This volunteer week, we celebrate our volunteers as being the heart of Girl Scouting; a wall in our program center was painted last week so we as staff can remember that every volunteer from the first volunteer, Juliette Gordon Low, to today is why our movement has grown to be over 50 million strong. It is a calling and one acknowledgment that is crystal clear. For our Council alone, 2,000+ Girl Scouts are spread out over 29 counties. It is the volunteers that are the heart of connecting the movement--our 34 staff and board are responsible for synchronizing their efforts and ultimately providing the tools to be a successful volunteer. Seriously, could 34 staff cover that many Girls alone?!?! Of course not—it is clear that the volunteer is the bridge to a better Girl Scout tomorrow. We celebrate you all.
Beyond being our movement glue, being a volunteer is hard. It just is. No better perspective of that than the recent cookie sale when I would drive up to booths in all parts of our Council and the volunteer was there with her daughter in hurricane-force winds, just holding the line with a smile! It is the volunteer who is the foundation for the thousands of Girls who achieved their goals. It is the volunteer who gave inspiration for their Girl Scout to go for Gold, to bridge, to make the world a better place. It is the volunteer who is the heart of Girl Scouting.
A new volunteer myself of a Daisy and Brownie troop, I am still learning. Some meetings are textbook and I walk away feeling I did my job of building some confidence. Other meetings, on the other hand, the energy in the room takes over and red light, green light becomes what the Girls remember of the night--ugg. To all our volunteers, I pledge to you our constant support. We do need to continue to evolve as a Council staff to provide better troop support; we need to deliver good and diverse programming so that volunteers have outlets for their troops and that programming needs to be Council-wide and not just Spokane. We need to provide capstone programs like spring and summer camp where Girls can reach for the highest bars of fun and Girl Scouting. We need to advocate to GSUSA to help us with the computer system upgrades so as not to hinder their Girl Scout experiences. Most importantly, we need to continue to stay on point for doing what we know is so important: have a good adult education program to help leaders explore all that Girl Scouting has to offer. On all these points, we will continue to emphasize them because our volunteers’ heart for Girl Scouting will only beat strong when we provide them the support to succeed, come rain, snow or sunshine.
I enjoyed the dog -hemed book “The Art of Racing in the Rain” for all its leadership lessons using race car driving analogies and the life of a special dog to make the points. There is one quote that always rings in my mind: “No race was ever won in the first corner, but many have been lost there.” As a new volunteer, I always think of that quote as being so apropos. I remember two years ago, I was so excited about my first meetings, my first corners, as I tried to make my meetings so exact and surgical. After learning about how certain snacks can derail the whole meeting, I was able to handle the corners of Girl Scouting better. So that is why we are a Council that puts volunteers in a special place—they earned it because it so hard. Each and every one of them goes above and beyond and does what they do for the heart of the movement and for the love of their Girl Scouts…and they do it for free. Volunteering is a long-term race and it can be impacted in the first few months if not mastering the art of racing in the rain. For the true victory, we all must remember that it is an endurance-filled race that charges Girls to make the world a better place. To all our superb volunteers, we give you the checkered flag for the fast pace you set for our Girl Scouts. We are a Council of Distinction and that nobility wells forth from our victorious volunteers who know that no race is ever won in the first corner. ‘We are in it to win it’ for our Girls and we are doing just that, ready to race in the rain, because we are Girl Scouts and we are tough…and we are wise.