Thursday, May 26, 2016

Honoring awesome: Volunteers presented with awards at annual meeting

Karen Facteau, a Girl Scouts volunteer in Indiana, earned the Thanks Badge I, a national award, from Girl Scouts of the USA.

This honor is given to a registered Girl Scout volunteer whose service continues to impact the entire council of Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania or the Girl Scout movement in extraordinary ways and is separate from service that has been previously recognized.
A Girl Scout volunteer for 25 years, Facteau is a Service Unit team member in Indiana, a Program Team member, and co-director of Blue Spruce Day Camp.

Lindy Fails, co-director of Blue Spruce Day camp, nominated Facteau for the award. "Karen is always enthusiastic about Girl Scouts and gives it her all," Fails said. "She has a Girl Scout heart."

Fails isn't the only one singing Facteau's praises. GSWPA staff also applauds her hard work and commitment to the Girl Scout movement.

"Karen is amazing," said Brandy Varner, GSWPA Recruitment Specialist. "Her love of Girl Scouting and commitment to supporting our mission is evident in all that she does."

Annie Wardrop, Girl Experience Specialist, added, "Karen is 110 percent dedicated to helping girls reach their full potential. I admire her dedication and enthusiasm!"

Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania CEO Patricia A. Burkart presented the award to Facteau at the annual meeting in April.

Several other amazing Girl Scouts volunteers were presented with awards at the annual meeting as well:

Volunteer of the Year
This award celebrates the work of a volunteer who has made a significant impact on the entire council with their time, talent, and treasure in the last service year and which merits council-wide recognition. This award is only given to one volunteer per year, and candidates may not receive the award more than once.

Elizabeth Schendel, Allegheny County, nominated by Sharon Enslen

Previous Awards: Appreciation Pin. Honor Pin. Thanks I. President's Award.

“In the past year, Betty was instrumental in forming the council-wide Travel Committee for GSWPA. The goal is to offer girls the trip of a lifetime and the Travel Committee will ensure that these adventures will be fun, full of learning, and safe,” said Enslen. “Betty's hard work and determination made this committee happen.”

Appreciation Pin
This pin recognizes an individual’s exemplary service in support of delivering the Girl Scout Leadership Experience primarily within one geographic service area.

Amy Dobbins, Cambria County, nominated by Leslie Adams 

Adams said that Dobbins “works to provide Service Unit programming based on the girls' interests.”

Shelda Repko, Blair County, nominated by GSWPA staff member Davina Bixby 

Bixby said that Repko “is a mentor to her fellow leaders and has taught them the core fundamentals of what Girl Scouts is all about.”

President's Award
The President’s Award recognizes the efforts of a service-delivery team or committee whose exemplary service in support of delivering the Girl Scout Leadership Experience surpassed team goals and resulted in significant, measurable impact toward reaching the council’s overall goals.

5904-Gateway SU, Allegheny County, nominated by GSWPA staff member Deb Gerhard

“They encourage the GSLE, set goals, travel every other year and work with the community: clothing drives, caroling for cans to support food pantries, birthday bags for Salvation Army,” Gehrard said.

5306-National Pike, Fayette County, nominated by GSWPA staff member Janelle Upole 

Upole said, “National Pike mentored another Service Unit, offering guidance, support and strong communication, offering financial management planning so that the other SU could stay on its feet.”

2642-Freeport Area, Butler County, nominated by GSWPA staff member Deb Gerhard

“This service until works tirelessly to give the girls the programs they want” Gerhard said. “All SU team members are Outdoor, Archery, American Canoe association level 2 trained.”

Celebrate the outstanding work of Girl Scout volunteers!
Consider nominating the outstanding volunteers in your area for a Girl Scouts award. The deadline to nominate is Wednesday, August 10! Learn more about adult awards on our website.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Get ready to wrap up your Girl Scout year!

It's been SUCH an exciting year filled with big fun, new adventures and lots of accomplishments! While there's still plenty of fun ahead (hopefully you're heading to camp this summer), time is running out for you to take care of a few important end-of-year "to-dos." Please take a few minutes to read below and check 'em off your list!

1. Renew your troop's memberships for next year:
There's just one month left to take advantage of Early Bird renewal! 
By renewing early, you and your troop will be ready for all the great things that happen in the fall! Your troop will automatically be uploaded into Nut-E so you'll be ready to start earning troop funds through the MagNut Program, and parents will know to include Girl Scouts in their fall activities, with fun events like Journeypalooza , Camp Creepy and so much more! 
Every girl that is renewed by June 15 gets an exclusive free patch.
Plus, if you renew 100% of your troop by June 15, you earn a chance to have two adult troop leader memberships paid! Renew today.

