COVID-19 Update 3-26-2020

Dear Girl Scout members,

During this challenging time, it might help to remind ourselves that we are in a marathon, not a sprint. In some ways, the challenges Girl Scouting offers to our girls are similar. We’re in this for the long haul, to teach, educate, build character and integrity and to reward growth and achievement over time, building year after year. Girl Scouts are not for the brief, the fast, the get in, get out. We value perseverance, fortitude, commitment. And that is what it will take, with all of us working day after day, to beat this pandemic, to overcome COVID-19 and to restore our lives, and our Girl Scouting lives.

We are #GirlScoutStrong and our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place is necessary, now more than ever. Our collective, unprecedented time continues, and most experts cannot determine with any certainty when these conditions may change. We at GSWNY are working hard to communicate with you and to be here for all of our Girl Scout members.

The first week, we focused on our transition, our council’s immediate needs and getting organized in the face of a threat no one has seen in a century. This past week, we worked to get back to providing program outlets for you and your girls. We know our girls need developmental opportunities, and our world needs Girl Scouts more than ever. As Girl Scouts we are uniquely positioned to make a difference in our communities, and we will persevere. [Please see the March 19 blog post for details, support links and other useful information].  

Today, we have several key communications we wish to share.  The majority of questions that are arising are about cookies.  We’ve heard from many of you, troop leaders and volunteers, on both sides of the issue of continuing the Cookie Program.

As with so many groups, individuals and organizations, COVID-19 is severely disrupting lives and operations at particularly vulnerable times. We at the Girl Scouts of Western New York understand fully that compared to infection, fatalities and the myriad challenges facing our health-care system, cookie sales are not significant.

Nonetheless, COVID-19 hit this organization, and our peers across the country, at the worst-possible time. The Cookie Program is our backbone, strengthening our organization for the rest of the year to fund girls’ activities like STEM, outdoor programs, summer camp, community service projects, trips and travel, art adventures, and more. Thus we continue this program, while we remain fully sensitive to the challenges you face in your homes, at work and with your families.

If you simply cannot or do not want to continue with the Cookie Program, we understand. But we also want to offer information to make this modified 2020 program work for you. When the COVID-19 restrictions hit, we as a Girl Scout Council were on our way to surpassing our goal – thanks to your girls. Their motivation, creativity and drive were producing an amazing year. That is all changed, and we sympathize if you’re “done” with cookies. But if you want to continue, and girls in your troop have not yet reached their goals, please see our Cookie Program FAQs and flyer. We hope these answers and this information will help, and maybe even expand your girls’ learning and experiences.


We have heard from so many girls and volunteers about their excitement about the Cookies for Courage program which is described in our FAQs.  We have heard stories around our council and the country of community partners coming together to support our girls and purchase and then donate Girl Scout cookies to first responders, front-line workers and those in need.  We continue to have girls and volunteers ask how they can do the same, and community partners coming forward to ask how they can support our girls and benefit those in need.

A direct question we’re asked a lot is how do we transport cookies from seller to buyer and/or charitable recipient, and that is also covered in our Cookie Program FAQs

And, we want to say that if you continue with the Cookie Program, you are not alone. Girl Scouts –girls and adults around our council are offering to help other troops who need it. And GS councils around the country and GSUSA are partnering to also help troops work in our current national context. Please reach out to us and ask for help. No one says girls or adults need to do this alone. This is a choice, and we are not expecting girls/troops/families to take this on as a financial or time burden. We will partner with those who do not wish to do this, to help you.

If you can find a donor, great, or we’ll match you to a donor. Each part of this process presents individual choices. As we hope is the case for most, if not all of you, maybe you are home and safe and working and studying. And so this cookie effort can be a fun outlet and activity in the face of being closed in most of our days. Others, who have work, school or personal priorities that take them away from cookie selling, we understand.

Finally, there remains much we do not know, that no one knows at this stage of this crisis. But we in leadership are prepared that when our lives return to normal and Girl Scouting in general is able to take stock of what transpired, no one will be left holding unsold cookies, or face any financial hardship for their efforts.

We know this is a lot of information, and we will be first working with all of our Service Unit Cookie Volunteers next week, and then working with you to find out where you are with your decisions about participation in the program, but please reach out in the meantime if you have any questions. 

Please keep checking our COVID-19 updates at: www.gswny.org.  We will share any news about Girl Scout programs and other needed info. In recent weeks, we shared news about one of our volunteers testing positive for COVID-19.  We continue to work with the health department and will continue updating that section on our website with any additional information for your health and safety.

This past Tuesday we started our Member Essentials newsletter which will be shared twice a week with programming and resources for our girl and adult members.  This past week we launched Trefoil TV on Facebook Live at our Girl Scouts of Western New York Facebook page with a virtual activity for girls Monday through Friday at 3:12pm, including the Leaders are Readers Patch Program and next week please look for virtual programming for girls on the theme of Random Acts of Kindness.

