Babs Rodriguez 2017-12-25 04:31:18
Dynasty Three generations of Girl Scouts know a thing or two about girl power — and cookies. Patricia James remembers selling canned peanuts as a Girl Scout in the ’50s. Back then, Brownies sold nuts while older girls sold the famed cookies. The Pittsburgh first-grader was shy about sales calls, but it helped that her troop leader was her mom; Ellen Nath was also the reason Patricia was able to be a Scout. “She knew I wanted to join, and when no one stepped up to be the troop leader, Mom said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it.’” As it turned out, Ellen was the first of three generations of women to just say yes. Patricia says that because she was still timid by the time she bridged into Juniors in the fourth grade (there are six levels in Girl Scouts), she was delighted that her dad, a superintendent of a steel mill, sold cookies at work. She put in her door-to-door time in the 12-house neighborhood where she knew everybody. She loved it so much that, as an adult, when no one offered to head up the troop at daughter Lisa’s school, Patricia — like her mom before her — said okay. “I said, ‘I’ll do it, but just for a year.’ Seven years later I was still at it.” The troop initially had 27 members, then 18 girls after the first year, all of whom stuck with Patricia for the rest of her time as a leader. Lisa was starting eighth grade when the troop was disbanded for reasons of time and distance. Patricia’s husband’s job brought them to Texas, and they ended up in Mansfield in 1996. Lisa followed her mom and dad after her first year of college and never left. And today, married with two children, Lisa Kibler is a Girl Scout troop leader. It wasn’t a role she sought out. She had spent seven years as PTA president at her son and daughter’s school before she decided to home-school the kids. But in 2016, when the former troop leader stepped down and daughter Brianna, now 12, wanted to be a Scout, Lisa stepped up just like her mom and grandmother before her. Scouting is in her blood, she says. “I still have my uniform, books and badges. I loved my time in the Scouts. I still love it.” She admits that to manage even her troop of five, she needs two assistants. “The girls are very active, very independent. They are full of ideas for what they think the troop should do. They don’t hesitate to remind me that the organization is ‘girl led.’ ” Lisa lets them make as many decisions as feasible about what they want to do with the troop’s share of cookie sale money. On a recent educational trip to The Greater Wynnewood Animal Park in Oklahoma, the girls learned about animal conservation. The money for such trips is hard won. Lisa remembers her cookie sales efforts as less demanding than Brianna’s. “I don’t know if I could have done all that she does, standing out in the cold the hours she does.” Because she home-schools her children, Lisa knows a lot about time management, goals and applied learning that she passes on to her Scouts. As a Junior, Brianna had more badges than would fit on her vest. “Way more,” she says. Having recently bridged up to Cadette, she’s beginning to fill yet another vest. And while she is in the top ranks of local cookie sellers, she’s quick to point out that being a Girl Scout is much more than the January and February cookie sales. Her badges are evidence of achievement in many arenas. “We identify problems in the community and then propose solutions that are sustainable,” she says. A case in point, her troop volunteered at an animal shelter in Arlington, helping to socialize the animals to make them more adoptable. Community service, education, mentoring younger Scouts, traveling to broaden her education — these are the parts of scouting most important to Brianna, and she loves the challenge of funding so many of those efforts with cookie sales. In the basic training known as the Cookie University, Brianna joined other young Girl Scouts learning about goal setting, decision making, business ethics, people skills and management. She learned well. In 2017, Brianna reached the DIVA Club level of sellers: 1,200 boxes. But she didn’t stop there. “I said I could do more.” Indeed. She sold 1,600 boxes, many from “booths” in front of local stores. Her goal this year: 2,000 boxes. Lisa has already arranged to set up tables outside 18 local businesses. Brianna is prepared to put in as many as four hours a day during the six-week sale, which begins Jan. 12. Her sales pitch is polished. When buyers say they need only a single box for now, she says, “They freeze really well.” Then there’s the donation request. Cookies cost $4 a box, and most buyers proffer a $5 bill. “Would you like to donate your change to Project Troop to Troop?” Brianna asks. Cookies purchased for those dollars are hand-delivered by the troop to men and women in the military, sometimes through recruitment offices, other times directly to patients in the VA hospitals as a thank you for their service. The first year Brianna’s troop took 35 to 40 boxes to recruiter stations. Last year they donated 180 to 200 Project Troop to Troop boxes. The greatest reward for Brianna was when large, strong Marines melted into smiles at the sight of little girls bringing them cookies. But nothing astonished her more than the number of people who remembered the bright-eyed and enthusiastic Scout from the year before. She shouldn’t be surprised. An unforgettable energy seems to run in the family.
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