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Star Volunteer: Girl Scouting a family tradition

From Staff Reports
Feb. 28, 2011 at 10 p.m.

<strong>My name is:</strong> Leah Cooper

<strong>I volunteer for:</strong> Girl Scouts in Jefferson

<strong>I have volunteered there for:</strong> Altogether I have worked with Girl Scouts about 18 years. Fourteen of those years I served as a Girl Scout leader or assistant leader. I took a break for a couple of years, but this year got involved again when I helped with a recruitment in Jefferson. I plan to also help with a Girl Scouting in the School Day engineering program at Jefferson Elementary School later this year.

<strong>I volunteer there because:</strong> I was a Girl Scout throughout my childhood and youth. When my two girls became old enough to join Girl Scouts, I wanted them to also have the Girl Scout experience. At first, all I did was help with summer trips, but when Megan's leader decided not to continue, I stepped up. I have never regretted it.

<strong>I would encourage other people to get involved because:</strong> Involvement in Girl Scouting has so much to offer. When you volunteer, you are part of a long tradition that has positively impacted millions of girls throughout the world. The girls have fun, develop self-confidence, learn new skills, make friends, and so much more. As an adult volunteer, you help these young girls grow strong. But the amazing thing is while the girls are growing so are you. I developed better organization skills. I enjoyed new experiences and went places I had never been before. But most importantly, I have seen the excitement in the eyes of so many girls as they discover they can do something they never even imagined they could do.

<strong>My hometown is:</strong> I live in Jefferson,but spent my childhood as an Army brat living in many places throughout the U.S. and in Germany.

<strong>I have lived here since:</strong> Our family moved to Jefferson in 1995, but our children attended Jefferson schools even earlier than that.

<strong>My family members are:</strong> My husband Robert is a civil engineer in Longview. Our older daughter Megan is an Air Force pilot based in Georgia but currently deployed. Our younger daughter Rebecca teaches first grade in New Orleans. Both daughters earned the Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts. This was key to their admittance to and graduation from their college choices – Air Force Academy and Yale.

<strong>I have also volunteered for:</strong> I serve as president of the Jefferson ISD school board. As a Master Gardener, I have worked on several service projects including organizing a six-week summer reading program called Literature in the Garden at the Jefferson Carnegie Library, helping build raised beds at Jefferson Elementary School and later helping with a school-wide bed preparation day, and helping with a student gardening activity at Hallsville Intermediate School during their science field day. At Jefferson First United Methodist Church, I help with the Wednesday night Kings Kids program and serve as vice-president of United Methodist Women.

What was your reaction when you learned you had been selected as this year's Outstanding Girl Scout Leader for East Texas? When membership specialist Tanya Plumb e-mailed me that she had nominated me for this honor, I thought that was very nice, but never imagined winning. Even when I was notified, I really didn't believe it was true until I saw it posted on the Girl Scout website. I feel very blessed and humbled to receive this honor.

<strong>To get in touch with this organization:</strong> Call Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas at (800) 442-2260. You can also check out the website at gsnetx.org.



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