Tips and resources to support young people during the pandemic

Tips and resources to support young people during the pandemic

Kim Fraites-Dow ’98, ’98E, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, highlights useful articles, virtual programs, and an online cookie campaign

Kim Fraites-Dow '98, '98E

Kim Fraites-Dow ’98, ’98E, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania

A few weeks ago, Kim Fraites-Dow, the CEO of Girls Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, did what many others have done during the COVID-19 crisis—especially leaders who happen to be Eastman School of Music alumni. She set up an at-home office, complete with her laptop and a standing desk, a physio ball to serve as her office chair, and, yes, a dedicated space to practice her clarinet. Even though it’s been more than 20 years since graduation, she still plays when she can. And, during the pandemic, Fraites-Dow finds that practicing offers her a much-need respite.

“I tell others that now is such a great time to break out your ‘rusty keys’ or to start using whatever creative tools you have,” says Fraites-Dow, who earned double-degrees in music performance at Eastman and psychology at the University’s School of Arts & Sciences. “And, I encourage my staff: that now is when we must strive to be ever better. This draws on what I learned—and came to wholeheartedly believe—at Rochester.”

Fraites-Dow has been an executive with the Girl Scout organization since 2011, and leading it since 2016. It’s a job she loves. “I was a Girl Scout and my nine-year-old daughter, Ella, is one now,” she says. “I’m still friends with most of the girls—now grown women—from my troop. Today, watching Ella flourish, gain confidence, take risks, and make great friends has been so rewarding for me, as both a mom and as a leader in this organization.”


Girl Scouting and the Pandemic

The Girl Scouts—including Fraites-Dow’s regional program—has stepped up during the crisis. She and her team of 80 employees pivoted quickly to deliver the organization’s supportive programs and information digitally.

Resources include a series of articles on how to support girls socially and emotionally during this time. They cover such topics as how to talk to your children about the virus, how to deal with an overwhelming world, and how to handle disappointment during the pandemic.

“There is so much disappointment right now,” says Fraites-Dow. “From a five year old missing a dance recital to a 17-year-old with no prom or high school graduation ceremony to go to, we offer some good counsel to them and their families, to help them get through it all.”

The organization has also recently launched Girl Scouts at Home and its Cookie Care programs, which are designed to inspire, connect, and inform young people and their communities, as well as parents/guardians, and volunteers.

Girl Scouts at Home

According to the Girl Scouts, Girl Scouts at Home is a national online platform where all girls and families—not just Girl Scouts—can access free self-guided, age-appropriate activities. These span such areas as STEM, entrepreneurship, life skills, and the outdoors. More programs and activities are being added regularly, allowing girls to work toward badges, participate in virtual events, and connect with each other for troop meetings and to pursue projects together.

“By exploring some of the online programs we offer, girls—and anyone, really—can become space scientists, learn the basics of computer programming, experiment with different techniques to increase happiness, and much more,” says Fraites-Dow. “There are great resources on here, too, that help troop leaders connect with one another, share ideas, and learn how to meet girls’ needs during this difficult time.”

Girl Scouts Cookie Care

Since the Girl Scouts have suspended in-person activities and door-to-door cookie sales, the organization started a Girl Scout Cookie Care campaign. People can now order cookies online, for themselves to enjoy or to donate and have delivered to first responders, volunteers, and local causes on the frontlines of the pandemic.

“Prior to the quarantine, my daughter came up with a great way to sell her cookies this year,” says Fraites-Dow. “She made personalized videos and sent them to her customers from last year…reminding them of their orders. People loved how she ‘visited’ them virtually and then responded with enthusiasm, by placing a lot of orders.”

We all can do something to help. Consider donating supplies or foodgiving blood (URMC is facing a critical shortage), making a gift to our URMC COVID-19 emergency fund, and supporting our student emergency fund.

— Kristine Thompson, April 2020