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.).

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 – 3/24/20

Hello Girl Scout Members,

During this challenging time we are also faced with many wonderful opportunities to shine our Girl Scout lights brightly and show the importance and impact of Girl Scouting across our WNY community. From virtual programs that unite girls and continue to strengthen our sisterly bonds, to innovative virtual cookie booths that benefit nurses and more, we are seeing Girl Scouts who when faced with adversity rise to the occasion. 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.  

To stay connected we are introducing some new items:

  • GSWNY Membership Essentials, an exclusive member email communication sent on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Trefoil TV + Virtual Girl Scout Programs, a series of Facebook Live videos that will showcase interesting virtual Girl Scout learning topics on ways troops and girls can do virtual programs. Trefoil TV can be viewed weekdays at 3:12 p.m. on GSWNY’s Facebook page .

We’ll also bring you some feel good stories from around our council and if you have stories to share about service projects that your troop is participating in at this time, please share photos and descriptions on our Facebook page or email them to communications@gswny.org.

Also, to make sure that we are speaking in one voice and sharing the most up to date and factual information, please reach out to customercare@gswny.org or call 1-888-837-6410 if you have COVID-19 related issues or communications.


Watch Trefoil TV Weekdays at 3:12 p.m. on GSWNY’s Facebook Page. Did you catch the first edition of Trefoil TV on Monday, 3/23? Watch the excitement here – Hiking with Karen Lundgard our Chief of Property and Outdoor.

Upcoming: Don’t miss Trefoil TV with our CEO, Alison Wilcox on 3/24 at 3:12pm here.


Virtual Girl Scout Programs

As Girl Scouts move full steam ahead in connecting virtually for meetings, keep watch for more information on Virtual Troop Meetings and our Virtual CookieProgram on our Facebook page and new upcoming virtual website page on gswny.org.


Highest Award News

On November 18, Zaria of Troop 60047 of Rochester discussed her Girl Scout Gold Award service project focused on the recruitment of more black and brown girls into Girl Scouts

Gold, Silver, and Bronze Award Girl Scouts are the youth leaders their communities need to create solutions to the new and ever changing challenges that arise from this global pandemic—whether it’s helping ensure kids are still getting the nourishment and enrichment they need out of school, responding to the possible ramifications of isolation during social distancing, or something else entirely!

Girl Scouts is offering a special deadline extension to December 31, 2020 and will continue to re-assess over the next few months:

Recognizing that many schools, youth activities and community gatherings have been suspended, and that we are navigating a period of rapid change, Girl Scouts is offering a three-month extension from Sept. 30 to December 31, 2020, to provide flexibility for Girl Scout Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors earning Girl Scouts’ Highest Awards. This is particularly relevant for 5th grade Juniors, 8th grade Cadettes, and 12th grade Ambassadors who will bridge to the next program age level officially on September 30, 2020 and typically would be no longer eligible to earn the Bronze, Silver or Gold Award, respectively. If you have questions please contact customercare@gswny.org or call 1-888-837-6410.


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.

Yours in Girl Scouting,
Girl Scouts of Western New York

COVID-19 Update 3-19-2020

Hello Girl Scout members,

I hope that each of you are well, and transitioning to our quickly evolving temporary new normal.  I want to acknowledge that we know this is an incredibly challenging time for you and your families. 
This is an unprecedented time, and we are working hard to communicate with you and to be here for all of our Girl Scout members.
This first week has been focused on our transition, immediate needs and getting organized, as I imagine you are all doing the same.  Starting next week, we are working 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.

We are Girl Scouts and we will persevere!

We promised you another communication following our volunteer webinar with additional resources.  Please read below for some helpful information for navigating this transition with the girls in your life, some engaging programs and the links to last night’s webinars.  We are working on more virtual resources for programs and we have some initial ones here for you if you need.


1. Please keep checking our COVID-19 updates at: www.gswny.org.
We will share any news about Girl Scout programs and other needed info. Earlier this week we shared news about one of our volunteers testing positive for COVID-19.  As we mentioned, the health department said she was recovering nicely and please hold her in your thoughts and prayers.  We continue to work with the health department and will be updating that section on our website with any additional information for your health and safety.  This is a correction to our 3-17-20 evening update: COVID-19 Update 3-17-20 (Corrected) 3-19-20 through verification with Health Department. 

We also have posted another update with that same information and some more resources: 3-19-2020 GSWNY Volunteer & Family Update
2. National Volunteer Resources:

3. Girl Scouts are girl experts, and we are fortunate to have national resources to help you guide your girls through this rapidly changing time. Please see the Raising Awesome Girls articles below.

4. Volunteer Webinar Links: 
Please refer back to our earlier communication about GS suspension of in-person activities.  This webinar has all tentative dates and we will keep re-evaluating as we go based on new information.

5. Programs:
Next week we will be launching new digital resources including a new special Facebook Live series, Trefoil TV daily at 3:12 pm that will also be recorded.  The first two editions will feature our Chief Outdoor and Property Manager, Karen Lundgard leading you in a virtual hike at camp, and our CEO, Alison Wilcox, with a patch program for girls that you can work on at home. 

6. Camp Songs:

And you can check out even more on our Camp Songs YouTube channel!