2. Update your troop information with us:
To prepare for this fall, we need all troops to fill out the Troop Opportunity Catalog and Information Update Form. This form allows troops to join the opportunity catalog and open up spots to new girls/volunteers OR just update their information.
All troops that fill out the form by July 1 will be entered to win a $50 gift certificate to spend at their local Girl Scout shop or on GSWPA camps and programs! There will also be a great prize raffled off to one of the top 10 service units with the highest percentage of forms completed. Find out more.

3. Complete your Annual Finance Report:
It's important that you submit your troop's Annual Finance Report to your Service Unit Finance Manager or Manager no later than June 30. Be sure to include the most recent troop bank statement at the time of reporting. For more information, see page 183 of Volunteer Essentials.

4. Hold a Bridging Ceremony or end-of-year celebration:
If your troop is moving to the next Girl Scout grade level, you might choose to hold a Bridging Ceremony. This is a great way to recognize the girls in your troop for their achievements over the past year and welcome them to the next level of Girl Scouting! Check out our Pinterest board for Bridging Ceremony ideas, or contact us at 800-248-3355 or to reserve one of the bridges we have available to borrow from one of our offices.

Not bridging to the next level this year? You can still have an end-of-year party to celebrate a successful year of Girl Scouting! Whatever you do, please share your fun pics with us by sending them to

5. Take your troop to camp:
Camp is just over one month away, but there's still plenty of time to plan a summer camp adventure with your troop!
  • Leave the activity and meal planning to us by coming to one of our CORE Camp sessions.
  • Camp on your own schedule and provide your own meals, but take part in programming provided by GSWPA staff at one of our C.A.P. camping sessions
  • Enjoy the freedom of your own camping experience by reserving any of our nine camps for Troop Camping.
Just remember, if you're camping on your own or staying overnight, at least one adult must have completed Outdoor Skills Training and First Aid/CPR.

And be sure to check out our adult training sessions to become certified in archery or canoeing, or a facilitator in the teams course/low ropes or high ropes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Greensburg Girl Scouts to deliver cookies to local first responders

Girl Scouts from troops 27038 and 26831 in Greensburg delivered Girl Scout Cookies to local police, firefighters, paramedics and other emergency personnel in April.

The girls collected donations for the cookies at booth sales in the month of March during the annual Girl Scout Cookie Program.

They raised enough donations to purchase 300 boxes of cookies, which they will deliver in person to volunteer fire departments, the police department, the emergency room at Westmoreland Regional Hospital and other local agencies throughout the Greensburg area.

“The girls wanted to thank the men and women who work to keep us safe,” said Chrissy Schaeffer, leader of troop 27038. “We’ve always had great support from them, especially from the Crabtree Volunteer Fire Department, so the girls wanted to find a way to give something back.”

The two Girl Scout troops include 50 girls in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Girl Scout Cookie Program not only helps Greensburg Girl Scouts say thanks to local first responders, it funds many exciting adventures for them this summer.

The girls are planning a trip to Savannah, Georgia, in July to visit the birthplace of Girl Scouts’ founder Juliette Gordon Low. They will also attend a day camp, visit Idlewild and Soak Zone and enjoy a day at the Pittsburgh Zoo this summer.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

One girl, one goal and 17,000 smiles

Since 2014, Greensburg Girl Scout Emily Ruggieri has led an effort to deliver Girl Scout Cookies to patients, family and staff at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

She started the program in memory of her late father, Ethan Milliron, who received care there while battling bone cancer.

Milliron died when Emily was only 18 months old.

Over the past three years, Emily and her network of supporters have collected donations to send 17,000 boxes to the hospital.

Girl Scouts from Greensburg, Sharpsville, Indiana, Brackenridge, Cranberry, Ford City, Latrobe, and Ligonier joined together in this bold mission, collecting donations during the Girl Scout Cookie Program.

Emily’s parents Suzanne and John Ruggieri coordinated a social media campaign to help the girls cast a wider net for donations to the program, which is named GSCOOKIES4CHP.

Donations for the Girl Scout Cookies rolled in from all 50 states and from countries around the globe. Emily enjoyed tracking all the locations that donated on a large map on the wall in the Ruggieri’s home.

Gina Cassidy, from Bedford, New Hampshire, heard about Emily through a friend in Florida.

“My friend knew that Emily was looking for someone from New Hampshire to donate,” she said. “He tagged me in a Facebook post from Emily’s mother and I thought it was great, so I donated!"

A former Girl Scout leader, Cassidy was happy to see Girl Scouts working together to make a difference. “I never met Emily, but hearing how she wanted to bring joy to sick children in memory of her dad was without a doubt a great cause.”

Australian Lisa O’Malley also heard about GSCOOKIES4CHP through a friend on Facebook and decided to put her country on the map of locations that had donated to the cause.

“I thought Emily was very brave and her story so inspiring,” said O’Malley. “She turned what was a very personal loss into a positive and put her energy in to trying to help others. I am very proud of her.”

