Troop Capitol Hill connects Girl Scouts everywhere with their leaders in Congress, and each troop member serves as a role model for girls across America. By participating in initiatives like our Portraits in Leadership series of interviews, Troop Capitol Hill members make themselves available to girls, offering them the guidance and support they need to move ahead in the world.
Today is also special because Troop Capitol Hill, and other members of Congress in attendance, will get to meet one of our outstanding girls who aspires to follow in their footsteps: Girl Scout Gold Award recipient Lauren Prox, from Virginia’s Girl Scout Council of the Colonial Coast.
Lauren will share the impact of Girl Scouts on her life, the importance of serving as a role model, and how, through her own work in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), she is serving as a mentor for future generations. Lauren earned her Gold Award for a STEM project she created involving a series of workshops and workbooks for young girls who are interested in the mechanics of flight.
When Lauren takes the podium today, it will be as both mentor and mentee, and her story will inspire the Congressional leaders in the room, and give them a glimpse of what Girl Scouts is really all about. As an aspiring leader who wants to one day hold elected office herself, she will be standing among the men and women whose ranks she hopes to one day join. That is the awesome power of Girl Scouts!
UPDATE May 19, 2015 1:00 p.m. PST
In-kind materials, generously donated by corporate partners, are currently being prepped at the OpUSA warehouse in Port of LA for shipment to partner organizations in Nepal. Thanks to all those who have donated so far, including: United Airlines, Cascade Designs (Therma-a-Rest, MSR, Platypus, SealLine, and Packtowl), Servicon Systems, Inc., Owens & Minor, Pelican Products, Helly Hansen, Zephyr Graf-X, Microbroo LLC, Investment Technology Group, Inc., American Apparel and Vans. Photos from the OpUSA warehouse are now available on Facebook here.
UPDATE May 12, 2015 10:00 p.m. PST
A second earthquake reported as a magnitude 7.3 struck Nepal on Tuesday, furthering damage and causing additional loss of life in already distresed communities. The quake was centered about 76km (47 miles) east of Kathmandu, in a rural area close to the Chinese border, and was felt in rural Tibet, Bangladesh and India. Early reports state that 31 of Nepal’s 75 districts were affected by the earthquake. Aftershocks as high as magnitude 5.0 continued to rock the country as of Tuesday, and multiple landslides have also been reported. This latest earthquake makes relief and recovery efforts even more urgent at this time, and OpUSA will continue to deliver emergency grants and in-kind supplies as early and often as opportunities allow.
UPDATE May 4, 2015 2:35 p.m. PST
Operation USA has confirmed it will make an emergency cash grant (via partner organization Brother’s Brother Foundation) to Himalayan Healthcare to aid in earthquake recovery. The major grant will fund the local purchase of medical supplies for health facilities damaged in last weekend’s magnitude 7.8 quake.
UPDATED May 27, 2015 2:00 p.m. PST
On Saturday April 25, 2015 a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck central Nepal. The tremor was followed by several aftershocks registering as high as magnitude 6.7, and additional aftershocks are still expected this week.
The UN estimates 8 million people may be affected by the earthquake across 39 of the country’s 75 districts. The most severely affected areas include Bhaktapur, Dhading, Dolakha, Kathmandu, Kavre, Lalitpur, Nuwakot, Ramechhap, Rasuwa, and Sindulpalchowk districts in Nepal’s Central Region, as well as Gorkha District in Nepal’s Western Region.
As of May 14, the death toll had climbed above 8,000. An estimated 14,000 are reported as injured and thousands more are still unaccounted for. Experts predict the death toll could continue to climb as high as 10,000 as search and recovery efforts continue.
With thousands of villages destroyed, reports state that 90% of clinics and schools in the affected areas have been rendered unusable, further compounding already challenging conditions for treating the injured. The full extent of the damage is not yet known as recovery workers and aid groups have yet to reach the most remote areas of the country.
Humanitarian aid response to the area is in progress by many organizations but is moving slowly as groups face challenges coordinating logistics for delivery of relief supplies to the country. Damage caused by the quake, in addition to logistical bottlenecks including road closures, collapsed bridges, and poor airport conditions are causing chaos and making it difficult to get aid into the country.
