November 15, 2012
An Open Letter to Our Girl Scout Family, Near and Far ...
Girl Scouts of Nassau County sends its deepest thanks to our Girl Scout family around the globe who have reached out to us and our Girl Scout sisters who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. We have been overcome by your generosity, heartened by your ingenuity, and warmed by your prayers and good wishes. We also thank Anna Maria Chavez and the team at Girl Scouts of the USA for their help and support. You all have shown us the Girl Scout Promise and Law in words and deeds!
GIRL SCOUTS OF NASSAU AS OF TODAY
1. Electricity has been restored to about 90% of the area. But many still share the distress, confusion and suffering of Hurricane Sandy's indelible mark on our community. A mark that for some was erased when the power came back on; for others that mark will be there for many more months as families slowly rebuild or businesses slowly reopen. There is still a sense of malaise and discomfort even as the community pulls together and begins to recover, but the spirit of community is thriving!
2. Most people do have shelter. Many of those hardest hit are with family/friends, some are in just a few rooms of their own home, and some are in temporary housing. While there are some public shelters still open, people are being moved to more stable arrangements as -quickly as possible. -- The major disaster relief organizations are continuing to provide daily meals and water to those who need them, big laundry trucks are set up in some communities, and assistance is being provided for insurance and FEMA claims.
While disaster organizations are still accepting material donations, many families do not have space for "stuff," as they condense their lives into sharing a home with another family or living in transient housing.
3. Girl Scouts are continuing to reach out to those areas that were hardest hit, but communication with those displaced by the storm is still a challenge. Some Girl Scout volunteers have even taken their Leader list and gone door-to-door to contact Leaders and see how Girl Scouts can be of service. In the meantime, we completed a Needs Assessment Survey that is helping us match up those in need with those who have resources to help.
It is our hopes that as girls realize that they no longer have their Girl Scout vests, or their books, that they will reach out to us. As Troop Leaders see what other Troops are doing, they will be better able to ask for help. And as the Holiday Season approaches, requests may shift to more material or monetary needs.
WHAT CAN GIRL SCOUTS REALLY DO NOW?
1. Girl Scouts are not first responders! Girl Scouts can "be a sister to every Girl Scout" and work to make the world a better place by implementing specific acts of caring and setting bold goals with action plans to match!
Continue to keep your hearts and minds open to new ways to reach out to our sisters in need. Remember that the primary "job" of a child is to play. Play, recreation, exercise and fun come right up there at the top of the 'needs' list -- right after love, a hot meal and a warm coat! This goes for every girl, displaced by the storm, or safe and snug at home!
2. "Stuff" is okay, but collecting things may not be the primary need right now. As the holidays approach consider monetary gifts or gift cards that can help families in need 'provide for their own.' $anta will need extra helper$ this year!
3. Work to bring a sense of "normalcy" back our community ... It is great to just have a regular Girl Scout meeting, work on Journeys and badges, and have some fun! -- Girls in Troops who are in the areas that were not as hard hit by the storm may want to pair with a Troop who was more severely impacted and plan a fun outing ... it could be as simple as a game night or going to a movie together. Think "normal" and FUN -- not expensive or complicated! -- Also, continue to do those community service activities and Take Action projects that were already in your plans for this year. There is still a world of good that needs doing!
4. Everyone has a story to tell ... and we need to just listen. As you begin to hold meetings again, girls and adults are going to want and need to talk about what has happened. Some may feel a little guilty/blessed because they were spared from the storm. For those girls whose lives have been most disrupted, their stories may be hardest to hear.
Allow time for people to talk and share, but it is okay to set a time limit so that you can move to the planned activities and the fun. And of course, it is fine if you see that your girls just need a chance to hangout and reconnect with one another. Remember, it's a Journey, and the path is not straight!
Don't be afraid to ask for help. -- Girl Scouts of Nassau County is working with our partners at North Shore-LIJ Health Systems to offer an opportunity for Leaders to meet with mental health specialists to get some advice and tactics to use when listening to our girls, and as soon as we have the date and location set, we'll get info out to our members. -- Troop Leaders may also call on others in the community who can offer resources on counseling and creative play.
The Girl Scout motto has always been Be Prepared. We'll be looking at ways to help our girls be even more prepared for future emergencies by offering classes and materials for girls, so they will be better able to respond the next time the lights go out, or worse!
Begin now to set Troop goals for the Girl Scout Cookie Program, which will begin January 5, 2013. Talking about money is always important, and having extra money in your Troop treasury is a really good way to Be Prepared ... when girls need to Take Action, in good times and the worst of times.
We thank all our members who quickly stepped forward on October 30 and recognized that they had hands to help, resources to give or ways to bring back the normalcy that we so need. Our girls, Troops and volunteers have been at the forefront of reaching out to our neighbors in need since the first day after the storm. The road to recovery may be long. Be assured that Girl Scouts will be there to help pave the way and provide opportunities for leadership, respite and fun for all of our girls.
Despite the storm, we all have much for which to give thanks ... Wishing all of you more thankful days ahead!
Yours in Girl Scouting,