Happy Mother’s Day to our Council. If there is a holiday that best exemplifies our movement—it is this celebration of mothers as our leaders. What are some consistent leadership traits of mothers? I suggest these are good candidates: patience, strength, humility, empathy and wisdom. Upon reflection, these traits absolutely define our movement because they epitomize the essence of our founder Juliette Gordon Low. Six years before women had the right to vote, Juliette started the first Girl Scout troop and let her nascent movement wait for equality—she was patient. She inspired a calling for 50 million alumni that is 108 years old and weathering this COVID crisis with the strength of a women’s conviction to protect her family—she was strong. Juliette had a challenging childhood surviving the Civil War and a difficult adult life with a husband that gave her little support and caused her much stress. From the early part of her life to her tragic end fighting cancer, Juliette never had an easy life, and as such, she learned humility early on. Her uneven and challenging experiences gave her an incredible amount of empathy and feeling for others. This led her first troop to be a diverse group of 18 Girls, young leaders from all socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities. Juliette was ahead of her times understanding that strength comes from diversity. Juliette was wise—she saw that Girls needed the same opportunities as boys and that when Girls succeed, society succeeds. With these motherly traits, Juliette became mother of an iconic movement where Girls grow strong. It has evolved to a movement of mothers with traits of patience, strength, humility, empathy, and wisdom. Thus, it is no surprise our movement is as strong as it is.
As I write this blog, it is in the shadow of our COVID pandemic. I somberly reflect on where I was last year. We had just announced we were the Council with the #1 lifetime members in the nation and our cookie sale finished up 9%. Everything we did was epic. Today, we do not have those good news headlines to buttress us as we stand up to finish this cookie season. What I would say, though, if I had to find an army to finish our cookie sale out strong—no better leaders could I pick than an army of mothers. More than ever, we need patience and humility, empathy and wisdom, and yes, superwoman strength. As the cookie season extends to a month after it should have ended, analogies to marathons and triathlons come to mind. The two differences from these grueling tests of endurance—we don’t know what mile marker we are on, and because of its length, I feel we are running up hill. When facing these obstacles, who do you call in to save the day??? Of course, you call Girls of courage, confidence and character and the mothers who lead them. That is why this Mother’s Day I am optimistic we will run the marathon and we will succeed. Because we are a movement of mothers and their daughters, patience, strength, humility, empathy and wisdom is in our DNA. We are built to run a marathon uphill. Listening to the famous Jackson Browne’s 1970s ballad “Running on Empty,” I feel connected to the words:
Running on-running into the sun
But I'm running behind
Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe.
We may be running on empty with the longest cookie sale in the country, but we are proudly powered by our promise, our promise to our Girls to do our best. And we are powered by our mothers. That is why we believe. We believe in the spirit of Juliette, resident in each our hearts, and we believe our Girls do make the world a better place. That is why we will never truly be running on empty. We have a movement of mothers, who by their example, lift us to be a council where Girls grow strong. Happy Mother’s Day Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho—we are a Council of Distinction because of you!
--Brian Newberry, GSEWNI CEO