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


Coronavirus Update 3-17-20

Dear Girl Scout Volunteers and Families,

Girl Scouts of Western New York continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 updates. View past communications:

At Girl Scouts, the safety and wellbeing of our girls, volunteers, council staff and families are our top priority and we all have a responsibility in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

This is an unprecedented and challenging time for all. Please know we are here to serve you as best we can. Our community needs Girl Scouts more than ever. 

We promised you an update on Tuesday, March 17 so this communication is to give you the latest information. Information is rapidly evolving and we will follow up later this week as more details around Girl Scout programming and the cookie program are finalized in guidance with our public health officials and Girl Scouts of the USA.

Following the guidance of our New York State and local county public health officials, Girl Scouts of Western New York announced on Sunday, March 15 that we formally suspended all Girl Scouting activities until at least April 1, but we are now announcing that all in-person programs, events and property rentals must be cancelled or postponed through at least April 30. In-person troop meetings and cookie booths are suspended through April 1 and this date will continue to be re-evaluated following public health guidance for the safety of our girls and community. No in-person Girl Scout activities will resume until it has been deemed safe by our public health officials to do so. All cancelled council-sponsored activities will provide full refunds within the next 30 days. STEM-a-palooza will be rescheduled in November – more details will be shared when they are available.

We are committed to serving our girls through virtual programming options that we will present to you starting next week. Girls home from school closures will need engaging activities for their development. We are also working closely with Girl Scouts of the USA and our baker for solutions to help troops who have been impacted by cookie booth cancellations. We have solutions for girls to still participate in the cookie program online and through virtual cookie booths. Many troops are already doing so, and we will share resources for you on our volunteer webinars on Wednesday, and in another communication Thursday of this week. As communicated earlier, our cookie program has been extended until April 26 with final payment by April 28 and we will continue to re-evaluate and communicate.  

We also wanted to update you with what additional steps Girl Scouts of Western New York is taking to combat the spread of COVID-19. Our offices have been closed to the public as of Monday, March 16, however our staff remain employed to serve our members. The majority of our staff are working from home, with very few staff members performing limited administrative office functions on Thursdays, following all safety protocols, cleaning procedures and social distancing.

This week the best way to reach our team is through email at customercare@gswny.org

  • Starting Monday, March 24 our staff will be available by phone at 1-888-837-6410 Monday through Thursday from 9am-11am, and 2pm-4pm, and Fridays, 9am-11am, and you can always contact us through email at: customercare@gswny.org.

We understand that you may be looking for activities to keep your Girl Scout engaged while she is home. We are working on resources to support you and your Girl Scout(s), which will be available on www.gswny.org in the coming days. In the meantime, we encourage you to check out resources on Raising Awesome Girls, our Badge Explorer, and the Resources Tab on the Volunteer Toolkit for programs you can adapt to continue the Girl Scout program while she may be home.

Volunteers are invited to attend our webinars. We will still hold two virtual information sessions, for service unit team members and troop leaders on March 18, to update everyone on the situation. Details may be found on our website.

We know this is a challenging time for Girl Scouts everywhere! I echo what our national CEO Sylvia Acevedo shared on the Girl Scout blog this morning. We will get through this as we always do – as one Movement, united in our mission of serving girls and we’re here to help. Thank you for your continued patience as we navigate these unchartered waters together. We are stronger together!

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Alison Wilcox CEO, Girl Scouts of Western New York

Coronavirus Update 3-15-2020

Dear Girl Scout Family,

As we communicated to you Saturday, we continue to monitor the COVID-19-related decisions and guidance from our relevant county health departments, the federal Centers for Disease Control and the state Department of Health and apply them as sensibly and effectively as possible to Girl Scouting.

Given recent action by them, including increased school closures, we are suspending Girl Scouting activities at this time on Sunday, March 15, until at least April 1. For those Girl Scouts and volunteers involved in activities today, suspension will apply upon completion of those events. Members across our council should please communicate this decision to families, potential meeting sites, sales booth locations and any other needed entities. Please continue to follow all official regulations in your communities, and also refer to our earlier communications about safety protocols.

Girl Scouts, who always endeavor to do what’s right, are following the lead of our nine county governments and their various school districts. Suspended activities include troop meetings, events, cookie deliveries and cookie booths.

The Girl Scouts of WNY established and tested protocols for widespread health or food-safety issues. We want to reassure our Girl Scouting family that leadership will continue to constantly monitor the situation and regularly discuss best courses of action. Based on all available guidance, we moved to Level 2 Preparedness Saturday for two counties, and are now moving to Level 3 across our nine counties.