7. This is also an additional virtual K-5 Journey that you can do from the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas in the meantime:

Starting next week we will have our Customer Care Line open for phone calls daily 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 our 1-888-837-6410.

Thank you for all you do!

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Alison Wilcox
CEO, Girl Scouts of Western New York

3-19-2020 GSWNY Volunteer & Family Update

To the Girl Scouts of Western New York volunteers and families,

We will continue to provide you with the most useful and relevant information through regular updates as needed.

Your health and well-being are always our top priority. We have received several questions in response to our [March 17] evening update regarding a volunteer who tested positive for coronavirus/COVID-19. We were notified of this Tuesday evening [March 17] and out of an abundance of caution, we decided to share this information with our staff, volunteers and members.

Girl Scouting staff is in the process of determining who was in contact with this volunteer and when. Local health officials are also involved and will then use that information to track possible exposure. Generally speaking, however, all staff, along with all other Western New Yorkers, should stay at home and self-monitor. We are in a period of community transmission and accelerating cases, and this is the safest practice for all members of the community regardless of affiliation with Girl Scouts, health officials said.

We are currently working with and following the guidance of local county health departments. Below are the dates we have been informed that the volunteer may have been involved in Girl Scouting activities and/or visited a local shop or service center (this has been corrected through verification with the Genesee County Department of Health):

  • Rochester Cookie Cupboard: 3/7 (approx. 9am-11am)
  • Oatka Valley Service Unit Event: 3/8
  • Rochester Service Center: 3/10 (11am-11:30am)
  • Batavia Service Center: 3/11
  • Rochester Cookie Cupboard: 3/13 (between 11 a.m.-11:30 a.m.)

If you believe you have had exposure at the above locations during any of the above-listed timeframes, please contact us for more information. You can reach us at customercare@gswny.org, or call us at: 1-888-837-6410.

Please contact your health-care provider for additional guidance if you feel that’s needed. You can also contact the local health departments with questions and concerns. The Genesee County and Monroe County Health Departments contact information is provided below:

Genesee County Health Department:
Coronavirus/COVID-19 Hotline: 1-888-364-3065
Website: https://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/health/coronavirus_2019/index.php

Monroe County Health Department
https://www2.monroecounty.gov/health-coronavirus
Phone: (585) 753-5555
Email: COVID19@monroecounty.gov

GSWNY takes the health and well-being of our girls, volunteers, employees and families very seriously. We will continue to share any relevant information as it becomes available.

The Genesee and Orleans County health departments have been preparing and responding to this possibility for weeks under the guidance of the New York State Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control. Residents who are experiencing a fever, with cough and/or shortness of breath are advised to call your health care provider or urgent care center before going to seek medical care. Some insurance plans offer telemedicine options, and these can be most useful under these circumstances.

To hamper the spread of the virus, residents can practice social distancing and proper germ prevention practices:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid people who are sick.
  • Disinfect high-traffic surfaces often.

If you have questions about recent travel and symptoms regarding COVID-19, please call the NYSDOH Coronavirus hotline: 1-888-364-3065.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Alison Wilcox
CEO, Girl Scouts of Western New York 

COVID-19 Update 3-17-20 Corrected 3-19-20

3-17-20 Corrected 3-19-20 through verification with Health Department:
Please note all corrections are in bold.

Out of an abundance of caution, we are informing you that this evening we learned that one of our treasured Girl Scout volunteers, who lives in Genesee County, tested positive for COVID-19 today, March 17. This volunteer continues at home in self-isolation and the Genesee County Health Department reported she is recovering nicely. Please keep her in your thoughts during this difficult time. 

Through our research, we have no reason to believe at this time that she contracted the virus through Girl Scout activities. Based on interviews, staff checking, and in consultation with the GCDOH, she may have had interaction with Girl Scout activities on the dates listed below.  

Please know that we are following all public health guidelines to ensure we have contained her exposure. She has reported her contacts directly to the health department and again we are sharing this with our Girl Scout members to ensure that you have all of the information you need to safeguard your health and that of your family. 

These are the details that we currently have about this volunteer’s involvement with Girl Scouts: 

  • Rochester Cookie Cupboard: 3/7 (approx. 9am-11am)
  • Oatka Valley Service Unit Event: 3/8
  • Rochester Service Center: 3/10 (11am-11:30am)
  • Batavia Service Center: 3/11
  • Rochester Cookie Cupboard: 3/13 (between 11am-11:30am)

We are supporting our volunteer in all ways practical and thank her for her communications with GSWNY volunteers and staff and her appropriate efforts to aid the Girl Scouts’ broader health as soon as possible. We wish to emphasize that she notified GSWNY right away. 

GSWNY takes the health and well-being of our girls, volunteers, employees and families very seriously.  

As previously announced, all Girl Scouting activities in our nine-county council were suspended Sunday, including cookie booths, delivery, meetings and programs. Our Service Centers have also been closed to the public since March 16. 

Our staff team will still be supporting members virtually through our Customer Care line at: 1.888.837.6410 and by emailing: customercare@gswny.org

We would like to make you aware of the following links to resources for your own health:

We’re all working together, inside Girl Scouting and outside it, to do all we can to protect and support each other. 


Yours in Girl Scouting, 

Alison Wilcox
CEO, Girl Scouts of Western New York