Friday, April 21, 2017

National Volunteer Month: Kindness goes a long way!

Pam Bernardi from Bethel Park has been involved in Girl Scouts since beginning her daughter Violetta's Brownie troop seven years ago. Pam not only leads a troop, but she's also working to help more girls connect with the benefits of Girl Scouting.

"I am very passionate about sharing the Girl Scout experience, which is why I became a volunteer recruiter," she said. "I believe every girl should be in Girl Scouts!"

One moment that Pam will never forget is when her girls were working on finishing their Silver Award project. 

The memorable day began when the troop went shopping for vegetables at Giant Eagle for a local food pantry at South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM). The girls had just finished their Silver Award project "Gardening for Good" where they built and maintained a vegetable garden for SHIM over the summer. 

"Giant Eagle matched our donation of more than 100 pounds of food, doubling our donation to SHIM," she said. "Our shopping carts were full of fresh vegetables for local families, and my heart was full of pride."
Pam hopes that her Girl Scouts will remember how unique each of them are in their own way. "The girls have learned so many things along the way," she said. "As a mother of two sons with autism, I would hope that they remember that we are all different, and those differences are what makes each one of us so special."

Alida Skogsholm has been with the Girl Scout movement for five years. She is very involved with her troop of Girl Scouts. Alida said her favorite thing is "watching the girls grow and have fun together."

Alida counts a recent moment during a candle light ceremony for Camp Redwing among her most cherished Girl Scout memories. "The candle light ceremony held on Saturday night at Camp Redwing with the girls from our troop during the service unit encampement," she said. It was so beautiful." 

She wants her Girl Scouts to remember that "being kind has so many rewards." 

National Volunteer Month: Inspirational Leaders

Many leaders love to watch their Girl Scouts accomplish tasks and goals that they thought they couldn't achieve. Volunteer Nancy Lampert from Tarentum has been a leader for the past six years and worked on the service team for the last three years.

She said her favorite thing about her role is "watching all of the girls grow and getting to watch them bloom!"

Nancy couldn't pick just one unforgettable moment of her time in Girl Scouts. "My favorite moments would be the ones where the Girl Scouts are not certain that they can do something, but then they have the look of triumph when they not only do the task, but they do it well."

She wants her Girl Scouts to remember "all of the hard work that they have put in to achieve their goals and know that they did it just like I told them they could."

David Schwab has been a volunteer with Girl Scouts for eight years. When asked what he likes best about his role with Girl Scouts, he said, "I like canoeing with the Girl Scouts. Some of them are scared, but I reassure them and in about five minutes, they're paddling around the pond and having a blast!"

Being a leader means working with girls who are nervous about doing new activities. A moment David will never forget is when he was working with a Daisy Girl Scout who was afraid to canoe with the other girls.

"She wouldn't get in the boat for any reason. So, I showed her how to catch fish with her bare hands right off the dock."

He hopes that his Girl Scouts remember from their experience "that they can do things, even if they've never done them before. I want to instill that there are no limits to what they can do."

National Volunteer Month: Carrie and Leah

Carrie Haney from Uniontown has been involved in Girl Scouts for the past seven years. She loves being able to teach the girls in her troop new skills, from camping and cooking skills to business and money skills.

Carrie fondly recalls many moments in Girl Scouts. "The look on the girls' faces when they accomplish something they thought they couldn't do is always priceless," she said.

Carrie hopes that her Girl Scouts will remember from their experience "to never give up and always do your best."

Leah Popson from Carmichaels has been a troop leader for three years and recently became a service unit manager, too. When asked what she likes best about her role with Girl Scouts, she said, "I love working with the girls. Arts and crafts, camp, day trips, singing old camp songs from my days as a Camp Henry Kaufmann camper! The girls don't seem to mind that I can't carry a tune!"

Leah also grew up as a Girl Scout. "It was a little surreal when we had our first meeting in the same church where I had meetings as a Girl Scout 30 years ago," she said. "It really means a lot to me that I can help continue the tradition of Girl Scouts in our community."

She hopes her troop and Girl Scouts everywhere will enjoy the opportunities they have to see and do things they've never done before!

National Volunteer Month: Andrea and Amy

Andrea Shissler from Delmont has been a volunteer for the past 10 years. She loves watching the young Girl Scouts grow and use their talents, such as earning their Silver Awards.

A moment that Andrea will never forget was during their first Court of Awards ceremony and pinning. "A young girl, as she was getting pinned, jumped for joy and said to me,' What an honor!' as I gave her the petals and membership pin," Andrea recalled. "She is still in my troop six years later, working on her Silver Award. To see her grow and mature has been amazing."

Andrea wants her Girl Scouts to remember that she is always there for them, no matter how busy life can get.

"I am confident that they are learning skills that they will use for a lifetime. The greatest honor is to hear someone say, 'I can do this because I am a Girl Scout and I learned how to do this as a Scout.' Or to hear an adult say that Girl Scouting helped her get where she is today. This is the investment I am making each week, for the long term," she said. "And of course, every leader wants to know their troop had fun along the way, too!"

A Girl Scout volunteer for nine years, Amy Gotz  from Wexford is so proud of each girl in her troop and how much they have accomplished so far.

"I just love to help these amazing girls to discover their strengths, at their own pace," she said. "I am so grateful to them and their families for the opportunity to guide them along this journey."

One moment that Amy won't forget took place in May 2013.

Amy and her co-leader were with 14 Juniors and when they arrived, Amy and another mom were tending to a girl who got carsick, while the other girls were unpacking and checking out their camping area.

