Lois Hirschman: A Tale of a Girl Scout 80 Years Green
Girl Scout volunteer (Lori) with Lofi (center) and staff member Meredith (right) at a Girl Scouts North Carolina Coastal Pines event in 2016.
It was 1938, in the midst of the Great Depression. Lois (“Lofi”) Hirschman, now 89 years old, was just 10. Times were tough, and she was struggling with various learning disabilities. School was another challenge; in those days, students with special needs had little support. Then a friend introduced Lofi to Girl Scouts, and everything changed. It was, in her words, “magic.”
“Girl Scouting was so good for me as a child. It was the first place I ever got positive feedback,” Lofi explained. “The program is written in such a way that you can understand it at any age. It helps you understand where your abilities lie, get good feedback, keep at it, and find a way to do things that work for you. At 50 I went back to college and got As and Bs. Girl Scouts made that possible.” (Lofi even went on to run her own business, succeeding not only as a student but also as an entrepreneur!)
Reveling in the camaraderie and positive reinforcement that she found early on in her Girl Scout experience, Lofi set out to become a lifetime Girl Scout. As a child, she stayed with Girl Scouts all the way through high school. Then, as an adult, she remained committed to the same mission that opened her up to new opportunities, experiences, and self-confidence by becoming a volunteer (she’s lead dozens of multilevel troops across New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina!)
Never one to stay stagnant, Lofi went on to serve as a Girl Scout service unit manager, as a board member, and in countless other roles. And in that time, she dedicated her life to the relationships between girls, helping them understand one another and teaching adults do the same.
“I think it’s so important to learn to be nice to someone even if you don’t want to,” she said. “To smile. To help one another. Just simple things. They matter. I think the most beneficial thing about Girl Scouts is that feeling of belonging that you get. The moral code that you learn to actually live by in a way you can understand.”
Lofi believes that girls who complete the entire Girl Scout program, from Daisy all the way to Ambassadors, come out as unique individuals with crucial leadership skills and a life-changing fellowship. She also champions the idea of a girl-led experience, a fundamental piece of Girl Scouts.
“Whenever I trained new troop leaders, I always told them to be a ‘letty leader,’” Lofi said. The idea is that by the time your girls are Cadettes and Seniors, they can run everything themselves. You’re just there to guide them, be a resource to them, but they should own their experience.”
She also loves to spread the story of Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Lowe, Girl Scout’s unstoppable founder, who Lofi deeply admires and identifies with.
“To this day, when I go around and speak to troops, I talk about Juliette,” she said. “I believe she had a lot of the same learning problems I did, but she knew what she wanted, focused on her strengths, and pushed forward to accomplish her goals. That’s how she was able to get Girl Scouting going, and I’ve always admired that. It made me feel like I, too, could accomplish anything I set my mind to, despite the challenges I faced.”
In Lofi’s mind, Girl Scouts is the best thing that ever happened to her. Today, at age 89 and battling cancer, she remains upbeat, grateful, and full of joy for her Girl Scout experience. She’s even written several nonfiction short stories about her time as a Girl Scout!
“There’s a magic about Girl Scouts, and that magic is what every girl needs,” she expressed.
Lofi, you are the ultimate G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™, and we are so honored to call you a Girl Scout! Thank you for your extraordinary service to girls. We are humbled by your story and so grateful that you took your passion and the lessons you learned at Girl Scouts to spend your life sharing it with others—way to lead like a Girl Scout!