Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Nearly 400 Attend the 2015 Young Women of Distinction Luncheon

The highest achievement in Girl Scouting, the Girl Scout Gold Award challenges Girl Scout Seniors (grades 9-10) and Ambassadors (grades 11-12) to take action to improve their world. Girls who pursue the Gold Award aspire to transform an idea into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable, and far-reaching results.    

This year GSAK honored seven Girl Scouts who earned their Gold Award at a luncheon in their honor: 

  • Emily Carman, Anchorage
  • Ariel Hasse, Wasilla
  • Jordan Lane, Anchorage
  • Kathleen Meeds, Anchorage
  • Kelsey Olmstead, Anchorage
  • Sharayah Taylor, Ketchikan
  • Rachel White, Anchorage

The event was held May 4 at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage.

L to R: Emcee Kharissa Chasse and Gold Award earners 
Kathleen Meeds, Sharayah Taylor, Kelsey Olmstead, Emily Carman, and Rachel White

Nearly 400 attendees turned out for the event, which featured speeches from five of the Gold Award earners. Kharissa Chasse, an Ambassador Girl Scout with Palmer Troop 447, served as event emcee and presented the girls their Gold Awards.  

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Girl Scout alumna and member of honorary Congressional Girl Scout troop Troop Capitol Hill, addressed the girls via video:

“The Gold Award is the Girl Scouts’ highest honor, an impressive achievement reflecting tremendous dedication, personal drive, and hard work. I want to thank each and every one of you for all that you’ve done to make our great State of Alaska an even better place to live,” Senator Murkowski said. “Your commitment to your communities – from Wasilla to Anchorage to Ketchikan – is truly inspirational.”   

Olympian Holly Brooks served as the luncheon keynote speaker. A Girl Scout while growing up in Washington State with a troop-leader mother, Holly has served as Girl Scouts of Alaska’s spokeswoman since 2013.

Keynote speaker Holly Brooks with Gold Award earner Kathleen Meeds

Holly talked about the important lessons she learned while participating in the Girl Scout Cookie Program such as courage, goal setting, dedication, and perseverance. Holly sold 1,000 boxes each cookie sale so she could earn enough cookie credits to attend summer camp. 

Holly said those early lessons learned in Girl Scouts set her up for success in life. She also talked about what it takes to go “from idea to action, from dreaming to doing”: 

1. Own it
2. Share it 
3. Be persistent 
4. Get lucky 
5. Pivot 
6. Be true to yourself 

GSAK CEO Sue Perles thanked our Girl Scout supporters, including event Gold Sponsor CIRI and Bronze Sponsor Soroptimist International of Anchorage on Cook Inlet, and GSAK Second Vice Chair Beth Nordlund asked the luncheon attendees for support. 

GSAK board member Beth Nordlund 

Though there was no charge for the luncheon, there was a suggested minimum donation of $100 and many donated more. In addition to our Gold and Bronze Sponsors, corporate donors included Alaska Commercial Company, BP Alaska, and Saltchuk Corp.  

Donors who give to Girl Scouts of Alaska are investing in the next generation of female leaders. Their money supports Alaska's girls through a variety of pathways including troop membership, summer camp in 35 communities, Council events, and series such as our Girl Scout all-girl LEGO robotics teams.

GSAK board member Lynda Zaugg, left, with luncheon guest Janna Stewart

“Only five percent of eligible Girl Scouts earn Gold Awards. It is a prestigious award that speaks boldly of each recipient’s work ethic, maturity, and integrity,” GSAK CEO Sue Perles said. “We know that transformational leadership begins in girlhood, and Ariel, Emily, Jordan, Kathleen, Kelsey, Rachel, and Sharayah have demonstrated they have what it takes to excel, exceed, and lead now and throughout their lives.”

Congratulations to our 2015 Gold Award earners and thank you to all who turned out for our Young Women of Distinction luncheon! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Alaskan Girl Scouts Attend UN Conference in NYC

With the goal of the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women, the 2015 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women drew women and girls from across the U.S. The event was held March 9-20 at UN Headquarters in New York City. 