Our Customer Care Line is open for phone calls daily at 1-888-837-6410 from 9:00 am – 11:00 am, and 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm M-Th, and Fridays 9:00 am – 11:00 am.  You can also reach us through email, and if there is ever an emergency please call 1-800-882-9268.

We received word late today that GSUSA is soon launching Girl Scouts At Home programming, and also working on a national campaign to help councils with the cookie program, lookout for more information soon.

And finally, I am inspired by all of our girls, volunteers and families who are stepping up and showing up – first of all for staying home and safe, and from seeing acts of cheer in our community, to donations to front-line workers, to the grins on girls’ faces as they “see” their friends in a virtual troop meeting, our girls, volunteers and families are leading the way.  Thank you for all you do!

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Alison Wilcox
CEO, Girl Scouts of Western New York

Member Essentials 4-7-20

Visit our Girl Scouting at Home Page Today

We now have a full page on our website dedicated to Girl Scouting at Home! The content is evolving, so keep checking for updates. Also, we love seeing photos about what Girl Scouting at Home looks like for you! Email your photos to communications@gswny.org.

VISIT GIRL SCOUTING AT HOME PAGE

GSWNY Stays@Home Challenge!

While we are social distancing, we can still stay connected! Have fun completing these activities and sharing the results. Grown-ups can share them on social media and tag us so we can all share some Girl Scouting fun! #GSWNYStays@Home

DOWNLOAD THE CHECKLIST

Watch Trefoil TV Weekdays at 3:12 p.m. on GSWNY’s Facebook Page

This week, we’re all about one of our program pillars, Life Skills! Make sure you check in every day at 3:12 to catch us live. Can’t make the live broadcast? View all our Trefoil TV videos on Facebook YouTube, and Instagram.

Upcoming: Volunteer Experience Manager Kelly Garrow is going live today at 3:12 to make no-bake cookies from Girl Scout cookies!

Other Trefoil TV segments this week include outdoor cooking with pie irons (link), making reusable bags from t-shirts, the Entrepreneurship Family pin, and more!


Girl Scout Cookie Program Virtual Program Webinar

We will behosting a Product Program Update Q & A session tonight for Troop Leaders. Please see the communication from 3-26-20 about our Cookie Program.

Tuesday, April 7
Product Program Update Q&A Session 6:00-7:00 pm. 

Register for a webinar session:
Product Program Update Q&A Session Registration

After you register, you will receive a confirmation email with details on how to join us via computer or phone.  Please check your junk/spam if you do not receive it; it will come from GoToWebinar.

The recording and updated FAQs from the webinar will be sent in Thursday’s Member Essentials.


Girl Scouts Doing Good Things

We’re so proud of the great work our Girl Scouts do around Western New York all year long. Check out these examples earlier in the Girl Scout year (all photos taken prior to March 1, 2020).

We are #GirlScoutStrong! Looking forward to talking to you on Thursday! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Customer Care customercare@gswny.org or call 1-888-837-6410.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation

Guest post by Lena Budd, GSWNY Volunteer Experience Manager

During April, we’re celebrating Volunteer Appreciation Month! As someone who works directly with so many of our volunteers (I’m one of the friendly faces from our Rochester office) I see the impact that a simple thank you has on people from our  wonderful troop co-leaders, to our dedicated Service Unit team members, and to all other incredible volunteers!

It’s very easy to tell someone thank you, but did you know that most people prefer to be thanked in specific ways? Some people love applause and public accolades while others really do not like to have the spotlight put on them. So how do you go about thanking someone?

First, let’s talk about a breakdown of appreciation methods. This information is from a favorite book of mine, “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People” by Gary Chapman and Paul White. You might be familiar with the concept of Five Love Languages – this book gives you the tools to thank staff and volunteers in professional settings.

This handy infographic breaks down the 5 methods.

Let’s explain each of these a little more since the infographic doesn’t answer it all.

  1. Tangible Gifts

Gifts don’t have to be expensive to be valuable! Some tangible gift ideas include awards and pins, gift cards, and handmade gifts.

  1. Acts of Service

This means showing up and helping to get the job done! To some people, getting your hands dirty in times of need shows more appreciation than sending a thank you card later.

  1. Physical Touch 

Physical touch, when appropriate, can be very meaningful! I call this the 3 H’s – hug, handshake, or high five! Other forms of showing thanks through physical touch include fist bumps or pats on the back.

I wrote this blog post a while ago under difference circumstances. This is still an important part of this book, but now that we are practicing social distancing please refrain from physical touch. This is something you can instead change over to a virtual hug or high five using tools like FaceTime, Zoom meeting, or other video conferencing apps.

