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February 25, 2012

A 100-year history of instilling character

by Women's Fund

Printed in The Indianapolis Star
February 25, 2012

I am proud to be a four-generation Girl Scout. My mother was my Girl Scout leader, her mother was her Girl Scout leader, and, I had the honor and responsibility of being one of my daughter’s Girl Scout leaders.

I was saddened to see the letter state Rep. Bob Morris wrote to his colleagues disparaging the good name of Girl Scouts. Starting with Juliette Gordon Low, Girl Scouts have a 100-year history of helping instill courage, confidence and character in girls and their leaders. I have experienced this first hand in many ways as a girl earning badges, pitching a tent, learning to canoe, becoming aware of the world around me, and running a micro business selling cookies; and, as an adult preparing for meetings, organizing cookie sales and helping girls take ownership of planning significant projects for their troop.

Girl Scouts teach their members to be thoughtful, caring and committed citizens. Girls are expected to listen and be respectful to others with different opinions and ideas; this helps them find and shape their own thoughts and ideas. Girls are taught to be honest and fair, respectful to themselves and others, as well as respect authority. These values were not reflected by Morris when he was not truthful or fair in his depiction of Girl Scouts and their relationships with other organizations and ideologies. I wonder what kinds of conversations happened in Girl Scout troops across our state in the past week. I imagine honesty, clarity and compassion were reiterated.

Women’s Fund of Central Indiana applauds the work of Girl Scouts and our local executive, Deborah Hearn Smith. We are enthusiastic in our support of their commitment to girls of all interests, backgrounds and circumstances. I took a poll at a Women’s Fund Advisory Board meeting and found 15 of 21 women present were involved as Girl Scouts at some point in their life. These talented leaders join 50 million American women who were Girl Scouts during their childhood. I don’t know any former Girl Scouts in our community who are “radicalized” or “communist,” but I sure do know a lot who are feminist.

Stand next to us as we stand by the Girl Scouts. As they celebrate 100 years, find a way to celebrate with them. Send a note to Deborah Hearn Smith or a local troop leader to thank her for her dedication to Girl Scouts. Recognize and celebrate your employees who were Girl Scouts. Or, simply just buy more Girl Scout cookies. Your support will help inspire the next generation of female leaders.

Jennifer Pope Baker
Executive Director, Women’s Fund of Central Indiana

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