Meet the Staff: Troop and Service Unit Support

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One of the best parts of Girl Scouts is that it is a support system. When girls try new things like rock climbing, kayaking, or selling cookies for the first time, they know they have a supportive family of Girl Scout sisters and leaders behind them.

We know that Girl Scout volunteers need that support system as well. That’s where Alyssa and Katy, our troop and service unit support, come in!

Each service unit is assigned either Alyssa or Katy as their support person, and their primary goal is to provide support at the troop and service unit levels to ensure that the needs of volunteers are met. They assist new troop leaders with the onboarding process and offer continued support throughout the year for new and current leaders. In addition, they will be responsible for developing adult learning resources, scheduling learning opportunities, and coordinating volunteer recognition and appreciation programs. On a larger scale, their vision is to create a network of leaders who are able to share ideas and function as a support team.

Both Alyssa and Katy are new to GSSI, but they were involved in Girl Scouts as girl members. Alyssa fondly remembers wearing her Brownie sash with her first troop, and Katy remembers proudly marching in a parade with her Girl Scout sisters.

When you see Alyssa or Katy in the office, at a Service Unit meeting, or anywhere else in the council, know that they are here to be your support system. Whether you’re a brand new volunteer, a long-time leader, or you’re just trying to figure out how the cookie sale works, Alyssa and Katy have your back!

With questions, contact support@girlscouts-gssi.org, or 812-421-4970.

Meet the Staff: Membership Development

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The Membership Development Team from left to right: Angie King, Hannah Daniels, Paige Mehringer, and Donna Hodge

Back-to-school season is in full swing! Although some students may be reluctant to leave the swimming pools behind and head back to the classrooms, there is something exciting and fresh about this time of year.  With crisp new notebooks and perfectly sharpened pencils, anything is possible in the new school year!

The start of the new school year is also an exciting time for our Membership Development Team! Angie, Hannah, Paige, and Donna are going back to school as well – to help girls become Girl Scouts!

Hannah and Paige, our membership recruiters, are the smiling faces out in your schools and communities. They are busy spreading the word about all the awesome opportunities Girl Scouts offers and teaching families how to register within our new system. They are the faces of Girl Scouts, which is fabulous since they both bleed Girl Scout Green. Paige has been a membership recruiter for several months, and Hannah was an after-school program intern before joining the Membership Development Team. They both have seen first-hand the great benefits Girl Scouts offers girls. “I could really see how much the girls had learned over the semester in Girl Scouts,” Hannah said. “The difference in friendships and attitudes compared to the beginning of the year was amazing! That’s when I knew I was making a difference.”

After Hannah and Paige meet interested girls and adults in the community, Angie and Donna ensure  that the Girl Scout experience they imagined comes true. As director of membership development, Angie leads the team. She oversees the development, implementation, and assessment of recruitment plans for girls and adults. She and Donna also work within Volunteer Systems to connect new girls and adults with troops or volunteer opportunities. They also manage background checks and maintain the Opportunity Catalog, which is a place members can go to find open troops or volunteer opportunities.

Just like a new school year brings changes, CEI is changing the way girls and adults join and find their place within Girl Scouts. However, the Membership Development Team is embracing the change, and they are ready to help everyone who is interested in being a part of Girl Scouts!

With questions about joining Girl Scouts, contact support@girlscouts-gssi.org, or 812-421-4970.

Meet the Staff: Product Sales Manager, Retail Manager, and Director of Data Management

Girl Scouts and Girl Scout volunteers wear many hats. At one meeting, they may conduct a science experiment. At the next, they could learn a cultural dance, and next they might volunteer at an animal shelter.

GSSI staff members Melissa, Suzy, and Margaret understand wearing many hats! Last week they were introduced as the Customer Care Team. However, as excited as they are to be serving you as the direct line of contact at council, they are also excited about their individual roles as product sales manager, retail manager, and director of data management.

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Melissa Rynkiewich, product sales manager

Melissa is happy to continue to serve you as the product sales manager. She is the go-to person for all things cookie! As cookie season approaches, Melissa takes care of recognitions, SNAP, cookie booths, and any other issues that may arise. However, she knows that she cannot do it all herself. “My favorite part of Girl Scouts is working with the service unit cookie chairs and all volunteers,” Melissa said. “Their passion and dedication make my job possible, and they make the benefits of the Girl Scout Cookie Program possible for the girls.”

