By Alyssa J.
On April 3, 2019 the most formidable group of people came together, Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey volunteers. The 10th Anniversary of the Volunteer Recognition Dinner was held at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Somerset, NJ. The entire night was being covered by GSHNJ’s very own Media G.I.R.L.s. They conducted interviews with various members of the organization throughout the night. The dinner began and closed with the flag ceremony presented by service unit 72. This was followed by a welcome speech and dinner. Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey’s Chief Executive Officer, Natasha Hemmings was the first to speak that night. She expressed her gratitude to everyone who helps to make GSHNJ as successful as they are. Her goal for the group is to “Live the mission”. She also shared that she wants to create a sense of urgency around the need of mentors for girls.
The first award of the night was Membership Tenure, which is recognition of total years in Girl Scouting, in 5-year intervals, starting at 20 years. Service Unit (SU) 21 from Newark had the most members receive tenure. Amelia Rendeiro, a member of SU 21 received 35 years. She expressed that her favorite part of her 35 years as a Junior troop leader and volunteer is making a lasting impact and being there for her girls. The members with the highest total years in Girl Scouting include Mary Ellen Day with 50 years and Gail Moose with 55!
Rookie of the Year Recognizes volunteers for outstanding performances during their first year of service. This year Service Unit 11 from Secaucus had the most recipients. The next award was Volunteer years of service, which recognizes total years of service in 5-year intervals, beginning at 20 years and beyond. The two members with the highest total years include Virginia Ann Genlot and Sherley Penrose.
Dedicated Leader Award recognizes a GSHNJ member for continued outstanding performance working with girls, and who have completed their 5th year in a position. Multiple service units had 5 members earn this award. These units include: South Plainfield, Middlesex Borough, Cranford, and Montgomery/Belle Mead/Skillman/Blawenburg/Rocky Hill.
The Volunteer of Excellence award recognizes those who have contributed outstanding service while working directly with girls. Service Unit 67 from Franklin Park/Franklin Township/Somerset had the most volunteers receive this award. The appreciation pin recognizes an individual’s exemplary service in support of delivering the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. Service Unit 81 had the most recipients of this pin, two members of SU 81 are Esther Ferguson and Caryn Nance. They shared that their favorite part about being a Girl Scout is helping girls learn to do new things.
Finally, the last award of the night was the President’s Award. This award recognizes the efforts of a service- delivery team or committee whose exemplary service in supporting delivery of Girl Scout Leadership Experience made a significant impact towards reaching the Council’s overall goals. The recipients were Tara Fearon SU 11, Esther Ferguson SU 81, AnneMarie McGuiness SU 48, Kristin Santos SU 48.
The more coveted awards that were given out that night included: the Honor Pin, Thanks Badge, Community Partnership Award, Emerald Award, and President’s Award. The Honor Pin recognizes an individual’s exemplary service in supporting delivery of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. This year’s recipient was Pamela Holman. The Emerald Award recognizes volunteers whose leadership, initiative, and energy have strengthened the Girl Scout movement. This award can only be earned once in a lifetime. This year’s recipients were Peggy Ann Dry and Kelly McDonald.
The Thanks Badge honors an individual whose ongoing commitment, leadership, and service have had an exceptional impact on meeting the mission- delivery goals and priorities. The recipient of this award was Karen Lin. Karen has been a leader, service unit committee member and on the gold award committee. She hopes that GSHNJ continues to grow and expand while still being a high-quality program for girls.
Community Partnership Award honors an individual, group or organization outside of Girl Scouts who has partnered with GSHNJ and whose service has resulted in significant benefits to girls or council. The honorees were Michael Graves College at Kean University, Goya Foods Incorporated, FOCUS Hispanic Center for Community Development Incorporated, and the Victoria Foundation. While speaking with FOCUS they expressed that their favorite thing about working with GSHNJ is the sisterhood that the students receive by interacting with the Girl Scouts. The Victoria Foundation shared that they would like to bring together different organizations who support girl development encouraging them to work together.