Happy Volunteer Appreciation Day! After four years as part of this movement, my admiration of our Volunteer force grows exponentially, particularly as I continue to be a troop leader myself. I try to be the best troop leader I can, but it is hard work. The meetings always creep up on me, and I need to do detailed planning to balance STEM and the arts while adding just plain fun to give the Girls the confidence this program builds in them. As CEO, I am fortunate to get to meet a lot of Volunteers, attend other troop meetings and learn from an incredible team. The creativity among our 1,000 Volunteers is stunning. The commitment is over the top. That was best demonstrated this past weekend when I traveled to our southern tier in heavy April snow. What did I find? A lot of volunteers and Girl Scouts doing their cookie entrepreneurship with smiles despite the inclement weather. Wow, it was cold—no matter, there were cookies to sell. Have you seen most cookie booths—oh my goodness?!?! Vivid green table clothes, cookies neatly aligned—brilliant colors and always the signs. “Your wife called. Buy more Thin Mints!” Love it! Our volunteers rock!
I have served in many volunteer capacities my entire life. Actually, the military has a lot of volunteer activities. In fact, oftentimes it is better to volunteer than be “voluntold!” My point, though, is I have been so impressed with this incredible Volunteer force that makes up Girl Scouts, blue vests and all. I profess the importance of servant leadership often and try to live that model. I knew from the get-go when hired that as an organization, we served and uplifted Girls. But it did not take me long to realize the Volunteer was the critical piece of the equation moving forward. There was no way 30 staff could serve 3,000 Girls. It was the Volunteer who made all the difference, and so it was the Volunteer that must be served. So to the Girl Scout staff, I said, “Please answer the phone when they call, respond to emails, and most importantly, listen.” There are requests that sometimes cannot be answered to the volunteers’ satisfaction, but as a Council, we should, at a minimum, listen and learn. So this Volunteer Appreciation Day, please know that we are committed to you. My first year, my first proclamation, was Year of the Volunteer. Last year we decorated a wall dedicated to our Volunteers with the words “Volunteers are the heart of Girl Scouting.” They truly are...and I created two awards—the Echo Award for a person who makes the most difference for us, someone who created the greatest echo of good. The second award was the Juliette Legend award, which honors Volunteers who shift the ground of our Council for the better. It was not a simple decision to create the awards, but I felt compelled to honor our long-time volunteers who made our Council what it is. Indeed, staff come and go and so do boards—it is the Volunteer who is the foundation of our Council.
No doubt, Volunteers are the heart of this organization. Indeed, as
it is often said, “volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they
certainly have the heart.” I love this other quote on
“Don’t ever question the value of volunteers. Noah’s Ark was built by volunteers; the Titanic was built by professionals.” Ha! Volunteers do it all.
The best news about volunteering is it is truly a win-win. That indomitable spirit of a man Winston Churchill said it best “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Our volunteers starting with the first Volunteer Juliette, have made the world a better place through their gift of volunteering for Girls. There are 50 million reasons why volunteering has changed our world—every Girl Scout who is an alumna, all 50 million of them, is a reason volunteering makes a difference. Gordon Hinckley said, “The happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others.” That is why Volunteers are happy and stay around—yes, our retention of Volunteers is well above the national average, and that is such a blessing for us. It is said, “if you want to touch the future, touch a life.” Our Volunteers touch so many lives and that is why we succeed as a Council, from our loyal lifetime members to our Juliette Legends. Volunteers are the heart of Girl Scouting, and that is why our heart is so big. This year and every year, we loudly celebrate you valiant volunteers, our 2022 Juliettes.