Friday, October 4, 2013

Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Joan Page

Joan Page has been a Girl Scout for 43 years. Her journey began at the age of seven. Now an adult, she is service unit manager for Shades Mountain Service Unit, and she has previously served as service unit fall product manager, day camp director and assistant director, delegate and she has served on three council committees.

Joan is also a member of the local Girl Scout alumni service organization called Wayfarers, which has been in existence since the 1940s. She served on the committee that gathered, researched and helped to create GSNCA’s uniform archives.

Joan is currently a troop leader for Troop 20. The troop was begun in 1975 by her mother. After her retirement, Joan began training as a co-leader for her mother’s troop. When her mother passed away unexpectedly, Joan took over the troop.

Troop 20 is a little different from other troops: it consists of 24 Girl Scouts ages 11 to 52 who have autism. Though they have special needs, Joan stresses that they can still do things other troops can do. They participate in the fall product sale, and last year they sold cookies for the first time. Joan believes it is important for her troop to learn the life skills and money management skills the Girl Scout Cookie Program teaches.

Joan says she likes pushing her troop, and she doesn’t think they cannot do things just because of their special needs. They do badge work. They talk about things and figure them out. They want to go to the zoo this fall, so they are raising money through the fall product sale.

Joan gets the most satisfaction out of working with the girls. Being a service unit manager allows her to work with all types of girls, not just the ones in her troop.

“It’s fun to be able to go out and meet the girls and share in their development as a woman and a leader,” she says. Joan says it’s exciting to see girls grow, and she loves sharing her experiences with other girls. Joan earned her Girl Scout Silver and Gold Awards as a Girl Scout, and she remembers a conversation with a younger Girl Scout where Joan shared that was a Gold Awardee. The girl lit up when she realized that she had something in common with Joan.

Joan’s favorite memories from volunteering are moments of when her troop gets excited, and when they light up because they learn something new. She also cherishes having worked her mother before her death. Another fond memory Joan has is the meeting at the time of the Council merger. The way the flag was retired was moving and respectful.

Joan points to Juliette Low as the model for keeping Girl Scouts a strong and relevant organization for the next century. She says that Low was a visionary. She empowered women when we didn’t even have the right to vote. Joan says that world changes and we have to realize that, but we also have to remember tradition, and that Low’s vision is still valid.

“Women should be recognized as strong individuals, no matter their chosen career,” she says. “Girls need to be encouraged by strong role models to do whatever they want to do, a house wife or a scientist.”

She says Girl Scouting does that. She sees girl blossom through their experiences.

Girl Scouting has taught Joan to be a more flexible person. “I don’t ever want to turn away a girl because she wants to try something,” she says. She also learned that she has a voice and that she can express her opinions respectfully.

“Change is a part of life and you have to adapt to it and move forward,” she says. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”