Results tagged “Volunteers” from GSSA Leader Blog: The Virtual Volunteer


I was driving between service centers last week, pondering the differences between a volunteer who was especially frustrating and another who isn't.    Most of my musing was on the latter volunteer, whom I won't name because she would be embarrassed by the attention.  

I don't always agree with this volunteer, but she is always working hard to communicate.   She talks to everyone in the service center.   About once a month, she calls one of the camp rangers, just to see how he is doing.   If she has time on a Saturday and knows there are girls at camp, she will drive up to talk to the troop leaders and meet the girls.   This individual's daughter aged out of Girl Scouts many years ago, yet she has remained involved and engaged.

Over time, this volunteer and I have talked about the realignment that occurred eight years ago, a discussion that was very hard on volunteers, benefactors and girls in the Movement.   We have talked about staff members. She always reports those who are helpful vs. those who could use a reminder about customer service.    I don't always agree with her, and she certainly doesn't always agree with me.   We have different perspectives, and that's just fine.   We view the organization from different perspectives, but I value what she has to say, even if I don't agree.   I've been mad at her, she's been mad at me, but we have continued to talk to one another.   We communicate through thick and thin, which I appreciate.

I have an abiding respect for this person.   I appreciate the value she brings to me and my work, but my respect comes from the fact that she has done this hard work for years, and she continues to be focused on what is best for girls.   She would say, in a self-effacing way, that her work is mostly with troop leaders. Really, though, her work is central to what all of you do for girls.   It is through women like this one that the organization has changed the world through girls for many years.     And we don't thank this individual as often as she deserves.   As I said, she would find this embarrassing.   She is one of many, but she is very special.

This is but one individual in this organization who changes the world everyday because of what she does for others.   Each of you do this often and change the world this way.   I am around girls who talk about their Girl Scout experience.   They talk about the fun they have.   They talk about the activities they participate in.   This would not be possible without you.   This organization would not continue to grow and thrive without you.   As we take the time to examine what we are thankful for, it is for each of you.   Thankful that you are kind and generous enough to use your time to invest in the girls you care about.


It is always nice to be up close and personal with volunteers over a sustained period of time.   I have many opportunities to interact with volunteers, but not over days or weeks.   A shout out to the volunteers who were wonderful and worked at resident camp this summer, doing all sorts of great things and made camp that much better this year.   Rusty and Gwen Black, Caroline Breshears, Elizabeth Conner, Vivian Martin, Tina Savell, and Dana Jones were so very helpful during the camp season.   Thank you for sharing your gifts with the girls.

It is always interesting during the summer to listen to the girls talk about their troop experiences and Girl Scout experiences.   I am always amazed at the wide variety of experiences and adventures these girls have with your planning and assistance.   I found the girls at resident camp this summer to have a high sense of exploration, confidence to get out of their comfort zone, and knowledge about the natural world.   I listened to some girls talk about different types of bugs.   We had another girl who wore her cowboy boots because she was fearful of snakes.   Then when PANDA had a small chicken snake, she decided she would face her fears.   Later she told me she wanted to "kiss it" which we didn't let her do.   But the difference between hot boots to thinking the snake was really cool convinced me of the capacity for girls to grow and learn through these experiences.   Most of their Girl Scout experiences are within your trusty care.

As the summer winds down and we start to turn our attention to fall it is good to be reminded why working with girls pays such tremendous dividends.   The girls I saw all summer were curious, happy, brave, and inquisitive.   Thank you for all you do to make this possible for all the girls we have the privilege of serving.



I was just musing on the work our Volunteer of the Year, Barbara Mitchell, has done over more than 20 years with girls.   Not her own children, but girls in public housing that became her girls.   She provides opportunities for girls they might not have otherwise had.  

One of the extraordinary thing about Barbara Mitchell is that she takes those girls everywhere.   I attend events all over the council and you can often see her with a pack of girls on any given Saturday morning.   It is always a surprise and delight to see her smiling, happy to be there with the girls she brought.   She provides girls a role model, someone other than their parent to listen to them, and care about them.   What a wonderful gift to give others!  

Each of you is one of our volunteers of the year.   Sometimes you think no one else is experiencing the parent who believes the troop meeting is uncompensated babysitting, or not paying is acceptable.   Then there's the girl who always tests the limits when you have repeatedly tried to politely and quietly worked to deal with the behavior.   It is always amazing when we discuss volunteers to discover how their issues are similar.   It is someone testing your goodwill and desire to have a wonderful experience for everyone.   We realize there are frequent, behind the scenes conversations and troubles that test your mettle; when your desire is to work with girls, not negotiate parental issues.

Building leaders can be a messy endeavor.  We understand that sometimes it is the glitter all over your kitchen, the stain on the carpet, or  the mess made that wasn't adequately cleaned up when requested.   But every one of you does this because you care about the girls with whom you work.   Each of them comes with unlimited potential, and you work to shape and form those girls into the confidence, courageous strong leaders who will lead us into the future.