Four girls represented Girl Scouts of Alaska at the conference:

  • Kharissa Chasse, age 17, Troop 447, Palmer;
  • Lacey Davis, age 16, Troop 4019, Juneau;
  • Tessah Stokinger, age 17, Troop 459, Palmer; and  
  • Roslyn White, age 16, Troop 15, Anchorage. 

Lisa Mead, GSAK’s Encampment 2015 coordinator, served as travel coordinator and adult chaperone.

L to R: Lacey, Kharissa, Tessah, and Roslyn outside GSUSA headquarters 

In 1995 the UN adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which addressed 12 critical areas of concern:

  1. Women and poverty
  2. Education and training of women
  3. Women and health
  4. Violence against women
  5. Women and armed conflict
  6. Women and the economy
  7. Women in power and decision-making
  8. Institutional mechanisms
  9. Human rights of women
  10. Women and the media
  11. Women and the environment
  12. The girl child

2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. The main focus of this year's conference was the declaration, including current challenges that affect its implementation and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Kharissa poses next to a life-size cutout of 
Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low

Their first day in New York, Kharissa, Lacey, Tessah, and Roslyn toured Girl Scouts of the USA headquarters and met CEO Anna Maria Chavez. 

The rest of the trip was dedicated to the conference. A few of the many seminars the girls attended included “Changing the World, One Story at a Time,” “End Gender Discrimination Now!,” and “Where are the Girls? Promise and Progress in Gender Bias since Beijing.”

Tessah and Kharissa (far right) participate in a workshop

A highlight of the conference was “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality,” an event with musical performances, high-powered speakers, and celebrities including former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Arquette, and global philanthropist Melinda Gates. 

The girls participated in a march for equal rights that took them from the UN through Central Park and ended in Times Square; participated in workshops hosted by the Working Group on Girls, a coalition of more than 80 national and international non-governmental organizations dedicated to promoting the human rights of girls; and attended a speech given by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace and women's rights activist who spoke about her experiences growing up in war-ravaged Liberia, the issue of women in conflict situations, and her hopes for the future of all children. 

(L to R): Tessah, Lacey, Kharissa, and Roslyn outside UN Headquarters

GSAK would like to thank Kharissa, Lacey, Tessah, and Roslyn for representing us at the 2015 UN Commission on the Status of Women. Awesome job, girls! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Auction supports Girl Scouting in Southeast Alaska

Girl Scouts has been active in Southeast Alaska since 1968, when the Tongass Alaska Girl Scout Council received its charter from Girl Scouts of the USA. 

Girl Scouts of Alaska currently serves nearly 1,000 girls in Southeast Alaska. Our jurisdiction includes the cities of Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Petersburg, and smaller communities such as Angoon, Craig, Kake, and Skagway, among many others.

A can't-miss event that supports Girl Scouting in Southeast Alaska, GSAK's 23rd Annual Southeast Auction was held January 31 in Juneau. This year's auction featured a silent and outcry auction and, as always, a dessert auction. More than 120 attendees turned out for this festive event. 

Dessert auction items

GSAK CEO Sue Perles arrived in Juneau on Wednesday so she could attend an ice-skating party at the Treadwell Ice Arena in Douglas. More than 75 girls, parents, friends, and volunteers turned out for the event, which was organized by Member Services & Program Specialist Taralee Ellis.  

On Thursday, girls from several Juneau troops led the Troop 49 meeting. Troop 49 is an honorary troop comprised of Alaska's first lady, the lieutenant governor's wife, and our female state commissioners and legislators. 

Juneau Girl Scouts with Troop 49

The girls led the women in the Girl Scout Promise and Law, and conducted a pinning ceremony. Toni Mallott, lieutenant governor Byron Mallott's wife, was pinned by her granddaughters, who are active in Girl Scouts in Juneau. Rep. Geran Tarr and Sen. Mia Costello will serve as leaders of this year's Troop 49. Sen. Costello is a lifetime Girl Scout.