- According to the UN:
- 2.8 million people have been displaced
- 70,000 houses have been destroyed
- Hospitals’ capacity have been severely reduced
- Fuel is urgently needed to pump ground water and maintain hospital services
- 4.2 million people are in urgent need of water
- 3.5 million people need food assistance, including 1.4 million people with priority needs
One week following the quake, Nepal’s main airport was closed to large aircraft delivering aid due to runway damage. However, officials say conditions are improving.
Some reports also highlight widespread fear of disease and sickness as a result of post-earthquake conditions.
Earthquake survivors in several areas of Nepal, many of whom have been rendered homeless, have turned to the media to express anguish and disappointment as they continue to await the arrival of much-needed relief supplies.
Operation USA, like many other aid groups, is currently working hard to coordinate the logistics of delivering shipments to the affected area. As soon as time and circumstances allow, we will deliver much-needed hospital supplies and equipment as well as other material aid and in-kind supplies currently being donated by partners. Operation USA will also make a long-term commitment to the people of Nepal and will work in the country for the foreseeable future as recovery efforts continue.
As of Friday, May 8, Operation USA had made an emergency cash grant to Himalayan Healthcare (via partner organization Brother’s Brother) to aid with recovery. The OpUSA warehouse is also awaiting in-bound shipments of much-needed and generously donated in-kind supplies from corporate partners. Shipments from LA to Nepal will be underway within a few weeks.
As of May 27, OpUSA had raised over $555,000 and continues to seek financial support from the public as much more is needed to make long-term recovery efforts possible. Donated funds will be allocated as quickly as possible as emergency grants to partner organizations and groups on the ground who are working to directly implement relief and recovery programs in communities affected by the earthquake. Donations also support the shipment of relief supplies to Nepal.
Ram Sharan Mahat, the Nepalese finance minister, has said at least $2 billion (£1.3 billion) will be needed to rebuild homes, hospitals, government offices and historic buildings. Other estimates are even higher.
The most effective way people can assist relief efforts in Nepal is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations. Donate to Operation USA at give.opusa.org.
Cash donations are preferred because they allow aid professionals to procure the exact items needed (often in the affected region); reduce the burden on scarce resources (such as transportation routes, staff time, and warehouse space); can be transferred very quickly and without transportation costs; support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; and ensure culturally, dietary, and environmentally appropriate assistance.*
For more news and updates, click here.
It is with profound sorrow that Girl Scouts of the USA announces the passing of Cathy M. Coughlin, a longtime member of the National Board of Directors. She died April 23 after a battle with cancer. She was 57.
Cathy proudly served on the National Board of Girl Scouts of the USA for seven years. In everything she did, she embodied all the qualities of a true Girl Scout—loyalty, passion, leadership, and a commitment to making the world a better place. She made an impact through her work at both the national level and at Girl Scouts Northeast Texas. Her heart and passion for our mission shone most clearly when she was spending time among the girls our Movement serves.
Through her role as the most senior woman in a leadership position at AT&T, Cathy was a role model for girls. As chief marketing officer, she was responsible for crafting the company’s image as a mobile technology leader, and she personally launched AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign to end texting while driving.
A Girl Scout alumna, Cathy was a tireless advocate for girls. She imagined a future in which more women sat on corporate boards and more girls pursued degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She saw Girl Scouts as one way to ensure this future. Thanks to her leadership, AT&T invested over $2 million in Girl Scout programming during her time on the board. This investment included one of the largest gifts ever made to Girl Scouts of the USA toward STEM programming, benefitting the Imagine Your STEM Future program. This successful collaboration reached thousands of girls across the country, many of them from underserved communities, with activities designed to help them see themselves pursuing a STEM career.
The board will miss Cathy’s presence at our table, where she was a tireless advocate for girls. She never wavered in her strong belief that any decision made by the National Board be guided by a simple principle: we owe our girls a big vision for the future. Her light, indefatigable energy, force of character, courageous leadership, and gigantic heart will always be remembered by everyone whose life she touched.
Cathy M. Coughlin was born on July 2, 1957, in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Eugene and Laura Coughlin. She is survived by her mother, Laura; her four brothers Kevin Coughlin, Jim Coughlin, Dan Coughlin, and Mick Coughlin; her sister Mary Coughlin Shillinger, and 11 nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Cathy’s memory to the Dallas Women's Foundation, Girl Scouts of the USA, Northwestern University-Catherine M. Coughlin Summer Internship Fund, Rosati Kain High School, or a charity of your choice.
