Have your worlds ever collided? It’s strange to think about, but make a list in your head of all of the projects or organizations you’re involved with- working, volunteering, board governance- whatever it may be. Have any of those ever overlapped for you? My worlds collided about three years ago and I couldn’t have imagined we’d be where we are today.
I started my post-college career at Girl Scouts of Western New York five years ago. I love it. It is fulfilling, rewarding, and so much fun. In the summer of 2018 as I thought about how we could level-up our ONA game, I thought also about how I could mix my two worlds together. Girl Scouts help make the world a better place- it’s in the Girl Scout Law. They are courageous, they seek challenges, and they give back. So how could I take those amazing qualities Girl Scouts instills in girls and fuse it with our mission at Operation Not Alone? How can we continue to level-up? As individuals and as a team? And then it hit me. I had been volunteering with ONA since I met Susan. I wanted to help her expand and grow the organization that so many of us have grown to love. Thus, the expansion of ONA into New York State, the addition and streamlining of services, and the creation of the ONA earn-a-patch program offered to Girl Scouts worldwide.
The patch program, Mission: Honor, is open and available to all Girl Scouts in grades K-12. The program is structured around the familiar actions of discovering a topic, connecting it to the real world, and taking action to make the world a better place. So in our program Girl Scouts discover the branches of the military and where military bases in the US and abroad are located, they connect with a veteran or military service member to learn about their experiences, and they take action to help make the world a better place for military members, veterans, and their families. The program is free for Girl Scouts across the globe. One of the most rewarding emails I received came from a parent of a girl whose family is currently stationed in Italy- she found our patch program online and completed it on- base with her Girl Scout. How cool is that?! So we get to say that this is a worldwide program, which blows my mind to this day.
Over the past three years, the program has seen annual updates. We are constantly assessing what works best, what girls are looking for, and receiving feedback about the program to improve it. This year, we’re excited to re-launch the program with the same feel it has had since inception, along with a facelift from last year including more inclusive graphics and language, and an adult guide. This year, here’s what you can expect:
- An environmentally-friendly approach (no printing necessary- explicitly marked on the workbook)
- Additional up-to-date information about the military
- A more seamless submission process
- More ideas for the take action portion of the program
When can you expect the new program to launch? Great question! The new program, along with the adult guide, has been uploaded to our website, www.operationnotalone.net, and is available now!
To date, we have mailed out 860 patches to Girl Scouts across the globe. Talk about a full-circle moment! My move to Buffalo led me to a career in Girl Scouts. My friendship with Susan opened the door for me to volunteer with Operation Not Alone. And the two worlds collided to line up the stars so I could bring Girl Scouts to ONA and ONA to Girl Scouts. It gives me so much joy when my worlds weave together. I’m proud to serve both of these amazing organizations- both of which are so dear to my heart. My hope is to continue serving and giving my all to the two places that feel like home. Two places so far from each other, but so connected in my heart.
Vice President and Director of New York Operations