 Toni Mallott receives her pin at the Troop 49 meeting while
Sen. Anna Fairclough and GSAK Board President Mary Siroky look on

On Friday, Sue was busy meeting with legislators, reviewing Girl Scout activities, and discussing future projects. The highlight of her schedule was a sign dedication ceremony at GSAK's Juneau field office. A beautiful new Girl Scouts of Alaska sign will hang alongside the Tongass Council sign to commemorate the 2009 merging of the Tongass and Susitna Councils to create Girl Scouts of Alaska.

New Girl Scouts of Alaska sign for Juneau field office

Saturday commenced with a meeting of our board of directors and ended with the auction. 

Volunteers in Juneau worked to gather a variety of desirable auction items. Silent auction items included kayak rentals, cooking classes, spa services, and restaurant gift certificates. Live auction items included round-trip Alaska Airlines tickets; lunch with Vic Fischer, one of the original signers of the Alaska constitution; a condo rental in Palm Springs, California; and skiing lessons with Olympian Holly Brooks.

GSAK Board First Vice Chair Lynda Zaugg, left, 
with GSAK CEO Sue Perles 

“The Southeast Auction is a fun and exciting event that supports Girl Scouting in Southeast Alaska,” said Mary Siroky, GSAK board president and Southeast Auction committee member. "Our Auction Committee works tirelessly to put together an event that will enable us to provide the Girl Scout program to every girl who wants to be a Girl Scout. We are grateful to our auction item donors, our volunteers, and all the generous attendees for making the auction happen year after year."

GSAK's 23rd annual Southeast Auction drew more than 120 attendees

GSAK offers a variety of programs to girls in Southeast Alaska, including: 

  • Traveling rural day camps in Angoon, Gustavus, Haines, Hoonah, Juneau, Kake, Ketchikan, Metlakatla, Petersburg, Prince of Wales, Sitka, Skagway, and Wrangell; 
  • Troop membership;
  • Series and events;
  • Camp Featherwinds resident (overnight) camp; 
  • All-girl LEGO robotics teams;
  • Women of Science & Technology Day; and 
  • Women of the Arts (Ketchikan). 
We would like to extend a special thanks to auctioneers Jesse Kiehl and Kristin Kranendok; auctioneer assistants Bridget Braley and Rachel Hanke; auction committee members Susan Cox, Cherry Eckland, Sharon Fishel, Cori Mills, Shari Paul, Margaret Pugh, Mary Siroky, Janell Hafner, and Sarah Lewis; our auction volunteers; and Viking Lounge and Abby's Kitchen.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ways to Donate to GSAK

There are many ways to give to GSAK!

In addition to a traditional one-time or recurring donation, our supporters give to GSAK in a variety of ways. Whichever path(s) you chose, your gift enables us to: 

  • Expand leadership opportunities for girls in areas that fill critical talent gaps, 
  • Reach more girls in underserved communities, 
  • Improve our camp properties, and 
  • Develop volunteers to ensure high-quality program delivery. 

Your gift will help girls realize their dreams and become tomorrow’s leaders. Through your generosity, they will grow into active, engaged members of their communities and develop their full potential in their chosen fields.


GSAK is a registered Pick.Click.Give. organization. Pick.Click.Give. allows Alaskans to share their permanent fund dividend with the causes they care about.

The PFD filing period runs January 1-March 31. Donating is easy:   

1. Complete your PFD application online
2. Choose “Complete List Alphabetized”
3. Choose “Girl Scouts of Alaska”
4. Contribute

In an effort to build a culture of philanthropy among Girl Scouts, in 2015 we will make available our first annual Pick.Click.Give. patch! 

Registered girls who donate ANY amount to ANY Pick.Click.Give. organization will receive GSAK's official 2015 Pick.Click.Give. patch. The patch will also be available for sale to the general public.

Patches can be picked up or purchased in our Council store, 3911 Turnagain Boulevard East in Anchorage.

If you live outside Anchorage or can't make it to our store, email shop@girlscoutsalaska.org and a patch will be sent to you. Please be sure to include your full name and mailing address

Fred Meyer Community Rewards

Support GSAK just by shopping at Fred Meyer with your Rewards Card! All you have to do is link your Rewards Card and use it when you shop at Fred Meyer.

