Nicole Williams didn’t plan on spending her evenings twice a month to organize donation drives, mix elephant slime or fundraise for a derby racetrack. She also didn’t see herself cooking meals, fixing hair and teaching preteens about hygiene, at least not for anyone except her own children.
However, within the past two years, Williams has picked up these duties and many more as leader of Girl Scouts Troop 22061. She is the last to complain – in fact, Williams loves it. She got involved with the troop in 2019 when her daughter asked to join because she wanted to explore her interests in science, engineering and math.
Williams stepped up when the past leader left to have more time with her newborn. She ensured the girls that troop meetings would be something they could count on, not knowing how big of a difference that would make for the members and their families.
“We have a lot of dads and foster parents in the group, so many of my girls are part of untraditional families,” Williams said. “They are all amazing and doing everything they can to help these girls grow up, especially during such an uncertain time. I think Girl Scouts offered that stability we were all searching for.”
Williams provides meals – not just snacks – at meetings. She also makes a point to always be available in case the girls need to talk with someone. Williams does the girls’ hair and hosts hair care classes for their parents.
“At the beginning of every meeting, I go around and ask them about their day, and they are very honest about it,” Williams said. “They know Girl Scouts is a safe place to be open about their experiences and feelings. Most importantly, they know everyone will have their back.”
Williams attributes Troop 22061’s success to those open conversations. The troop has grown from eight members to 33, ranging from 6-14 years old and from schools across the area. The girls have completed service projects with the American Red Cross, Diaper Love, Karns Fire Department, Frozen Head State Park and more with plans to partner with others.
“Girl Scouts can open a lot of doors for girls,” Williams said. “From building self-esteem to helping others in need, it is a good organization for girls to understand themselves and others more.”
You can learn more about Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians at girlscoutcsa.org and find a troop by texting the word “JOIN” to 59618 or sending an email to [email protected]
Gretchen Crawley is VP of communications for Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians.