JOHNSON, VT | Sasha Yazdzik has demonstrated that hard work, commitment and determination deliver positive results as she worked for nearly two years to restart and expand a local Girl Scout troop in Johnson, Vermont, winning the trust and confidence of the parents, grandparents, girls, local partners and other volunteers. These are the reasons why Sasha is Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains’ May Volunteer of the Month.
Sasha started as a Girl Scout Daisy in her hometown of Rocky Hill, Connecticut, and is a Bronze, Silver and Gold Award Girl Scout. Upon graduating from high school, Sasha received her lifetime membership and moved to Vermont to attend Johnson College to pursue studies in outdoor education and business management.
While a freshman at college, she saw many Girl Scouts around town during Girl Scout Cookie Season, bringing Sasha immediately back to her recent years as a Girl Scout growing up. She quickly realized that she missed working with younger girls and wanted to give back to the Girl Scouts in her town. Sasha completed her background check and volunteer training and set out to join the local troop, only to find that both leaders were no longer able to continue the troop. She worked tirelessly over the next six months with council, local Girl Scouts, and their parents to step in as a volunteer and to recruit some local help to start the troop back up again.
The primary obstacle Sasha faced in becoming a Girl Scout Troop Leader was that she needed to have a co-leader. As Sasha was now going into her second year on campus, she didn’t know anyone in the area and didn’t have a way to easily network with the parents of girls. She set forth a plan to work with the recruitment team, find a co-leader, and reach out to local parents.
As girls joined the troop, Sasha invited parents to stay at each meeting. She felt they started to gain confidence in her ability to lead the troop as they attended meetings, learned about their plans as a troop, and saw that their girls were having fun. Sasha and her co-leader each led the Brownies and the Juniors, while she recruited a grandparent of one of the girls to lead the Daisies.
“It made me happy to make other girls smile and have a good time in each of our troop meetings,” said Sasha. “Every week we ask parents to help out and volunteer so they can be with the girls to see what they are doing. There are 20 girls in the troop, and parents can help us organize and engage with their girls in the troop activities.”
Sasha is excited as the troop completes its first full year. Her troop has plans during the spring to take an outdoor trip to ECHO Aquarium in Burlington using some of the funds they raised through their cookie sales. “We have started up what we hope to be annual traditions that continue through the years,” says Sasha, “such as Christmas caroling in Morrisville and doing more than badge work, such as yoga day, and bringing in guest speakers so the girls get to know other people and learn from them. It takes time to be comfortable as a volunteer—use the badge books as guides, Listen to what the girls are interested in and make each meeting unique and your own.”
Sasha’s advice to younger volunteers and other college students, “Show your confidence. For lots of adults, this is their child, and they are evaluating you. When you don’t exude confidence, they don’t have full faith in you,” she says. “Some parents are twice your age. I’ve become more comfortable around parents. You need to know what you’re talking about, so they are comfortable in your ability to take care of their kids when they are not around.”
After graduation, Sasha will continue to lead her troop with her co-leaders. Blazing the trail for younger adults to lead Girl Scouts, Sasha is a true go-getter. She looks forward to all the exciting adventures in store for her Girl Scouts and co-leaders who have formed a bond with each other.