Girl Scouts of Colorado is celebrating extraordinary volunteers throughout the state in honor of Volunteer Appreciation Month. Jenni Grossman of Grand Junction in the Western Slope region started out as a troop support volunteer, but quickly took on more volunteer roles, including troop cookie manager. She is also a shining example of the wonderful role Girl Scout volunteers play in the lives of girls and our community.
GSCO asked Jenni to answer a few quick questions about her volunteer experience. We hope you find her as inspiring as we did.
Why did you become a Girl Scout volunteer?
I first became a Girl Scout volunteer to allow my own girls to get involved in Girl Scouts. We were living in Denver and they needed another adult body to help the troop. I agreed and mostly observed. The girls liked the activities they were participating in and I liked the idea of girls becoming leaders. Then, we moved to Grand Junction. My two daughters wanted to continue Girl Scouts. So, we got them signed up to find out that they needed a leader for them to participate. I was hesitant to jump in, so I agreed to co-leading and have never looked back. I now have four girls participating in Girl Scouts (Daisies- Cadettes). I lead the Cadettes group and have been the troop cookie manager for the last three years. I learn as much from the girls as I hope they learn from me. Girls need positive adults in their lives, especially as they get older and I want to give them one more adult they can trust, laugh with, talk to, and learn from. I never have a day where I don’t feel like going to our troop meetings- being met with hugs from the girls makes it all worth it. I also get to spend time with my own girls, letting them blossom, and learn things in the Girl Scout program.
Tell us about your different volunteer roles as a Girl Scout.
Right now, I help with part of a constantly growing troop of 34 girls. We have girls in our troop from the Daisy level through Cadette. I currently am the Cadette leader. This role has helped me turn things over to be girl-led. My Cadettes pick the badges they want to teach and they teach their sister scouts. It is incredible to watch them become teachers, gaining confidence, courage, and life skills along the way!
I have lead at the Brownie and Junior levels as well. I also have been the troop cookie manager for the last three years. I have helped support some of our newer leaders and helped them become more comfortable at the Girl Scout level they are guiding.
What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer?
As a Girl Scout volunteer, I have learned that girls are powerful! They can do anything they put their minds out to accomplish. One of my proudest moments so far was seeing my oldest daughter earn her Bronze Award last year and I was one of the leaders who helped facilitate the girls pursuing the award. She earned that award and immediately thought of what she might like to do to earn her Silver Award. If we as leaders guide the girls into reaching and dreaming for their potential, we have accomplished so much. I have also learned that no matter where girls come from, even though some may come from hard places, if they have leaders cheering them on and supporting them, they will grow.
My Brownie daughter did not enjoy selling cookies last year as she too was scared. This year, she lead the way to decorate the wagon for door-to-door sales, wore a cookie costume with excitement at booth sales, and sold cookies nightly at her own stand in front of our house. Girl Scout volunteers help change lives for Girl Scouts!
What do you hope girls have learned from you?
I hope the girls see that the world is a bigger place than just their family and their school. I am also a foster mom and I have brought this aspect of my life into Girl Scouts as well. We had a little boy with Autism come into our family and I shared Girl Scouts with him. He also helped teach our Girl Scouts about differences and disabilities. This experience made our Girl Scouts so much more patient, understanding, and opened their eyes to how they treat others. His brain did not work the same way and the girls learned so much from him. We extended it and earned an Autism patch. The girls learned that just because others might act different, say things that might be unusual, or use their bodies differently, they are still humans just like the girls and need love and understanding. This lesson for Girl Scouts in my troop was powerful!
I also hope the girls have gained confidence from being in my troop. My kindergarten Daisy daughter did not have positive experiences with adults. She went into cookie season terrified to talk to adults. Her sisters challenged her to sell cookies and I encouraged her. We went to our school and she was supposed to go to every staff member in the building to sell cookies. She was terrified to do the first couple. She looked at the ground when she asked them to buy cookies. When she was asked how much cookies cost, she would shrug her shoulders. We practiced and role played at home. After a few more sales, she began to look customers in the eye, stood taller with confidence when she talked, and sold almost 100 packages of cookies. She learned to count on her fingers how much more than one package of cookies would cost. She learned to look others in the eyes and make eye contact when you talk instead of looking at the ground. She learned that adults do not have to be scary but can be your customers, and her self-confidence and positive self-image blossomed!
How has your experience as a volunteer helped you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)?
My Girl Scout Cadettes have challenged me recently. We have done a troop camp for a couple years. The girls said that this year, that is not good enough. They want to dig deeper into camping and hiking by going backpacking to earn their Trailblazer and Primitive Camper badges. This is totally out of my comfort zone. I am learning things about backpacking right alongside the girls and am taking a risk. I am fearful for this backpacking trip, but I told myself that I can’t expect the girls to try new things if I don’t expect the same of myself!