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Read on to hear from Girl Scouts of Northern California donors who are committed to supporting our programs!Dr. Shoba Krishnan, engineering professor • Diana Bell, executive • Sally Biggin, educator • John Cassidy, executive • Beth Leonard, former Girl Scout leader • Joyce Richards, writer • Byrd Lochtie, consultant • Woody Shackleton, executive • Nancy Handel, executive • Jeff Stover, former San Francisco 49er
As a child, Dr. Shoba Krishnan loved science and math, so when it came time to choose a career, she entered the male-dominated field of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). And while technology has moved forward by leaps and bounds, women are still minorities in that field – and Shoba is working to change that.
“I feel having more women in the work force, especially in the high tech world, helps keep a balance on how engineering changes society,” said Shoba, an engineering professor at Santa Clara University. “It is my goal in life to make STEM disciplines as rewarding and exciting to others as it has been for me. I do everything I can to encourage young women into engineering disciplines by introducing them to how engineering can help change lives and communities.”
Serving as a Girl Scout leader for her daughters in two troops, Shoba founded two Girl Scout robotics teams – Space Cookies and 4Evergreen – through partnerships with FIRST and NASA Ames Research Center. The girls represent Girl Scouting and excel at robotics competitions statewide and nationally.
“I think the Space Cookies Girl Scout team is a perfect example of how a little bit of encouragement and a good deal of support can help girls get to their goals,” Shoba said. “I feel that engineering is a great career choice for women as it provides them the intellectual stimulation as well as the satisfaction of applying their skills to help people of all ages and walks of life.”
Shoba also serves as a member of the Girl Scouts of Northern California Board of Directors, and she is proud to call herself a Girl Scout donor.
“I feel that we need to have more women in the STEM fields, as introducing girls at an early age to engineering will help them see that it can be a career choice for them,” Shoba said. “I am hoping my support to the Girl Scouts’ Girls Go Tech programs will be a small contribution in that direction.”
And as a mother, Shoba believes wholeheartedly in the impact of Girl Scouting.
“I truly believe that Girl Scouting changes girls’ lives. It provides them an environment where they can be themselves and not be isolated because they are different. Whether it be robotics or high adventure, the girls can try and test their skills without being judged.”
Diana Bell can still exuberantly belt out the Girl Scout songs she learned as a seven-year-old Brownie – but more important than just fun singing memories, the successful business executive credits Girl Scouting with many other lifelong lessons that shaped who she is today.
“I was blessed to learn at a tender age such an appreciation for nature, for basic survival skills, for teamwork, making friends, etc.,” says Diana, who now supports Girl Scouts of Northern California as a donor and a member of the board of directors.
She attributes Girl Scout programs – badgework, cookie sales, and camping – with helping her grow. In fact, earning Girl Scout badges was her first experience with setting her own goals.
“My experience as a Girl Scout was a positive part of my personal growth and development,” she says. “I let go of some of my shyness and became a bit more self confident.”
As an adult, she reconnected with Girl Scouts because she believes Girl Scouting is as important for girls today as it was for her.
“The programs that are in place today are fresh and relevant to today’s world, like Girls Go Tech -- I love it!” Diana says. “And, of course, I think that the camping programs are even more important given the number of city girls who have limited exposure to outdoor programs."
Girl Scout camping and outdoor programs remain a personal passion for Diana.
“When you are in a structured camping program, you expand yourself. You confront and conquer fears. And, more importantly, you learn some big life skills, survival skills, how to get along, leadership skills, how to be a good follower.”
Diana also actively recruited girls from the Oakland area for this year’s GSNorCal’s Camp CEO, a program where teen girls from underserved communities are connected with female business executives to plan career and college paths.
“Through my financial support, I am hoping that we can expand the GS NorCal’s outreach activities like Camp CEO and solidify all of our outdoor programs,” she says.
“These programs work. I am a witness!”
As a Girl Scout leader who helped organize troop activity on the Humboldt County’s Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation 30 years ago, Sally Biggin saw a number of young tribal members leave the reservation for the first time to experience lifechanging Girl Scout programs.
"They went on cross country ski trips, day camp programs in neighboring communities, sold cookies, and learned financial literacy,” Sally says. “Many of the girls in my troops went on to become strong, independent leaders in their community. They have become teachers in our schools, social workers, and business leaders in and outside of their tribal community.”
Today, Sally’s passion continues to be outreach into rural areas – like the small Trinity County community where her granddaughter participates in Girl Scouts.
“Girls need leadership opportunities in whatever culture they live in -- whether it be ethnic, social, and/or economic,” she says. “Girls Scouts is a vehicle to provide those opportunities. From opportunities come experience, and from those new experiences comes confidence and character.”
Sally firmly believes supporting Girl Scouts as a donor helps create leaders who in turn serve as positive role models.
“Juliette Low's personal biography is an awesome story,” she says. “She broke glass ceilings before that concept had ever been coined. I am proud to be able to support an organization that focuses on creating the Juliette Lows of the future."