Whenever you use your Rewards Card when shopping at Fred Meyer, you will help GSAK earn a donation. If you do not have a Rewards Card, you can sign up for one at the Customer Service desk of any Fred Meyer store. To find out more, click here.

Amazon Smile 

Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to GSAK. 
AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know — same products, same prices, same service. Start your shopping at https://Smile.Amazon.com.

Bagoy's 'Helping Hands'

Bagoy’s Florist & Home offers the “Helping Hands” option for any online purchase. Customers can elect to have $2 of each floral arrangement purchased through Bagoy’s website donated to GSAK by selecting it from the Helping Hands menu on the order page.

Create a legacy with the Juliette Gordown Low Society 

The Juliette Low Society is GSAK’s Endowment Fund for the future. There are several ways you can become a member of the Juliette Low Society: 

• Include GSAK in your will; 
• Name GSAK as owner or beneficiary of a life insurance policy or retirement plan; or
• Include GSAK in a charitable trust, gift annuity, or pooled income fund.

Honorarium or memorial gifts 

We welcome contributions that recognize a special person who has touched your life. For more information on honorarium and memorial gifts, please contact Board, Development & Events Manager Melissa Wolf, 907-273-0307. 

Gifts in kind 

Corporations may choose to give gifts in kind of materials or products, which may be accepted when the gift can be used immediately by GSAK. Gift in kind for which donors are eligible for a charitable gift deduction will be acknowledged by an itemized receipt; however, the donor will be responsible for reporting gifts at their fair value in accordance with current IRS regulations.

Thank you for your generosity! With your help we are building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make Alaska, and the world, a better place. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2014 Adult Learning Summit and Camp Singing Hills Grand Opening

November was a busy month for GSAK! 

The week of November 10 started with "In Week," where GSAK staff from across the Council traveled to Anchorage for training, team-building exercises, and fun. 

Our 2014 Adult Learning Summit was held November 14-15, and we ended the week with the Grand Opening of Camp Singing Hills November 16! 

2014 Adult Learning Summit

More than 50 adult volunteers turned out for the fifth annual Adult Learning Summit. Held in Anchorage, attendees participated in sessions such as "How to Choose Your Battles," "The Power of Gratitude," "True Voice," and "State of Possibilities." 

 Volunteers participate in a course on astronomy

An awards dinner was held Friday evening. The dinner kicked off with keynote speakers Bruce Sexauer, all-girl LEGO robotics coach; Anne Kurland, Juneau Service Unit manager; and Judy Weimer, long-time GSAK volunteer and Volunteer of Excellence awardee.

  2014 Adult Learning Summit award recipients

Thank you to all our volunteers and congratulations to the following award recipients: 

Volunteer of Excellence
Megan Carr
Jasmine Dirkes
Tracy Fishbach
Deanna Gudgell
Maryjane Hinman
Melissa Jones
Gail Moorehead
Bright Nygard
Valerie Peace
Judy Weimer

Appreciation Pin
Amy Arsenault
Debra Boland
Stephanie Davenport
Mary Graber
Laura Ison
Barbara Knaak
Amanda Light
Sabrina Partridge

Honor Pin
Kim Ballard
Teresa Bleakley

Camp Singing Hills Grand Opening

More than 130 girls, adult volunteers, and community leaders turned out for the grand opening of Camp Singing Hills, held November 16 in Chugiak. 

Anchorage Troop 65

The event opened with Troop 65 ringing the new camp bell. Troop 647 conducted a flag ceremony and Troop 690 led attendees in the Girl Scout Promise and Pledge. The crowd then moved into the new STEM lodge and heard from the following speakers:   

  • GSAK CEO Sue Perles
  • Jane Angvik, Camp Singing Hills Capital Campaign chair
  • Senator-elect Bill Stoltze
  • Senator Anna Fairclough
  • Jayson Smart, program officer for the Rasmuson Foundation 
  • Michael Fredericks, president of RIM First People
  • U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, honorary Camp Singing Hills Capital Campaign chair

Senator Murkowski served as keynote speaker. Senator Murkowski was a Girl Scout growing up in Ketchikan. In addition to serving as honorary chair of the Singing Hills Capital Campaign, the senator is a member of the honorary Congressional Girl Scout troop called Troop Capitol Hill.

