Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Volunteering Doesn't Just Benefit Girls

As Girl Scouts staff members we don’t always see the impact Girl Scouting has on an adult volunteer – at least not as it happens. So, I felt privileged to see this happening with one volunteer.  

She joined Girl Scouts to help with her daughter’s troop, but wasn't sure she was quite up for the challenge of taking on the role of leader.  She is an introvert by nature; could hardly talk to other adults sometimes.  However, she understood the importance of her responsibilities  and took them on in order to become a better leader. 

She attended the council’s leadership training, sat in the back, and took it all in.  During a break, several experienced volunteers were talking and joking with the staff members that were there.  She stood on the other end of the porch – listening quietly.   When something funny was said, she would just smile, but she never quite joined in.

The next encounter with volunteers and staff members, she continued learning.  However, this time during the break she took a position a little closer to the action.  It took her four or five training sessions and a couple of years, but now she had mustered up enough courage to walk her way across that porch!  She began to talk and to share with others. 

Eventually, she joined the Service Unit team. Then, she undertook the role of a volunteer trainer.  She went on to became a Master Trainer and then a member of the council’s staff.  She insisted on working for free and had to be persuaded to take a paycheck.
Today, she is a lifetime Girl Scout and has worked for two councils for approximately ten years!

Sometimes, we forget that Girl Scouting can make a huge impact on adults as well!  We assume that all adult volunteers just have “what it takes.”  They do have the drive and the understanding that what they do is crucial, but there is also a lot of growth to take place when adults are in the picture.  

I know that Girl Scouting has impacted my life in a way that few people would realize. 

Let this be a reminder to slow down and spend time with volunteers!  You may be surprised at what you learn.  By all means, don’t be too quick to judge that shy lady in the back; she may surprise you!

-Lana Turner

Monday, September 22, 2014

Meet the Team: Awards Specialist, Miranda Sterling-Rains

Greetings, Girl Scouts! My name is Miranda Sterling-Rains and I'm the Awards (Bronze, Silver, Gold) Specialist for the Girl Scouts of Central Texas. I've been with the Council since December 2013.  Before that, I worked for the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles for two years.  I hold a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership and a BA in Theatre.  I have a lot of experience working with children and I really enjoy it!

Here's a little background on me that you won’t get from reading my resume:  I have two black belts, one in Tae Kwon Do and the other in Shotokan Karate.  I currently train in kickboxing and Krav Maga.  On September 30, I will celebrate my one year wedding anniversary with my husband, Alec. We have two rescued dogs, Roxy and Henry (photo attached). We also have 3 adorable nephews and one beautiful niece - courtesy of my older brother and sister.  I also love to go SCUBA diving, fishing, snowboarding, camping, hiking…practically anything outdoors or athletic.  

My husband runs a martial arts school and teaches children and adults in Pflugerville.  I also love improv and theatre.  In LA, I performed with an improv group at Comedy Sportz and have been in several (small) professional productions.  With my training in martial arts, I also performed and choreographed fight choreography for theater and independent film.

I love providing our girls with opportunities that they may not have outside of Girl Scouts, expanding their horizons, and letting them see that they can achieve anything.  With the Gold Award, I love seeing the girls grow throughout the course of their project, from the beginning to end.  The leadership, passion, creativity, and determination they demonstrate is awe-inspiring.  I’m so proud of what our girls do!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Helping Sick Kids Sleep Tight

My name is Brittany M. and I am working on my Silver Award project. When I prepared for it, I knew that I wanted to help little kids.  I noticed that whenever I travel, I always carry a pillow with me. It makes me feel safe and, because it’s in the shape of a heart, it reminds me of my home because my house is filled with love.  

Thanks to a migraine, I ended up in the emergency room last year.  I was pretty uptight and boy, did I miss my pillow!  My mom and I came up with the idea of sewing pillow cases to give the children whose families stay at the Ronald McDonald House so they would have a one of their very own.   I wanted to make sure that when kids have to come to the hospital for treatment, they can carry a little piece of “home” with them so they can sleep tight.  I also wanted to teach others to sew these pillowcases so that more people can donate them to their local Ronald McDonald House.  My mom helped me think through this project and helped me stay motivated when the timing was tight.   While my original goal was 25 pillowcases, I am excited to say I will be donated 52 pillowcases! 

If you want to do a similar project, contact the Ronald McDonald House nearest you (  You can connect with local sewing groups, quilting groups, or maybe even your local cloth/hobby store if they give sewing lessons to see if they will provide the sewing machines (as well as someone that knows the machine to help you since they are all different).  Make sure you plan far enough in advance so others can come and ask for material donations or look for material on clearance.

