One Chicken Helped Make This Girl Scout Legacy Possible
Susan Bulkeley Butler
A Special Gift for the National Young Women of Distinction
Barbara Sirvis, Ph.D.
A Family Affair
90-Year-Old Girl Scout Reminisces About “Ancient History”
6 New Society Members Commit to a Bright Future
Priscilla & Herford Elliott
Couple Share Their Love of Animals
Girl Scout for Life!
Learning New Financial Skills at Any Age
Susan Bulkeley Butler
—Susan Bulkeley Butler
Girl Scouts received a special gift for the National Young Women of Distinction program from Susan Bulkeley Butler, a former Girl Scout and member of the National Board of Directors. Now a philanthropist, Susan is an innovator, risk-taker, and leader just like our National Young Women of Distinction. She says it was an easy decision to make a contribution for these women to further their education, to help each of them “be all they can be.”
Susan is now CEO of The Susan Bulkeley Butler Institute for the Development of Women Leaders and author of Women Count: A Guide to Changing the World. Susan has learned how important it is to make things happen for you, rather than let things happen to you. At the 2016 National Young Women of Distinction celebration, Susan’s philosophy was shared with the honorees. “If we don’t take charge of who it is we want to be and make it happen, then who will make it happen?” she asked.
Susan made a financial gift supporting the 2016 National Young Women of Distinction, and in addition, Susan has made an extraordinary gift to benefit Girl Scouts most extraordinary young women—a million dollars in scholarships for the 10 National Young Women recipients, to be distributed over the next decade.
By investing in our young women, Susan is certainly having an impact on them and the world. Through her planned gift, Susan is ensuring that her impact continues into the next generation.
Barbara Sirvis, Ph.D.
Barb Sirvis grew up in Girl Scouts sharing memories and experiences with her mother Peggy. From walking Barb to her first Brownie meeting in 1953 to walking together 60 years later into an event at Girl Scouts North Carolina Coastal Pines, the mother-daughter duo grew together in Girl Scouts. Peggy passed her Girl Scout legacy on to her daughter, “My mom was my first Girl Scout, she brought me into Girl Scouts,” Barb shared. Peggy showed Barb what it means to make lifelong friends, be a steady volunteer, and even work professionally within the Girl Scout Movement. After reconnecting with the Girl Scouts in North Carolina, Barb’s mother left the council a sizable planned gift that has carried on the love and work that Peggy gave to Girl Scouts throughout her lifetime.
Barb carries on her mother’s legacy in so many ways, especially through her own dedication to Girl Scouts. Barb’s journey started as a child in Brownies in Los Angeles, California, and has led her all over the country. In 1962 Barb went to Vermont for the first time as a senior in high school to attend the Girl Scout Senior Roundup with 10,000 Girl Scouts and Girl Guides from around the world. In 2012 she and the seven other women from her council who were in the “Las Cancioneras” patrol reconnected for the first time in 50 years and now see each other annually in Southern California or Vermont where Barb has lived for the past 22 years, fulfilling her dream to move there since attending Roundup.
Peggy made planned gifts to Girl Scouts of North Carolina Coastal Pines and Girl Scouts of the USA that now serve to support the Movement. Barb has made a bequest to the Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council and Girl Scouts of the USA to support the continuation of girl programming at The Birthplace.
Please join Barb in supporting the largest girl-serving agency that provides programs to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
When Dianne Belk was 5 years old, her rural Mississippi family couldn’t afford the $1 annual dues for a Girl Scout membership. She and her mother came up with a plan to sell the eggs from one of their chickens to pay her dues.
As her Girl Scout participation grew, so did the expenses. Dianne recalls saying to her mother, “Mama, I need another chicken!” Dianne went on to earn the Gold Award – the highest award in Girl Scouts – and she became a Girl Scout for life.
Dianne notes, “My husband, Lawrence Calder, and I have lived, worked, and volunteered in four councils. As Girl Scout donors, we had been making annual gifts, buying cookies, and attending annual events. When we considered our wills and estate documents, we realized that the question for us as long time donor and supporters, wasn’t – Why would we leave a legacy gift to Girl Scouts? The question was simply – Why wouldn’t we?’”
Fast forward to 2012, Dianne was named the Founding Chair of the Juliette Gordon Low Society, which honors those who chose to remember Girl Scouts in their wills and estate plans. “When Lawrence and I decided to leave a gift in our wills to Girl Scouts, we learned that most Girl Scout councils were not actively promoting planned giving as a way for annual donors, volunteers and alums to show support of Girl Scouts. Since then, we have been eager to spread the word to let all our supporters know that they, too, can leave a meaningful gift to Girl Scouts.”
Dianne and Lawrence frequently travel throughout the Girl Scout Movement to advocate for planned giving and they are often asked why. In response, Dianne shares the impact that Girl Scouts had on her life; “As a farm girl from very limited means and even fewer options, Girl Scouts was my ticket to exploring the world’s opportunities. One memorable exploration was a trip down the Mississippi River on an old steamboat with 500 Girl Scouts from the Mississippi/Arkansas/Tennessee area. So many “firsts”—all of them made even more special by the camaraderie with Girl Scout sisters. I was forever changed.”
