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2023 May Volunteer Spotlight: Kristin Maksymiw


Congratulations to Kristin Maksymiw who has been awarded GSNI’s Volunteer Spotlight for May 2023!

Kristin shared how she got involved with Girl Scouts. “Never having had the opportunity as a child myself, I always wanted to find out what it meant to be a Girl Scout. When my Kyra had the chance to join the kindergarten troop at Freeman Elementary School in 2017, we attended the meetings together, and I became a volunteer right away. I received my 5-year pin at GSNI’s Annual Meeting last year.” Way to go, Kristin!

Lauri Doyle, who is one of GSNI’s Member Support Specialists, nominated Kristin commenting, “Kristin has been a key volunteer in establishing and mentoring other Girl Scout troops at Freeman Elementary for years. She has kept many school-level traditions going post-pandemic for the girls in the school and has created a strong Girl Scout community. In addition to her work with the community of troops at her school, she has joined the Circle of Friends Service Unit Team this year, creating event flyers for service unit events and helping create open communication with a wider audience.”

When asked about her favorite memory from her years in Girl Scouts, Kristin replied, “Completing our Outdoor Creator badge—that process was rewarding for all of us! I am particularly proud of the music the girls created. Inspired by the nature art tours we had just completed, I guided us through the process of writing additional verses to the timeless classic ‘This Pretty Planet’. The song had been special to us since we first performed it at the Freeman Court of Awards Ceremony years ago. We will sing it again at our last Freeman Elementary Court of Awards Ceremony, though this time, we will include our original lyrics!”

How has volunteering brought meaning to Kristin? She says, “Sharing the experience of the Girl Scout process—the learning, the adventures, the connections to the girls and their families, the camaraderie, and the milestones we’ve passed while working together for common goals—is all so fulfilling. I’m fortunate to be able to share my talents and experiences in ways that help. But even just volunteering to ‘show up’ for this group of girls has extended my purpose far beyond my former scope. I’m part of a bigger picture now, a picture we’re creating ourselves every day! It’s really very lovely.”

“Our mode of operations certainly involves all three tenets of The Three Processes (girl-led, learn by doing, and cooperative learning). This process is what landed our troop on the Bronze Award project goals they are currently working to achieve. At the conclusion of the It’s Your Planet, Love It! Junior Journey, a few of the girls were already passionate about the issue of litter and able to share their feelings using language that resonated with everyone. As a result, the troop felt energized to do something meaningful around litter in the environment and recycling books. They agreed to create a repurposed Little Free Library made wholly out of inappropriately discarded materials (litter) picked up by us from our own community. Since then, this group has led at least 10 clean-ups at our local parks, parkways, and even the Fox River. One of our Girl Scouts even carried our mission all the way to her family’s home in Mexico for the summer! They’ve sorted and cleaned the collected materials, taken two workshops from local artists about the creation of art from found objects, given their own demonstration on our process at the Aurora Fine Arts Festival last summer, and planned to present their project and its goals at the Aurora City Council. The sculpture is in progress, and we are girl-led. We are learning by doing, and we do so cooperatively.”

Kristin wants other Girl Scout volunteers and parents to know this important fact. “There are no Girl Scouts without this one, essential, and extremely special ingredient…YOU! I encourage all of you lovely parents and caregivers of amazing girls to get out there and see what you can discover and share with a group in your community. But most of all, and as in all things, have fun!”

Many thanks to Kristin for her dedication to Girl Scouts and her willingness to help build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place!

GSNI wishes to thank Patty Donahue and Image Awards Engraving and Creative Keepsakes in Geneva, Illinois, for providing the beautiful tile trivet awards for our Volunteer Spotlight Program.