Girl Scouts has valued and supported all girls since our inception in 1912. There is not one type of girl. Every girl's sense of self, path to it, and how she is supported is unique.
The foundation of diversity that Juliette Gordon Low established runs throughout Girl Scouting to this day. Our mission to build "girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place" extends to all members, and through our program, girls develop the necessary leadership skills to advance diversity and promote tolerance.
If a girl is recognized by her family, school and community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe. Inclusion of transgender girls is handled at a council level on a case by case basis, with the welfare and best interests of all members as a top priority.
As we face a complex and rapidly changing 21st century, our nation needs all girls to reach their full potential, which has been our focus for more than 103 years.
As my eyes widened and my jaw dropped I tried to stay calm. Taking a few deep, calming breaths, I walked over with a wide smile and phone in hand. One of my favorite bloggers, body-positive activist Gabi Gregg, was standing right in front of me. We casually talked about societal expectations of beauty and the need for young girls to stake a claim on their own individual beauty ideals. I opened up about my own experience with body image and how my involvement with Girl Scouts enabled me to grow and become more self-confident. I was amazed to meet Gabi, but more astonished to have such an honest conversation with her. This was just one of the many tremendous experiences I had during the 6th annual Women in the World Summit.
Created by Tina Brown Live Media in collaboration with The New York Times, the summit took place at Lincoln Center in New York City over three days. As one of Girl Scouts’ 2014 Young Women of Distinction, I was chosen to both participate as a member of the audience and interview some of the accomplished women who spoke.
Marquesha Babers, a slam poet from Los Angeles and a member of the Get Lit Players performance troupe, opened the summit by reading her poem “That Girl,” which touches on feelings of inadequacy and the power of self-confidence. Later on during the summit I was able to talk to Marquesha about life and blackness, and to share my poetry with her.
Also that first night, film director Ava DuVeray (Selma), actress Meryl Streep, andPakistani journalist and documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy shared insights about storytelling and the power of film as a vehicle for promoting political change and consciousness raising regarding social justice issues.
On stage I saw amazing humanitarians who are promoting peace globally through education, governmental negotiation, and technological tools such as social media platforms to transform some of the most war-ravaged parts of our world. Oby Ezekwesili, the founder of the Bring Back Our Girls movement dedicated to rescuing school girls who had been kidnapped by Boko Haram last year in Nigeria, spoke passionately about the ways in which the global community can become organized in response to violence. Her presentation reminded me of the famous Martin Luther King, Jr. quote: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
In addition to hearing about some of the amazing humanitarian work being done by women around the world, I was also given the opportunity to interview the 2015 Toyota Mothers of Invention honorees. These women included Tina Hovsepian of the nonprofit Cardborigomi, Ting Shih of the global mobile health social enterprise ClickMedix, and Doniece Sandoval of San Francisco nonprofit Lava Mae. They all encouraged young women to not wait for permission to change the world.
Additionally, Doniece Sandoval articulated the importance of empathy and finding peace within oneself before attempting to make a change in the lives of others. She pointed out that the one thing that usually holds women back are the insecurities we hold inside. Once we are able to get past these, we will be able to achieve success.
I was able to talk with other inspiring women at the summit and learn about various initiatives for social change. One of the most interesting women was Tara Roberts, co-founder of GirlTank and a past Toyota Mother of Invention honoree. She and her partner Sejal Hathi created an Internet platform that women around the world can use to connect and network concerning ideas of social enterprise. Roberts’ work is so innovative I was inspired to look more closely into the way technology can enhance my own social impact.
Tavi Gevinson, founder of Rookie, an online magazine for girls, talked about how writing can get us through bad times and the power that words have to change the world. And other notable women spoke, such as Angelina Jolie and Hillary Clinton, whose speeches inspired me to take a stand against injustice in the world and fight sexism by proving through my own life that girls can do anything.
As I left Lincoln Center for the last time after the concluding speeches, one word rang in my head: empathy. Making peace begins with the realization that the pain and violence in another country affects everyone, regardless of where they live. Additionally, the harm that occurs close to home is as detrimental to the idea of justice as the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria. Once empathy is part of the equation, the capacity for change is endless.
National Young Woman of Distinction Mimi Borders is the founder of Girls Run the World: Encouraging Political Activism in Young Women. As a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis she is majoring in History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She loves writing poetry and listening to Italian opera, and one day she hopes to find the perfect pair of wedges.