We adore our volunteers. Once a month, we'll feature a deserving Girl Scouts of Central Illinois volunteer in our Volunteer Spotlight.
If you would like to nominate a volunteer for the Volunteer Spotlight feature, send a brief description of the volunteer’s service and a photo, if possible, to Yemi Yisra'el You may also complete the Volunteer Spotlight Nomination form and email to Yemi or submit it to your local service center.
Jamie McKinnon - July 2014
Troop 5066 - Pleasant Hill
Jamie McKinnon, leader of Troop 5066 in Pleasant Hill, has contributed her time and talents to Girl Scouts for three years. When she began volunteering, she led a group of three Daisies; since then, she has led as many as nine girls at a time. Over the past year, Troop 5066 organized a food and coat drive for their local food pantry, made photo frames for Mother’s Day, and visited a corn maze in Bowling Green, Missouri, where they bonded on a hay ride and fed some goats! According to Abby Bastert and Jessica Foster, “Jamie is a great leader and role model for Girl Scouts in her community. She helps recruit girls and volunteers in a community that is very rural, and is a positive advocate for Girl Scout membership!”
Jamie, thank you for all that you do for your community, your troop, and Girl Scouts!
Judy Kammerer - April 2014
Troop 5144, Hamilton, IL
Judy is an exceptional leader and inspiration for not only the girls by to all volunteers with whom she comes in contact. She spends extra time to make sure she provides her troop with the best experiences (their long-range goal is to go to Washington, DC in 2016). Last year, Judy took on the task of starting up a community-driven Girl Scout Camp, and it was a huge success. The camp was run by volunteers and was three days long with an overnight. Since the camp proved to be such a success, it will return this summer! Judy also serves as her service area’s treasurer.
Says Judy, “I appreciate the opportunity to continue to be involved in Girl Scouting. It’s a great organization for helping the girls learn more about the world around them, and it’s very rewarding that my troops have always earned Honor Troop status. I am quite thankful that I have a wonderful husband, a terrific group of girls, and fantastic parents who are very supportive of their daughters. We also live in a caring community.
“My mentor was my neighbor, longtime Girl Scout leader, the late Dorris “Grandma” Wells. I owe her a lot and miss her very much.”
Michelle Myer - January 2014
Michelle Meyer, leader of troop 5035 in Quincy, has led the same group of eleven girls since they were in first grade. Over the years, she has enjoyed watching them bond and discover new skills, as well as contribute positive change to the Quincy area—every year, the girls have organized a hat, scarf, and mitten drive at their school. In their years working together, the girls have collected over 500 items to give to local Quincy charities.
Troop 5035 also enjoys exploring new places, and often ask their moms to come along! They’ve traveled overnight to Chicago, the St. Louis Zoo, and, most recently, Branson, Missouri. Along with participating in several Girl Scout-sponsored outings, the group has also camped, kayaked, and geocached together.
“Girl Scouts has given the girls the opportunity to have fun and build friendships that will last a lifetime,” says Michelle. “It was challenging the first year to be a leader, but each year I feel the troop grows together and becomes more amazing!”
Thank you, Michelle, for all that you do for your troop, the Quincy community, and Girl Scouts!
Teresa Paszkiet - December 2013
Teresa Paszkiet of Liberty, Illinois, is the leader of a very successful supertroop—Troop 5156—which has over fifty girl members at all age levels. Teresa is a model of a generous leader. She manages the troop bank account, plans numerous exiting activities, coordinates product sales, and is still always willing to volunteer at council events. She also coordinates a service area event every year, which is hugely popular—last year, over 200 people attended!
Thank you, Teresa, for all you do for your troop, the council, your service area, and the Liberty community!
Trisha Robertson - October 2013
Trisha Robertson has gained the reputation of being the leader we can depend on around the Girl Scout office in Peoria. If we need a leader’s opinion, girls to participate in a specific activity, or an extra hand at an event, we know that we can call Trish. While there are always the leaders that will help, Trish goes the extra mile. It’s obvious that she enjoys volunteering and that it brings happiness to her two young daughters. This summer, Trish volunteered at the Peoria Service Center’s Family Summer Kick-Off event. Most recently, she and her two daughters came to the Peoria Service Center to help GSCI accept a $10,000 donation from Ameren Illinois to the development of the new Peoria Urban Program Center. As an active leader in her service area and GSCI as a whole, we truly appreciate her participation in Girl Scouting.