John Cassidy, President and CEO, Sierra Central Credit Union, has been a sponsor of the Jeff Stover Celebrity Golf Tournament for ten years. The tournament, and community sponsors like Cassidy and Sierra Central Credit Union, exemplifies community involvement at its best, when many rally around a great cause and create an extraordinary outcome for young people.
“We feel that it’s important to support the Girl Scouts because the organization provides a much-needed place just for girls, away from all the noise in the world, where they can build their life and leadership skills, investing time in their communities to help them become strong adult women."
As a Brownie, Beth Leonard’s troop met a woman who received her 65-year Girl Scout membership pin, and right then Beth vowed she would grow up to get her own -- for 100 years. Today, she’s nearly a third of the way toward her “ultimate goal in life,” and her support for Girl Scouts is stronger than ever.
“That goal helped me remain a Girl Scout through those difficult teen years,” Beth says.
During college, she involved the Society of Women Engineers with Brownie troops to help them with science badgework.
“My Girl Scout training leading camporees and Junior-Senior overnights made the college leadership roles natural and easy for me,” she recalls. “We need publicity? I can do that. Need to negotiate a discount on 100 sub sandwiches? No problem. Girl Scouts taught me all that.”
Beth, who also led rappelling, snorkeling, and other adventure activities for Girl Scouts, looks forward to her daughter attending the Girl Scout camps she visited as a child.
“I'm fortunate enough to be able to afford to make a meaningful financial contribution to Girl Scouting, which helped positively shape who I am,” Beth says.
“I want other children to benefit from the extraordinary programs offered by Girl Scouting, like camps and the programs for children of migrant workers. These programs don't happen without additional financial support, and I am proud to be able to help.”
Joyce Richards, former Girl Scout CEO, has a simple answer to her question: donate to Girl Scouts today! Girl Scouting, she says, “like any other charity, relies on donations – a lot of people don’t understand that.”
Richards understands well how important donor support can be – she grew up in Girl Scouting in Nebraska and was at the helm of several Girl Scout councils in Northern California. One of her proudest accomplishments was bringing Girl Scouting to all girls, including those in underserved communities or places where girls could easily become another negative statistic.
“I know that Girl Scouting is a treasure-filled experience of fun and friendship, like no other, and I for one would feel our girls would be at a huge disadvantage in not having the opportunity to become a Girl Scout,” she says. “An investment in Girl Scouting, regardless of the size, is an investment in empowered girls – girls who make this world a better place, simple as that!”
Though she retired as CEO in 2007, Richards’ commitment to Girl Scouting continues, and she makes it a priority to give her time and financial support to Girl Scouting today.
“I have supported Girl Scouts, as has my family, as long as I can recall,” she says. “Those of us who have gotten so much out of the Girl Scout Movement need to provide ongoing support. It is especially up to us! My annual and planned gifts, added to those of generous others, will ensure that the Girl Scout Movement will thrive and grow, now and beyond its first 100 years!”
Byrd Lochtie joined Brownie Girl Scouts when she was seven. Since then, she has been a camp counselor, led several Girl Scout troops, raised a son and a daughter, and run successful businesses, and she is still Girl Scouting’s biggest fan.
“I have financially supported Girl Scouting all my adult life, because I am convinced the diversity of the Girl Scout program provides one of the best educational experiences a girl can have,” Lochtie says. “Girls have a chance to try many different things in so many areas all in an environment that builds character.”
From her years as a Girl Scout troop leader, Lochtie has dozens of stories that show the life-changing difference that Girl Scouting makes in girls’ lives, but her favorites come from when her girls were camping.
“I loved seeing girls develop independence and competence as they learned outdoor skills and made their own meals over a campfire,” Lochtie says. “It was heartwarming to see my own daughter realize that being the patrol leader didn't mean she could boss the other girls! She emerged as a true leader because of her experiences in Girl Scouting.”
Learning opportunities were built into every part of her troop’s activities, Lochtie says, and she loved what she observed as they progressed:
“Trying an art or craft project that was truly ambitious, but trying it anyway because the girls were so eager to learn. And seeing results that far surpassed anything we had dreamed of.”
“Seeing girls learn about money and marketing when we sold cookies. It was not just a fundraiser, but a true learning experience.”
The best part, Lochtie says, was that while all the learning was taking place, the girls didn’t even realize it because of all the fun they were having.
“I also tell people about all the fun we had in our Girl Scout troop,” she says. “Girl Scouting is a wide-ranging program that can offer something for every type of girl, whatever her special interests and desires. And it develops character while girls are having fun!”
To understand the positive impact that Girl Scouting has, Girl Scout donor Woody Shackleton has only to look at his two daughters. For more than two decades, he has seen his girls grow strong and confident through Girl Scouting.
