Troop 60462 volunteers at the historic Rapids Cemetery

The following is a submission from Troop 60462 co-leader Carol Yacono-Harrison. If you would like to submit your troop story, please email communications@gswny.org.

Our merry band of Girl Scouts has been volunteering at the historic Rapids Cemetery since July, 2017, starting as Brownies/Juniors, and now as Cadettes.  We were invited to assist by Mr. John Curran, who is a member of our parish, St. Monica’s, and part of a group working to restore and protect this piece of Rochester history.  Graves in this cemetery, in the middle of a residential area of Congress Ave. in the city of Rochester, are dated from 1842 to 1908.

The first year, after a tour of the grounds and a little history lesson, we helped clear the northeast corner of wild garlic and other weeds, and that area, free of graves, is now a meditation garden.  That same year, we helped pick black raspberries in the “edible forest” in the northwest corner, also free of graves, to take to a soup kitchen in the city.

Troop 60462 pre-COVID-19

Each year since, we, along with other community groups, have returned to continue helping in any way possible.  For our girls, that has meant picking an ever-growing amount of black raspberries for the soup kitchens.  This year, we also helped clear dirt and debris from three newly discovered graves from the mid-1800s, and will be returning this Sunday, September 27th, to help lay mulch and prepare the grounds for the winter.

We see this as a “sustainable” project, a community service, and a part of our BREATHE journey and Trees badge work.  We have contacted the city regarding planting a tree on the grounds.  We heard back from Brian Liberti, Forestry Department, this past week!  The city has a shipment of trees due to be delivered some time in April 2021, and he has agreed to reserve one for our girls to plant and help maintain.  We’re hoping to do this as part of an Earth Day celebration!

Don’t Forget to Show Appreciation Year-Round!

Guest post by Christine Kirwan, GSWNY Director of Volunteer Experience

April was Volunteer Appreciation Month, but don’t let that stop you from celebrating it all year-round! April can serve as a great reminder, but many of our amazing volunteers go above and beyond on a regular basis.

At the start of the month, we helped you generate new ideas to get creative for April. After that, GSWNY Volunteer Experience Manager Lena Budd explained some of the more nuanced ways people like to be thanked. Now we want to help you keep those thankful thoughts flowing through the other 11 months.

Keep a gratitude journal!

Normally this concept is for your personal self-reflection on the ways your own life has been good, but it’s actually a fun concept to remember how someone has repeatedly done wonderful things for you. Keep small notes on who has done something nice for you. Look back on these when writing a thank you note and pull a few choice examples that made you particularly grateful.

Build some shout-out time into meetings!

If the volunteer you want to thank is comfortable with public displays of gratitude, consider setting aside time in troop or service unit meetings to allow people to share a brief message to highlight that volunteer. Worried about time? You can also collect those messages through email or social media ahead of time and then have one person read them aloud at the meeting.

Create your own awards!

At GSWNY, we have a lot of ways to officially recognize volunteers, but sometimes you want to give smaller thanks on a service unit or troop level. You can always create your own awards ceremonies or handmade trophies and certificates to give thanks.

Can we all appreciate the joy of a paper plate award ceremony? They don’t all have to be inside jokes or funny. Sincere ones are an excellent way to go, too! This can be a really fun idea for when you’re able to meet in person once again!

Make memories, then create a gift!

We live in a world of smartphones where photos are a frequent part of our lives. If you have some sweet photos of events or instances where the volunteer or their hard work was in front of the camera, consider turning those memories into a physical gift.

Scrapbooks, photo albums, framed photos, or picture collages are all touching gifts that they can incorporate into their lives. The photo will remind them of your gratitude and keep the good vibes flowing.

Have another idea? How do you show thanks outside of April? Leave a comment below!

The History of National Girl Scout Leader Day

April 22 is National Girl Scout Leader Day, which fits so nicely nestled into Volunteer Appreciation Month. On this National Girl Scout Leader Day, we’re more grateful and appreciative than ever to have such dedicated leaders who are still finding ways to support their girls despite the current circumstances.

Girl Scout Leader Day recognizes and honors the many adult volunteers to the Girl Scouting program. Celebration of the holiday began on April 22, 1982, when a flag honoring Girl Scout leaders was flown over the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

This day honors the thousands of volunteers who help to make the Girl Scout program a success. Celebrate today, by thanking the Girl Scout leaders in your troop and area.