Now we’ll let Trisha speak for herself…
“When most people think of Girl Scouts, usually the first thing that comes to mind is a girl knocking on your door wanting to sell a box (or two or five) of Girl Scout cookies, but Girl Scout is so much more than that...it’s about building positive self-esteem, confidence in your own abilities, and friendships that can last a lifetime. I was in Girl Scouts when I was in grade school and I remember attending meetings at a friend’s house, participating in the Santa Claus Parade, selling Girl Scout cookies, pressing flowers, and camping at Tapawingo. I remember how much fun I had learning and doing things with my friends. When I run into my old Girl Scout leader now, it is so much fun to reminisce about the fun we had.
I knew I wanted those experiences for my daughters, too, so four years ago, when my oldest daughter began kindergarten, I started looking into Girl Scouts to see what was available and when she could join. Thankfully, another leader had already started the process of forming a Daisy troop at our school, so I signed my daughter up and myself up as co-leader. Two years later, when my youngest daughter began kindergarten, I started another Daisy troop. Now I am preparing for my fifth year of volunteering with Girl Scouts as the leader of the 4th grade Junior troop, leader of the 2nd grade Brownie troop, and as a facilitator/trainer.
I love being involved in our local Girl Scout community and enjoy helping out at council and service area events. I originally volunteered because I wanted to take an active role in things my daughters are involved in, but I have grown to love all of “my” girls so much that I cannot imagine not being a Girl Scout leader. Sometimes I think I look forward to upcoming meetings just as much as the girls do...and then, of course, there are also the days that I don’t, but when I see the girls in my troops walking down the halls at school with their vests or Girl Scout shirts on and see and hear how excited they are for that day’s meeting, it reminds me of why I volunteer. It’s definitely not for me; it is completely for them...all of them.
I feel that not only should Girl Scouts be a welcoming, safe place for girls to meet, have fun, and learn something, it should also be a place that helps them learn to work, make well thought-out decisions, and learn to be strong -- together. I feel it is important to get to know each girl on a personal level and to build a strong relationship and level of trust with them and among them. In today’s schools there is so much bullying and so many cliques that I want all the girls to feel safe to participate in things that they normally wouldn’t because they know there is no fear of someone making fun of them. I enjoy helping the girls earn their badges and going on fun outings, but I think I like the community service projects the best. We try to stay active locally and in the surrounding community doing different projects. Community service projects provide the girls a chance to practice many skills that they learn in Girl Scouts. There is nothing better than seeing the girls take pride in what they are doing and hearing them say how much fun they had volunteering to do a service project. Some of the projects we have participated in include: donating supplies and volunteering at TAPS, putting together baby gift baskets to give to the first baby girl born on the anniversary of Girl Scouts, caroling at area nursing homes, volunteering at Midwest Food Bank, serving lunch at South Side Mission, holding a school book drive that collected over 760 books, collecting and sorting food for the Glasford Community Food Baskets, participating in a Flag Retirement Ceremony, and over this past summer Girl Scout troops from the school took turns pulling weeds and keeping the flower gardens at the school looking nice and clean.
Experiences that make being a Girl Scout leader worthwhile are too numerous to count...the chocolate-covered smiles on faces after they have stuffed s’mores into their mouths, the joy of watching a once-shy girl get excited about leading a song, seeing the girls work together and help each other when they are outside of the troop...the girls are what make being a Girl Scout Leader worthwhile.
While I’m in the “Spotlight”, I also want to give a shout-out to all of my help...without them I couldn’t be the troop leader that I am. I believe that having a strong parent volunteer base and great communication with other leaders in your area is essential for a successful Girl Scout troop. I am so thankful that I have a great group of parents from both of my Girl Scout troops who are willing to step forward and help whenever needs arise and a great bunch of Girl Scout leaders in the area to bounce things off of and get ideas from...you all know who you are! Thanks!
Outside of my volunteering with Girl Scouts, I am a wife to my awesome husband of almost 14 years, a mom (taxi, maid, cook, referee, nurse, etc.) to two wonderful girls, a teacher’s aide at Illini Bluffs, and I also run a graphic design business out of my home. I enjoy reading, movies, biking, hanging out with family and friends, and I enjoy my time with my girls and Girl Scouts very much.”
Thank you, Trisha, for telling your story, and for all the time, effort, and love you give to Girl Scouts
Mandy Gallagher - September 2013
At Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, we rely on time, heart, and talent generously given by our adult volunteers to deliver empowering Girl Scout programming and help build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make their communities a better place. The community of Mount Sterling benefits from one such volunteer – Mandy Gallagher, who leads troop 5057 in service area 25. In the past, Mandy has taken on the challenge of leading Girl Scouts at all age levels, and is now in the process of starting a super-troop! In addition to her troop leader efforts, Mandy is also helping to start a service area team to benefit Girl Scouts and volunteers in her hometown.
