Sarasota Girl Scout Gives Pause for Paws

Headshot.jpgSarasota County resident and Sarasota High School graduate Devon Chiodo has earned Girl Scouting’s highest honor – the Gold Award – with her project titled, Paws Matter.

As a volunteer at Cat Depot, Chiodo learned the organization is strongly against declawing. This sparked her interest to investigate the pros and cons of cat declawing and create a documentary with interviews from local veterinarians and cat owners. Chiodo wants to educate the public on why cat declawing is often dangerous to the cat’s health, mobility, and overall happiness. Since cats cannot speak up for themselves, Chiodo hopes her voice will be loud enough to make a difference.

Chiodo noted, “My Gold Award project helped me gain more confidence with public speaking and communicating to others directly.”

The Girl Scout Gold Award, open to high school Girl Scouts, recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through take-action projects with sustainable impact in their communities. The Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award Girl Scouts, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.

Congratulations, Devon!



Cape Coral Girl Scout Inspires Healthy Eating

HeadshotLee County resident and Cape Coral High School graduate Katelyn Blair has earned Girl Scouting’s highest honor – the Gold Award – with her project titled, The Relaxation Garden.

After discovering that budget cuts at the Cape Coral Group Homes would affect the members’ access to healthier foods, Blair sprang into action. With the help of her team, she planted a vegetable garden and installed benches to provide a safe, relaxing environment, while promoting healthy lifestyle choices. Members of the group home were involved in the project and look forward to tending the garden for years to come.

“Because of this project, I have become more confident,” Blair said. “I overcame my shyness in order to take the lead and make my project a success.”

The Girl Scout Gold Award, open to high school Girl Scouts, recognizes girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through take-action projects with sustainable impact in their communities. The Gold Award is so prestigious that some universities and colleges offer scholarships unique to Gold Award Girl Scouts, and girls who enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces may receive advanced rank in recognition of their achievements.

Congratulations, Katelyn!


The Giving Challenge: A Chance for You to “Be The One”

IMG_6111Though it was more than 18 months ago, the last Giving Challenge is still fresh in our memories at Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. Presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation, the Giving Challenge is a 24-hour whirlwind of inspiring stories, themed events, and an outpouring of community financial support for nonprofits across the area. Special giving incentives and bonus prizes help fuel the fire. The next Giving Challenge will be from noon-noon May 1-2. Make a note on your calendar, and read on to learn more!

We are so proud of how our generous donors, both existing and new, came together in 2016 to show their support for girls in our communities. Between our nonprofit partnership, the fun events, increased community awareness, and winning extra prizes, we’re still celebrating! We were truly blessed to not only receive generous donations from so many individuals, but additional prize money in several categories, including Best Overall Campaign, Best Nonprofit Partnership, Manatee Millennial Challenge Campaign, and 2015 Giving Challenge Story. Funds raised through the 2016 Giving Challenge, pooled with donations and grants received throughout the year, supported the development and implementation of a variety of programs, as well as program scholarships for girls facing financial barriers.

But the Giving Challenge is about so much more than money. Our partnership with Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County resulted in a successful community diaper drive and special event (called “Be the One-sie”), bringing together Girl Scouts and Healthy Start client families for a fun evening of games, activities, food, music, and friendship. As a result, Girl Scouts of all ages learned how they can be the one who helps support healthy moms and babies. Many moms saw first-hand the powerful impact of Girl Scouting. We can’t wait for their “future Girl Scouts” to join when they enter kindergarten!


It will be hard for us to top the 2016 Giving Challenge, but we have some exciting ideas in the works. Through our 2018 partnership with the Library Foundation for Sarasota County, we will promote philanthropy and the joy of reading with a community-wide children’s book drive, to culminate with a free event, “Campfire Stories,” at Girl Scouts headquarters. What a perfect chance to illustrate how everyone from preschoolers to retirees can come together to celebrate giving, reading, and the importance of working together for the greater good! Anyone can be the one!

2018 Giving Challenge Logo.pngThroughout our Giving Challenge campaign, we will tell the story of how Girl Scouting unleashes the G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, and Leader)TM in every girl, and how a donation to Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida is an investment in the future of our community, and the world. And with The Patterson Foundation’s 1:1 match for all unique donations, up to $100 per donor, your giving impact can be DOUBLED! This match is only valid if you give during the challenge, through the Giving Challenge website,

Make a note on your calendar: from noon-noon May 1-2, the challenge is on. Be the one who supports the best leadership development program for girls in the world – Girl Scouts!

Junior Sales Specialist Blossoms

By Emma Arrigo, Troop 408

FB_IMG_1491265627926My name is Emma Arrigo, of Troop 408, and I am a Junior Sales Specialist (JSS). I’ve come a long way since I began the JSS Program three years ago. My first day as a JSS was scary. I was so shy; I wouldn’t even talk to my boss, Ms. Cathy. Being a part of the JSS Program has made me more confident about myself. For example, I applied to a school and joined a lacrosse team, even though I didn’t know anyone else!