This is the perfect time to give them the wonderful thank you made using our blog post of suggestions from earlier this month. Give them your handmade thank you card or handwritten note. Girl Scout groups can hold virtual parties. Gifts are not a requirement, or an expectation.

One of the ways Girl Scouts can thank their leaders, is to do their best in everything they do. Leaders get their reward by seeing girls grow while building courage, confidence, and character, plus by making the world a better place!

More Ideas For Volunteer Appreciation Month

We’re partway into Volunteer Appreciation Month, and that makes it a great time to keep up the thanks! Remember, every volunteer is a vital, valuable member of Girl Scouts and we want to show thanks to everyone who helps build girls of courage, confidence, and character in whatever way they can!

We have a Pinterest board dedicated to fun, creative ways to tell someone thank you. It’s a great time to make something and then hold onto it until you see them again!

This is just a sample of what’s on our Pinterest board. Can you tell how much we love puns?

Not the crafty type? That’s okay, too! A handwritten note saying thanks and even outlining a couple of examples of when the person went above and beyond are perfect. How exciting is it to get a personally written note from someone?!

We really like these general tips from Hallmark about how to write a thank you note. This is a great opportunity for your Girl Scout(s) to practice this skill since thanking people genuinely and sincerely is a powerful tool to carry into adulthood. Even just getting Daisies into the habit of making some sort of thank you (drawings are as beloved as written messages) can be a fun way to get them on board with showing appreciation to people that matter to them.

Have you ever made a cool thank you gift for someone? We’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment and tell us about your awesome project!

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!!

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.).

Women of Distinction 2019 is in three weeks!

Our annual, girl-led, women’s event of the year is happening in three short weeks on Thursday, September 26. We can’t wait to celebrate our nine amazing honorees and their contributions to the community!

More than just honoring the women, this event is all about mentorship. Each of the honorees was paired with a Girl Scout who will serve as a presenter at the event, sharing about her experience being mentored.

Check out photos of the Girl Scouts and their honorees below!

You can be a part of this special event as well by purchasing a ticket gswny.org.

2019 Women of Distinction:

  • Christine Bonaguide, Esq.: Partner, Hodgson Russ LLP (Erie County)
  • Linda Clark, M.D.: Doctor of Preventive/Occupational Medicine, Founder and CEO, Clark Occupational Medicine Services (Monroe County)
  • Tory Irgang: Executive Director, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation (Chautauqua County)
  • Candace Johnson, Ph.D.: President and CEO, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center (Erie County)
  • Joyce A. Markiewicz: Chief Business Development Officer, Catholic Health (Erie County)
  • Nadia Pizzaro: Homeless Services Director, BestSelf Behavioral Health, Inc. (Erie County)
  • Katherine Conway-Turner, Ph.D.: President, State University of New York at Buffalo State (Erie County)
  • Lori Van Dusen: Founder and CEO, LVW Advisors (Monroe County)
  • Linda ZakrzewskiVolunteer of Distinction, Teacher, Family and Consumer Science, School 81 Buffalo (Erie County)

Thank you for another great year of the #GirlScoutCampLife

Two weeks ago, we wrapped up another amazing summer at Girl Scout camp. Our three camps, Camp Timbercrest, Camp Seven Hills, and Camp Piperwood, plus our volunteer-run Camp Windy Meadows, were filled with excited campers and great programming.

More than 2,500 girls from around council attended Girl Scout camp this summer, where they rode horses, went swimming, climbed ropes, learned how to build fires, sang camp songs, and of course, made new friends.

While our outdoor programming runs all year long, summer camp is a special time for girls to gather together and learn new skills while honoring cherished Girl Scout traditions. We hear stories all the time about how important camp was and is to our Girl Scouts past and present and we can’t wait to continue creating memories.

Camp might be over for the summer, but we’re already thinking about next year’s programs. Look for the new camp guides out in January to decide what your camp journey will be in 2020. If you can’t get enough of the outdoors, head to gswny.org where you can learn more about all our outdoor opportunities, including equipment rentals, programming, property rentals, and Outdoor Champions who can facilitate programming for you.

To see photos from our resident camps, visit our Flickr page!

