Important Council updates from the Girl Scouts NorCal CEO, Marina Park.
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October 20, 2016

Dear Girl Scout,
I hope your Girl Scout year is off to a great start. Remember to register for 2017! Thank you to the troops who are welcoming new girls via the online troop catalog – so far, 402 troops have joined the troop catalog since its inception, with 127 of those troops opting-in since August 15th!

This update includes: Changes in how many of our staff work – moving from salary to hourly to comply with changes in state and federal wage and hour law.
 
We are fortunate to have a dedicated staff of men and women who believe in our mission and who recognize that volunteers are the heart of Girl Scouts. Because state and federal wage and hour laws are changing effective December 1, some members of our staff will be shifting from salary to hourly compensation, starting October 23. We want to make sure our volunteers understand why we need to make this shift and how to partner with hourly staff to make sure our staff will be available to work when you need them.
  • Why the change? State and federal wage and hour laws are changing (effective December 1) – the minimum wage for salaried staff is rising to a level beyond what our council (and other Girl Scout councils) can afford. To be prepared and in compliance with the law by December 1, starting October 23, a number of our direct service staff who support troop and service unit volunteers will shift from salary to hourly compensation. This includes: Product Sales Managers, Membership Managers, and Volunteer Development Managers.
     
  • What does this change mean? We have limited funds for overtime, so we are asking our hourly staff to limit their work to 7.5 hours per day, 5 days per week. Hourly staff who work with volunteers will have flexibility in scheduling their hours, but will need advance notice of evening and weekend activities, so they can plan their weeks, comply with wage and hour laws, and help us stay within our budget for staff compensation.
     
  • What will be hard about this?  What might be most difficult is that our staff want to be partners with our volunteers. It is going to be hard to say “no, I can’t do that, I’ve already worked 7.5 hours today,” or “no, I can’t attend your Wednesday meeting, because I already committed to a Saturday event.” I appreciate our volunteers being understanding of our staff who are making this shift.
     
  • How you can help:
     
    • Give advance notice. Please provide advance notice if you will need staff help evenings or weekends. Our staff can be flexible with their hours – but they need advance notice to plan. In Girl Scouts we are helpers, and we want to get the job done and done well. I know it is going to take a bit of adjusting to get comfortable working in this new environment.
       
    • Provide constructive feedback. We appreciate your patience as we get better at this new way of work – and if you have suggestions – please feel free to send them to info@girlscoutsnorcal.org.
       
    • Contact member Services. We encourage you to reach out to our Member Services team, which staffs phone and email on work days from 9am – 5pm and can answer most routine questions.  You can reach Member Services at:
    • Additional information. If you would like additional information about how to work with hourly staff, click here.
Thank you, in advance, for your understanding and support of our staff and for helping GSNorCal comply with changing wage and hour laws.

Celebrating GSNorCal’s National Young Woman of Distinction, Caitlyn McElligott

Next week, our Board President and I will travel to Philadelphia for meetings with GSUSA and CEOs and Board Presidents of the 112 councils that make up our Girl Scout Movement.  I am especially looking forward to the National Young Woman of Distinction celebration.  For the fourth year in a row, a Gold Award Girl Scout from Northern California has been recognized (though a blind selection process) as one of the top 10 Gold Award projects in the nation!

Caitlyn McElligott summarized her Gold Award project – Trisomy X Awareness – as follows:
 
A couple of years ago I took an ethics class. I learned about the tough decisions parents have to make when they learn their unborn child has a genetic disorder. I also learned that some parents were being counseled to abort their baby when they have the same genetic disorder I do. I dug into it and learned that this was due to a lack of
quality information.
 
When I Googled "Trisomy X", I was presented with a poorly conducted study with a bad outcome for afflicted girls. Only recently have there been better conducted studies which show that with proper support, Trisomy X Girls can go on to do great things!

My project is to tell 1 million people about Trisomy X.


Caitlyn built and promoted a website and exceeded her goal, writing in conclusion:
 
In the end I reached nearly 2,000,000 people about Trisomy and that number continues to increase daily. Additionally, I have become the poster girl for this disorder since I have it too.
 
Caitlyn exemplifies the courage, confidence, character and leadership skills that Girl Scouts is all about!  Congratulations to Caitlyn, and thank you to the volunteers who guided Caitlyn during her outstanding Gold Award project.
 
During the 2016 membership year (which ended September 30), 138 girls earned Gold Awards in Northern California! The Gold Award is the highest award a girl can earn in Girl Scouts. Gold Award Girl Scouts make the world a better place and build leadership skills that last a life time. Colleges, employers and the military value the Gold Award and all that it represents.  You can read about all 10 National Young Women of Distinction here.

Building our Future: Program and Property Plan Update
 
Thank you to the girls and adults who participated in our nine town hall meetings and 2 girl-only meetings this fall, to discuss our next five year plan for programs and properties. Board and/or Property Task Group members attended each Town Hall, and our Board will meet in November to discuss member input and adopt the final 2017-2021 Plan.  The draft plan shared with members in August and additional information about the 29 properties GSNorCal currently operates is available on our website:  gsnorcal.org/future
 
The 2017-2021 Plan focuses on this question: What portfolio of experiences and properties will best support our goals to get more girls outside and more girls engaged in Girl Scout experiences?
Properties are one way we get more girls outside, but by no means the only way. Just before the Eureka Town Hall, I met with girls and asked about their outdoor experiences. When I asked how many had lit a match – they almost all raised their hands (including the Brownies).  Then I was prompted to ask, how many had started a fire using flint and steel, and they almost all raised their hands. Next I asked, “how many of you have been to Camp Tall Trees,” and they almost all raised their hands! Camp Tall Trees is a volunteer-run Girl Scout resident camp that rents space at a National Park each summer and is building skills and confidence in a generation of Girl Scouts.  It is a reminder of the many ways we are investing in outdoor experiences for girls and the importance of supporting volunteer-led experiences to reach girls with affordable outdoor adventure.

Early decision to sell The Cove to the Napa Open Space District: As discussed at the Town Hall meetings and shared last week, the Board has approved the sale of The Cove in Napa County to the Napa Open Space District.  The District will have one year to raise the funds to purchase The Cove, and once the District owns The Cove, Girl Scout groups will be able to use The Cove free of charge up to 4 weekends per year (which is about the current level of Girl Scout use) for 30 years. We still need to finalize these Agreements with the District and will have time to plan how best to celebrate and remember The Cove when and if the purchase is completed. If the District is able to raise the funds, then Girl Scouts of Northern California will receive $700,000 as the purchase price, and will re-invest these funds in properties and programs designed to get more girls outside as described in the Program and Property Plan.
 

October 31 is the deadline for Regional delegate nominations and National Delegate applications
 
Girls – ages 14 and older – and adults are invited to nominate themselves to serve as Regional Delegates and to apply to serve as National Delegates.  The deadline for both is October 31.  You can learn more on our website, here. National Delegates will participate in the October 2017 National Council Session in Columbus, Ohio – we expect to have a total of 24 girl and adult National Delegates.
Raising Awesome Girls
 
I am proud to be part of an organization that exists to make the world a better place. Over 44,000 girls participated in Girl Scouts in Northern California during the 2016 membership year – that’s 44,000 points of light, ready to make the world a better place. I also am proud that Girl Scouts is taking the lead in supporting parents to help their daughters grow up strong, confident and creative. Raising Awesome Girls is a wonderful resource.
 
As always, thank you for all that you do for girls and Girl Scouts.
Yours in Girl Scouting,

Marina H. Park, CEO
Girl Scouts of Northern California
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