Part of a nationwide effort, five councils have formed the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland
SIKESTON -- Expanded opportunities will be the main benefit Girl Scouts in five councils once they have merged and completed the realignment process in the next nine months.
"It's to get the councils more efficient and with a high capacity -- all girls everywhere are going to have a quality experience," said Libby Mobley, board chair of the Cotton Boll Area Council, which services Southeast Missouri. "The councils will be big enough, capable enough and have enough money, so the experience is quality for everybody."
Mobley noted that oftentimes there are disparities in the programs and opportunities provided to Girl Scouts in different councils.
"In our situation, where you combine five councils into one, you only need one CEO instead of five," said Mobley, noting that would save money. "This is really all about the girls and having a better experience for them."
The realignment process is a nationwide effort. The five councils that have joined forces to create the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland, a name which was approved in November, include the Heart of Missouri Council, Dogwood Trails Council, Girl Scout Council of the Ozark Area, Girl Scouts of Otahki Council and Cotton Boll Area Council. It includes more than 28,000 girls and adults in southern and central Missouri, southeastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma, according to a news release.
"We are definitely working hard," said Mobley, who is in charge of the search committee for a new CEO for the council. "It's a hard job."
Another local leader helping with the realignment effort is Denise Stewart, CEO of Girl Scouts of the Otahki Council, which includes girls in Cape Girardeau and southeast Missouri.
"The realignment process is exciting," Stewart said. "It will create a dynamic framework going forward to work with volunteers, staff and community partners in providing critical and relevant Girl Scout program opportunities."
Mobley said the process has been in the works for the past couple of years. "We've been working together and getting ready to start the process for two years," she said. "Other councils all over the country are already done and others haven't started."
Councils were able to choose what date they wanted to begin the process, she noted. She said the realignment comes with a core business strategy the national organization has developed.
The news release said the transformation will create new fundraising models, improve volunteer systems, advance the new leadership program for girls and revitalize the Girl Scout brand.
The council plans to have a new CEO hired and in place by April 1. A decision will be made some time in January as to where the new corporate headquarters will be located, and on Oct. 1, the new council entity will start.
A lot of the Girl Scouts programs will be revamped as a result of the realignment, Mobley said. There will be a focus on older girls who are part of the organization, but the changes really are all across the board.
"They'll have all sorts of opportunities," said Mobley.
The high-performance regional council will allow leaders to borrow ideas and resources from the smaller councils. For instance, Camp Latonka, in the Cotton Boll Council, is the only camp of the five combining councils that is on a lake, Mobley pointed out.
And throughout the process, leaders are looking to girls and adults involved for suggestions -- which is how the group actually got its new name.
"Everybody has a voice," said Mobley.
For more information, including time lines and frequently asked questions, people can go to the Web site for the new council, www.girlscoutsrscmo.org.