I’ve learned so much from the program. Stocking floors, pricing items, helping customers, using the cash register, and training other new JSS members are all real-life skills I can put on my resume one day. Recently, I got to train Ms. Jessica, which is a big deal because she is the new Sales Coordinator for Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. On my first day on the job, I went to work at a traveling shop. Traveling shops are fun; it’s like packing up the whole store and going out of the city!

While the JSS Program is a job, you don’t get paid real money. Instead, you get paid with parties, pizza, donuts, prizes, other goodies, and retail job experience. My favorite party Ms. Cathy throws for us is the Christmas Party; it is all you could dream about!


Our busiest sale day of the year is Super Saturday, which is the last day to spend Cookie Dough. You can imagine why it gets so busy! Although it is busy, it is a very fun and rewarding day to work. I love working at the Girl Scout Shop as a Junior Sales Specialist and you would, too! You can apply today on the Girl Scout website:

This is what Emma’s mom, Amy Arrigo, has to say about Emma’s Junior Sales Specialist experience:

“I can’t say enough good about the JSS program. I watched a shy, self-doubting young girl turn into an outspoken, not-afraid-to-ask-questions, self-confident young woman. Emma’s math skills improved during her time working in the shop, and she is more prone to troubleshoot things, rather than give up or walk away. I would recommend the program to all girls, who truly want to learn new [skills], and how things work in the ‘real world.’ They are learning life skills that they will use the rest of their lives. This is such an amazing opportunity!”

Cathy Brown, Shop Manager, shared an anecdote about Emma’s willingness to take the reins when it came to training Ms. Jessica:

“Emma was working in the shop during Jessica’s first few days as a new staff member.  Emma came up and asked me if she could train Ms. Jessica on the register as she ‘wanted to ensure she was trained and knows everything I know.’ I agreed and the two worked together the entire shift. A week later, we were in the midst of inventory and Emma came in to assist us. We were creating teams so there was a counter and a verifier for each area that was inventoried. Emma, again, came to me and asked if she could be teamed up with Ms. Jessica as ‘I have helped with inventory before and I want to make sure Ms. Jessica learns what I know.’ Emma truly exemplifies what our organization is all about. Emma shows courage, confidence, and character, and truly makes the world (and our Girl Scout Shop) a better place!”

Have Backpack, Will Travel

By Jaime Estes

Carrying everything they needed for the week (clothes, food, stoves, and sleeping bags) on their backs, ten Girl Scouts, one volunteer, and one Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida staff member boarded a plane to Baltimore. A week later they came back with stories, experiences, and new friendships they could have made no other way. Thank you to Outward Bound of Baltimore Chesapeake Bay for providing this platform for our girls to serve the Baltimore community, achieve their potential, and develop the leadership skills needed to care for the world around them.

20431774_10211856376662420_1105326531098993782_nUrban backpacking, by definition, if a form of travel focusing on flexibility and low cost, usually sleeping in hostels and other budget accommodations. Talk about expanding your comfort zone! From budgeting to mapping out directions, this was a true girl-led adventure. Jeanni C. of Troop 600 was the morning hair-braider. Not having access to showers meant the girls had to adapt their hygiene habits. Braided hair and extra socks were practically mandatory to stay comfortable.

The adventure began by enjoying a delicious outdoor lunch at Leakin Park. Meal-prep duty was rotated between the girls, each girl depending on one another. The crew’s first sleep site was at the Maryland Zoo; each night the girls slept in a different indoor community location. The girls would wake up to work on their first service project together. With shovels, pick axes, gloves, and lot of energy the girls set forth on removing a dead tree and replanting new, healthy trees and bushes at the zoo. Even stubborn tree roots couldn’t stop these girls.


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The group was led by Joey and Becs, professional Outward Bound instructors. Throughout the trip they instructed team-building exercises and taught the girls urban survival skills, such as preparing food outdoors, cleaning their bowls without soap, navigating with a map and compass, and using public transportation. They also crafted a series of challenges for the girls to complete as they navigated Baltimore. Some of the challenges were finding places, like the Baltimore Museum of Art or hunting for an Old Bay Seasoning sign.

The third night the group settled in to sleep at the Clifton Park Mansion House. For a breathtaking view, the girls climbed 177 steps to the top of the tower to watch the sunrise. Each night the girls were responsible for redistributing supplies (based on weight) for the following day. Trekking miles and miles with a 40-pound pack is no easy task. Volunteer Kim Poinsett couldn’t have said it any better, “On to the next adventure…feet and hearts are the transportation.”


Determined to make the Baltimore community a better place, the girls tackled service project number two – renovating and beautifying Darley Park to make it a safe and welcoming place for local families. The girls built a tether ball court from the ground up, mowed the lawn, whacked weeds, watered the plants, and picked up trash. The final result was incredible. This service project was organized by the 6th Branch, an organization of veterans whose focus is community service.


20476350_10211862751101777_3787415938467395907_nJournaling was an important part of the girls’ experience. Writing down thoughts, actions, and emotions each day is the act of reflection. While the girls can’t stay in Baltimore forever, they can keep their journals forever, which serves as a constant reminder of the leadership and compassion they showed on their journey. It always feels good to give back, something these girls hold near and dear to their hearts. At Our Daily Bread, a housing and homeless shelter, the girls prepared and served lunch to their patrons, and washed all the dishes, pots, and pans.

