WINOOSKI, VT | In the most diverse city in Vermont, where there are about 24 languages spoken in one square mile, it should be no surprise that the four Girl Scout troops led by Amy Lothrop have contained girls of different races, religions and economic status. For Lothrop, it’s been an opportunity to mentor and coach girls to be G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™ and she could not be more proud of them. Lothrop has been named the Volunteer of the Month for February by Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, the council serving Vermont and New Hampshire.
Lothrop has four Girl Scout troops, Daisy through Senior levels, which is kindergarten through 10th grade. She began her journey with Jennifer Erwin in 2012, when Lothrop’s daughter, Gabriella, kept asking to start a troop.
“We literally made a pinky promise,” said Lothrop, “that we would do it together. More than that, we made a promise that we would never ever turn away a girl that wanted to be a Girl Scout.”
She started out with just five girls, jumping right into cookie sales and helping the Daisies earn their financial literacy “petals,” or badges, in the Girl Scout Cookie program. As the years went on and girls pulled in their friends, the numbers grew and groups split into four troops. They still work as one group, but at different age levels the girls have different goals.
Eighteen Girl Scouts in her care have already earned the Bronze Award, the highest honor a Junior Girl Scout can attain, and now that the girls are Cadette Girl Scouts, they are working on their Silver Awards. She has nine Cadettes currently fundraising for a trip to Costa Rica.
“They’re selling cookies at a furious pace!” said Lothrop. The money earned by Girl Scouts through cookie sales stays in their community, and they can direct where their troop earnings go to fund trips, service projects, and more.
In order to prepare for the trip, they are planning a camping trip in May. Some of the girls, she said, have never been out of New England, or on a plane. They hope to do conservation work in Costa Rica, and possibly go whitewater rafting. “They’re all equally excited and terrified of going!” Lothrop said. “One of the best things about Girl Scouts is that it gives them confidence to do things like planning a camping trip,” she said. “With guidance, they’re ready. They’re making decisions. They had to sit down and budget.”
Mentoring a diverse group of girls isn’t always easy. Three girls were sisters from Somalia, but they had to stop coming when their family had to move. In some families, daughters must step up to take care of family members or they don’t have transportation. Simply gaining the trust and understanding of family members who are not from the U.S. is a challenge.
“All our forms are in English, a few in Spanish,” said Lothrop. “I sat in many a living room filling out paperwork. It’s a challenge to get permission slips or do re-registration. I always did it on paper because it’s easier to explain.” Sometimes she needs translators to reach out to families.
One girl Lothrop spoke of with great pride had huge struggles with self confidence. Last fall, her Juniors were working on their Bronze Award project, which requires a live presentation.
“We got to the final presentation,” Lothrop said, “but she was like, ‘I can’t do this.’ She dug her heels in. Before I could respond, my other girls stepped up and said ‘Can we help you? How can we make this all right?’ My daughter said, ‘Do you want me to stand by you to support you?’ She said, “Yeah!’ and she stood up in front of a crowd of people, said five or six sentences, and managed to conquer a fear in a really big way. So coaching her through that, developing that resiliency – and to see my other four girls in my troop show teamwork and compassion – that made me proud!”
Her girls will soon be out selling cookies to support all their projects, and will mark World Thinking Day with a program on girls who stood up to be included in the Crystal Palace Scout Rally in London in 1909.
Lothrop encourages others to be part of Girl Scouts, saying “I might be the face of the troop, but the captain does nothing without the crew.” She thanked co-leaders Bethany LeBlanc, Emily Nosse-Leirer, Jennifer Erwin, Jillian Lannen, Laurie Himes, Laura Need, Marie Hayward, Rebecca Bessette, Tay Olson and Trena Isley for helping her mentor girls and change the world one girl at a time.
Thanks to Amy Lothrop, many girls in the Winooski area are becoming G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™, unleashing their potential and making the world a better place for us all through Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is proud to name her our Volunteer of the Month.