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.

Happy New Leader November!

new leader november logo horizontal

November is a month built on being thankful and we take that seriously at Girl Scouts of Western New York. We’re one month into our new membership year, and we want to thank all of our new leaders!

Throughout the month, we’re celebrating our new leaders with fun giveaways, resources at the Girl Scout shop, and Facebook Lives/Instagram Stories about the Four Pillars of Girl Scouts – Outdoors, STEM, Entrepreneurship, and Life Skills. For more details, you can check out our schedule below and visit the Volunteer Training Page.

More than what we’re doing, we want to see what YOU’RE doing! Share your pictures and stories with using the #newleadergswny and #newleadernovember hashtags across social media and by emailing us your adventures at communications@gswny.org.

 

Week
Theme
Activities
Training
Takeaway in GS Shop

 

Nov. 4-10
Outdoors 11/5 @ noon
Facebook live – Youtube live – Instagram TV

All about the Outdoors with Lindsay Cray, GSWNY Senior Dir. of Outdoor Program

11/8 @ 6pm – VTK hands-on training in Rochester & Buffalo Service Centers

STEM Lab Adult Learning
11/10 @6pm
Rochester Service Center

-Mini-knot tying kit
-Local programming resources
Nov. 11-17 STEM 11/12 @ noon Facebook live – Youtube live – Instagram TV

STEM Excitement with Abby K., Americorps VISTA

STEM Lab Adult Learning
11/11 @ 9am Rochester Service Center
11/13 @ 6
Buffalo Service Center
-Mini-magnet kit
-Local programming resources
Nov. 18-24 Entrepreneurship 11/19 @ noon
Facebook live – Youtube live – Instagram TV

Women in Business with surprise guest!

None this week – We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends! -Girl Scout play money kit and activity
-Local programming resources
Nov. 25-30 Life Skills 11/27 @ 2:30pm
Facebook live – Youtube live – Instagram TV

Using my Girl Scout life skills in real life with Cheyenne Z. GSWNY alum

11/29 @6pm – VTK hands-on training at all GSWNY Service Centers -Mini-beach ball and activity
-Local programming resources

The Impact of a Volunteer: The Girl Scout Difference

Girl Scouts makes a difference. That’s the whole point behind our Girl Scout Difference campaign and what we’re so passionate about sharing. We want people to know there’s a reason we remain girl-only; we have the time-tested and research-backed programming that tells us this is the best space for her to grow.

But to accomplish this, we need you.

We’re able to offer girls the opportunities to build robotic arms and create shelters in the wilderness because of our volunteers. Our caring adult mentors and strong female role models help shape the environment for our girls. Girl Scouts makes a difference because of our volunteer partners.

As a volunteer, you’ll see the proven results of how girls thrive in these five ways …

  Develop a strong sense of self.

  Seek challenges and learn from setbacks.

  Display positive values.

  Form and maintain healthy relationships.

  Identify and solve problems in the community.

… and you’ll know you had a hand in helping them get there.

It’s about more than just being there for the girls. Girl Scout volunteers tell us about the personal rewards they’ve encountered, like making new friends, enjoying new experiences, and even learning new things right along with their troop.

Girl Scouts doesn’t just make a difference in our girls’ lives, it will make a difference in yours.

Contrary to popular belief, you can volunteer even if you don’t have children. You can volunteer if you’re a man. We have roles beyond troop leader; we need people to help transport the children, manage cookie sales, assist at meetings, speak at events, and everything in between.

Just like the potential we see in our girls, there’s no limit to what you can do as a volunteer for Girl Scouts.