This month as a nation we pause to remember Dr Martin Luther King on what would be his 90th birthday, and we try re-educate ourselves to his dream of equality and his journey of service. Last weekend, I visited Troop 4554, Richland, specifically Niamh Berry, Anna Brehm, Kyoko Fisher, and Madison Lansing, to celebrate their Silver Award, an artistic project entitled "Helping TROT and the community." Through their creativity, artistic skills, outreach to Home Depot, and hard work over 50 hours each, they created an educational tool for a therapeutic riding program in Pasco that will help educate countless riders in the future. It was a radiant event and I celebrate the leaders including JoAnn Brehm for their support to inspire our Girl Scouts. As I drove back to Spokane, I marveled at two things that is endemic in Girl Scouts—creativity and service. First, it never happens for me to go to a Girl Scout event and not find some amazing streak of creativity. Even our bi-weekly potlucks are creative like this week staff members brought dishes that start with the initials G and S signifying Girl Scouts. Troop 4554 was no different and it was amazing to see them search out an incredible nonprofit, find a novel idea to work on and then find the resources to make it happen.
The second is our strong service drive. Even our iconic cookie season leads to so many service benefits including sending cookies overseas thus “donating” a part of Americana to those defending her. Our organization was founded on service. Juliette Gordon Low founded us in 1912 to help give girls the opportunity to learn and succeed in society. But from our earliest origins, we quickly evolved to be a service organization, not inward focused. We focus on ourselves, our Girl Scouts, only to prepare them to make our world a better place. Five years from our inception, World War I erupted for America and Girl Scouts answered the call nationally although still very nascent in our growth. Juliette called out: “You can do no greater service to your country than to help produce food and then follow by helping to save it. I have never enjoyed anything quite so much as the work in food conservation, but of course we much produce food before we can preserve it. Every Girl Scout in the country should write to me in care of the National War Garden Commission, Washington, and ask for a good garden primer. Then you should organize the troop for a garden planning campaign or join some community campaign in body. Our soldiers must have food so let each of us be a Soldier of the Soil and help win the war.” In effect, Girl Scouts were asked to help produce more food and conserve it. Our journey of service started….
Today, that service has exponentially magnified with 50 million Girl Scouts contributing to the cause of giving back. We thus have walked the same trail Dr Martin Luther King called on for all Americans. Like his novel please for nonviolence, not echoed in the 1950s Civil War Movement and his daily call for service, we are kindred movements of caring for others. Our Gold Award has evolved to be a cause to help alleviate communities problems with sustainable solutions. Juliette expected us to reach far and we have. I saw it last weekend with Troop 4554 and I see it daily with my wonderful staff and volunteers and of course our 3,500 motivated Girl Scouts.
This month as we honor and celebrate Dr King’s dream for America and his call to action, I remember two of his notable quotes. First, “The time is always right to do what is right.” For us, Girl Scouts in our law and promise follow this urgent fact. Second, “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve…You only need a heart full of grace.” Girl Scouts is great because we serve and we certainly remember and honor the example of service Dr Martin Luther King set for all of us. We do have a heart full of grace!
--Brian Newberry, GSEWNI CEO