Opening her eyes to a world of possibilities? Helping her transform into a force for good? Unleashing her most confident self? As a Girl Scout volunteer, you’re an everyday hero with an extraordinary super power: you prepare girls for a lifetime of leadership, success, and adventure. Being a Girl Scout volunteer is one of the most powerful, rewarding journeys you’ll ever embark on.
That’s what makes National Volunteer Month so near and dear to our hearts! Every April, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana (GCNWI) celebrates the meaningful and inspiring contributions our volunteers make all year long. Join us in celebrating these amazing volunteers who have dedicated their lives to supporting our girls! These volunteers were recently honored at our Annual Meeting and Adult Recognition (AMAR) event. Read the event recap.
Hall of Fame 2019
Heidi began her Girl Scout career in the 1940’s on the South Side of Chicago where she grew up. As a girl member her favorite memories include earning her First Class Award, camping at Sweet Woods in Glenwood, Illinois, and selling LOTS of Girl Scout Cookies during the annual Cookie Sale. Heidi accredits her continued participation in the organization due to the continued efforts to support and grow girls into women leaders, as well as the camaraderie the organization provides for both fellow Girl Scouts and adults.
She became an adult leader for her daughter in Dolton as part of the legacy South Cook County Girl Scout Council (SCCGS). Heidi was a Troop Leader from 1967-1979; a Service Unit Manager (known as an Association Chair) in the 1970’s; was on the Board of Directors for SCCGS in the 80’s and 90’s; and was a National Council Delegate for the GS convention in Minneapolis in 1987. Heidi has also received many of the Adult Girl Scout awards, including the Thanks Badge, Thanks Badge II, and she received her 50 year pin last year.
Heidi is currently involved with GCNWI as a council historian, working to preserve the history of the former South Cook County Girl Scouts. Outside of Girl Scouts, Heidi is involved in her church, Bible Study Fellowship, and women’s Bible Study.
Hall of Fame 2019
Marlene was in Girl Scouts as a girl, in East Lake Porter Council, from second through sixth grade. Marlene became an adult Girl Scout member in 1983, when her daughter started as a Brownie. When she transitioned from assistant leader to troop leader, she stayed with the girls until they completed their Ambassador year. Her fondest memories include watching her daughters grow and mature through Girl Scouts. She loved seeing their communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills develop, and how they applied the skills beyond the organization.
Marlene has served in many roles in her 37 years as an adult Girl Scout. Positions include: Treasurer, Service Unit Manager, Consultant, Trainer, and Troop Organizer and well as a member of the Programs team of Drifting Dunes Council.
Marlene, for her amazing work, has received the Appreciation Pin, Honor Pin and Thanks Badge. She has also received the Porter County United Way Award. She is also the treasurer at her church and has served on many committees as chairperson.
Christine Alfred started as a girl member of Girl Scouts from first through fourth grade. Since becoming an adult volunteer, she has served in many roles including Leader, Troop Cookie and Fall Product Manager, Service Unit Cookie Manager and Fall Product Manager, Cookie Cupboard, Service Unit Manager, Council Delegate, all while serving on various committees. Along the way, she has received the Outstanding Leader Award, Outstanding Volunteer Award, and the Honor Pin. She has even received the St. Ann Medal for her work with helping Catholic Girl Scouts earn their religious awards.
The girls have always given Christine great inspiration, and volunteering has taught her how to work with a diverse group of people. Chris credits Girl Scouts with turning her into a social worker, event planner, master negotiator, financial analyst, master chef, and expert multi-tasker! She realizes that it’s not just the girls who develop skills through Girl Scouting, but also the adults who acquire so much more than could ever be imagined.
Melissa Young-Bridgeforth was never a girl member in Girl Scouts, but she did become an adult volunteer for the legacy Chicago council, and now for Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. There have been numerous reasons over the years for Melissa to continue to serve Girl Scouts. She believes in the mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character. Her enduring loyalty to Girl Scouts was demonstrated in 2018 when Melissa made the commitment to become a member of the Juliette Gordon Low Society.
Although Melissa has had a wealth of experiences as a Girl Scout volunteer, the one she recalls vividly includes sirens and flashing red lights! It seems a Chicago police officer was suspicious of her having a car full of Girl Scout cookies. Fortunately, the experience has not deterred Melissa from continuing her volunteer work for Girl Scouts!
When her daughter wanted to sign up to be a Girl Scout, Carol Stahnke agreed to become a Girl Scout leader for Lone Tree Council in 1968. Carol continued her involvement as a volunteer after her daughter was no longer a girl member because she had such a positive experience. She served as Service Unit Manager for Berwyn and became a member of the Board of Directors for Lone Tree.
Carol also served on various committees, such as the search committee for the new Lone Tree Service Center and the Cookie Selection Committee, and she held the position of Field Vice-President. One of her prize possessions is a sliver tray she received in 1978 which acknowledges her service as Field Vice-President.
Carol has fond memories of camping at Wild Rose in St. Charles, Illinois, and Wild Deer in Wisconsin, both former properties of the Lone Tree Council. She credits Norma Brown and Shirley Eatwell from the Lone Tree staff with giving her excellent support to fulfill her duties as a volunteer. Although Carol was only able to be an adult in Girl Scouting, the experience of being there for the girls has meant a lot to her. She has been a lifetime member—a gift her thoughtful husband had given to her knowing how much Girl Scouts meant to her.
Rosemarie Courtney began her long association with Girl Scouts in 1950 when she joined Intermediate Girl Scout Troop 298 at Immaculate Conception Parish. She received her Curved Bar (forerunner of the Girl Scout Gold Award) in 1954. She remained a girl member with Senior Troop 1615 until 1958 at which time she registered as an adult with that troop. Rose continued with Troop 1615 throughout her college years. She credits her assistant leader and then Senior Adviser Anna Mae Idestein with giving her the confidence to attend college. Besides encouraging her to study science in college, Anna Mae helped Rose find part time jobs, so she could save the money needed for her tuition. She credits Anna Mae as being the most inspirational Girl Scout adult in her life and recognizes the importance that great adult leadership can impact a girl.
Since then, Rose has gone on to receive every adult national recognition there is, including the Thanks Badge II. She was also inducted into the Girl Scouts GCNWI Hall of Fame. From Secretary to the Board of Directors for DuPage County Council, to Council Trainer, to National Council Delegate, to Council Historian, Rose has held almost every volunteer position there is. She is truly one of Juliette’s pearls.
60 Years Pin
Joy Johnston is celebrating 60 years as a registered Girl Scout having started her Girl Scout career at the age of seven. Joy’s first Girl Scout Troop was number 78 in Chicago. People from legacy councils may remember that Joy’s parents were the caretakers at Camp Butternut Springs for many years. Her mother was a Girl Scout herself for over 50 years and was widely known as Mother Nature around Butternut. Joy’s parents, the Andersons, were very much admired for their service and dedication, and the lake at Butternut Springs is named after them.
Volunteering was an important part of Joy’s upbringing and she continues that tradition. She and her husband are the directors of the Duneland Resale Shop in Chesterton, Indiana. This adult community center serves the surrounding areas not only with a resale shop, but also a medical supply cabinet, and a food pantry that services more than 300 families and has given more than $1.5 million back to the community. Always a big dream of Joy’s, she has demonstrated that determination and hard work can make dreams come true.