  1. Quality Time

This is most meaningful when it is personal, focused time. This can can be hanging out or working together. Grab coffee, go to lunch, or attend an event together! Make sure the activity your doing is meaningful to the person you are thanking. For example, don’t take a non-coffee drinker to Starbucks! 

  1. Words of Affirmation

Oral or written thank you’s! The most common form of words of affirmation is a thank you card! Words of affirmation can be done publicly or privately, however remember that not many people actually enjoy public praise.

Now, how do you go about actually putting these 5 languages into action? Easy! Get to know the people you volunteer with and ask them what they like best! Pro-tip: people tend to give thanks the way the like to get thanked. Do they always send you a thank you card after an event? This person’s preferred language is Words of Affirmation. Does this person like to go out to coffee and chat? Their language of appreciation is Quality Time.

What do you think is your preferred language of appreciation? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Thank you!!

Member Essentials – 4/2/20

Our Girl Scouting at Home page is live!

We now have a full page on our website dedicated to Girl Scouting at Home! Below is a list of some of the current content, but keep checking back for updates:

– Information about staying safe online
– Patches, badges, and journeys
– Earned awards Virtual experiences
– Community service and much more!

Don’t forget, we love seeing photos about what Girl Scouting at Home looks like for you! Email your photos to communications@gswny.org.

Visit Girl Scouting at Home Page

Watch Trefoil TV Weekdays at 3:12 p.m. on GSWNY’s Facebook Page

This week, we’re focusing on Acts of Kindness! Make sure you check in every day at 3:12 to catch us live.

Can’t make the live broadcast? Don’t worry! You can watch after on Facebook or check it out on YouTube and Instagram.

TODAY: MeKenzie Lund, Lead Community Engagement Specialist, is discussing why we should ‘bee’ kind this spring to bees!


Girl Scout Cookie Program Virtual Program Options

While our traditional cookie program has been suspended, we have options and suggestions available for virtual booths and direct-ship. Please note that continued participation is optional. 

GSWNY PROGRAM: Transform your troop inventory into a sweet treat for your local hometown heroes! Think of women and men on the front lines and let them know your Girl Scout troop is thankful for them. Let your entrepreneurial skills shine…show us how creative you can be! Learn more here: Flyer and  FAQS

GSUSA PROGRAM :  Our sister councils and GSUSA are also promoting our cookie program across the country through this national program as well. Community members can support girls’ continued success in the wake of COVID-19 through Digital Cookie and Smart Cookie online orders shipped to their door without interruption or donate cookies online and we’ll distribute them safely to provide comfort to first responders, frontline volunteers, and local causes in need. Learn more  here.

We will behosting a Product Program Update Q & A session for Troop Leaders.   

Tuesday, April 7
Product Program Update Q&A Session 6:00-7:00 pm. 

Register for a webinar session:
Product Program Update Q&A Session Registration

After you register, you will receive a confirmation email with details on how to join us via computer or phone.  Please check your junk/spam if you do not receive it; it will come from GoToWebinar.

We will be sharing the recording and slide deck with all members.


Girl Scouts Doing Good Things

Our Girl Scouts are putting their ingenuity to work and doing great things across our WNY community. Check out a few examples below.

The Girl Scouts in Troop 30734 from Grand Island created this video over Zoom to talk about their cookie donations for essential workers.

We are #GirlScoutStrong! Looking forward to talking to you on Thursday! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Customer Care customercare@gswny.org or call 1-888-837-6410.

How to use Zoom for your Girl Scout meetings

As you know, the whole world is in a period of adjustment as we navigate the uncharted waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. With restrictions in place to keep groups from meeting to slow the spread, many activities have been forced to cancel for the time being.

Girl Scouts of Western New York, of course, is no exception. We’ve currently suspended our cookie program and cancelled programs through April. While this is understandably a challenging time, we’re working to provide virtual Girl Scouting options while you’re at home.

One idea we’ve seen from our members is virtual troop meetings using the platform Zoom, or something similar. Because it’s been so successful, we’ve created instructions and how to run and set a virtual troop meeting.

You can watch the video below or download instructions here.

Member Essentials – 3/31/20

Hello Girl Scout Members,

A Note from Alison:

Today’s newsletter is dedicated to all of our amazing Girl Scout volunteers.  You are wonderful role models, demonstrating resilience, flexibility and care, as you lead with and for our girls to make the world better in challenging times.  We continue to hear so many good news stories about how Girl Scouts are stepping up around our nine counties to shine a light on our community when it most needs it.

We thank you for all of your efforts this year – you have always given of your time to build girls of courage, confidence and character, and in this time you are truly needed more than ever.  We so appreciate you! 

It has been so heartwarming to see how you are responding for our girls in a time of crisis.  From learning new skills and holding your first “zoom” or virtual meetings, to checking on your girls and their families, to navigating running a virtual cookie program, or leading at-home programs and community service projects, and most of all, to everyone, helping to keep our girls home and safe, on behalf of GSWNY board and staff, WE THANK YOU!

