A humbling visit to JGL’s birthplace, and a patch to show for it


The tour guide’s Southern drawl filled the trolley as we cooled ourselves with paper fans, peering through the windows to see the oldest house, the oldest tree, the first church, the settings for books and movies, in Savannah, Georgia.

Each had intriguing – some of the houses, they say, are haunted here – and soul-filled tales of the struggles and joys of an old beautiful city.

And then we pulled up to the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low. We piled out of the trolley and onto the steps of this three-story home.

This is where the woman who founded a movement that has affected more than 50 million women was born.

50 million.

From a start of 18 girls, one night in Savannah, Georgia, 100 years ago.

We learned all about Daisy and her pursuits – her love for sculpture (the bust I have of her on my desk, bequeathed to me by co-workers, now has meaning), and for creating in general: portraits and iron gates and wooden furniture. And of course, her greatest creation, the Girl Scouts.

We learned the funny stories: her legendary driving in Savannah, her mother, Nellie, sliding down the banister at age 82.

We also learned about the sadness in her life. Her failed marriage, that she never had children of her own, her struggle with hearing loss (they said Girl Scout is what it is today because Daisy could not hear the word no), her death caused by breast cancer.

We learned about her persistence and belief that all girls – most importantly, the girls who society cast aside or looked down up – could be strong and courageous and be what they most want to be.

I stood in her room. I looked at her artwork. I saw her hat and her recently awarded Medal of Freedom. I bought the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace patch.

And grew oh-so-much fonder of this movement we call Girl Scouts.

– Ann McGlynn is the director of marketing and communications for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois

About Ann McGlynn

We build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.
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