Jeanette Benedetto has been volunteering with Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania ever since she signed her daughter up a little over three years ago. Although she didn’t plan to be a troop leader right away, it was a great way for her to make new friends after recently moving to the Pittsburgh area.
She thought she would be a committee volunteer and ease her way into larger roles. When she realized troop leaders were needed to form a new troop, she decided to go for it. As she saw other needs in her service unit, she decided to step in where she felt she could have the most impact for girls and families in her area. She wanted to be a big part of her daughter’s Girl Scout experience because she has great memories of spending time with her own mom when she was her troop leader.
Last year, Jeanette stepped into a service unit role as the communications volunteer and filled in for the vacant membership coordinator position as well. She currently continues to manage communications and logistics for her service unit.
Jeanette was a Girl Scout herself for about five years in West Virginia, where she enjoyed doing activities she may not have been able to do if it weren’t for Girl Scouts. Some of her best memories include horseback riding, crafts, learning life skills, making friends all over the region, and of course, summer camp. “I still remember the Camp White Rock song to this day, and vividly recall sleeping in a platform tent and swimming in the river! Overall, what sticks with me are all the times that I was nudged out of my comfort zone with support from my fellow Girl Scouts,” she says.
Seeing how the girls change year after year is Jeanette’s favorite aspect of volunteering. She recalls her first few troop meetings where Daisies were crawling around on the floor pretending to be animals and it seemed like chaos. “Now, the girls are in second and third grade and they have developed new friendships within Girl Scouts, they come up with their own ideas for helping their community, and they have confidence that they CAN help. They surprise me all the time, and supporting 16 girls as they grow into the people they are meant to be is really amazing,” she says.
Above all, Jeanette hopes to teach girls not to be afraid of trying new things and when they’re passionate about something, they should get involved. She hopes to encourage adults to do the same when it comes to volunteering—get involved despite the time or skills they think they possess. Many volunteers like herself also work full-time, but she says the more volunteers there are, the easier it is on everyone.
“Don’t wait for someone else to do it—just take the leap and bring some friends along for the ride with you, or do like I did and make new friends!” Her advice to new volunteers is to enlist help from other parents in the troop, play on your own strengths, and learn as you go.
Jeanette says that volunteering with Girl Scouts is more rewarding than she ever expected. “I love the girls in my troop, and I enjoy the company of my fellow volunteers. Even though I started this for my daughter, I get a lot out of it for myself.”