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!!

Be the role model she’ll always remember

Without our volunteers, we couldn’t achieve our mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character. The women and men who generously give their time to help develop our girls are the real superheroes and we’re so thankful for them.

As a volunteer, you’ll introduce girls to new experiences that show them they’re capable of more than they ever imagined. You’ll be their cheerleader, guide, and mentor, helping them develop skills and confidence that will last a lifetime. Imagine the smiles, the excitement, the memories made—those are the moments you’ll share at Girl Scouts.

A common misconception around being a Girl Scout volunteer is the time involved. Many say they would, but their schedules are too busy. We get that completely and are here to tell you that it’s all on your schedule.

We don’t set the times of meetings or mandate how often you have to meet as a troop. In fact, you don’t even need to be a troop co-leader! That’s just the most notable way a person can get involved, but we need people to serve as troop chaperones, drives, and even subject matter experts for our events! Whatever your schedule, we have the opportunity for you.

More than just giving your time, you’re changing the lives of the girls you interact with. Whether you’re their role model, mentor, or just someone they can talk to, you can make the difference as they navigate through the challenges of adolescence.

Change her life and yours. Consider volunteering with Girl Scouts today!

Learn More

To serve God and my country: Girl Scouts put faith in action

Although Girl Scouts is a secular organization, we believe in encouraging girls to pursue their own spiritual journeys through their faith. Our Girl Scout Promise and Law features many principles and values found among religions, which makes it a natural connection.

Aside from the My Promise, My Faith pin, all other religious recognition activities are completed independently from Girl Scouts, but the awards earned can be worn on the our uniforms.

To help the spiritual growth of Girl Scouts, national religious organizations develop programs to reinforce the values integral to Girl Scouting while helping them learn more about and grow in their own faith.

Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (P.R.A.Y.) is an organization who helps make these connections between girls and their areas of faith. They work together with many religions, including Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Quakers, to design religious emblem programs to help girls on their journeys.

Last year, several girls from our council completed an amazing service project in the pursuit of earning a Girl Scout religious emblem.

As members of the Nativity of Our Lord Church and the Orchard Park Service Unit, Caroline (Senior, Troop 31101), Kaitlyn (Cadette, Troop 31128), Mia (Cadette, Troop 31128), and Natalie (Cadette, Troop 31128) began working an an emblem called ‘Mary, The First Disciple,’ led by Patti Raab.

Patti serves as a member of our Board of Directors, but her role as Religious Emblem Counselor for the National Catholic Committee on Scouting helps her get directly involved with Girl Scouts seeking these awards.

For their service project, they decided to organize a coat drive in their parish. The weekend before, they included an announcement about their drive and handed out flyers after each mass.

Patti’s heart was warmed by the response of the parish members the following week.

“A total of 268 coats were collected!” said Patti. “They were inspected for cleanliness, zippers working, and overall good wear. Only three were rejected. Therefore a total of 265 were donated!

Patti with Kaitlyn, Mia, Natalie, and Caroline

Because of the organization and work from the Girl Scouts and the generosity of the church, 265 coats were disbursed to the Harvest House, International Institute of Buffalo, and St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy. Caroline, Kaitlyn, Mia, and Natalie went to two of these facilities and got to see the results of their charitable work firsthand.

This is just one of many faith-based projects for Girl Scouts around our council. In fact, Patti currently oversees two other Senior Girl Scouts, Ava and Sophia from Troop 30271, as they pursue their Spirit Alive emblem.

To learn more about Girl Scouts and faith, visit girlscouts.org today. If you, or your troop are working toward any religious pins or emblems, please email your stories to communications@gswny.org.

Shelby: part tomboy, part football player, all Girl Scout

As competition for your girl’s time heats up, it’s easy to dismiss Girl Scouts as not being right for her. Your girl isn’t the girly-girl type, so she wouldn’t enjoy an organization where that’s a big deal. She’s more of a tomboy, so she likely wouldn’t have a good time.

We have news for you: every girl is right for Girl Scouts.

When you’re a Girl Scout, it doesn’t matter if you’re part trendsetter, part change-maker, part athlete, part engineer, part artist, or part go-getter, because you know who you are and where you want to go next. You’re all Girl Scout, and that makes the difference.

Pictured above is Shelby, a self-proclaimed ‘tomboy,’ football player, and Girl Scout Junior. She doesn’t fit the mold of what so many assume Girl Scouts is, yet our program fits her perfectly.