Jane Angvik, left, with U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski

The Camp Singing Hills capital campaign was launched in August 2012. Construction at Singing Hills began in spring 2013 and was completed this fall. The project was made possible thanks to GSAK’s many partners including the State of Alaska, Rasumson Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Mat-Su Health Foundation, ConocoPhillips, BP Alaska, and First National Bank Alaska. 

 The new Singing Hills STEM lodge

Camp Singing Hills has been a very special part of childhood for generations of girls growing up in Alaska. The “new” Camp Singing Hills features include: 

  • A 6,500-square-foot lodge fully wired for STEM activities and interactive distance learning,
  • Yurts for year-round camping, 
  • A waterfront area for environmental lake education and canoeing,
  • A playing field,
  • Outdoor education sites, and 
  • A trail system, including Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible trails.  

Thank you to our 2014 Adult Learning Summit and Camp Singing Hills grand opening attendees for help making these events a success! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2014 National Convention Wrap-Up

Celebrating and discovering ways to better connect girls to leadership opportunities was the purpose behind the 2014 National Council Session/53rd Convention, held October 16-19 in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Our adult delegates and girl representatives experienced an array of thought-provoking conversations, inspiring speakers and entertainers, and fun with friends old and new during the three-day event.

"Discover, Connect, Take Action: Girls Change the World" was the theme of this year's convention. GSAK's adult delegates included:
  • Sue Perles, GSAK CEO
  • Allison Mendel, GSAK board secretary
  • Deb Boland, Anchorage
  • Anne Kurland, Juneau 
  • Leila Pyle, Kodiak (currently attending college out of state)  
GSAK CEO Sue Perles flew to Salt Lake City two days before the convention to meet with Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of Girl Scouts USA; GSUSA Board Chair Kathy Hopinkah Hannan; and other council CEOs to discuss and vote on three key administrative decisions. 

Sue left the convention early so she could speak at the Alaska Women's Summit in Anchorage on the topic of redefining "Like a Girl." This gave college student Leila Pyle the opportunity to step in and serve as one of our convention delegates. 

The convention also included a Girl Scout Leadership Institute. Our GSLI representatives included:
  • Kharissa Chasse, Palmer
  • Jordan Cooper, Juneau 
  • Lacey Davis, Juneau 
  • Rebecca Hassler, Juneau 
GSLI representatives were chosen based on an application and follow-up interview.

GSAK historian Cindy Littell and staff members Lisa Mead and Tasha Nichols also attended the convention. Allison Mendel's granddaughter, Zoraleda Mendel, attended as a guest.

GSAK had four girl representatives at the convention.
L to R: Kharissa Chasse, Rebecca Hassler, Jordan Cooper, Lacey Davis

"The convention provided an incredible opportunity for our girls and adult delegates to connect, explore, create, and celebrate," GSAK CEO Sue Perles said. "From theme dinners to Girl Scout University sessions, there was something for everyone."

Jordan, Kharissa, Lacey, and Rebecca took part in the 2014 Girl Scout Leadership Institute, during which the girls learned about seven different global issues, like education and gender equality, along with ways to make changes in those areas. The girls also heard from inspiring keynote speakers such as:
  • Dr. Tererai Trent, president and founder of Tererai Trend International Foundation, which works to provide quality education and improve the livelihoods of communities in rural Zimbabwe;  
  • Candice Kislack, the founder of TOMS' Shoes "One for One" brand; and  
  • Elizabeth Smart, founder of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation, which works to prevent and stop predatory crimes. 
"The GSLI really gave the girls a chance to learn about key issues, identify partners or allies, go beneath the issues to identify root causes, and lead Take Action projects with passion to help change the world," GSAK Program & Travel Specialist Lisa Mead said.

Zoraleda Mendel answers the question 
"What can't you wait to do with Girl Scouts?"