MATERIALS   NEEDED: (If connecting with a sewing group, they will likely have most of the items below except the material and thread.)
·         Material 45” x 36”
·         Thread
·         Pins
·         Sewing Machine
·         Measuring Tape
·         A pair of scissors
·         Seam Ripper (optional)
·         Seam Gauge (optional)

1.     Choose a material that is washable as well as soft if being used for a sleeping pillow (not just one for decoration). 

2.     Second, fold the material inside out in half hot dog style (length-wise), otherwise it might not turn into a pillow case; I am speaking from experience when I say that it will turn into a blob and you’ll have to unstitch it.

3.     Line up the edges and trim off the salvage (the part at the sides of the material that sometimes has little pin holes or white space with no pattern). Cut off any ragged edges, too.  It’s easier to sew if it is a straight seam and it looks nicer, too!

4.   Pin the short side, starting from the folded corner, and the long side putting pins in as shown below. Make sure to only pin one short side, otherwise there won’t be a hole to put the pillow in. You can put pins about 1-3 inches apart depending on how comfortable you are with keeping the material together.

5.     After you are done pinning both sides, you are now ready to start sewing. Make sure the color of thread you are using matches the material, including the thread in the bobbin (the round thing below is filled with white thread).  (To determine how to thread the sewing machine and load the bobbin, see the instructions for your specific sewing machine.)

6.   Like you did with the pinning, start sewing the end where the material is folded over, keep about  ¼-½  inch away from the edge and make sure to lower the foot (that flat silver thingy that holds down the material to keep it well…flat). Hold the thread while you sew the first few stitches (then you can let go.)  After you sew about 5-10 stitches you are going to do what is called a back stitch where you go backwards for a few stitches and then continue forwards.  This keeps the thread from pulling out.  (See video below for steps 6-8.)   TIP:  Keep your fingers out of the way!  The needle is really sharp and accidents can happen fast.  (Thankfully, I don’t speak from experience).

7.   Continue to sew a ¼ inch seam along the pinned edges only as seen in the video. When you get about an inch away from the end make sure to keep the needle down and lift up the foot. Once the foot is up you are going to turn the material to the long side.

8.   Put the foot down and you can begin to sew again. This time you can go all the way to the end of the material and just like you did in the beginning, you are going to back stitch at the end.

9.  After sewing both sides you are going to lift the needle and foot and carefully pull the threads out a few inches.  Cut the thread close to the cloth…just don’t cut the cloth!

10. To make the hem for the opening of the pillowcase, you are going to fold over the open end about 2 ½ inches all the way around, while it is still inside out.

11. Fold ½ inch of material under the top. This will give you a 2 inch hem.

12. To keep the hem neat, you can use a seam gauge (shown below) or a ruler to measure 2 inches.  Pin tucked material all the way around with the pin head sticking out, through the first and second fold so it doesn’t unfold.  Make sure not to pin through both the top and bottom parts of the pillowcase or you’ll get to put the seam ripper to use and take out what you sewed!

13. Then open up the pillowcase and sew the hem.  Don’t forget to hold the thread!  Put the foot down so you can sew ¼ inch away from the double folded edge and start sewing. Be sure to back stitch after about 5-10 stitches in and then continue on until you have gone all the way around.

14. When you come to the end you are going to overlap the stitches and back stitch again. After all the sewing is done, trim the loose threads and turn the pillow case right side out.  You can also get creative in adding trim or decorations to the pillowcase if you want to. Just remember to use things that would actually be comfortable to sleep on!

Wash your pillowcase and donate!  Happy sewing!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Troop 352's ALS #IceBucketChallenge !

The wonderful Girl Scouts of troop 352 bridged from Brownies to Juniors on September 2nd and as a closing to this exciting occasion, they decided to hop onto the ALS #IceBucketChallenge bandwagon. Watch this hilarious video and remember, a Girl Scout is ALWAYS prepared.


You have 24 hours!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Girl Scouts has made a difference in my life

Alice Piri is a volunteer from Concho Pearls Service Unit and has been a part of Girl Scouts for many years. Being part of Girl Scouts not only has enriched the lives of many, many girls, but has also changed her life for the better. Read about her experience below:


I was about seven or eight years old when I first heard about Girl Scouts in second grade. I wanted to join, but at that time only “city girls” were allowed to join. I was a farm girl and absolutely devastated by that news! Elementary school years passed but by then I had focused on 4-H instead. 