They came back to report that there were bees at their site. "That's when the chaos began," Amy said. With one girl sick, another girl came to report a bee sting, while the others were running about with excitement. Not long after, a third Girl Scout was stung, which was followed by immediate hives and a nose bleed. They contacted their service unit leader and medical advice, and the girl who broke out with hives was taken to the hospital by her mother, who was lucky enough to be on the trip with Amy! The young girl returned from the hospital the next day and completed a high ropes course with the other girls, even after all she had been through.

"It must have taken her 15 minutes, at least, to get across it. She did it. She was so happy! We were so excited for her that some of us were in tears," Amy said. "After all of the unexpected challenges that she, and we, faced, her accomplishment was all the sweeter. As a leader, a Mom, a sister, and a Girl Scout, I will never forget it."

Amy wants her girls to remember how strong they are and all of the endless opportunities they will have if they "love themselves, respect each other and nature, and work hard to make this world the wonderful place that it can be."

Goodwill and Girl Scouts "Give a Little Love"

Girl Scouts across western Pennsylvania showed their giving spirit by teaming up with Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania and Goodwill of Southern Alleghenies for the "Give a Little Love" clothing drive.

And give they did! Close to 30,000 pounds and 1,500 bags of donated items were collected by GSWPA Girl Scouts during the month of February!
Brownie Troop 28843 dropping off 38 bags of donations at the Butler Goodwill.
While all girls who participated should be proud of their hard work, three girls from each Goodwill area went above and beyond. Together, these six Girl Scouts collected almost 400 bags of donations! 

These six girls are the winners of a paid trip to camp, courtesy of Goodwill!
Goodwill Southern Alleghenies:
  • Jordan Straub- 57 bags
  • Keita DeRosa- 108 bags
  • Paige Kline- 17 bags

Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania:
  • Maddison DiMond – 84 bags
  • Naudia Zotter – 69 bags
  • Genevieve Brooks – 63 bags

National Volunteer Month: Kriss and Monique

Many volunteers grow up as a Girl Scouts themselves, like Kriss Svidro from Washington, Pa, She has spent eight years as a Girl Scout and has been an adult volunteer since 1989. Over the 28 years she has been a volunteer, her favorite thing about her role in Girl Scouts is watching the girls work hard to achieve their Gold Awards. Kriss also loves "working with the amazing adult awards committee to promote and encourage others to recognize those outstanding volunteers they come across every day."

One of Kriss's favorite memories is when the girls took action to plan a troop event. "One of my Senior Girl Scouts called to tell me the troop had planned the end of the year celebration without help from the troop leaders," she recalled. "She told me where and when to show up, what awards needed to be ordered, what we were eating, how the Court of Awards was planned, who and how much to make the check out to for the food and gifts. It was a proud moment to see how far they had come since Brownies."

Kriss hopes that her girls always remember how much they can achieve by putting one foot in front of the other and following through. She hopes they learn something new every day and realize that life is fun and needs to be enjoyed.

"I was just told by a leader today, she loves that she always learns something new every time we talk. That simple comment made my week. I try hard to help girls, less experienced leaders and volunteers learn about the customs, history, and traditions of the organization that Daisy founded. It's so wonderful to see girls grow into women in this marvelous organization." Thanks Kristin for all of your hard work!

Monique Powell from Wilkins Township has been with GSWPA for nine years and Girl Scouts for eleven. She was also a Girl Scout overseas!

Monique loves helping her girls realize their full potential and overcome obstacles they may come across. She relies on the wonderful support she receives from her troop, other leaders, and great parents to help the girls accomplish a lot. "Right now, all of our girls have the medals for their grade level or are candidates for their medals." This is a huge accomplishment since most of her troop are also involved in other extracurricular activities and high academic achievers!

A moment Monique will never forget is the teamwork her troop used during a work weekend at camp. The girls were the oldest there so they volunteered to build and set up the tents.  "It was amazing to see them work together to raise those poles and set up those tents," she said.

Monique hopes her girls remember to extend a helping hand, even if someone may not need it. She said, "They will remember the support or kind work heard from us and pass it on to others."

National Volunteer Month: Christy and Kim

Christy Uffelman tree climbing at Camp Skymeadow with her troop.
"I am scared of heights, but knew if my girls were doing it, I had to also!"
Christy Uffelman from Pittsburgh has been involved with Girl Scouts for more than 30 years, as a Girl Scout in high school, a camp counselor, serving on various committees, and now, an assistant troop leader for her daughter's Cadette troop.

When asked what she likes best about her role with Girl Scouts, Christy said, "I'd love to say that it's the opportunity to inspire and empower our next generation of fierce women, but the truth is, being with them inspires me."

She loves watching them being courageous and confident when making a case to ask for what they want, disciplined and hardworking when working on a service project, and creative and bold planning their next steps to impact their community and each other's lives. "I watch them in the quieter moments, too, when someone is having a tough time, how they encircle her and show their support," she said.

She hopes her girls learn how this experience will shape them into the amazing women and leaders they will become. She hopes they learn it is okay to fail, but to improve upon those failures.

Personally, Christy learned the "value of authentic connection. Not to just give to others, something most people think about when they think of Girl Scouting, but also how to receive."

"I learned how to be on the other side, to allow others to care for me. After all, that's what is at the heart of being human," Christy said. "No one has ever made it through life without the help of others. Girl Scouting is a magnificent web that has supported me and will always be a part of who I am."

A huge aspect of Girl Scouts is being willing to try and learn new things. That is exactly what volunteer Kim Watson from Austin hopes her girls learn and remember from their Girl Scout experience. Kim has been volunteering for 13 years now and loves watching the girls grow and accomplish many different types of tasks.

She will never forget the hard work her Daisy troop put into for a food drive. "They were so proud of the pyramid of food they collected for the food bank drive," Kim said. "They all worked so hard boxing all of it up." Kim loves seeing how her girls can relate to their own community and know they can make a difference.