join but to no avail.  With 6 children in the house and one on the way there was no chance of joining.  There was just not enough money. 

Fast forward 16 years later, a marriage, several relocations, a daughter and a son, a nasty divorce and a return home to Niagara Falls.  My mom is now a Girl Scout Leader and she suggests I join scouts for the summer and take my children to day camp.  They need volunteers.  There is a pixie unit for my son and I can head the unit for my daughter.

A week in the woods with other volunteers. Lots of fun and activity distancing me from the stress of my new divorcee status and my unemployment. Not to mention the stress of potentially leaving my children to be employed and all that goes along with it.

A wonderful experience never to be forgotten.  Edward and I had a walk in the woods a thick brush at that time.  We made our own path and eventually were at the end of the property in a field of cows.  He was 4 years old and it was awesome.

Not having raincoats when it rained we donned black garbage bags and kept dry.  It was an adventure. Sarah made many new friends and learned the girl scout way.

In the Fall my daughter was in Second Grade.  There was a girl scout troop and we signed up.  In the middle of the year the leader quit. I was in the church basement with 20 children and no leader.  I improvised and kept them busy until the parent’s showed up. Having had all those little sisters, I knew a bit about crowd control.

That day no one stepped up to take the troop.  I was without employment, a car or resources but told the parents if they would help I would take the lead.

I would always sing and play games with my siblings, so it was all fun for me.  A neighborhood Girl Scout mom called me and I started training. Somehow there was always a ride and someone to take care of my children.  My friend Pat said, “If it is for the kids it will all workout.”  And it did work out.

Over the past 40 years, the training I received in GirlScouts led me to better positions at work. Yes, I got a job the first year I started scouts.  I retired three years ago from work, but I hope to be a Girl Scout leader to the day I pass away!  The experience led me to be abetter person always giving me new learning to this day.  The girls andparents never cease to amaze and inspire me.

And with the ongoing changes in the girl scout experience I have never ever been bored with the program.  Today I lead 5 troops. And there are six fantastic women who love Girl Scouts in the troops that help me.

I reluctantly gave up the Daisy troop this year. There wasonly one girl left after flyups.  Everything changes. Today my largestgroup is the Cadettes with 21 registered. Amazing. This is usually the smallestgroup. 

I never cease to be amazed with Girl Scouts!

Theresa is featured kneeling on the right with some of her girls at a recent tour of the Niagara Falls Police Department.

Mark your calendars now for #GivingTuesday

2018-Giving Tuesday Email Header

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.

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

Only a few more days to register for L.E.A.P.

Register for our semi annual L.E.A.P. volunteer training by this Friday, October 26!

L.E.A.P. logo

This November 3, we’re inviting all our volunteers to attend the event at either our Buffalo, Lockport, or Rochester Service Center. It runs from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Paula D’Amico, TV news producer will deliver a keynote, and then we have workshops to help your Girl Scout Leader experience. Options include:

  • Keeping your girls engaged
  • Financing your troop
  • Outdoor experiences
  • And more!

As an added bonus, we’re going to take time to test out the new STEM activities from GSUSA so all our volunteers understand the program (and can also see how fun it is!)

Join us at one of these locations:

Buffalo – Daemen College, Amherst NY
Rochester – Rochester Service Center
Lockport – Lockport Service Center

Registration closes October 26

Don’t miss our upcoming volunteer training!

At Girl Scouts, we have a lot of resources to ensure our leaders are equipped to build girls of courage, confidence, and character. While we have training throughout the year, nothing is quite as extensive as our twice-a-year L.E.A.P. event.

L.E.A.P. logo

This November 3, we’re inviting all our volunteers to attend the event at either our Buffalo, Lockport, or Rochester Service Center. It runs from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Paula D’Amico, TV news producer will deliver a keynote, and then we have workshops to help your Girl Scout Leader experience. Options include:

  • Keeping your girls engaged
  • Financing your troop
  • Outdoor experiences
  • And more!

As an added bonus, we’re going to take time to test out the new STEM activities from GSUSA so all our volunteers understand the program (and can also see how fun it is!)

Join us at one of these locations:

Buffalo – Daemen College, Amherst NY
Rochester – Rochester Service Center
Lockport – Lockport Service Center

Registration closes October 26