“I've seen firsthand what a positive influence Girl Scouting can have on the development of young women,” Shackleton says. “Both of my daughters grew into impressive young ladies with self esteem and strong leadership qualities instilled by the Girl Scout experience.”
His involvement with Girl Scouting started over 20 years ago when his wife, Denise, started a Girl Scout Daisy and Brownie troop. Denise kept her troop involved in Girl Scouting all the way through high school graduation, and Shackleton proudly points out that many of the girls earned Girl Scouts’ highest honor, the Gold Award, and used their accomplishments through Girl Scouting to get into prestigious universities.
Inspired by all he had seen Girl Scouting do for his children and others, Shackleton became a financial supporter for Girl Scouts of Northern California.
“My daughters were fortunate to be raised in a privileged environment, and I realize how important it is to extend the Girl Scouting benefits to girls less fortunate which can be life changing,” he says.
“I know that my financial support enables us to extend Girl Scouting programs to areas that otherwise could not be possible and provide programs which would otherwise not be affordable. In both cases we are able to enrich the lives of the girls participating and by extension, enriching the communities in which they live.”
When he retired from his corporate career, Shackleton joined the board of the Girl Scouts of Northern California to continue to help make a difference. He has been instrumental in the creation of the “Girl Scouts Save the Bay” program, part of the Girl Scouts Green By Nature initiative, which engages local girls with environmental education and activities that enable them to make a contribution while developing life-long environmental stewardship skills.
“I've seen girls learning about their environment and while smiling and having fun, also learning about the relationship between the water they drink and the entire ecosystem in which they live,” Shackleton says.
He is struck by the good he’s witnessed Girl Scouts do over the past two decades.
“I've seen girls from inner-city Oakland reading poetry that they wrote in a Girl Scout writing program that brought tears to my eyes as they described how profound the experience had been,” he says. “Girl Scouting is a franchise that deserves everyone's support because we change lives and communities one girl at a time.”
The holiday season is a time when Nancy Handel often thinks back on her fondest memory as a young Girl Scout – an experience she calls “very valuable in building character and a sense of community.”
She and her fellow Girl Scout troop members would volunteer at a rehabilitation center for people with physical disabilities and assist the residents with a holiday fundraising campaign.
“It was a great experience for me to see how people can overcome challenges, how small efforts can yield big dividends, and how learning and developing compassion for all people is a win/win proposition,” Handel says.
Those early Girl Scout experiences taught Handel many lessons that she carried into her adulthood.
“I learned a lot during these years about friendship, fellowship, sharing and caring, and community,” she says. “I learned about leadership and planning and organizing. And I learned how to play.”
As an adult, Handel gave back to Girl Scouting, sharing her leadership for 12 years on Northern California Girl Scout council Boards of Directors as chair and a governing member. In addition to giving her time, Handel has been dedicated to supporting Girl Scouting through financial donations.
“I support the Girl Scouts so that the value of this experience may be made available to every girl, everywhere,” Handel says. “I have generally given my donations to the Girl Scouts as general funds that can be used by the organization as they deem necessary.”
Handel is impressed by the varied scope of Girl Scouting, and she wants to help spread the word that Girl Scouts is more than cookies and camping – it’s a vibrant, modern program that is multicultural, technologically savvy, and values-based.
“Our community needs to invest in our youth, and education and development does not happen exclusively in the classroom,” she says. “I love the Girl Scouts and want to see the organization thrive with strong membership growth and funding sources that ‘get it!’ We are building the leadership for tomorrow. And this is the responsibility of all of us to our youth.”
Whether it’s sacking an NFL quarterback or recruiting other sports celebrities to raise funds for Girl Scouts, former San Francisco 49er Jeff Stover is real team player.
Like football, Girl Scouts is “an American tradition,” Stover says – one that deserves support. “It’s a program that we can trust and an organization that works hard to reach out to girls from all backgrounds.”
For the past 11 years, Stover himself has reached out for Girl Scouts by hosting the annual Stover Celebrity Golf Tournament. In 2009, Stover’s tournament raised more than $40,000 thanks to support from over 30 professional athletes and business leaders brought in by Stover.
“I know that the money we raise from the golf tournament stretches a long way … to serve many girls,” Stover says.
A native of Corning and owner of the Chico Sports Club, Stover is happy that his sports star status can help Girl Scouting throughout Northern California, and he is particularly pleased that his financial support makes Girl Scouting available through outreach programs for girls who, because of economic concerns, may not have had the opportunity to be involved in Girl Scouting otherwise.
“I’m proud to help provide the resources to do that,” he says. “It has been a great relationship, and I’ve been very happy with my decision to support Girl Scouts.”
Stover has been inspired by the mission of Girl Scouting by his wife, who was a Girl Scout and also by friends who have been connected to the organization. But, it’s his interaction with the girls themselves who come out to his tournament to say thanks that keeps him giving year after year.
“I really believe that the program makes a difference in girls’ lives,” Stover says. “You only have to look into the faces of the girls when they come out to the golf tournament to see that.”
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