In 1972, while living in Great Falls, MT, a few 4th, 5th and 6th grade neighborhood Girl Scouts asked me to be their sewing advisor. I thought sure, “I can do that!” So each girl came over and sewed a poncho for their Junior Girl Scout Sewing badge. What lovely ponchos! At that time I had a daughter who was 1 ½ years old and I was expecting to have another child in August, 1973.

These girls made such an impact in my life with each one having such a personality that was different and special from the next one. On the night I was about to go to the hospital, they called me over to one of their homes and had a surprise baby shower for me. To this day, I still remember the banner they made for me that said, “We are all bananas about Alice!” I have kept in touch with their parents all of these years and actually visited their families three years ago.

I may have mentored hundreds of girls throughout the thirty five plus years in Girl Scouts, each one bringing their special uniqueness and various skills to the troops I worked with. Each girl touched me in a special way and the impact has followed me all of my days in such a positive manner. I remember one girl struggled with dyslexia, and she wanted to earn the highest award in Girl Scouts- the Gold Award. She was concerned she couldn’t write what she was doing properly on her forms. I decided we could get an audio recording of everything she said and she was one happy girl! This boosted her self-image to a higher level!

This summer, one of the San Angelo Girl Scouts—whom I mentored on her Gold Award Project—went to Africa on a mission trip. She took 100 pillow case dresses with her that were made by her and the sewing team.  Helping these girls could make anyone feel good and it continues to keep me focused on what is important in life. Imagine how the African girls are feeling with new dresses from America, made by Girl Scouts!!

We all need to remember the power of doing well by doing good. Each of us, in our own lives, will be faced with challenges, road blocks, problems that we didn’t anticipate or expect. The way in which we deal with adversity will be influenced, to no small extent, by how we deal with others along the way. What we get will depend a lot on what we give.

When you get to be my age (which, for some of you, is really old, though it doesn’t seem so old to me anymore), you will find yourself beginning to ask, “Did my life make a difference?” That’s the day of personal reckoning. I think the only way to face it is consider, every day of your life: How can I do something for somebody else? How can I give back to others? It may be teaching or becoming a doctor. You may be successful in business (no matter what your career path) and always have the opportunity to give back. The chance to give time, money, your heart and soul will always present itself. Paying it forward is the best policy and comes back to you in more ways than one. When you’re presented with new beginnings, you should keep your eyes open for those opportunities to give and embrace them as a sure way of doing well.

It has been a privilege to serve in the Girl Scout program.  25 of the years were spent traveling with my military husband and family from various duty stations and even serving abroad. Each move meant finding friends and without a doubt we found them through Girl Scouts (as well as Boy Scouts)! Our three children needed it as much as I did. There was no way we were going to be lonely and Scouting provided the extended family we needed while away from our families.  I am more thankful how each girl, adult and volunteer has enhanced and enriched my life in a special way.  The Girl Scout song “Make New Friends, but keep the old, one is Silver and the other is Gold, A circle is round and has no end, that‘s how long I want to be your friend” is so true! ‘Forever’ is wonderful with all the friendships we have made throughout the years!

Alice Piri
Adult Volunteer Girl Scout
Concho Pearls Service Unit

We appreciate every single one of our volunteers and everything they give our girls to life them up! Change a girl's life and change your own. Invest in girls. Change the world. Volunteer today!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Troop Talk - Troop 350, Girl Scout sisters and BFFs

When you meet Troop 350 you can’t help but notice their enthusiasm and joy. The excitement that surrounds them is electric and the happiness is evident in their faces. You can see it in their troop leaders’ faces, too. 

Every single girl in this troop is happy and excited to be together and every single girl here is a friend to the other.

Troop 350 has 9 Juniors, of which we met five and their two troop leaders, plus a troop mom. Linda Luehrmann is one of the leaders and the one in charge of re-registering the girls for this upcoming Girl Scout year. Thanks to her decision to use online Early Bird re-registration, the troop was drawn and won a chance to come to the Kodosky Center and have a quick chat with us.

It’s easy to see how much fun these girls have together—they were actually on their way to tour Whole Foods after their quick talk with us.

Lto R. back to to front, clockwise: Lauren S, McKenzie W.,
Anika L., Kennedy Y., and Aleezah S. 
Their troop leaders are just as enthusiastic—they have been friends for years and have similar Girl Scouting trajectories. They were both Girl Scouts and then as alumnae, both volunteered before they became moms and are now volunteering again. What a wealth of experience they bring to the GSCTX family!

The girls in this troop quickly showed us what a giving nature they all have. One Bronze Award project they are bouncing around revolves around Dell Children’s Hospital:

“We were thinking about having a toy and book drive for the kids staying there,” said Lauren S. “We also want to babysit when we’re twelve,” is another  one of the things Kennedy Y. is looking forward to with her troop sisters. “It’s just fun!!” said Anika L. “I can’t wait to go to water parks and visit camps."