Every Girl’s Ultimate Summer Bucket List

[This post originally appeared on GirlScouts.org]

It’s finally here—weeks upon weeks of gorgeous weather, lazier mornings, maybe a part-time job, pool parties, and ideally, buckets of free time. Summer is a magical time of year, and it would be an absolute waste to just sleep through it, so we’ve put together the ultimate summer bucket list that will make these warm weather months even more memorable (and give every girl something incredible to tell her friends about when she goes back to class in the fall).

All of these summer ideas work for both independent older girls, who can take on most challenges on their own—and for younger girls who can try their hand at these activities with the help of a parent or other caring adult.

Ready for your best summer yet? Let’s go!

Create Something Beautiful 
Take your Instagram to the next level with some artsy shots, create a cool collage from your favorite magazines, or even try your hand at painting. The way you see the world is unique and cool, so share that vision with the world!

Sleep Under the Stars 
No campground or plans to go camping on the horizon? Set up a tent in your own back yard. No back yard? Cut out paper stars and hang them from your living room ceiling with string and tape, then invite your crew over for an indoors campout. And don’t forget the S’Mores—they’re delish whether they’re made over a roaring campfire or in the microwave!

Do Something Scary 
Test your skills on a ropes course, audition for a play, or try learning a cool skateboarding trick. There’s no need to be perfect—or even good—at whatever it is, the point is to just put yourself out there, try something new, and walk away with a cool story to tell your friends.

Daydream Under a Tree 
Sure, the A/C inside feels good, but so does a nice summer breeze under the shade of a big tree. Take your headphones off, put your phone away, and let the birds serenade you as you dream up even more fun plans for you and your crew.

Make a New Friend 
Chances are, you already know almost everyone in your neighborhood, so introduce yourself to a girl from a different community—maybe a girl at camp, at the pool in the next town over, or even get to know a friend’s cousin when she visits from out of town. New perspectives and ideas will make your summer a lot more interesting.

Get Lost in a Book 
You always hear that the book is better than the movie, and nine times out of ten that’s true—but when school’s in and there’s so much assigned reading, it’s hard to find time to read anything else! Not sure where to start? Head to your local library. The staff there know all the latest and coolest in young adult titles as well as children’s books. Tell them what kinds of things you typically like, and they’ll deliver some solid suggestions.

Take a Hike 
Whether you’ve got a rustic trail nearby or are in the middle of the concrete jungle, lace up your sneakers and check out all the snap-worthy sights. Bonus points? Pack a lunch and find a bench or shady park to have a mini-picnic.

Make a Family Tree 
All families look different, and half the fun of creating a family tree is discovering what shape yours will take! Start with you and your siblings if you have any, then branch out to your parents or caregivers and their brothers and sisters, then to their parents and caregivers, and on and on as far as you can go. Dive deep and add some personal details to your tree, like photos, fun facts, and favorite memories. You’ll get to spend some prime quality time with the people you love the most, and might uncover a surprising or funny story or two along the way.

Be a Hero 
Standing up for something you believe in doesn’t just help change the world, it feels really awesome, too. Learn more about organizations that support the causes you believe in, then volunteer, join a rally, or call your local government and speak up for the issues that matter to you. This is your world, and you can change it.  

Get Cooking 
Learn how to make one delicious meal—something that you love and that will totally impress your family and friends. Ask a relative to teach you their favorite recipe, hunt through cool cookbooks at the library, or just do a quick online search for simple and yummy ideas. Throw a bright table cloth on a picnic table at the park and dig in. Top Chef’s got nothing on you.

Send an Old-School Letter 
Get yourself some cute stationary (or make your own) and write a letter to one of your besties or a relative you don’t get to see too often—then think of how psyched they’ll be to find your note in among the junk mail.

Give Back 
If you think volunteering is boring, you’re doing it wrong. To give back (and have an amazing time, too) think about the things you like doing most. Chances are, those skills and activities could be turned into a cool community service project. Love singing or acting? Put on a show at the senior center or to raise money for your favorite cause. Obsessed with cute cat videos online? Sign up to help at the local animal shelter. Coding’s your thing? Help a younger girl (or, heck, even one of your parents!) learn how to set up her own website. Basically, you’ve got skills for days and the world needs them now.

