A Father’s Dream for his Daughter: The Gerald Vanlandingham Story

Gerald Vanlandingham has a dream for his daughter. A dream so many of us have for our own children. To have an unforgettable childhood, to have opportunities to discover their full potential, to become the kind of adult who makes the world a better place. More than just a hope, Gerald decided early on to do everything he could to make this dream happen for his little girl, Elizabeth. See, Gerald shares our Girl Scout DNA. When he saw the experiences the Girl Scout Leadership Program would allow his daughter to have, he didn’t stop at signing her up, he signed up as well. Gerald Vanlandingam is #manenough to be a Girl Scout.

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Gerald and his daughter Elizabeth


“I have this goal for my daughter to be independent and self-reliant. To be open to new ideas. As much as possible, I want to prepare her to stand on her own as a woman that is unafraid to speak up and chase her goals. If I can have some small part in helping her, and helping other girls grow into self-reliant, empowered women, I will be happy.” – Gerald Vanlandingham, Elgin, SC

Initially, Gerald thought he would play more of a “behind the scenes” role in the troop- making supply runs, driving the girls, etc. Until one day when the troop leader couldn’t make the meeting and Gerald had a decision to make. He could tell Elizabeth and the other parents that the meeting would be cancelled, or he could step up and take the lead. Can you guess what Gerald did? Though unsure of himself at the time, and a little nervous, Gerald showed his daughter that leadership isn’t just defined as being the president of the United States or becoming a rocket scientist, leadership lives in those everyday moments where we choose to step up and be heard.

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Gerald hasn’t gone back to “behind the scenes” since. When we asked Gerald why it was that he chose to give so much of his time and lead, his response was immediate and simple: “Because there was a need.”  This is the very essence of leadership the Girl Scout way. From the Gold Award Recipient who identifies a need in her community and makes a plan to address it, to the Daisy who asks the new girl to sit at her table, Girl Scouts use those everyday moments to create a lifetime of leadership. Gerald V 3

“The world is changing and these girls are the future of it.” -Gerald Vanlandingham, Elgin, SC

Gerald is getting ready for another year of Girl Scouts with Elizabeth, and the girls in her troop. In Girl Scouts, he has found a community of other volunteers who share the Girl Scout DNA and share that same dream for their girls. Gerald is constantly looking for new trainings or classes he can take so he can bring new skills and opportunities to his girls. All year round, but especially on this Father’s Day weekend, we are so thankful for our Girl Scout Dads, like Gerald, who are #manenough to be a Girl Scout.

Are you #manenough to join the Movement? Click here to become a Girl Scout today!



The Journey of Volunteering: A Guest Blog from Katy Sides

Some of my fondest memories growing up were from being a part of a Girl Scout troop in the Big Bend region of Florida. My mom was our troop leader, my best friends were in my troop, I loved selling Girl Scout cookies at my dad’s office and we went on wonderful trips to the beach, mountains and theme parks. I loved working on new projects and earning badges. Whenever I think about my time and experiences as a Girl Scout, it always puts a smile on my face. Katy Sides 3

Throughout my professional and volunteer career, I am driven to give back. The mission of the organizations I work for and volunteer with inspire me to work hard and to do my part in making my community a better place. One organization I have enjoyed volunteering with most recently is the Junior League of Greenville (JLG). I have worn several hats in the JLG throughout the years, including chairing the Grants Committee, Recording Secretary of the Board of Directors in addition to being a community agency volunteer. I am thrilled to be the Board’s critical connection between the community and the League during this coming year as Community Vice President.

The League does amazing work, focused on three Community Impact areas – Families & Children, Health & Wellness and Education. We focus on promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving our community. Due to the JLG’s Mission and Impact Areas, I knew that it was an organization I wanted to join.  I believe that through the power of volunteerism, women can come together and truly impact the significant areas of need in our community. I am inspired by our Impact Areas and the vast amount of work that can be done within them and still left to do. Since joining the JLG, I have been able to volunteer with community organizations, help foster partnerships between the League and nonprofits and witness the expansion of several of the JLG’s community-based programs.Katy Sides 2

Much of my League career has been focused on our grants to other organizations in the community. I have loved serving on that committee because you get to learn about amazing nonprofit organizations from across all of Greenville County that are working to make our community a better place, including the Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands. It is incredible to learn about the challenges facing Greenville, many of which may be below the radar and the great organizations and the dedicated people that are working to address those issues. The JLG is honored to partner with those organizations and our grant funding model is truly unique. Not only do we give of our money through grant dollars, but we also give of our time through volunteer Placements. Every organization that receives a JLG grant also receives volunteers who support their organization through a commitment of 40 hours of volunteer service. This is an incredible view of grant-making that ties together our financial support with the man power and incredible skill sets of our League Members. So many nonprofits are not functioning at full capacity due to limited resources, and the JLG is uniquely addressing that challenge in a two-pronged approach.  Katy Sides 4

As I reflect on the development of my drive to make my community better, I must think that my time in Girl Scouts shaped me into the woman I would become. I learned there the true meaning of friendship, how to carry myself as a young woman, that hard work and commitment pay off, and how even the smallest projects can combine with the hard work of others to truly make the community in which you live a little brighter. This is a lesson I continue to learn daily through my volunteering at the Junior League of Greenville.

Now that I am raising two young daughters of my own, I look forward to their involvement in the Girl Scouts and one day the Junior League, so that they too can be part of something bigger than themselves.

To find out more about the JLG, our grant process and how to apply please visit: www.JLGreenville.org.

To learn more about Girl Scouts, click here.