Celebrating an Outstanding Volunteer
Making a Difference
As we celebrate volunteers across the nation during the month of April, many names and stories are being shared about outstanding volunteers. These people come from all walks of life, and differ in so many ways, and yet they share one key component – they made a difference in someone’s life. Today, we are highlighting an outstanding Girl Scout volunteer named Beth Barlow.
A Committed Girl Scout
Beth was born and raised in a cotton mill town in Connecticut and never had the opportunity to be a Girl Scout herself. Beth’s experience with Girl Scouts has been as an adult, all 43 years of experience! Beth married young, and was a shy, stay-at-home mother who had little confidence in her abilities. She and her husband settled in California 51 years ago. In 1969, her young daughter, Dana, asked if she could join Girl Scouts. This was the beginning of a long, wonderful, fulfilling experience for Beth. In the beginning, as Dana enjoyed her Brownie experience, Beth stayed in the shadows not venturing forward to volunteer. However, when Dana became a Junior Girl Scout Beth was asked to become an “Active Parent,” there were four other adults listed ahead of her name, so she had little reason to worry that she would be asked to do much. Our lives don’t always go as planned, by Christmas; Beth was the only adult left and by default became the leader. She was overwhelmed, scared and unsure of her abilities to lead these girls. When she would come home from troop meetings at night and cry to her husband he offered unwavering support, telling her “she could do it, “and that “she had to do it for the girls!” Beth realized she had to totally commit to these girls and to the Girl Scout program.
Beth didn’t just commit, she gave her whole heart and soul to the girls in her daughter’s troop and to the Girl Scout program. Beth’s Girl Scout resume is a shining example of service. In addition to becoming her daughter’s troop leader, Beth also became her niece’s Cadette leader in Yorba Linda when no leader could be found, she became the Fullerton 2 Service Unit manager for 8 years; she was a member of Girl Scouts of Orange County’s Finance Committee for 10 years; she was on the GSOC Board for 13 years; she served as an Administrative Trainer for GSOC ; she was instrumental in creating the Girl Scout “mini” program which eventually became Daisy’s; and in the late 1980s and early ‘90s she co-created and was a member of the Green Chargers, a vaudeville type troupe of volunteers, who visited SU and Association meetings singing and acting out the humorous side of scouting. With all this service, Beth still wasn’t done; 32 years ago she joined the newly formed OWLS (Our Women Love Scouting), a group of volunteers who work outside the boundaries of the Service Unit to provide service to Girl Scouts and our community.
Beth looks back at her long history with Girl Scouts with joy in her heart. She truly believes in Girls Scouts and not only what it can do for girls but also what it can do for adult volunteers. She will tell you that her involvement with Girl Scouts helped her become the woman she is today. By the time Beth’s children reached high school and middle school she felt ready to go to work for the first time since she was 17 years old. During her tenure as a leader Beth was a big believer in training and took every training course that was offered to her, this was obviously to benefit the girls but it also added a long list of skills to Beth’s resume. Although, Beth had limited work experience when a local manufacturing company looked at her resume and saw she was a Girl Scout leader, they hired her, stating they did so because of her Girl Scout work and training. This company recognized Beth’s talent and sent her back to school and she eventually became comptroller of the entire company. Beth firmly believes it is because of Girl Scouts that she got this job
A Lifelong Leader
Today, Beth’s “girls” are middle-aged women and she is very proud of each and every one of them. Beth is still very active in Girl Scouts and currently serves as the Fullerton 2 Service Unit Volunteer Essentials trainer. She opens her home to new volunteers and provides them with their orientation and shares her stories of the past, and how they can impact girls and teach leadership. Not long ago, a woman showed up at her door. She didn’t recognize the woman however after a few moments the woman asked her if she was “Bubbles?” This was a nickname her Cadettes has given her years ago at camp. Beth was astonished to discover that this woman was one of her former girls. When Beth asked her if she was there for training she said, “No, just for a hug.” Beth had not seen this woman since she was an eleven-year-old girl, and now she had come home for her father’s funeral. Beth gave the much needed hug and invited the woman into her home and they proceeded to chat and reminisce for hours, laughing and enjoying their memories. After their short time together the woman left and Beth has not seen her or heard from her again. She has moved on with her life. But this is okay with Beth, this is what she wants, to know her girls are strong women who have moved on in their lives and are the leaders she knew they could be. It is nice though, that once in a while someone shows up at her door just for a hug because it’s a little reminder of the impact she had on someone’s life and that this woman knew after all the years had passed that Beth would be there with open arms and a warm hug for comfort.
Beth’s commitment over the last 43 years has been an exemplary example of volunteerism. As Beth says, “There is always something you can do. Never give up!” Beth’s message is to reach as many girls as you can, and just because your child grows up and moves on in their own journey of life doesn’t mean we should stop volunteering. Girl Scouts has become Beth’s passion and she wants to remind everyone that these young girls are the future and it is vital that they are taught the leadership skills that the Girl Scout program provides and in turn these girls will pass such skills onto to the next generation and so on. Beth Barlow credits Girl Scouts for who she is today, she will tell you as the girls grew, she grew and key to her success was her philosophy of “never give up!” She is being humble, today there are many women out there who credit Beth Barlow for who they’ve become and the Girl Scouts of Orange County were very lucky all those years ago when she became a Girl Scout leader. Thank you Beth for all your years of service!