On those days when you feel like this is a burden, remember that some day these girls will become women who will change the world.   You are changing their world every time you work with them.   They will change those that go behind.   Thank you, for your time and investment in helping develop girls who will change the world. 


It is because of the hard work, commitment, care, and love Girl Scout volunteers have provided to make the organization strong for more than 100 years.   It works because of you!

I am always struck by what a volunteer will do to make the world a better place.   This past weekend it was sleeping in the outfield at the Montgomery Biscuits game, even when the rain moved in during the wee hours of the morning.   It is working to be sure the beds of camp are ready for the girls to spend the night.   It is volunteers who spend their entire weekend doing camper training so you can go with your girls to explore the woods, canoe, and learn new skills.

We have many troops in this council that 15 to 40 years later still make a point of meeting.   Many meet annually, and it is because of the passion their leader had for her girls.   I've heard them talk about trips they have taken, adventures they have had being together, and the lifelong bonds they developed with one another.   I am convinced that is this type of learning will transcend electronic games, social media, and other types of activities a girl can be involved in today.

All of our girls are accomplished and unbelievably capable in ways that often are not quickly recognized.   I hear stories of how girls decide how to use their cookie proceeds to do exciting activities, often centered on Girl Scout skill building.   What is at the center of all we do? YOU, the volunteer!

You spend lots of your time thinking about your girls.   You take them places, do activities with them, and possibly referee some differences.   You listen to the girls' concerns.    You take on more than just your daughter.   You get up early, stay late, clean up, and spend a lot of your valuable time investing the future of the girls you work with.

We want to thank you for being the special person you are.   It takes a village.    You need to know that you are providing the essential values for the girls you work with to become the exceptional adults they will be.


At this time of year, we are working to recruit new adults to work with girls.    Many adults find leading a Girl Scout troop daunting.   There's the paperwork just to get involved.  

As a reminder, we do this because we want the girls to be safe. You would be stunned at the number of adults who come back with issues that keep us from allowing them to volunteer.   After the paperwork, there's the online training.   Although not hard, it seems like there are plenty of rules involved.   Actually, becoming vetted to become a Girl Scout leader is probably the hardest part of the process.   The fun and value of the experience is being with the girls.

A number of years ago, I was with a brave Daisy leader who had a huge after-school based troop.   I was invited to do something with the troop.   When I arrived, there was noise and chaos -- girls laughing, playing, talking to one another. I wasn't sure what was going on.   After awhile, the girls quieted down and the meeting got underway.   I think I was there to talk to them, so we had a conversation.   Conversations with Daisies are always good happy events.    At the end of the meeting, there were crayons and coloring. 

When I talked to this courageous leader, she said she had learned the hard way that she had to be sure two things happened at each meeting. The girls needed time at the beginning of the meeting to play and talk, so she allows that.   Then, during every meeting, her girls wanted to color.   If they didn't get to color, they didn't enjoy the meeting, so no matter what the activity is at the meeting, they color.   It was so simple.

We had a volunteer come in to lunch the other day asking questions about what Journey book to start with.   The response around the room was the same.   Each Journey book in the series has something to offer, but it is best to talk to the girls and let them decide what they are interested in.   This, of course, was not the answer the volunteer was looking for, but the shared opinion in the room was you should find out what the girls want to explore, and then make decisions about books, materials, and activities.

I listen to many leaders complain about the Journey materials, but the girls really enjoy them.   Again, it is the same issue. Because the curriculum is not overly prescriptive, it affords a lot of latitude in the Journey.   This creates a vacuum for the leader until there's some meeting of the minds on what the girls are interested in.

When I worked in higher education, I was frequently surprised by the wisdom of the students with whom I worked.   They wanted to try things I didn't believe they could achieve.   I was wrong.   The best leaders and experiences are those where the girls have a lot of input on what they do to have fun and learn.   Those are the girls that stay with the program, and those are the girls who achieve in many areas.   Believe the maxim ... and a girl shall lead you ... because she will. 


It is a week to remember fallen heroes -- a week of patriotism and reflection.   While we reflect on those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, it is always good to take stock of ourselves, as well.  What would we have done?   What do we do to make the world a better place?

I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with our volunteers last week.  This is always a delight because I have the privilege of working with some extraordinarily gifted people.   I never cease to be amazed by GSSA volunteers.   So why do they do what they do?

When you examine the literature of volunteering, you find that most people volunteer because they are patriotic.   They are altruistic, and this is their way to improve their community and give back.   Other reasons are that those who volunteer have strong values, and they hope to install values in those they work with.   That is very clear with GSSA volunteers, and we see this illustrated everyday.   Others want to better understand themselves and others.   I am certain every one of our volunteers has learned something from the girls with whom she works.   They are also looking for personal growth.

