Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Celebrating our founder, Juliette Gordon Low

Juliette Gordon Low with troop of Girl Scouts.
More than 100 years ago, before women were given the right to vote, Juliette Gordon Low started an organization that would provide more than 59 million women the opportunity to learn leadership skills that would not only impact their lives, but the communities in which they live.  She went against the grain to address issues that were not popular, including, equal opportunities for women and girls, health, education and the environment. On October 31, Girl Scouts from around the world will celebrate the birthday and the legacy of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouts and maverick of women’s issues.

Juliette, affectionately nicknamed ‘Daisy’ by family and friends, was born in 1860 in Savannah, Ga. to an affluent family. Due to her socioeconomic status, she was able to grow up socially and academically in two countries – England and the United States. In the early 1900s, after the death of her husband and at a time when older women were expected to stay in the background of life, Juliette continued to be active in her community and traveled the world.  On one of her many trips abroad, she met Boy Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell who inspired her to start a similar organization for girls.

Juliette Gordon Low, right, with Robert Baden-Powell
and Olave Baden-Powell.
Despite adversities, including hearing impairment, Juliette always persevered. She cultivated adult volunteers as active role models, troop leaders and program volunteers. When she was recruiting adult help, she would use her hearing impairment as an advantage by not acknowledging people who told her “no.” Today’s Girl Scout leaders share the same passion as the organization’s founder as they strive to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

In 2012, Girl Scouts celebrated its 100th anniversary and Juliette was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a president can bestow on a civilian. The organization also launched ToGetHerThere, the largest, boldest advocacy and fundraising cause dedicated to girls' leadership in the nation's history.

Juliette succumbed to breast cancer in 1927. However, she would be proud to know her Girl Scouts are self-reliant and that they have a heart for community service. Most importantly, Girl Scouts is continuing to address the needs and issues facing girls.