One of the group’s favorite resting spots was The Boathouse, overlooking the Middle Branch Patapsco River. The girls had the opportunity to canoe on the river, an activity Girl Scouts were born to do.


As if the girls hadn’t already had the experience of a lifetime, they also got to meet Mayor Catherine Pugh at Baltimore City Hall. Mayor Pugh went well over her allotted time to answer each of the girl’s questions about leadership and explained how each city has its own unique challenges and advantages. Mayor Pugh summed up the girls’ experience when asked her definition of leadership: “I am a servant to the citizens of Baltimore city and then to the state of Maryland. Leadership is serving others.” It was in that moment that everything clicked. Everything that the girls had done that week – planting trees at the zoo, improving a local park, and feeding the homeless – was serving others, the purest act of true leadership.



To top off the adventure, the girls faced a final challenge to plan a trip to Washington, 20476477_10211878146006640_7662195360675110793_nD.C. The girls visited the Washington Monument, National Mall, Memorial Park, Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. But the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was, by far, the most moving. The girls spoke openly about how with more female go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders, tragedies like the Holocaust could have been prevented.

It’s hard to believe all of these experiences, service projects, outdoor meals, team-bonding moments, visits to historical landmarks, activities, moments of realization, and laughter could all fit into one week. But if anyone could do it, of course, it would be our Girl Scouts.



Mints for the Military

By Catelyn Holcomb, Troop 176

M4M 3

I’m told all of the time that I’m not a typical nine-year-old.  I’m an old soul and have always been more interested in doing things for others instead of myself. My name is Catelyn Holcomb and I’m in troop 176.

When I was a Daisy I learned about the Mints for the Military* program and have set my personal cookie goals around donations instead of actual boxes.  For the 2017 season, I focused on helping others even more than in the years before. I collected more than 1,425 boxes for our troops, which is a personal record.  When a customer said they couldn’t have sugar or didn’t need to eat cookies, I always made the suggestion for a donation and had great success.  I never gave up and learned many important lessons in sales from one booth to another.

Many people walking out of Publix said that they didn’t support our sales because other Girl Scouts haven’t asked if they would like cookies.  Even more said they didn’t know about the Mints for the Military program.  The best advice I can share with other girls is to ask!  The worst someone can say is “no” but without the question, you’ll never have an answer.

This is a fantastic program that helps our greater community nationwide where all Girl Scouts can work together.  For all the troops do for us worldwide, this is the least we can do for them.  I hope that come next cookie season, all Girl Scouts will remember to simply ask for their customers’ support.  And who can say no to a Girl Scout asking to support the troops that keep us free every day?

*Mints for the Military is Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida’s Girl Scout Cookie service project.  Mints for the Military gives cookie customers the opportunity to purchase cookies that are later donated to our active military servicemen and women as well as veterans.

To learn more about the Girl Scout Cookie program please visit

The Story Behind the Dress

By Jaime Estes

Group Photo

Little Black Dress: Salute the Runway was this summer’s hottest event, but it was so much more than just a fashion show. In the months leading up to the big day, Girl Scouts (who are part of the Media Marvel* program) and local US women veterans joined forces. Together, they conquered the low ropes course and sharpened their archery skills at Girl Scout Camp Honi Hanta. They also interviewed one another and learned that although they may walk different lives, Girl Scouts and veterans may not be so different.


Ropes Course

Veterans and Girl Scouts both wear their uniforms proudly, work toward achievements, overcome obstacles, and collaborate with their team. Not to mention, they’re both in troops! Kari K. of troop 592 participated in the series from beginning to end and had this to say after the day at camp with the veterans: “We are learning teamwork and leadership building, and it is so much fun being with [the veterans] and hearing their stories. It’s inspiring.”

Allison C. and Delane

But it wasn’t just the veterans inspiring the girls.  As each veteran had the opportunity to be interviewed by a Media Marvel one-on-one, they consistently sang their praises and were genuinely impressed by the girls’ confidence, curiosity, and energy. When given the right tools, Girl Scouts time and time again prove that the future of our country is in quite capable hands.



In true Media Marvel fashion (no pun intended), the ten Girl Scouts at Little Black Dress: Salute the Runway stole the show. While the veterans may have been the ones strutting down the runway (in their Goodwill-inspired fashions, our partner throughout the series), the crowd’s focus was definitely on the girls. Between their stage presence, public speaking skills, press interviews, photo shoots, and overall etiquette, guests couldn’t help but notice these girls are not your ordinary girls – they are Girl Scouts.

121328_standard        CJ and Emily       Natasha and Kaila

So as you can see, this event was so much bigger than just a fashion show. Girls are learning the significance of patriotism, veterans are being inspired by our next generation of leaders, and the community is understanding that when we work together, the possibilities are endless.

*Media Marvels is a program series for Girl Scouts in grades 6-10. If you are interested in learning more or would like to attend the next Media Marvel program, please email