When I asked Eloise Golden if she would be our first honoree in a new series for our Newsletter on April 19th, we didn’t know it would be the last time we would share our stories, songs and emails. On May 2nd, 2015, Eloise’s life unexpectedly ended.
We first met in 2006 in Atlanta, GA., became friends in 2012 at the Global Girls Conference in Chicago, then really good friends at Sangam World Center in India last March and at the October 2014 National Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City, laughing, singing and dancing our way through!
Along with her cherished family and her many friends around the world, it has been difficult to fathom her being taken so suddenly. I hesitated at first, to go forward with our planned feature, but then realized it was by some divine coincidence that we connected for this. I want people to know Eloise and remember this very special person. I am honored to share her spirit here.
Through her words, you feel her dedication, huge heart, and steadfast support she’s unconditionally given to the girls! Anyone who had the good fortune to spend time with Eloise knew her smile lit up the room and her life radiated helpfulness and the kindness of all that is good in the world. In lieu of flowers, for information to donate in her name, please click here.
For our simple interview, I asked Eloise to answer 3 questions. Here are my questions below and the straightforward responses Eloise emailed to me on April 30th, 2015.
EG – “I first started volunteering for Girl Scouts because the program gave so much to me. I tell people, “I am who I am because of my belief in God, my experience as a Girl Scout and my parents. I volunteered because I wanted to give something back to this great organization. However, things changed over the years. Now I love volunteering because I do not look at it while thinking “I am volunteering”. I do it because of what I receive in return. I love watching young women grow up and become more self-confident and courageous. I love helping them explore and learn new things. I love it when a girl or her parent says, “I/she would never have even tried that without your encouragement!” Or “She is a changed person because of you and Girl Scouts.” The girls inspire me through their constant, most wonderful development into amazing human beings!!”
MC – Can you name one of your most memorable moments or highlights in your career as a volunteer and why?
EG – “When I moved to a small town in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado I started a brand new Brownie troop. The majority of those girls remained in the troop well into high school. After many years as the troop leader, my girls had a going away party for me (I was moving out of state) and one of the moms pulled me aside and told me something I will never forget. Her daughter had a learning disability where when she was a Brownie she was timid and fearful and shy. She had difficulty with making the simplest decisions and with schooling. Over the years she blossomed, gained immense self-confidence and grace. Her mom told me she totally attributed the positive changes to her time in Girl Scouting and to my presence as the leader of her troop through all those years. While still in high school this young lady even took the lead in a school play. This was the same young lady when as a Brownie she would only hide behind the table when we were selling Girl Scout cookies!! By the time she was in high school selling those same cookies she was in FRONT of the table, meeting and greeting and selling with great confidence. She went on to attend college and is an incredibly talented and motivated young woman today. I cannot describe the wonderful feeling I had knowing that Girl Scouting had helped her become the woman she is today and that I had a small part in seeing that transformation come to fruition!”
MC – Whatʻs the best advice you could give to new leaders and others who would like to volunteer as a mentors for girls and how has music helped?
EG – “My best advice for leaders is to really listen to and work with the girls to do what THEY (the girls) want to do and let the girls know you LOVE being their leader or mentor. It is very easy, especially when the girls are very young, to want to do everything for them. Girls are very capable of doing things if they are taught properly and are just given a chance. Leaders need to be patient because it will take girls a lot longer to do things than the leaders; however, the girls gain so much self-confidence in being able to do it themselves. As the leader it is imperative that you ensure you provide a safe environment free from bullying and ridicule; where all girls are treated equally and where every girl has the opportunity to participate.
It is also very important when in the role of mentoring to listen to the girls and find out what it is they really want to do and what they want to know. It’s important to not crush their dreams – it’s okay to add a taste of reality to what they want, but don’t crush their dreams. I have heard negative feedback from girls where adult mentors try to tell the girls what to do and they do not let the girls explore their own ideas. This time of self-exploration is important for girls; especially when given good guidance by their mentors.
Music can make a huge difference because when the music is age appropriate you can really get a fast connection/relationship with the girls which might otherwise take a longer time to establish. I find music can draw girls together and it helps create memories. Music has been fundamentally important to me in my volunteer work with girls and leaders. Even if leaders do not know how to play an instrument or sing a song, there are many excellent CD’s and published music which can help.”
Eloise, Wife, Mom, Dear Friend, Mentor and Inspiration, will be remembered as a blessing to all whose lives she’s touched. Now and in the coming years, she will be honored in many ways by many people, not only for her gift of song, her beautiful photography and her joyful presence as a truly loving human being, but because of her dedication and determination to make a difference in girls’ lives.