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The History of Volunteer Appreciation Month

Hello from the Girl Scouts of Colorado History Center in Loveland!

Happy National Volunteers Month (April), National Volunteers Week (April 18-24), and Girl Scouts Leader’s Day, also Girl Scout Leader Appreciation Day (April 22)! This is a time to honor and thank ALL our outstanding volunteers, whether they are leaders, full time, part-time, or episodic.

National Volunteer Week was first held in 1943 in Canada and was established by the United States government in 1974, occurring annually in the third week of April. It was made official worldwide in 1990. April became National Volunteer Month when President George H. W. Bush’s 1000 Points of Light campaign in 1991 (created as an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization to encourage and empower the spirit of service) merged with the National Volunteer Center Network Today. These holidays are organized by Points of Light, now the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. Americans volunteer 8.8 billion hours annually and with such a massive amount of time donated for the greater cause, all non-volunteers owe this month to celebrate 30-days of appreciation to volunteering efforts.

Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) proclaimed Girl Scouts Leader’s Day on April 22, 1982 to recognize the volunteers who serve as role models to millions of youth each year. They selected the date of April 22 because it falls near National Volunteer Week each year. That day in 1982 a flag honoring Girl Scout leaders was flown over the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Girl Scouts has honored, thanked, appreciated its volunteers in many ways since its founding by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912. Originally, the highest award in Girl Guiding, the Silver Fish, first appeared in 1911 and then for a short time in Girl Scouting.  Only three American women were awarded the Silver Fish – Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts USA; Anne Hyde Choate, Juliette’s goddaughter and the second president of Girl Scouts USA; and Helen Storrow, donor of Our Chalet.

Today, Girl Scouts of Colorado has special awards for adult volunteers such as the Rising Star Pin and  President’s Award. GSUSA National awards are the Volunteer of Excellence Pin, Appreciation Pin, Honor Pin, Thanks Badge, and Thanks Badge II. The GSUSA special award for global-minded volunteers is the Juliette Gordon Low World Friendship Medal. (See https://www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org/en/for-volunteers/volunteer-appreciation.html for more information.) One of our treasured GSCO History Center volunteers, JoAnne Busch, has received the Juliette Gordon Low World Friendship Medal for her global Girl Scout volunteer efforts.

Girl Scout Leader’s Day is the time for girls to show their leaders and community volunteers their gratitude for all that they do for their troop and service unit. One former GSCO leader (actually, she is again now a leader of her granddaughter’s troop!) remembers a volunteer appreciation tea party when each volunteer took home the teacup and saucer that their tea was served in. It is stored along with many special mugs and cups at the GSCO History Center. Another leader remembers her girls decorating her lawn and trees with blue ribbons (the Girl Scout way of “TP-ing” someone’s house!)  She also recalls her troop making signs recycled from used campaign signs (using resources wisely, of course) and hammered them on leader’s lawns. See photo below.

Below are a few treasured leaders thank you gifts. The Gold Oscar was a volunteer appreciation from Northern Colorado Girl Scouts. Creativity and crafty was the norm!

The Girl Scouts of Colorado History Center was started and still operated by dedicated volunteers (men and women).  Below is a photo of a few of them being honored for their efforts at the 2017 Women of Distinction (Thin Mint) Dinner in October 2017.

It is so important to thank, recognize, honor, and appreciate Girl Scout volunteers. Today, with the ease of searching on the internet there are many crafty creative ideas to do this. And there is always the good old fashion way to simply hand write a note of thanks.

Our committee of volunteers works hard to preserve and protect our Girl Scout history. Each year they volunteered between 1400 to 1800 hours at the History Center! They look forward to gathering again in person and sharing their passion for GS History with you and your girls. If you have Girl Scout special volunteer stories, gifts or memories, please share here as well.

​Email the GSCO History Center at gscohistory@gmail.com.

We want to hear how your girl is using her Girl Scout skills by taking initiative, caring for the community, and Girl Scouting at home. She can send in her story here.

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