She’s learned practical skills like camping, fire building, and knot tying, but it’s the intangible skills that stand out. As a Girl Scout, Shelby has learned about caring, leadership, giving back, and working together.

Shelby, far right in the back row, with the rest of her troop

Shelby first joined Girl Scouts because it seemed like it would be fun and her mother, Kathy, wanted her to try something new. Since then, Kathy has watched her become independent, gain leadership skills, make friends, and enjoy many opportunities she wouldn’t have had the chance to experience without Girl Scouts. Even more, her confidence has increased.

Because of her interest in ‘boy things,’ Shelby can sometimes feel out of place in school and like she doesn’t fit in. When she’s with her troop, she feels comfortable to be herself.

If someone told Shelby they weren’t the ‘right kind of girl’ to join, she’d let them know it’s a perfect program for them because of all the activities they can do, like camping, crafting, caroling, and more. In fact, girls can pick from an array of different activities, events, and skills they want to achieve.  

Shelby’s favorite thing about Girl Scouts is Camp Timbercrest, where she’s met new friends who are like family

Even though she’s only nine years old, Shelby is already thinking about college. It’s one of the things she’s most excited about Girl Scouts. Through our Spring Renewal program, girls who renew their membership by May 30 receive SAGE Tuition Rewards Points. This translates into $2500 for college every year she renews.

Our partnership with SAGE was one of the things about Girl Scouts that surprised Kathy. She didn’t realize how it could help with Shelby’s future college dreams, or how the Girl Scout Gold Award can help increase a girl’s rank in the military. Another surprise was the number of companies that offer Girl Scouts opportunities, like Apple and Disney.

Both Kathy and Shelby are very active in Girl Scouts because of their belief in the program. For Shelby, it’s about learning about things she doesn’t know.

“She has had so many experiences and more just waiting for her,” Kathy said.  “She and her troop have done volunteer work at our local soup kitchen; they are working on their Bronze Award with a nonprofit little animal rescue; they’ve done beach clean ups to name a few of their projects. She will be able to not only save for college but visit some through the offerings they have at St. Bonaventures and Fredonia State.”

For girls and parents who aren’t sure about Girl Scouts, both Kathy and Shelby believe they should do their research and give it a try.

“As a parent, I would encourage them to do research on what Girl Scouts has to offer,” Kathy said. “Girl Scouts can help in a number of ways, including college through SAGE, travel opportunities, educational experiences, life skills, leadership, and to be in an environment that will help her grow.”

Girl Scouts is for all girls because we know no two are alike. Every girl has her own interests, talents, hobbies, and dreams, and we want to make sure she has the right opportunities to pursue them all. It’s not about what kind of girl you are, as long as you’re all Girl Scout.

Shelby is a lot of wonderful things and she’s all Girl Scout.

Only a few more days to register for L.E.A.P.

Register for our semi annual L.E.A.P. volunteer training by this Friday, October 26!

L.E.A.P. logo

This November 3, we’re inviting all our volunteers to attend the event at either our Buffalo, Lockport, or Rochester Service Center. It runs from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Paula D’Amico, TV news producer will deliver a keynote, and then we have workshops to help your Girl Scout Leader experience. Options include:

  • Keeping your girls engaged
  • Financing your troop
  • Outdoor experiences
  • And more!

As an added bonus, we’re going to take time to test out the new STEM activities from GSUSA so all our volunteers understand the program (and can also see how fun it is!)

Join us at one of these locations:

Buffalo – Daemen College, Amherst NY
Rochester – Rochester Service Center
Lockport – Lockport Service Center

Registration closes October 26

Don’t miss our upcoming volunteer training!

At Girl Scouts, we have a lot of resources to ensure our leaders are equipped to build girls of courage, confidence, and character. While we have training throughout the year, nothing is quite as extensive as our twice-a-year L.E.A.P. event.

L.E.A.P. logo

This November 3, we’re inviting all our volunteers to attend the event at either our Buffalo, Lockport, or Rochester Service Center. It runs from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Paula D’Amico, TV news producer will deliver a keynote, and then we have workshops to help your Girl Scout Leader experience. Options include:

  • Keeping your girls engaged
  • Financing your troop
  • Outdoor experiences
  • And more!

As an added bonus, we’re going to take time to test out the new STEM activities from GSUSA so all our volunteers understand the program (and can also see how fun it is!)

Join us at one of these locations:

Buffalo – Daemen College, Amherst NY
Rochester – Rochester Service Center
Lockport – Lockport Service Center

Registration closes October 26