When asked what else they couldn’t wait to do this year, there was a resounding agreement about camp. These girls enjoy all aspects of camping, but above all being out in nature, experiencing different facilities and meeting new friends makes them bubble up.

L to R, back row: Lauren S., Kennedy Y.
Middle row: Linda Luehrmann, Gina Saeed, and Becky Carter.
Bottom row: Anika L., Aleezah S., and McKenzie W.
One other thing they are very excited about is being able to talk to younger Girl Scouts about earning badges. They have a strong mentoring focus and want to be there for smaller girls who might need some encouragement or guidance. Talk about fulfilling the Girl Scout promise!

These girls know a thing or two about fundraising, too. Their re-registration was covered with troop funds. Speaking of re-registration, their troop co-leader, Linda Luehrmann was pleasantly surprised with how easy and straightforward it was to get the girls back in the system. “It took me about 30 minutes to re-register 9 girls,” she said. “I would recommend it to other troop leaders. I’d ask ‘why are you using paper?”

It makes sense that these girls are so goal driven—their troop leaders are accomplished and have a strong focus on achievement and helping the community. Becky Carter, their other co-leader loves the leadership potential Girl Scouts offers “…it opens doors, builds self-confidence, opportunities […] taking charge of trips, supply lists and food, taking on a leadership role. These are things the girls do because they learn how to do it in Girl Scouts.”

As for Gina Saeed, Troop 350’s troop mom, she has had a great time watching her daughter, along with other girls, grow more confident and get to partake in all the great things they do.
None of the amazing adventures they like or want to do would be possible without their troop leaders and moms who selflessly volunteer their time and energy to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

Thank you, Troop 350--Lauren S, Kennedy Y., Anika, L., Aleezah S., and McKenzie W. for coming by and chatting with us. It was a pleasure to meet you all and we hope you meet all your goals and that you get to go camping as much as possible.

And thank you Gina, Linda and Becky—we are all lucky to have you in our council, leading our girls.

Are you up for the challenge? Be the role model she’ll remember forever—join Girl Scouts of Central Texas and volunteer today. Make a difference in her life AND yours.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

10 Reasons NOT to Volunteer with Girl Scouts

At Girl Scouts of Central Texas, one of the big reasons girls get to do such awesome things and learn so many amazing skills is because we have great volunteers who are willing to give their time and energy to building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. So, naturally, we’re always encouraging people to volunteer with us.

But not today.

This time, we’re giving you 10 reasons you might want to reconsider volunteering with Girl Scouts of Central Texas:

10. You don’t want your community to improve.

Girl Scouts are encouraged to observe their environment and the people in it to identify problems and to take action to solve them! Bronze, Silver and Gold Award projects serve the communities girls live in and improve the lives of others. You want none of this.

9. You don’t think children are the future.

Extensive studies have shown that Girl Scouting influences academic success as much as, and sometimes more than, non-Girl Scout factors known to impact academics. These are the girls who will be in charge one day! But you're not interested in this at all.

8.  S’mores make you gag.  
Your life must be sad. :( 

7. And you HATE cookies.


6. And don’t even start with going on adventures.

Girls' outdoor experiences in Girl Scouts are linked to challenge seeking, problem solving, and environmental leadership. When girls spend time outside regularly, they are much more likely recognize their strengths, be more courageous, and to gain skills that will help them do better in school. How dare we, right?

5. The idea of traveling abroad with some of the coolest girls makes you cringe.

You'd rather stay home and watch reruns of The Love Boat. 

4. You are against girl leadership.

Girls seek challenges in the world. They develop positive attitudes toward learning, seek opportunities for expanding their knowledge and skills, set challenging goals for themselves, and take appropriate risks. Who run the world? That's right--GIRLS.

3. You don’t want to be a better person.

One study found that in fulfilling the need to serve, volunteers feel gratified by the experience and empowered by their ability to effect change-often resulting in an enhanced self-image. You're probably shaking your head now.

2. You don’t think there is still work to be done to level the playing field for girls.

In 2012, female full-time workers made only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 23 percent even though they receive more college and graduate degrees than men. Do you really not see the problem with that?!

1. You hate fun.

Yeah, really--what IS wrong with you?

So there you have it. If any of those reasons resonate with you, then you should join Frowny Pants Scouts.

But if you know girl leadership is the key to a better future for our communities (and the world), and you know that there is no better way to achieve it than by helping girls live out adventures and learn crucial confidence-building skills, the we encourage you to sign up to volunteer with Girl Scouts of Central Texas.