Master One “Magic” Trick 
This one might seem silly, but trust us on this one—knowing how to pull off one good trick will add a bit of fun to parties and other random hangouts for the rest of your life! Go online and research one simple card trick or other fun illusion. Practice it over and over until you can do it seamlessly, then test it out on family and friends. Presto! You’re ready for the spotlight.

Put Together a Cool Vision Board 
Grab a bunch of old magazines and cut out words and pictures that represent the types of things you want to do or have in your life in the future. Include anything that inspires you—whether it’s fireworks in the night sky, cool pictures of hiking trails you’d love to explore, an adorable kitty, or portraits of athletes you look up to—then use tape, rubber cement, or a glue stick to attach them in any order you like on a poster board or piece of construction paper. Hang it in your room to motivate you and remind you of all the fun your future holds.

Make a Splash 
Head to the beach, the lake, or the local pool to show off your backstroke, or even just dash out to the front yard or the driveway for an impromptu water balloon fight. On a hot day, there’s not much that feels better or that’s more fun.

Explore the Farmer’s Market 
Check out your local farmer’s market with a friend and pick out a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before. Don’t like it? There’s no need to have it again. Love it? As foodies would say, you’ve just widened your palate. Basically, the world is delicious. Get out there and take a bite!

Earn Some Cash 
Although some of the best things in life are, in fact, free—other good things (like, say, ice cream and trips to the movies) cost money. Get down to business and make some cash of your own with a simple lemonade stand or bake sale, through babysitting or dog walking, by mowing lawns, or even teaching an elderly neighbor how to use her new tablet. You’re a natural entrepreneur!

Learn a Language 
Set aside a couple hours each week and learn the basics of another language—either the one spoken in the part of the world you’d like to visit most, or one that you’re simply interested in, like American Sign Language. Check out free apps, online videos, and your local library for books and other resources. You’ll impress friends when you show off your new skills and will be able to communicate with so many more interesting and cool people throughout your life.  

Check Out Some Live Music 
You don’t have to have tickets to that sold-out stadium show to hear some awesome music this summer. Chances are, your town or one nearby will feature live bands during community barbeques, fireworks, and other local events. So head out, discover some cool new music, and maybe even get inspired to start your own band while you’re at it.

Keep a Journal 
You’ll want to remember all the epic fun you’ll have this summer for the rest of your life— so jot down your memories, funniest moments, inside jokes, random thoughts, and most exciting adventures in a journal each night before you go to bed. If you’re on social, you might post some of this there, too, but there’s something really special about a journal that’s just for you that you can keep and cherish forever. Not so into handwriting things? Make a video or audio journal instead, or think about creating a visual scrapbook and fill it with ticket stubs and other mini-souvenirs of your summer.  

Congratulations to our April 2019 contest winners!

April was a busy month for contests, ranging from Spring Renewal to Girl Scout Camp Week! Thank you to everyone who participated and engaged without throughout the month. We’re nothing without your support!

Below is a list of the contest winners, including what they won!

Snow Much Fun Recruitment Contest

  • Randa from the Oatka Service Unit! They won a Glow Party Kit to use as a Service Unit event

Spring Renewal Incentives

  • Courtney M., co-leader of Troop 70420 in Lockport SU ($300 Amazon Gift Card)
  • Katherine N., co-leader of Troop 51082 in Ashantee SU ($300 Amazon Gift Card)
  • Harper B. of Troop 60203 in Spencerport ($300 Amazon Gift Card)
  • Stella B. of Troop 60084 in Brighton ($300 Amazon Gift Card)
  • Analise S., co-leader from Troop 19420 (GSWNY volunteer T-shirt)
  • Jennifer C., co-leader from Troop 31312 (GSWNY volunteer T-shirt)
  • Abigale T., co-leader from Troop 63113 (GSWNY volunteer T-shirt)

Girl Scout Camp Week Contests

  • Freya B. from Troop 60547 (camp duffel bag)
  • Kayleigh B. from Troop 74148 (camp duffel bag)
  • Michelle G. from Troop 31790 (camp duffel bag)
  • La’Myha D. (free week of camp)
  • Mia W. (camp onesie)
  • Cierra G. ($25 gift card)
  • Sydney K. ($25 gift card)
  • Leah M. ($25 gift card)
  • Delaney S. ($25 gift card)
  • Deborah W. ($25 gift card)

Stay in touch for future contests and your chance to win!