Daily Editors' Notes

The Girl Scout Law, a gem for the ages

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Mary Gustafson, McKnight's Staff Writer
Mary Gustafson, McKnight's Staff Writer
I think it's safe to say that the work environment McKnight's staffers toil away in looks nothing like the workplaces of most of our readers'. And our job descriptions couldn't be more different. However, I also suspect there's one task that unites us all: ordering, distributing and systematically demolishing a box (or two, or three ...) of Girl Scout cookies.

I know this a) because I was only too happy to gobble up a few boxes when an ordering form circulated through our office a couple months ago and b) I was a Girl Scout once, and I know my mom took my ordering form to work with her when she worked as a nurse (and a troop leader) in a nursing home.

(Side note: Some scouting purists frowned on this practice. "How can we imbue our daughters with an entrepreneurial spirit if their parents do all the selling?" To that I say: "Girl Scout camp is fun — and it teaches your daughters useful survival skills. If taking that form to the office helps finance that trip, so be it!" Discuss.)

I rationalized my own purchase this year by reminding myself that being a Girl Scout was an empowering, formative experience even though I probably didn't see it that way at the time.

And one of the values it taught me is one that continues today: respect for the elderly. Service projects at local nursing homes and senior centers were the norm. My troop even "adopted" a lifelong troop leader from a local senior center.

In an article coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the organization, I read that northern New Jersey's oldest living Girl Scout, Libbie Lindsay, is 99 and lives in the Maywood Center for Health and Rehabilitation. She entered Girl Scouts in 1925 and remained dedicated to the organization for most of her life, serving as a troop leader and mentor to hundreds of girls over the years.

Lindsay never married, according to NorthJersey.com, but chose to stay involved with her community and scouting. She competed in the 1936 Olympic trials in discus, which is where she got to meet Jesse Owens.

Former troop members visit her daily in the nursing home and stop in frequently to take her to community events and outings.

"She took me everywhere; now I take her everywhere," one former Scout told the newspaper.

I think that's the kind of relationship Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel was talking about in his speech at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting in October. He emphasized that nursing homes need to do more to encourage relationships between this nation's oldest and youngest citizens.

"Go back to your communities and buy tape recorders for children," Wiesel encouraged. "Then have them talk and record the story of an older person's life. Can you imagine what that would do for future generations?"

That's the kind of wisdom that can take you everywhere.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editor's Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor on Monday and Friday; Staff Writer Tim Mullaney on Tuesday, Editor James M. Berklan on Wednesday and Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman on Thursday.

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