The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


April 21, 2013

Leaders' Day kicks off weeklong honor to Girl Scout volunteers

JOHNSTOWN — Dana Bambino hasn’t let her Girl Scout membership lapse since she was a Brownie 40 years ago. Now, as a troop leader, Dana shares what she loved best about Girl Scouting with her sixth grade Cadettes.

“I loved to travel with Girl Scouts when I was a child,” Dana recalled. “I am so excited to share that with my troop.”

Dana’s troop set a goal at the beginning of the school year to travel to Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Md., where the girls will spend the night in a lighthouse. “The girls earn their trips,” Dana said. “They set a goal for the number of boxes of cookies they need to sell to earn enough money to pay for their travel.”

Last year, Dana organized four buses full of girls and volunteers to travel from Johns-town to the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary celebration in Washington, D.C. “There were thousands of Girl Scouts there from around the country,” she said. “The girls saw, for the first time, that they are part of something very big.”

Monday begins a weeklong celebration, starting with Leaders’ Day, to honor the Girl Scout volunteers who help to guide and support the 36,000 Girl Scouts in the Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania council.

There are more than 6,000 Girl Scout volunteers in western Pennsylvania helping to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

Volunteer troop leaders are committed to promoting the Girl Scouts’ core values of leadership, accountability, innovation and diversity. Leaders conduct regular meetings and plan fun activities that are designed not just to entertain but to reinforce those core values.

Not all volunteers started as Brownies. Helen Harlin wasn’t a Girl Scout as a child, but she is raising a Scouting family. All three of her daughters are Girl Scouts, and her son is an Eagle Scout.

Helen has been a troop leader for the past 14 years, currently serving as leader of her youngest daughter’s troop.

Helen takes to heart the philosophy that Girl Scouting is girl-led, and she gives girls in her troop the chance to learn by doing in a supportive, noncompetitive environment.

“I don’t run my troop, the girls do,” Helen said. “I ask them, ‘What badges do you want to earn? Where do you want to go?’ They make the plan.”

Troop leaders aren’t the only Girl Scout volunteers, though. Mentors, coaches, camp volunteers, program partners and members of the business community all play an important role in improving girls’ lives through Girl Scouts.

Joyce Murtha, widow of the late Rep. John P. Murtha, became involved with Girl Scouts 48 years ago because of her daughter. Today, she continues to serve as honorary chairwoman for the annual Awards of Distinction dinner, helping to raise more than $1.5 million for Girl Scouting in Johnstown since 1981.

“When I became involved in Girl Scouting 48 years ago – as a Girl Scout leader for eight years and later a board member – I had no idea what an impact it would have in my life,” Murtha said. “All these years later, I am still involved and have many of the same friends I made along the way.”

The influence of the Murthas has brought a number of fascinating keynote speakers to the event, including (U.S. Rep.) Nancy Pelosi in 2005, (Steelers owner) Dan Rooney in 1983, and (former director of the CIA) Leon Panetta in 1999.

On Monday, at Sunnehanna Country Club, Girl Scouts will welcome Marcy Kaptur as keynote speaker of the annual dinner. She represents northern Ohio’s Ninth Congressional District and is currently serving her 16th term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low said, “The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers.” Girl Scout volunteers are making history by supporting the girls who will someday change the world.

This week, we thank them for their energy, inspiration, and dedication to Girl Scouts.

Michelle Magiske Treadwell is a regional vice president of Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania. She is responsible for the development, implementation and assessment of council strategies for consistent leadership development for girls within the Johnstown region.

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