 

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Suzy Ingram, retail manager

 

Retail manager Suzy was involved in Girl Scouts as a girl member, and now she takes care of Katie’s Korner Shop. Patches, badges, sweatshirts, t-shirts, and even cute flip flops are taken care of by Suzy. She handles shop orders and shop questions, and she is the smiling face greeting everyone who enters the shop each day!

 

 

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Margaret Dennis, director of data management

Director of data management, Margaret, has a long history with Girl Scouts. She started as a volunteer and served in many different volunteer roles over 15 years, including second vice chair of the board of directors. When she joined the staff, she started as after school cookie coordinator, moved to adult learning specialist, followed by director of volunteer resources, and now, director of data management. Her new role is vital to CEI, which Margaret is very passionate about. “I am VERY excited about CEI and the opportunities it presents for staff and volunteers,” Margaret said. “In my new position, I will make sure that our volunteers have the support they need, when they need it. I want to ensure that every single volunteer feels valued and supported!”

To contact Margaret, Suzy, or Melissa, please contact support@girlscouts-gssi.org, or 812-421-4970.

 

 

Meet the Staff: Customer Care Team

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The Customer Care Team from left to right: Melissa Rynkiewich, Suzy Ingram, and Margaret Dennis.

 

Girl Scout volunteers are teachers, coaches, chefs, nurses, and cheerleaders all rolled into one. Teach Brownies how to make a delicious and healthy campfire meal? Check! Coach Cadettes as they master canoeing? No problem! Patch up a Daisy’s skinned knee? All in a day’s work!

Our work here at council is to support volunteers and families so they can do all that and more for the girls. That is why we are introducing the Customer Care Team!

Meet Melissa, Suzy, and Margaret. They are all familiar faces here at council, and now they are joining forces to serve you as the Customer Care Team.

In the past, it could be challenging to identify the correct council person to answer a specific question. Now, the Customer Care team will be your first line of contact at council.  Whether you call, email, or visit, the Customer Care Team will provide you with timely and accurate answers to most questions.  If they can’t help you, they will redirect your inquiry to the best person on staff for your particular situation.

They will also receive and process most forms and applications including contracts, special activity applications, camp reservations, and more.  Think of  Customer Care as your one stop shop for information!

The Customer Care Team is excited to serve you! To contact them, email support@girlscouts-gssi.org, or call 812-421-4970.

Girl Scouts Achieve

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Girl Scouts is all about challenging girls in a comfortable, safe, and encouraging environment. That environment can look different for different girls. GSSI Program Development Specialist Clay Prindle had a vision of creating a relaxed and accepting learning environment for girls on the autism spectrum who may not be comfortable in a traditional troop.

From that vision, Girl Scouts Achieve was born.

Clay said, “Sometimes girls on the autism spectrum can be overwhelmed by new experiences or new environments, and we want to be there for them and their families. Parents are sometimes apprehensive about registering their girls in traditional troops, and we want to ease the anxiety they may feel.”

The difference is in how meetings are run. Clay said, “We usually encourage parents to attend meetings and input their thoughts on what may help their daughters feel comfortable and thrive as Girl Scouts. For example, if a girl needs some time to walk around the room or outside, we support them taking the walk (with a parent or leader) and returning when they’re ready.”

Girl Scouts Achieve meets once a month at the GSSI council office, and they attend one educational or social outing a month. Meetings and outings are based on what the girls want their Girl Scout experience to be. Recently, the troop attended a painting class and a sensory-friendly screening of Finding Dory.

On the agenda for this Girl Scout year is a visit to a pumpkin path, a yoga studio, and several museums. During the last outing of the year, the girls will learn to make their own pizzas.

If you know a girl who could be a good fit for Girl Scouts Achieve, please contact support@girlscouts-gssi.org, or 812-421-4970.

 

What a Girl Scout Can Do: Katie’s Story

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It’s no secret that girls can do anything – and that Girl Scouts helps get them there! Each year, we meet thousands of outstanding women, and a few of them pursue the honor of earning their Gold Award. They complete countless hours of hard work planning and implementing a large-scale project to benefit their communities. When those young women finally become Gold Award Recipients, the GSSI family is incredibly proud of each and every one of them.