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Alison Wilcox
CEO, Girl Scouts of Western New York


Happy Volunteer Appreciation Month!

Did you know April is Volunteer Appreciation Month? This is a great time of year to thank the volunteers in your life for the services they provide to you or your Girl Scouts

Read More


Watch Trefoil TV Weekdays at 3:12 p.m. on

This week, we’re focusing on Acts of Kindness! Make sure you check in every day at 3:12 to catch us live.

Can’t make the live broadcast? Don’t worry! You can watch after on Facebook or check it out on YouTube and Instagram.

TODAY: Lena Budd, Volunteer Experience Manager discussed National Volunteer Appreciation Month


Girl Scouting at Home

Your girl’s daily routine may have changed, but there are still ways to participate in Girl Scout activities and earn awards, even at home! While everything is still evolving, here are some ways to get started today:

Caregivers: If you would like to work on Girl Scout programming at home with your girl, you can reach out to the Girl Experience team for guidance. Email customercare@gswny.org or call 1-888-837-6410 to get in touch.  

Virtual Meetings for Troops and Service Units

One way to stay connected with your troop and/or service unit during this time is through virtual meetings. Use the links below for instructional resources.

Download Zoom Instructions PDF

Girl Scout Cookie Program Virtual Program Options

While our traditional cookie program has been suspended, we have options and suggestions available for virtual booths and direct-ship.

GSWNY PROGRAM: Transform your troop inventory into a sweet treat for your local hometown heroes! Think of women and men on the front lines and let them know your Girl Scout troop is thankful for them. Let your entrepreneurial skills shine…show us how creative you can be! Learn more here: Flyer and  FAQS

GSUSA PROGRAM : Girl Scouts and communities across the country are counting on you. Support girls’ continued success in the wake of COVID-19 through Digital Cookie and Smart Cookie online orders online orders shipped to your door without interruption. Or donate cookies online and we’ll distribute them safely to provide comfort to first responders, frontline volunteers, and local causes in need. Learn more here.

We will behosting a Product Program Update Q & A session for Troop Leaders.   

Tuesday, April 7
Product Program Update Q&A Session 6:00-7:00 pm. 

Register for a webinar session:
Product Program Update Q&A Session Registration

After you register, you will receive a confirmation email with details on how to join us via computer or phone.  Please check your junk/spam if you do not receive it; it will come from GoToWebinar.

We will be sharing the recording and slide deck with all members.


Spring Renewal Update

Our Spring Renewal Campaign, set to begin April 1, will now be tentatively rescheduled to begin May 1. This date will be reviewed and updated as needed to ensure that girls and volunteers can participate in our amazing incentive program! Watch for more details later in April. 


Raising Awesome Girls

Parents and caregivers – GSUSA continues to add resources for raising girls including talking to your girls about disappointment, leading virtual meetings, or helping girls with schoolwork at home, and this is updated regularly: https://www.girlscouts.org/en/raising-girls.html


Girl Scouts Doing Good Things

Our Girl Scouts are putting their ingenuity to work and doing great things across our WNY community. Check out a few examples below.

We are #GirlScoutStrong! Looking forward to talking to you on Thursday! In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Customer Care customercare@gswny.org or call 1-888-837-6410.

Let’s celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Month!

Did you know April is Volunteer Appreciation Month? This is a great time of year to thank the volunteers in your life for the services they provide to you or your Girl Scouts.

All across our WNY council, we give heartfelt thanks to all our volunteers! From the folks who come in a couple times a month to assist our accounting department all the way to the troop co-leaders who run troop meetings and chaperone events… every volunteer is awesome and important!

Girl Scouts is a volunteer-run organization. Volunteers make it possible to continue our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character during this difficult time with their support, flexibility, and dedication. We hope to make all of our wonderful volunteers feel the virtual love this month and all year long! This month we will be sending communications by email with thank-you messages, but we also want to provide you with ways to thank volunteers yourself!

We have 3 different cards available for download from our website. Please note: if the card opens in your browser window instead of downloading, you need to save it to your computer, then open your saved file. If you type into the browser window, then hit save, most browsers will erase what you’ve typed.

Click here to download this card.
Click here to download this card.
Click here to download this card.

Also, be sure to visit our Facebook page on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, at 3:12pm. Lena Budd, Volunteer Experience Manager will be doing a Facebook Live making thank you cards for volunteers. (After the broadcast ends, will also be sharing the video to YouTube and Instagram.)

How do you show thanks? Leave a comment saying who you’re thanking or how you’re thanking someone!

P.S. This is more than a Girl Scout volunteer holiday! Consider showing your appreciation for volunteers in other organizations as well, such as healthcare, human rights, or public services (libraries, schools, places of worship, etc.).