A Girl Scout Treasure: The Herstory of Heidi Gannon

A Girl Scout Treasure: The Herstory of Heidi Gannon
GSGCNWI Council Historian Heidi Gannon proudly displaying two of her uniforms; on the left, an Intermediate uniform from the 1940’s and, on the right, an adult uniform from the 1990’s.

The Council Historians for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana are constantly seeking out and preserving the treasures of the Girl Scout movement.  However, “treasures” come in many forms, so it’s no wonder that Heidi Gannon, a Council Historian, is also considered to be one of the council’s most cherished treasures.

As a volunteer for over 50 years, Heidi has worked tirelessly to support Girl Scouting in as many ways as possible. As we continue to celebrate our volunteers all April long, let’s take a look back at the herstory of a Girl Scout leader and real life “treasure.”

On My Honor

Heidi started in Girl Scouts in 1947 at the age of 11, becoming an Intermediate Girl Scout on the Southside of Chicago, and later moving up to Senior Girl Scouts. She earned her First Class Award and continued as a girl member throughout her high school years. Heidi has fond memories of her girl years, especially of camping, troop trips, selling Girl Scout cookies, and various troop activities.  The camping trip that stands out in her mind was to Sweet Woods in Glenwood and that it was freezing cold!  Going to Springfield with her troop was another significant and memorable experience, which was a real bonding time for her troop. Heidi also recollects being the top cookie seller for her troop one cookie season. However, she does admit that her Dad helped her by taking the order form to work with him.  And the troop activity which Heidi will never forget was a Halloween scavenger hunt in the neighborhood because of all the crazy items the girls had to find.

To Help People at all Times

In 1967, Heidi started her journey as a volunteer when she became a leader for her daughter’s troop.  At that time, she was part of the Dolton Association in what was then the service unit in South Cook County Council (SCC).  She remained in her position of troop leader from 1967 to 1979, staying with her girls through Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, and Seniors.  However, when her girls aged out, Heidi never stopped volunteering.  She had already stepped up to be Association Chair (service unit manager) for the Dolton Association during the 1970’s and was a member of the Service Team from 1979 to1992, taking on such roles as Association Secretary, Association Organizer/Consultant, and Association Sunday Service Chair.  She also served as Dolton Association’s Delegate to the Council.

Heidi’s volunteer service did not end at the association’s borders; she took on many roles that were council-wide positions.  Heidi was a Council Trainer and even chaired the Council Training Committee. Heidi was then asked to serve on the SCC Board of Directors, which she did for several terms during the 1980’s and 1990’s.  As a member of the Board, she was assigned a variety of positions, such as Nominating Committee Chair, Adult Selections Committee Chair, Council Self-Evaluation Task Group Member, and Council Pluralism Task Group Member.  Heidi was also on the Board of Directors when it was decided to build the Friendship Center and funds were being raised for the project, something in which she continues to take pride in.

Heidi Gannon (right) with fellow historian Veronica Pradelski at a Promise Circle 100th Anniversary Display of Girl Scout history.

To Make the World a Better Place

Heidi has always served where needed, so when South Cook County Council started a Heritage Committee in 2007, Heidi was quick to come on board.  Her knowledge of the history of SCC made her an excellent volunteer for this committee.  After the merge of the seven metro councils, Heidi continued to serve in the capacity of Council Historian, faithfully executing all her duties.  She has been an invaluable member to the group of historians preserving South Cook County’s Girl Scout history, always willing to assist in any capacity that she can. Whether she is helping to identify people and/or places in old photos or creating a display for an event or for the cases at 20 S. Clark, Heidi eagerly offers her assistance. 

Because of her dedication to the movement, Heidi has received many Adult Recognition awards, including the Thanks Badge in 1979, Thanks Badge II in 1992, and induction into the GSGCNWI Hall of Fame in 2019. Heidi also received a 50 years of service pin in 2018.

A Sister to Every Girl Scout

Heidi stayed in Girl Scouts because she felt the program was good for the girls, and she continued to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow Girl Scout adults.  Memorable experiences with her Girl Scout sisters include the 1993 Convention in Minneapolis and the GSGCNWI Historians’ visit to Our Chalet in Adelboden, Switzerland.   The 1993 Convention was a great bonding experience for all of the delegation from the South Cook County Council.  Heidi thoroughly enjoyed the “road trip” with many of the volunteers riding in a van that was driven by fellow volunteer Deb Dilley.

Heidi feels that visiting Our Chalet was a wonderful way for her to form an even deeper relationship with her sister Council Historians. In September of 2018, a small group of council historians spent a week in the Alps at this WAGGGS World Center.  Heidi will always remember what a special time this was for all who were there.

Although volunteering for Girl Scouts has been a focus for Heidi, her heart for services reaches many areas. She also volunteered as her son’s Den Mother for Boy Scouts. She is very active in her church, volunteering in the Infant Program and leading her Bible Study Fellowship group for over 20 years.  Heidi has also served as a census taker.

Heidi Gannon has certainly led an exemplary life of service to Girl Scouts and to her community.  She is definitely a “treasure” to all those who know her.

Happy National Volunteer Week from GCNWI!

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