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:  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

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 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

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 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 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:
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, 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

Monroe County Health Department
Phone: (585) 753-5555

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:

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

  • 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:

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 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 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

Yours in Girl Scouting,

Alison Wilcox
CEO, Girl Scouts of Western New York