Kharissa, Lacey, and Rebecca chose Take Action projects that focus on body image, while Jordan chose education. During the convention, the girls learned skills that will help them implement their Take Action projects in their communities. As they implement their projects, the girls will receive assistance and mentorship from Lisa and Anne Kurland.

Thank you to the delegates, girls, and staff for representing GSAK at the 2014 National Convention!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fall Product Sale Gives a ‘Boost’ to Troop Earnings

Each year, troops and individual girls take orders from friends and family for delicious nuts and candies as part of the Fall Product Sale. By participating in this program, troops can get a head start on funding their activities for the year!

Girls can earn fun patches during 
the 2014 Fall Product Sale

The GSAK Fall Product Sale program goes beyond the enjoyment of some great products – it gives girls the experience of:

  • Goal setting 
  • Decision making
  • Money management
  • People skills 
  • Business ethics  

This is a "friends and family" sale (no booth sales) that provides troops with the opportunity to earn startup funds for the new Girl Scout membership year. As products arrive and girls begin delivery the week of November 12, it’s also a great way kick off the holiday season! 

Last year Bethel Troop 17, comprised of Brownies (grades 2-3) and Juniors (grades 4-5), sold 500 Fall Product Sale items - more than any other troop in our Council. 

Troop Leader Crystal Garrison said the sale “gets girls back in the spirit of Girl Scouts and injects money into our troop bank account. As troops earn $1 for every product sold, it really is a great money-earning opportunity.” 

In 2013, Bethel Troop 17 sold 500 items during the 
Fall Product sale - more than any other GSAK troop

Crystal said GSAK’s Goal-Getter Contest inspires her girls to really get out there and sell. For every 30 items a girl sells, her name will be entered into a drawing to win an iPad Mini. 

“Last year my daughter, Bryn, actually won the iPad!” Crystal said. “You hear about these contests and you never think you can actually win, but she did. And she sold 40 products, so her name was only entered once.” 

For every 30 items a girl sells, she will be entered 
to win an iPad Mini! 

After paying the manufacturer, all proceeds from the Fall Product Sale stay within GSAK to benefit local girls. This year’s theme is “Shine with Girl Scouts.”

"The Fall Product Sale really is a great money-earning opportunity for troops," GSAK Product Sales Manager Tricia Matyas said. "Not only do girls develop important financial literacy skills they will be able to use throughout their lives, but it encourages them to work toward a goal. 

"Make sure the girls know what the troop's goal is so they can work as a team toward achieving it, whether it's a troop trip, a Take Action project, a community-service project, or an activity," Tricia added. "Also, encourage each girl to set an individual goal. When your troop works as a team, achieving your goals is easier and more fun!"   

When must I sign up? And what are the dates of the 2014 Fall Product Sale?

Troops and individual girls should sign up for the Fall Product sale by 5 p.m. Friday, October 10.

  • Girls will take orders October 3-19.
  • Troop orders are due to the Council/Service Unit October 22.
  • Deliveries to the Council and Service Units will take place the week of November 12 (tentative).
  • Troops must have all money deposited into the troop bank account on December 3 and the first Automated Clearing House (ACH) takes place December 5 (100% of the total amount due to Council).
  • Additional ACHs will take place the month of December (on an as-needed basis).

What are this year’s sale items? 

Chocolate-mint trefoils with “Shine with Girl Scouts” tin – $10
Chocolate-covered pretzels with penguin tin – $10
Cashews – $8
Chocolate-covered almonds – $8
Pistachios – $8
Chocolate-covered raisins – $7
Cranberry trail mix – $7
Dark chocolate sea-salt caramels – $6
Peanut-butter monkeys – $6
Honey-roasted peanuts – $6
Spicy Cajun mix – $6
Gummy fruit slices – $6
Care to Share product – $6

For a list of Recognition Items and Program Certificates for individual girls, check out our website

Remember, troops and individual girls should sign up for the Fall Product sale by 5 p.m. Friday, October 10. 

If you have questions, contact Product Sales Manager Tricia Matyas, 907-273-0302. 

With our troops' help and participation, we look forward to a fun-filled and successful Fall Product Sale!