Memories like these remind Dianne that she owes much of her success in life to her 12 years in Girl Scouts and its impact on her goals, values, and character.
In 2017, this concept of giving back and leaving a legacy for future generations turned into a thoughtful and inspiring plan with the announcement of the Dianne Belk and Lawrence Calder Girl Scout Movement-wide Planned Giving Challenge. This ground-breaking challenge inspired 834 new planned gifts that benefit Girl Scouts across the country, with a total impact exceeding $30 million. Dianne and Lawrence made irrevocable gifts to each of the 102 councils that met the challenge.
Dianne’s message to Girl Scout supporters all over the world is: “My husband and I invite all Girl Scout supporters to join us in the Juliette Gordon Low Society as donors to this vital and demonstrably effective organization. And when you do, we encourage you to tell your council or Girl Scouts of the USA about your intent so we can thank you and honor you!”
As a Girl Scout, Barbara Marsh received the Golden Eaglet Pin, as shown above.
Barbara Marsh’s Girl Scout days were such a rich part of her life as a young woman, so she was thrilled to learn that part of her estate could support girls’ programs into the future. This note from Barbara details her sentiment:
Thank you for the reminder of including the Girl Scouts in my will. I was an avid Girl Scout from age 10 until senior high school. Those were wonderful years! I was very active and was awarded the Golden Eaglet Pin, of which I am most proud.
In fact, Girl Scouting was a family affair. My mother was a troop leader, member of the council, and, finally commissioner of Girl Scouting in our town of Dedham. I also went to Camp Wind-in-the-Pines in Plymouth during the summer and loved every minute.
This, I know, is ancient history but I just wanted you to know I have never forgotten my Girl Scout years…I’m 90 now! Please let me know the language I’m to use to include in my will. Thank you.
What Are Your Favorite Memories?
Barbara can still tell us about her troop leader, Mrs. Hall, and her days in the school gym marching in straight lines and learning from a visiting nurse to correctly tie bandages and make a bed. An avid swimmer her whole life, she loves to tell about her Girl Scout camp experiences of swimming in the lake and learning to canoe.
Dianne Belk, founding chair of the Juliette Gordon Low Society, welcomed Betty Skinner as a member when she came forward at the celebration with her commitment for a gift in her estate.
In November 2013, Dianne Belk, founding chair of the Juliette Gordon Low Society, and her husband, Lawrence Calder, traveled to Jacksonville, Fla., for a very special occasion. Girl Scouts of Gateway Council organized a celebration that included Dianne pinning six new members to the Juliette Gordon Low Society.
To join the Society, the new members included gifts to the council in their wills or other estate plans.
At the celebration, Dianne spoke eloquently about her Girl Scout experiences and credited Girl Scouts with much of her personal success. She also mentioned the importance of giving back and the ease of making a commitment to Girl Scouts through your overall estate or financial plans.
“It isn’t a question of: Why would we leave a legacy gift to Girl Scouts?” Dianne said. “It is a question of: Why wouldn’t we?”
You Make the Difference
The real stars of the evening, however, were the donors. Betty Skinner, a lifetime member of Girl Scouts and former council board chair, was one of those stars.
A “green blood,” Betty has been supporting Girl Scouts for years. She came forward at the celebration with her commitment for a gift in her estate, allowing her to be pinned as a new member of the JGL Society.
Betty’s gift will help ensure that future Girl Scouts have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.
Priscilla & Herford Elliott
Priscilla Elliott and her husband, Herford, established a perpetual trust to fund the creation of the Elliott Wildlife Values Project.
Herford Elliott and his wife, Priscilla, had a vision. They both loved nature—animals and birds in their natural habitats.
Bird-watching was one of Priscilla’s passions. She was extremely knowledgeable about birds and their different needs. A vast array of bird feeders surrounded the couple’s home in Massachusetts, and she always kept them filled with the appropriate seed or suet.
Not surprisingly, the Elliotts’ philanthropic activity was directed toward wildlife conservation and environmental stewardship. In 1971, they established a perpetual trust to fund the creation of the Elliott Wildlife Values Project, part of Girl Scouts of the USA.
After Herford’s passing in 1975, Priscilla served as a trustee of the project in support of its work with the Girl Scouts. Each year, she made every attempt to visit with the Girl Scouts who attended the Wyoming’s Wildlife Wonders destination in the Tetons, a travel opportunity for Girl Scouts based at the Teton Science Schools near Jackson. She was always a vibrant, thoughtful and passionate role model for the girls.
Upon Priscilla’s passing in 2011, funding was completed to the perpetual trust.
Today, the Elliott Wildlife Values Project continues to develop girls as leaders of both wildlife conservation and environmental stewardship efforts, who positively impact their community—and the world. Through Girl Scout programs funded by the project, girls are learning to connect with nature and take action to identify needs and inspire others to act as stewards of the earth and its wildlife.
