A 40-Year Volunteer Shares Her Story: The Girl Scout Difference

The story below comes from Theresa Kasper, a 40-year volunteer with Girl Scouts in Western New York. While she explains the difference Girl Scouts made in her life, we wanted to explain the difference she’s made to us.

With a four-decade history, it isn’t surprised that she’s well known around our council. As soon as you mention her name, most staff have something great to say. Usually it involves the fact that she won’t say no to a girl.

Theresa believes so passionately in Girl Scouts that she makes room when a girl needs troop. To accomplish this, she has meetings twice a week just to accommodate all of her girls. She seeks out girls who need Girl Scouts and gives them opportunities to do whatever they want to learn about, including camping and kayaking. Coming from Niagara Falls, a lot of her girls have never been to camp and likely wouldn’t without Girl Scouts.

Her work with the girls doesn’t end when they age out. Theresa makes an effort to keep in touch with her girls and many leader now as a result. When you’re in the community, it’s likely you’ll run into someone who asks about Theresa because she was in one of her troops. 

Kelly Garrow is a Service Unit Support Specialist who was leading a troop in Niagara Falls before becoming an employee. When it was time to make the transition, she needed someone to take over her troop of older girls. Theresa was so excited for Kelly that she took all her girls. 

Stories like this are what make Girl Scouts and our council shine. We wouldn’t be nearly as successful without leaders like Theresa who are dedicated to our mission and making sure that every girl has the opportunity to become a girl of courage, confidence, and character. 

My Story by Theresa Kasper

There was no such thing as a sleeping bag in 1962.  I was tagging along with my big sister Joyce and her friend Maryann as we rolled blankets, clothing and toothbrushes into a bedroll for Joann’s first campout at Windy Meadows.

Joyce and I begged our parents to allow us to join but to no avail.  With 6 children in the house and one on the way there was no chance of joining.  There was just not enough money. 

Fast forward 16 years later, a marriage, several relocations, a daughter and a son, a nasty divorce and a return home to Niagara Falls.  My mom is now a Girl Scout Leader and she suggests I join scouts for the summer and take my children to day camp.  They need volunteers.  There is a pixie unit for my son and I can head the unit for my daughter.

A week in the woods with other volunteers. Lots of fun and activity distancing me from the stress of my new divorcee status and my unemployment. Not to mention the stress of potentially leaving my children to be employed and all that goes along with it.

A wonderful experience never to be forgotten.  Edward and I had a walk in the woods a thick brush at that time.  We made our own path and eventually were at the end of the property in a field of cows.  He was 4 years old and it was awesome.

Not having raincoats when it rained we donned black garbage bags and kept dry.  It was an adventure. Sarah made many new friends and learned the girl scout way.

In the Fall my daughter was in Second Grade.  There was a girl scout troop and we signed up.  In the middle of the year the leader quit. I was in the church basement with 20 children and no leader.  I improvised and kept them busy until the parent’s showed up. Having had all those little sisters, I knew a bit about crowd control.

That day no one stepped up to take the troop.  I was without employment, a car or resources but told the parents if they would help I would take the lead.

I would always sing and play games with my siblings, so it was all fun for me.  A neighborhood Girl Scout mom called me and I started training. Somehow there was always a ride and someone to take care of my children.  My friend Pat said, “If it is for the kids it will all workout.”  And it did work out.

Over the past 40 years, the training I received in GirlScouts led me to better positions at work. Yes, I got a job the first year I started scouts.  I retired three years ago from work, but I hope to be a Girl Scout leader to the day I pass away!  The experience led me to be abetter person always giving me new learning to this day.  The girls andparents never cease to amaze and inspire me.

And with the ongoing changes in the girl scout experience I have never ever been bored with the program.  Today I lead 5 troops. And there are six fantastic women who love Girl Scouts in the troops that help me.

I reluctantly gave up the Daisy troop this year. There wasonly one girl left after flyups.  Everything changes. Today my largestgroup is the Cadettes with 21 registered. Amazing. This is usually the smallestgroup. 

I never cease to be amazed with Girl Scouts!

Theresa is featured kneeling on the right with some of her girls at a recent tour of the Niagara Falls Police Department.

Cookies with the Mayor 2018

Girl Scout Cookie Season in Western New York isn’t complete without our visits to see mayors throughout our council counties. This year, we had the privilege of visiting seven area mayors, having our troops ask them questions, and enjoying our delicious cookies with them!

In fact, the mayors are just as enthusiastic as we are each season.

“Each year, I look forward to the Girl Scouts of Western New York visiting Buffalo City Hall with their Girl Scout Cookies,” said Mayor Byron Brown of Buffalo. “I’m a strong supporter of this program because it is dedicated to supporting our shared goal of helping young people build confidence, foster community support, while teaching our youth the importance of entrepreneurship and the skills needed to be successful.”

Through our 5-Question Challenge, the girls can ask the mayors about a variety of things. In Lockport, the girls asked about what specific advice she’d give them about finding their future career paths.

“Read as much as you can. It doesn’t matter what aspect of work you get into,” said Mayor Anne McCaffrey of Lockport. “It’s important to understand the world around you. And establish a good work ethic. The more you put into a certain task, you’ll get the payback from that.”

Eleventh-grade Ambassador Girl Scout Erin Fisher found meeting the mayor so inspiring she’s now considering a future career in politics.

From March 7 to 15, 2018, we visited the cities of Lockport, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Dunkirk, Batavia, Rochester, and Jamestown.

We planned to take Troop 60095 to meet with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter in Rochester, but she was called back to Washington. We’re so incredibly sad to hear of her passing, and wish to express condolences to her family. She was a force of nature and she will be greatly missed.

Our council CEO Judy Cranston expressed her gratitude to Mayor Brown for his support, and her words ring true for all who welcomed us over the past few weeks.

“The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-run business in the world. We thank Mayor Brown for his support, as we work to build the next generation of leaders who embody courage, confidence, and charter, who make the world a better place.”

Click the pictures below to see more images from each event!

1
Lockport Mayor Anne McCaffrey (left) meets with Troops 70923 and 70245, as well as Judy Cranston (right) March 15

2
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster (left) meets with Troops 70074, 70023, 70127, 70016, 70400, and GSWNY Chief Operation Office Alison Wilcox (center back) March 15

3
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (center) meets with Troop 30022 and Judy Cranston March 12

4
Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas (center) meets with Troops 20010 and 20033 March 7

5
Batavia Interim City Manager Matt Worth (center) meets with Troop 42003 and Judy Cranston (left) March 8

6
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren (second from right) meets with Troop 60420 and Judy Cranston (far right) March 7

7
Jamestown Mayor Samuel Teresi (center) meets with Troop 20044 and Judy Cranston (right) March 8