For Emily’s mother, Suzanne, GSCOOKIES4CHP not only benefits the patients at the hospital, but also helps the girls learn skills and meet new people. “Girls met other Girl Scouts, they made friends, shared in a common goal, learned about philanthropy and public speaking,” she said.

Take action projects like GSCOOKIES4CHP highlight what Girl Scouting is all about—building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Gold Award spotlight: Girl Scout's garden helps families in need

While volunteering at St. Winifred’s Food Pantry, Ambassador Girl Scout Kaitlyn Burkhart noticed a shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables. That gave her an idea that grew into her Gold Award project–a community garden dedicated to supporting the food pantry.

“With the rising prices of food, especially produce, many stores are unwilling to donate fresh produce to food pantries,” Kaitlyn explains. “I want to give families something other than canned vegetables.”

She worked with food pantry staff and volunteers to build a community garden, called the Common Ground Garden, to meet the needs of the growing number of families who depend upon the food pantry. More than 550 families rely on the pantry each year for food and other necessities.
Kaitlyn Burkhart

Kaitlyn’s team included members of her church and high school, who volunteered their time to make garden stakes and prepare the garden. She also worked closely with her grandfather, who gave her his unused garden plot and provided her garden with water.

After more than 87 hours of planning, planting and nurturing, Kaitlyn’s garden provided almost 200 pounds of fresh vegetables last summer. She grew green and yellow peppers, broccoli, eggplant, zucchini and cucumbers. Kaitlyn also created a cookbook for the food pantry families featuring the vegetables grown in the garden.

As part of every Gold Award project, Girl Scouts are required to look at how their project can be sustained over time. Kaitlyn’s leadership skills ensured that the garden will continue to grow with care from her high school’s garden club and church volunteers, as well as provide families with delicious, affordable ways to prepare fresh vegetables.

Kaitlyn is the daughter of Wendy and Scott Burkhart, of Pittsburgh. She is a senior at Keystone Oaks High School.

Common Ground Garden
More information about the Girl Scout Gold Award is available at Learn about the Gold Award's 100th anniversary at

Gold Award spotlight: Girl Scout's take-action project goes downhill

To earn her Gold Award, Jessica Friss created a take-action project to solve a problem in her community—not only in the short term, but for years into the future.

A Girl Scout is encouraged to use her values and skills to choose a community issue that she cares about. Jessica's Gold Award project addressed the issue of rainwater runoff at a trail head in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Mount Washington, located at the bottom of two steep hills on the corner of Republic and Fingal Streets.

The water flowing quickly downhill was damaging a local roadway. To remedy this, Jessica set out to create a rain garden to capture the water as it flowed off the steep streets.

Jessica Friss
A rain garden is a shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses which allows rainwater runoff from impervious urban areas—like roofs, driveways, walkways, parking lots, and compacted lawn areas—to be absorbed.

Jessica met with the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) and StormWorks, a local rainwater management company, to help design the best type of rain garden for the site.

She then organized separate digging and planting events through the MWCDC. She went door-to-door on the surrounding streets to recruit volunteers for the events and to educate neighbors about the rain garden.

More than 20 volunteers helped on the first day of digging, completing the base of the rain garden and smaller overflow garden. Later that summer, volunteers filled the garden with dirt and planted native perennials that were deer resistant and could withstand large amounts of water that could contain salt and other contaminates from the road.

She also created and distributed brochures about the project and spoke at an event held at the Mt. Washington Carnegie Library.

Jessica's rain garden not only addressed the deterioration of the roadway, it also will help filter the polluted runoff water and provide a beautiful garden for the neighborhood.

Gold benefits

Gold Award projects help communities and give girls important leadership skills, teaching them to seek out the work that needs doing in the world.

There are other benefits to "going Gold" as well. Some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award recipients, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.

More information about the Girl Scout Gold Award is available at Learn about the Gold Award's 100th anniversary at

Monday, April 25, 2016

Pittsburgh Girl Scouts invited to join the Bicentennial Parade

Attention Pittsburgh Girl Scouts!

This year Pittsburgh is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its incorporation as a city and Mayor Peduto would like Girl Scouts to help celebrate this historic occasion!

Pittsburgh Girl Scout troops are invited to join in the fun by marching in the Bicentennial Parade on Saturday, July 9!

Bicentennial Parade details:
  • When: Saturday, July 9, 2016
  • Time (tentative): 1 p.m.
  • Where: the parade begins at Liberty & 11th and continues down Liberty to Point State Park (approximately .8 of a mile)
Girl Scouts must wear sashes/vests and volunteers are encouraged to wear their Girl Scouts gear, too!

To register your troop or service unit, please complete this form. Don’t wait—the deadline to register is Friday, May 20 and there’s a maximum of 300 people from GSWPA who can participate.

Hope to see you there!