Mandy, thank you for all you do for Girl Scouts!
Randi Collins - August 2013
Randi Collins is the kind of troop leader who truly understands that volunteering as part of Girl Scouts of Central Illinois means more than just leading a troop—it means impacting the community as a whole. Collins recently volunteered to assist our longtime Girl Scout Service Area Coordinator, Tara Barker, with her duties. On top of that commitment, she also volunteered to take on another position on the Service Area team, and she recently led the Brownie information and activity booth during the Family Summer Kick-Off in Peoria. As evidenced by her hard work and willingness to volunteer, Collins is not afraid to go above and beyond to ensure that all the girls in her troop—including her daughters—receive a spectacular Girl Scouting experience, and we are grateful for all she does to serve our council.
Now, let’s hear from Randi herself:
“I have never been a Girl Scout, but I always told myself if I had a little girl I wanted her to have the experience. When my daughter became of age, I started contacting the Girl Scout office, inquiring about a troop. After a couple of months of not being able to place her in a troop, I decided to start a troop at her school. I figured this was something special we could do together. I called the Girl Scout office and got a few names of other interested girls, but the timing just wasn’t right for them, so I was starting to think this wasn’t going to happen. I decided to send out a letter to all kindergarten girls at the school to figure out if I could even start a troop. I went from no girls to sixteen girls, and then I needed to find assistants! I found one assistant right off the bat because she was in the same boat I was, trying to find a troop for her daughter; it worked out perfectly. I had a parent meeting, everything fell into place, and I even got a third assistant. We had an amazing first year. I was worried about cookies, but my assistant leader was very helpful and confident. Her daughter was in a different troop last year, so that experience really helped us our first year.
I really want to learn as much as I can about Girl Scouts. The only way to do that is get involved, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
Thank you, Randi, for all that you do for GSCI!
Brandy Zanger - July 2013
Brandy Zanger has been a troop leader in Jacksonville for three years, but that’s not the only hat she’s worn as a Girl Scout. She has also acted as a Fall Product Coordinator for one year and a Service Area Coordinator for two years—not easy tasks, but she is choosing to continue in all three roles for our upcoming membership year. As one might be able to tell from her Girl Scouting resume, Brandy is a very energetic and enthusiastic leader who is fully dedicated to the girls she serves. She has truly embraced the concept of "girl-led" in her troop and has encouraged and guided her girls to build their leadership skills from their very first meeting as Daisies. Brandy makes it a priority to provide opportunities for her girls, as well as others in her service area, to take on leadership roles and develop their skills by planning projects for meetings, leading activities at service area events, and encouraging all girls to take initiative in community service projects. As the Fall Product Coordinator for Menard County, she goes above and beyond to make sure all troops have the tools they need to help their troop succeed in the sale. She makes herself available anytime for those who have questions. Overall, Brandy sets an example of what Girl Scouts in all about in Service Area 14 and is a wonderful mentor for both girls and adults.
Brandy Zanger, thank you for all that you do for Girl Scouts!
Donna Wagner - June 2013
After 56 years of faithful and enthusiastic service to the Girl Scouts, Donna Wagner is stepping down as a volunteer. In addition to her volunteer work, Donna was an employee of Green Meadows Council from 1976 to 1981. She was awarded the Thanks Badge in 1987 and the Appreciation Pin in 1994, as well as the Honor Pin from Girl Scouts of Central Illinois. In her time with Girl Scouts, Donna worked with many troops and loved interacting with the older age levels. Donna has also served on the Service Area Leadership Team for Urbana-Champaign as the community organizer, as well as a facilitator/trainer and a mentor for new troop leaders. Donna loves the outdoors and has worked to bring that love back to the girls she serves.
Thank you, Donna, for your many years of service to Girl Scouts!
Colleen Stuart - January 2013
Colleen is an exceptional volunteer who helps show her girls what Girl Scouts can do for them and the importance of giving back to an organization.
Colleen has been a troop leader for 15 years and has stepped up to serve multiple positions for the council.
Colleen currently serves as a challenge course facilitator and cookie coordinator and has most recently become a member of the Springfield program planning committee. Not only does she serve the council through specific roles, she is also always willing to jump in and lend a hand. Already this year, Colleen has assisted at Ready, Set, Lead (an adult training); ran Geocacher (an Adventure Guide program); volunteered her time for the Cookie Rally held on January 5, 2013; and has also stepped up to lead two troops in her service area that were in need of an adult volunteer.
Colleen is an exceptional woman, and we are very excited for her to stand in our first Volunteer Spotlight!
Thank you, Colleen, for all of your hard work and dedication to the girls of GSCI.