Nearly two million girls across the country wouldn’t have access to the life-changing leadership experience and adventure of being a Girl Scout if it weren’t for dedicated volunteers. Elly Shaw is one our Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa’s 3,000+ volunteers; she serves the Knoxville area as a troop leader and cookie manager, as well as a service unit leader and product/cookie chair. “Without volunteers, you don’t have a program,” she says.
Her goals for Girl Scouts in the Knoxville stretch way beyond the traditional "Cookies and Camp" - she wants to build and grow the program throughout the community.
Shaw, a former Girl Scout herself, was signing her daughter up to become a Daisy when she learned there wasn’t a troop leader in the area. Her initial instinct was to turn down the offer to start a troop, but as she wrestled with the idea, she eventually changed her mind. “I really wanted my daughter to be a part of it and if I didn’t step up, she may not have been able to do it,” she said. Now, she’s wrapping up her second year as her daughter’s troop leader.
For Shaw, it’s the G.I.R.L. agenda (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) that she appreciates most about Girl Scouts; instilling the Girl Scout values and mission, building character, and seeing the girls learn life skills. Plus, she feels the positive impact as well. “I think it’s making me a better person overall because I’m expected to live by the Girl Scout Law and Promise, and I do think about that…As a volunteer, you get a lot back from it as well; you feel like you’re contributing, you feel like you’re making a difference.”
As part of her position as the service unit manager and a troop leader, Shaw and her troop organized a “Service Unit Mixer” event this year. Her Girl Scouts planned a Friday night for all other troops in their service unit to come hang out at a gym in Knoxville. Snacks, arts and crafts, dance parties and camp songs were all on the agenda. The goal was to connect girls to other Girl Scouts in the area, and increase the sense of Girl Scout community. She said seeing the girls run around and hang out with each other, mixed within troops, was exactly what she was hoping for. “One girl came up to me and asked, ‘Can we do this every night?’” she said.
Shaw hopes to continue giving her Girl Scouts the space to learn, grow and build lifelong friendships. As long as the girls want, she’s willing to walk with her troop for many years, through many badges - even creating sustainable change in their community through Silver and Gold Award projects. “I would love for our girls to go through that,” she says.
With Elly Shaw in the leader chair, the Knoxville Girl Scout community is destined to grow within the next few years, but she knows she can’t do it alone. “It’s really important to support Girl Scouts, whether it’s through volunteering or another way.”
Interested in volunteering? Start your journey here.