Happy Father’s Day Council of Distinction! We celebrate all the fathers and father figures who make us a Council where Girls grow strong. On your day, we reflect on the hundreds of dads who supported their Girl Scout in the past year by taking them to camp, running troop meetings, helping fall sale, standing at cookie booths, and cheering at bridgings. As our movement suffers membership challenges from the pandemic, we need all hands on deck to be role models and volunteers for our Girl Scouts. Indeed, this volunteer urgency started back in the 1980s when more women heading to the workforce put a strain on traditional volunteers for Girl Scouts. Fathers stepped up and swelled the volunteer ranks to 10% being fathers. While nowhere near the majority, it was a significant increase and had several immediate positive effects. The 1980s GSUSA Executive Director Francis Hesselbein said men were valuable to the Girl Scouts ''because girls growing up need positive views of men working in a very supportive way with them.'' ''This is especially important for a girl who comes from a single-parent household headed by a woman,'' she said. This growth of fathers being involved in their Girl Scouts’ confidence journey has continued to this day. Former Girl Scout staff Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D., Chief Girl & Parent Expert, wrote a poignant Father’s day blog on June 19, 2016. She remarked: “ We know from our internal research that a girl’s relationship with her father establishes the foundation for confidence building, for healthy future relationships, and her expectations of men. The guidance, wisdom, and personal investment that truly devoted fathers provide are invaluable in the development of vibrant, fully engaged, and well-adjusted children. Their roles as committed providers, caregivers, and role models should never be undervalued or taken for granted because their presence waters the seeds that blossom into our future leaders.” Well said!
In my third year in this Council, my admiration for the father figures in this Council grows for everyone I meet. My first “In the Shadows Award” went to Allen Shook who is a cookie manager with his wife in Tri-Cites. One day he is loading his garage with cookies, the next he is teaching program at day camp in 100-degree heat. He is an inspiration. Bruce Langridge is cookie dad for one of our biggest troops in our Council, Troop 2291 in Spokane Valley. Bruce is a strength for the troop supporting volunteer Julie Laird. I know Keith Kelley, a Spokane troop leader, and his positive example, his good cheer, buoys me. I can only imagine how his positivity lifts his Girl Scouts up. Richard Ortega, West Plains dad, and Air Force veteran, is always on afterburner. He supports so much for his daughter Josephine but his energy positively impacts his entire Service Unit. Clint Carr set the bar high by being named our Council’s Leader of the Month last year. He gives his all and his empathy and kindness are signature reasons why he makes a difference for his troop. Last year, Girl Scout Mikayla Butler made a run at the most cookies ever sold by a Girl. Every time I visited Mikayla—dad Duster Butler was there moving hundreds and hundreds of cases. He supported his daughter and gave her the confidence to go for broke and sell an astounding 24,000 boxes. Fathers' dream too and their Girl Scouts make them come true.
Board member Scott Henderson electrifies the movement with his energy for it. His daughter sees this energy and follows suit. The top cookie seller in our Council, Sophie Henderson also amazingly secured over 1,500 boxes of cookies donations to our military and health care workers. In each case, these fathers provided a light for their Girl Scout troop to follow that glowed well with the light of all the mothers who make up the volunteer team. I have the utmost respect for Nicholas Epps. He often sports his ‘Man Enough to be a Girl Scout shirt’ and he always is there to support his daughter, Abrihet Epps. Last week, he drove his Girl Scout from Spokane to participate in the first mass bridging in the Tricities. He is such a role model to me because beyond always being there, he is always on the sidelines of any event making sure his daughter is leading. He deeply believes in Girl-led and that is why his daughter has so much confidence.
To all the fathers and father figures, we celebrate you letting your Girl Scout learn from you to become a Girl of courage, confidence, and character. Jim Valvano, a famous basketball coach, who modeled pure courage in how he battled cancer, left with me pure inspiration on his deep convictions and strength. He poetically once said my favorite Father’s day quote: “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” Our fathers do make us a Council where Girl Scouts grow strong because they believe in us. To our fathers, to our dads, we believe in you. This day, you get all the Thin Mints!