The literature says volunteering is good for the body and the mind.   If you have ever spent any time with a Daisy troop, you certainly understand the good for the body part of that experience with a room of girls full of boundless energy.   Volunteering brings new friends, new relationships and a better understanding of the community.

Finally, volunteering makes you happy.   As someone who works with girls and volunteers in this endeavor, I know the girls you work with are enriched by their interaction with you.   Hopefully, volunteering with girls is fulfilling, and you know, every time you work with them you are making a difference in the lives of others.   As you take stock of what you do in the world this week, know that you matter to someone else.


What would we do without you?   Well, the answer to that is you are integral to all we do.   You change the world through your gifts, time, and talents.   You are how the Girl Scout program stays alive!

One of the bonuses of our work is to have daily interaction with individuals who possess a giving heart, talented hands, energy and enthusiasm.   I have met troop leaders and parents with endless patience, unbelievable creativity, and a care and concern for girls that is simply amazing.   When others sit back and watch, they see that you are the lifeblood that makes our world a better place.   There are no spectators in our group of caring, giving, and generous volunteers!

All GSSA Leaders are invited to take advantage of a 20% discount off any one item in the shop (excluding uniform items)* until the end of April.  Remember, GSSA Leaders who have completed their Leader License also get a free gift in April.


*One discount per volunteer, ends April 30, and does not include uniforms, insignia/badges, and the GS Silver Dollar. If you are shopping online, enter your GSSA Troop # and request the 20% discount.  Your total would be reduced accordingly. 


Where did the year go?    It is almost May, and you are too busy for words. There's graduation, end of the year picnics, thinking about what to do with the kids for the summer?   Its spring and the lawn is calling, but who has time for that with sports back in action, consuming your Saturday morning.   Then there's the Girl Scout trip with the cookie funds to be planned, coordinated and taken.   Oops, camporee, too; where will it all fit in?   There are too many things to do and not enough hours in the day.

Last week was National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and I want you to know that we value you, our volunteers.   We value who you are, that you take the time from your busy world to work with Girl Scouts.   We value your time, which is precious and insufficient most days.   We value how you teach girls to become contributing citizens in your community and your world.   We value that you share what you have to offer to girls so they too can become leaders.   You shape our future with your gifts.

We want to take just a minute in this really hectic time of year to thank you for who you are and what you do.   Thank you.

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Girl Scouts Rock Mobile! is approaching rapidly. One of the crafts we will make is repurposed tshirt shoulder bags. We need to have the bottoms of all the shirts sewn. All About Sewing on Schillinger's Road has graciously opened their shop and machines to help with this. They will allow individuals and troops to come up on Saturday, March 10  to sew the shirts. If you are able to help with this, please contact Beverly Crews( ) before Saturday.

Volunteers are needed to make "Girl Scouts Rock Mobile!" the best event ever! We still have plenty of work to do and could use your help! The next Anniversary Committee meeting will be Sunday, March 18 2:00p.m.  at the Mobile Volunteer Center. If you would like to be involved and have a lot of time (or a little) please contact Mary Anne Brutkiewicz at

We need recycled materials for our Girl Scouts Rock Mobile Celebration on March 24. Please help us by dropping off the following items at the Mobile office: old gently-used t-shirts,  and clean grocery or department store plastic bags, especially colors other than white. We'll be using these items for our eco-crafts at the celebration. If you have any questions, please contact Jeannie Napper at


You are the Gift


Happy Holidays!

This is the time when we take some time to reflect on the past year, while looking forward to what the next will hold.   I always try to consider those gifts received during the past year.   We had an excellent year, with more adults willing to share their gifts with the girls of Southern Alabama.   In so doing, they are building girls of courage, confidence and character who will change their world.  

 To put the year in perspective, I was just sorting through this past year's photos. What a great way to reflect on the many experiences that have stretched girls beyond their comfort zone.   These giving adults have taken them to new places, have them experience new activities and make new friends.   What is most important is these girls are building skills that will last their entire life.   What a wonderful gift you are to the girls you work with and your community.

I hope each one of you have a wonderful holiday season and a fantastic 2012.



The time to give ... I always enjoy the holiday season.   I love the music, so much so my administrative assistant used to ask me to limit playing it only between Thanksgiving and Christmas.   There's the wonderful smells of trees, wreaths, the house decorations and the craziness of shopping.   The holiday season is a time of giving for many, but, in my world, the time of giving is year-round. 

We are privileged to work with adults who are committed to giving 12 months a year.   I was looking at some statistics on how to make a difference the other day, and one of the key ways in making a difference is spending time with children.   We need to let you know that what you do does make a difference in the lives of the children you reach.   We are grateful for the many hours you spend, the frustrations you endure, and the joy of changing the life of a girl.   During this time of giving, we THANK YOU for all you give to others.

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