But what happens next?

Earning the Gold Award is just the beginning. The sky is truly the limit, both in Girl Scouts and beyond. This is the story of Katie, a past Gold Award Recipient and current Lifetime Member.

Katie (Funke) Lasher joined Girl Scouts as a first grade Daisy, and she earned her Gold Award in 2006. Her Gold Award project involved extensively researching the different bird species inhabiting Howell Wetlands. She then designed, built, and installed seven informational signs along the trails, as well as Bluebird boxes in the prairie area.

After completing her Gold Award project and graduating from Mater Dei High School, Katie went on to the University of Southern Indiana and earned an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering. Only 18 percent of students earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering are female.

Next, Katie went on to earn her Doctor of Medicine degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine. She graduated in May 2016, and this month she begins her residency in General Surgery with Eastern Tennessee State University.

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Congratulations to Katie, and we wish her the best of luck in her newest adventure!

If you know any Girl Scout alumnae with inspiring stories to share, please contact support@girlscouts-gssi.org.

Change

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By Margaret Dennis, Director of Volunteer Resources (as of today),???  Job Title and Role (to be determined going forward), SWW Volunteer, and Girl Scout always!!

Change is everywhere – at home with your kids’ growth, at the supermarket with new products, on TV with new and cancelled shows, and at work with new job titles or roles or processes.

Change is just one of those constants in life.  After all, Heraclitus said it millennia ago in the 6th century B.C.E., “There is nothing permanent except change.”  And who wants things to be the same all the time?  After all, “If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” Unknown

It doesn’t mean we always have to like it!  While I may accept that my vision started deteriorating around age 42, it is not something that I enjoy.  BUT it is something I have to accept.  “If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Maya Angelou

In those cases, such as my vision, where I don’t like the change but I have no control over it, I need to make the most of it. “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates.  I could deny the change – refuse to wear glasses or contacts – but that would hurt mostly me.  So I embrace the change and pick out glasses that look good on me and I appreciate the fact that I can see better with them.

When it comes to organizations such as Girl Scouting, those of us who have been around a while typically have the hardest time.  We know that things have changed many times, and will continue to change.  Sometimes we are just tired of learning new ways of doing something, or we don’t see the need for changing it – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude.  But that is a good recipe for stagnation. “Change is inevitable.  Progress is optional.” Tony Robbins

In Girl Scouting, we are always looking to offer a better experience, a more relevant program, a more effective way to make a difference in girls’ lives. But to accomplish that, things must change. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw.

As we move into summer, GSSI is looking at changes that will mean doing things differently.  As a staff member and volunteer, I feel particularly hard hit but excited.  GSSI staff has been working on the Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI) for many months.  Some councils were pioneers and blazed the trail, others chose to hang back- far back!  GSSI’s take? “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”  Alan Watts. And it is a great dance! I am convinced that CEI will allow us to provide our volunteers, families and girls with a better experience all around.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” Wayne Dyer

CEI is about looking at things differently.  What does it mean for volunteers?  Better service, for starters.  We will have one unified software system based on the popular customer relations manager, Salesforce, to better track our on-boarding of potential and new members and volunteers, and our support of you during your entire tenure with us.  The software tool will be consistently used by our teams to help members from new membership recruitment and support, membership services and support, and customer care.

How will the staff changes look to our volunteers?

  • Potential members and volunteers will be served by a New Member Recruiter out in the field.
  • New members will be guided through their registration and onboarding by our New Member Support specialist.
  • Members will be benefiting from close attention by our Membership Services and Support staff at service unit meetings, and through program and adult learning opportunities.
  • At all times, you will have ready access to our Customer Care team through which you will receive consistent and timely answers to your questions.

A word of warning: “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” Deepak Chopra

We are working VERY hard to ensure a smooth transition but there will be bumps along the road as we learn new technology.  There will be hiccups as we figure out more efficient processes.  And there will be headaches when things don’t work as expected.

We know that all of our work will be for nothing if we do not have YOUR support.  I firmly believe that all the upcoming changes will result in a better experience for our girls and volunteers.  I hope that you will continue to partner with us on this journey.

So, don’t be afraid of these changes. You may lose something good but we will be gaining something better!

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