We, as you, realize the timing during cookie season is not optimal. But we can all agree that public health safety and the health of all our families is and will remain our top priority, and these actions are necessary until there is official word that this pandemic eased or ended. Nonetheless, we would renew our appeal to our community supporters who are interested in buying our cookies online. Anyone interested in supporting a Girl Scout cookie booth virtually can contact us at CustomerCare@gswny.org or 1-888-837-6410.

Please look for another communication from us later this week on how we will be supporting you and options for virtual programming during this time.

We will still hold two virtual information sessions, for service unit team members and troop leaders on March 18, to update everyone on the situation. Details may be found on our website.

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at 1-888-837-6410 or email CustomerCare@gswny.org.

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Alison Wilcox
CEO, Girl Scouts of Western New York 

Coronavirus Update 3-14-2020

Dear Girl Scout Family,
 
The Girl Scouts of WNY take this health threat seriously and will continue to follow direction from relevant county health departments, the federal Centers for Disease Control and the state Department of Health.
 
Girl Scouts, whose guidepost is always doing what’s right, normally mirror our public schools. Given that we serve multiple counties, [Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming], we are prepared to suspend Girl Scouting countywide if and when school districts suspend classes, as expected.
 
Based on recent updates from school districts and public health officials in Monroe and Erie counties, we will be suspending all Girl Scouting programs in Monroe and Erie counties including troop meetings, events and cookie booths effective Wednesday, March 18– April 1.  We ask all of our members across our council to be prepared for potential program suspensions.  We are planning another update to members on Tuesday, March 17th.  We will continue to re-evaluate and communicate updates from across our region.
 
We want to emphasize that parents should use their discretion about their daughter’s involvement in any public activity, including Girl Scout meetings and events, the cookie program and cookie delivery. While we know that this virus has seemed to avoid children under 19, any with underlying conditions or with close family members with underlying conditions should take appropriate precautions.
 
The Girl Scouts of WNY has established and tested protocols for widespread health or food-safety issues such as this. We want to reassure our Girl Scouting family that leadership is constantly monitoring the situation and discussing best courses of action hourly. At this point, based on the CDC guidance of the number of confirmed cases in our counties, our communication yesterday was based on Level 1 Preparedness.  We are now operating on Level 2, and we fully anticipate that changing in the next few days.
 
First, we wish to reiterate what we said in our email Friday: We encourage members to use discretion about your participation in Girl Scouting activities. Your health and the health of others is most important, and you will not be negatively affected if you are unable to volunteer or participate. Our most valuable resource is and always will be our people, including our girls, volunteers, staff and our family members. We are committed to actions that maintain the well-being of all, and we will communicate regularly with updates over the coming days and weeks.
 
Truth is, the timing of this virus coinciding with our annual cookie program and deliveries brings with it challenges, and facts, that would not be present at other times of our Girl Scouting year. But be assured that that does not deter us from always doing what is right, which is the Girl Scouting way.
 
In this context, we would appeal to our community supporters in all nine counties who are interested in buying our cookies online. At this time, our girls have multiple cookie booths planned that are impacted. Anyone interested in supporting a Girl Scout cookie booth virtually can contact us at customercare@gswny.org or 1-888-837-6410.
 
Girls, families and volunteers slated to run a scheduled public cookie booth may decline to do so.
 
This is a highly fluid situation, as this past week demonstrated. We will always do what we feel is best for our Girl Scouts’ and their families’ health and well-being.
 
GSWNY has the benefit of available guidance from our national Girl Scouting leadership, as well as our peers around the country. What we’ve seen is customized approaches in each area to best serve our families. We too are working by the hour to serve and support our local families, and that will not change.
 
As many cookie booths have been impacted, we will adjust the cookie program to extend its duration to April 26, and extend final payment until at least April 28. We will monitor and adjust these parameters as conditions evolve.
 
We are holding two virtual information sessions, for service unit team members and troop leaders on March 18, to update everyone on the situation. Details may be found on our website.
 
We also think that Girl Scouts can be a positive outlet for our girls at this time. Most schools are being thrust into online learning options and those will inevitably vary from district to district and school to school. Girl Scouting activities when able to safely operate within public health guidelines can help families cope with unexpected and extended down time.  We are continuing to work towards ways we can continue to be available to our members.
 
As you know, the CDC reports that children are not part of those at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19. As much as possible, and, again, at family discretion, children should be allowed to carry on with their education and normal activities – in the safest-possible way for them and their families.
 
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at 1-888-837-6410 or email CustomerCare@gswny.org.
  Yours in Girl Scouting,

Alison Wilcox
CEO, Girl Scouts of Western New York