As Priscilla once said, “For all the years the Wildlife Project has been in operation, we have watched with much satisfaction the ever-growing ripple effect.”
“Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout” isn’t just a motto—it’s a way of life.
Flora Poulos has been a Girl Scout for nearly 70 years. Her amazing journey includes camp memories; international travel; and, of course, friendship.
Flora lost her father at a very young age and described her self-esteem afterward as “a little rocky.” But Girl Scouts gave her the awesome experiences, confidence, and life skills she craved—she has visited all four World Centers; attended the 1959 Senior Girl Scout Roundup in Colorado; and served as a troop volunteer, committee chair, and board member of Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Her experience as a camp counselor helped Flora decide to become a teacher: “Having all of those little brownies wanting to hold my hand was self-affirming,” she explains. “It didn’t matter how I looked or where I came from in those special moments.”
Today she currently chairs a quilting guild, frequently holds events for her retirement community, and has friends from all over the world. She credits all of this to her nearly 70 years as a Girl Scout: “I feel enriched by the thousands of girls and adults I’ve met during my Girl Scout journey.”
Girl Scouts, says Flora, “pushes you to step outside of your comfort zone.” And whether it was supporting Brownies as a troop volunteer, selling Girl Scout Cookies, or traveling to Kenya to plant trees as part of a water conservation project, Girl Scouts was the key that unlocked these amazing experiences for her.
In 1997, Flora’s council was matched with a group of girls in Kenya. Eight Girl Scout Seniors and five adults, including Flora, traveled to camp with Girl Guides from around the world and planted trees to conserve water. The trip was part of an International Partnership Project that was started in 1989. GSUSA matched Flora’s Pennsylvania-based council with Kenyan Girl Guides, and together the two groups developed a joint project for the girls in both countries. When the project began, both groups of girls identified the need for good-quality water in their host community. A patch program was developed that included planting trees to prevent erosion, and the girls’ activities focused on the importance of water.
Six of the eight girls involved in the water conservation project met up at a 20-year reunion of the trip to Kenya. And every year, Flora hosts Girl Scout reunions at her retirement community—where nearly all of the 2,000 women are Girl Scouts!
Now, as a member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society, which honors and celebrates those who have made a planned gift to Girl Scouts, Flora is making sure that experiences like hers are available to the next generation of women leaders. “It’s an amazing sisterhood,” says Flora. “It just permeates your life.”
Guest post by Marty Woelfel, Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana
It’s never too late to learn something new.
For example, I recently became a certified archery instructor at my council, Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana. I’ve been a Girl Scout volunteer for many years—ever since I made a new year’s resolution in 1973 to combine two of my passions: the outdoors and youth development. Since then, I’ve mentored Girl Scout Cadettes and Seniors, taught outdoor skills classes to other volunteers, and lobbied at Girl Scout conventions for programming with increased outdoor involvement. I know firsthand how Girl Scouts uses hiking, canoeing, and camping to develop the next generation of female leaders. And I’m proud to give my time, talent, and treasure to make sure that as many girls as possible have these experiences and teach one another new skills.
Now that I’ve retired, I’ve picked up another new skill—financial management. I’m fortunate that in my retirement I’ve had the opportunity to travel and do other things I enjoy. But I wanted to make sure I was headed down the right financial path, so I spoke with my tax adviser, who recommended “bundling” my donations, which means giving a big gift every few years. She also recommended that I look at giving as a long-term project.
I had all of this advice running through my head last fall at G.I.R.L. 2017, an amazing gathering of Girl Scouts in Columbus, Ohio. While in the lifetime member lounge, a flyer about charitable gift annuities caught my eye. Gift annuities are straightforward: in exchange for my donation, Girl Scouts provides me with dependable payments for life. The remaining portion of my gift helps Girl Scouts offer the engaging programs and outdoor adventures that girls need to be successful.
My annuity is a gift to Girl Scouts, but it also gives me an investment for my future. And it was in line with the bundling my tax adviser recommended. I am glad that I spoke with the staff at Girl Scouts to guide me through the process too—with their help, I decided to make a gift annuity for $25,000. I’ll start receiving my annuity at 75, and the remainder will go to the council I’ve served for so many years.
I encourage you to speak with your own adviser, or the planned-giving experts at Girl Scouts, to see how a charitable gift annuity might be right for you. And you never know—maybe financial planning will be one of your new skills, like it was for me.
With her gift, Marty was inducted as a member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society, which was established to thank and honor friends of Girl Scouting who choose to make Girl Scouts part of their legacies and a beneficiary of their estate plans. If you have already named us as the beneficiary of a planned gift, please let us know. We will welcome you as a Juliette Gordon Low Society member. If you would like more information about how you can become a member—in a manner that benefits you, your heirs, and Girl Scouts—please contact Harriet Hessam at (212) 852-8054 or firstname.lastname@example.org.