By Kim French, Director of Resource Centers
Congratulations to Heather Thomas who has been awarded GSNI’s Volunteer Spotlight for April 2023!
Heather was in Girl Scouts as a Brownie for three years and has volunteered with GSNI as an adult for four years. She has held various roles assisting as one of Troop 334’s Leaders, as Service Unit Fall Product Coordinator, as Service Unit Assistant Cookie Chair, and then as North Star Service Unit’s Cookie Chair. It’s worth noting that in 2021 Heather received GSUSA’s Volunteer of Excellence Award.
GSNI’s Philanthropy Manager Kristine Henderson nominated Heather for this award with additional input from GSNI’s Senior Product Program Manager Debbie Karner and GSNI’s Community Programs Specialist Maggie Sifuentes.
Kris and Debbie shared, “Heather stepped up to be North Star Service Unit’s Fall Product and Cookie Coordinator, as they were having difficulty finding a volunteer to fill this role. Last year she was supposed to have a partner to assist with cookies but that didn’t work out, and Heather handled it all herself. She has done a fantastic job running these programs! She communicates well with leaders and has been accommodating with everyone’s schedules for supply pick-up. Heather is dedicated to her troop, responds promptly to requests, and is flexible and willing to help with tasks when asked!”
Maggie added, “Heather is very detail-oriented and proactive if she finds out someone is interested in Girl Scouts. She goes out of her way to find the ability to connect or help someone out.”
Heather commented, “My favorite part of Girl Scouts is being a troop leader and seeing the girls in my troop grow throughout the years. When my daughter entered kindergarten, the first-grade troop asked about having girls join. But due to the high volume of interest, we formed our own troop starting with nine girls and now with fifteen. Also, I organized the last Rope Runner event for our service unit, and after COVID I restarted the Cookie Kick-off event this year for a small crowd of nine Girl Scouts.”
She continued, “Volunteering allows me to be a part of the journey that our Girl Scouts take as they grow and try new skills. Despite the very different personalities in the troop, they always support each other. I love seeing them become more secure and confident as the years go by. My shy girls who are the loudest at cookie booth sales, the youngest in the troop making sure their voices are heard, with the older ones taking them under their wings to create an awesome, inclusive environment.”
In regard to integrating The Three Processes into their Girl Scout experience, Heather replied, “When we were a Daisy troop, I would give them a choice of what game to play to learn the lesson or what we were working on earning. As they have grown into Brownies, they now decide what badge to work on and how they want to earn them. They also have a say in how to spend our troop funds. Over the years we have used Fall Product proceeds to assist with Toys for Tots. Cookie proceeds have gone to animal shelter supplies, and this year to our own school district’s food pantry. The girls very much want to help other kids all the time.”
When asked why she volunteers for Girl Scouts, Heather noted, “I volunteer because this is a wonderful organization that empowers young women. They learn valuable skills that will help them throughout their life. But mostly I volunteer to have fun with my daughter and her friends.”
Heather’s advice to other volunteers and parents? “Parents, get involved! You will be amazed at what your child is being taught and is learning. Volunteers keep up the good work and try to let your troop experience all the things they can within limits. If you feel overwhelmed, just ask for help, as other troop leaders are more than willing to guide you through something.”
Thank you, Heather, for your wonderful contributions!
GSNI wishes to thank Patty Donahue and Image Awards Engraving and Creative Keepsakes in Geneva, IL for providing the beautiful tile trivet awards for our Volunteer Spotlight Program.