A Volunteer Spotlight: Michelle Schmidt
Combining faith and Girl Scouts is more than a lesson plan to help keep a troop on track, it’s a way of life for Girl Scout volunteer, Michelle Schmidt. This incredible volunteer recently received the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal for her work with Girl Scout Senior Troop 1569 in Shawnee, KS. This medal was inaugurated in 1980 and recognizes the contributions of adults who serve Catholic youth through Girl Scouts and similar organizations. Earning the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal means an adult volunteer has done an exceptional job of developing the spiritual lives of girls. As a devoted leader and Catholic, Michelle is the perfect example of the type of volunteer this Medal honors.
Michelle loves being a troop leader and the experiences it provides for her family. “If you want the best for your children, you have to be willing to put in effort. Volunteering in Girl Scouts has made me a better advocate for women and a better mother to my daughter. It has opened my eyes to what it is to be a strong role model for young girls and how very important that is,” Michelle said.
The Schmidt family is all about scouting, with son, Lawrence, in Boy Scouts and daughter, Anna, in Girl Scouts. Anna joined as a Daisy and Michelle has been actively involved from the start. As the troop leader, Michelle works with other parents and her co-leader to make sure the girls fulfill their active plans! From patches to camping to service, the girls want to do it all. When they were in 7th grade, the girls wanted to do some international service work for women and found Heifer International, an organization that provides farm animals and other tools to help villages in 3rd world countries. While the troop’s first goal was to buy an animal for a family in need, the girls ended raising enough money to fund new stoves for an ENTIRE VILLAGE! Talk about driven girls with amazing leadership!
This dedication to service comes not only from the inner drive of the girls, but from the culture of giving that Michelle and her co-leader, Loriann, instill in them. When at camp, the girls have been taught to feed others before making a plate for themselves. Especially in a setting like camp, Michelle feels it’s important to make service a part of everything someone does in life. “They are always asking, “What more can we do?” “How can it be better?” and “What can we do to help?” It has been a joy watching them go from playful little girls full of spunk to young ladies, still full of spunk, being silly, owning their quirks, but knowing that there is a world of possibility and wanting to explore their options,” Michelle said.
One of the ways Michelle blends spiritual development into troop activities is to help girls explore strong women in the Bible and what has and what has not changed in regard to women’s rights since biblical times. Even though some of the topics are not your typical campfire stories, the girls are able to learn about hard global issues (like child brides and slavery that still exists) in safe zone. She knows that the girls are going to enter a big world at some point and by exposing them to some of the harsher realities in a safe zone, like Girl Scouts, the girls are better prepared and driven to make the world a better place.
Michelle strongly believes in a “judgement-free” zone for her troop and wants Girl Scouts to be a place that’s “a soft place to fall” for girls. By leading a troop, she knows it’s important to create the environment that girls feel safe, but strong. “Girl Scouts has given my daughter confidence in who she is. It has helped her realize that she has worth beyond what she might think, that she can make a difference in the world and that she should not be afraid to do it. It has showed her that she is a global citizen and what she does is important, and it affects others outside of herself and local community. It encourages her to dream big, live her faith and be comfortable in her own skin,” Michelle said.
We love all the amazing work Michelle and the other incredible volunteers that make troop 1569’s experience possible. We are proud to have this amazing volunteer as part of our larger Girl Scout family and thrilled to see her efforts recognized. Thank you, Michelle! If you know of another awesome Girl Scout volunteer we should spotlight, share in the comments below!
Want to learn more about how your Girl Scout(s) can earn faith awards? Find out how!