Cooking Up a Great Volunteer Experience: Man Enough to be a Girl Scout, Jason Sonderman

Man enough to lead a Service Unit! Meet Jason Sonderman, an exceptional Girl Scout dad who’s taken his leadership to the next level as Service Unit Manager for SU607. Growing in leadership just like his Girl Scout Junior daughter, Riley, Jason has gone from parent volunteer to Appreciation Pin honoree to Service Unit Manager and member of Daisy’s Circle! Talk about some serious G.I.R.L. dedication!

Jason started like most Girl Scout parents – new and unsure where volunteering would take him. When Riley was a Daisy, her mother, Micah, became the co-leader and Jason found himself picking up a variety of tasks. “It took 3-4 years for me to find my place in volunteering outside of building things and helping with carpools. Around Brownies I started finding a need in Day Camp and a place to help,” Jason said.

He found a love of working at Day Camp and started coming a couple days a week to help with the cooking program. With the guidance of fellow volunteers, he found his stride and started feeling confident in his leadership. “Working a Day Camp really opened my eyes to how parents can get involved,” Jason said. He served as unit leader for 2 years, then took over the cooking program.

To put a personal touch on his Day Camp leadership, he developed a persona named “Cookie.” “Cookie is larger than life and memorable,” Jason said. Together, Riley and Jason worked on the cooking program and as she grew as a leader, he felt pride and was even more motivated to be involved.

During cookie booth season, parents were talking about the Service Unit Manager position that was opening up. While there was a lot of interest, Jason joked about putting his hat in the ring and no one thought it was a joke, in fact, they thought it’d be great. “When no one laughed, I was surprised, but when we talked about it, it just made sense. I don’t lead a troop, so I don’t have other things vying for my attention, I can just focus on the service unit,” Jason said.

As a dad, he knows he’s in the minority as a male volunteer, but thinks that makes his service important so both genders are being represented in the organization. “Girl Scouts needs to see both genders represented as volunteers and in leadership to help them understand life outside as well as see both parents just giving back,” Jason said. Throughout all of it, the best part of giving back is being part of the Girl Scout world with Riley and Micah.

“Girl Scouts gives me something to do with my daughter and wife. I understand it, I can be engaged and participate rather than it just being their thing,” Jason said. He and Micah love the program because of the opportunities it provides for Riley.

Riley has developed her own way of expression, giving back and leadership through filming Day Camps and creating recruitment videos for them, as well as helping with the cooking program. “Girl Scouts is a full environment where girls can build a sisterhood and at the same time, learn things. They’re learning about life, leadership, and skills they’ll need to excel in our society and be respected,” Jason said.

The Sondermans not only give of their time, they give financially through Daisy’s Circle as well. “In our hearts, giving follows our faith and my wife and I have that extra amount to give to help someone be involved. We can help remove the barrier of maybe a $25 membership fee that might be preventing a girl from having this experience,” Jason said.

We thank the Sonderman family for giving so fully to Girl Scouts and believing in the power of all G.I.R.L.s. We are thrilled to see Riley grow her skills and become the best G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) she can be! If you’d like to learn more about Daisy’s Circle, visit www.daisyscircle.org.

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