Girl Scout volunteers are at the core of a great Girl Scouting experience. For three generations of Girl Scouts in the Sommers family, one woman has been at the center of it all, Velma Sommers. This amazing volunteer has been serving the mission for more than 50 years and was the troop leader for her daughter, granddaughters and great-granddaughter. In addition to leading troops, Velma has served in almost every major volunteer role and propelled the mission of Girl Scouting to new heights by lending experience and wisdom to today’s girls.
In 1967 Velma Sommers found herself as a new volunteer with Girl Scouts. She took the lead of her daughter’s troop and found a love of serving. After holding a long list of Girl Scouting volunteer positions, it’s no wonder that she holds both the Thanks Badge 1 & 2, along with several other recognitions for her service. All this because she believes in the power of girls!
“I enjoy being a troop leader because of the girls. It’s my biggest love about volunteering – getting to work with the girls and seeing them grow,” Velma said.
One of her biggest projects has been working on Day Camps and all that goes in to coordinating those events. Despite not being a big fan of the outdoors and camping, something happens when Girl Scouts are involved and Velma is able to find courage in herself to face fears for the girls. Inspiring the younger generation empowers her just as it does the girls!
“The truth is, I’m not an outdoors person, but you put me out there, with the girls, and you’d think I knew it all! I’m terribly afraid of snakes, but when the girls are there and we see a snake, I’m able to be calm and we talk about it…but if I was by myself, it’d be a different story,” Velma said.
One of the most meaningful projects she did with her Girl Scouts was creating stepping stones for their local camp; Camp Meadowlark. They used molds, mortar and Velma had her kitchen covered in a tarp while the girls worked. It’s a fond memory of the mess they made and the beautiful, lasting additions to camp that came out of that experience. It is memories like this that make Girl Scouting such a sweet part of Velma’s life.
“Girls get to do things that they would never get to do if it wasn’t for us getting them involved in Girl Scouting. Think about camp, [for girls from lower income communities], getting to go to camp is an experience they might never get if it wasn’t for Girl Scouts,” Velma said. Being able to provide these opportunities has been an extra special part of serving for this devoted volunteer.
The skills girls learn in Girl Scouting truly last a lifetime. Velma helped her granddaughter’s troop with a part of the Silver Award that had the girls create a quilt block. While the girls struggled a bit, they loved the project and felt pride in their blocks. That Christmas, her granddaughter asked for a sewing machine, which she received. Fast forward a few decades and Velma’s granddaughter, Brandi, now a Gold Award recipient, gave Velma a quilt she had made of all the Day Camp shirts she had as a gift. Talk about coming full circle!
Giving back to girls truly does last a lifetime and for Velma, those moments where girls reconnect help her see the impact that troop leaders have. “Some of the girls in my troops still ask me for references, and it makes you feel good. It makes you realize that you really did have an impact on their lives,” Velma said. Through years of Girl Scouting, she knows that a great troop leaders and volunteers in any job make the Girl Scouting experience what it is. You can change the world by inspiring a girl.
“I just wish I could live to be 150 so I could go on and on being a Girl Scout volunteer,” Velma said.
Thank you to Velma and all our incredible volunteers for years of hard work and service to girls. You are helping create a better tomorrow! If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Girl Scouting volunteer like Velma, check out our volunteer opportunities!