WEST LEBANON, NH | It is only fitting, after a lifetime in Girl Scouting, that Susan Henderson would be honored for all she has contributed to the organization promoting the development of girls of courage, confidence, and character. The West Lebanon resident has not only been named the Volunteer of the Month for June by Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, she was also recognized as a Volunteer of Excellence last month by the council serving Vermont and New Hampshire.
“She goes above and beyond in all areas,” said DeeDee Rice, Community Support for Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains. “Sue is an advocate for the Girl Scout movement as she serves without expectations or desire for personal recognition. She holds high expectations not only for herself but also for the volunteers she supervises. She is a positive role model; inspires others; and epitomizes service above self.”
“Sue never hesitates to lend a hand where needed,” said Michelle Moulton, Member Support Specialist for the council. “She is always one step ahead and readily available to anyone who needs assistance, whether a community volunteer or council member. She assists at Discover Girl Scout meetings to help with recruitment and she communicates with council regularly so that her service unit is best supported. Sue embodies everything Girl Scouts and is a great volunteer and resource to her community and council.
She was a Girl Scout troop leader for nine years, mentoring every age level, from Daisies (kindergarten and first grade) through Ambassador (11th and 12th grade). She started when her daughter joined Girl Scouts, then after a break returned to lead when her granddaughter joined Brownies (second and third grades) – altogether, more than 25 years of service.
As a volunteer service coordinator for the council, Henderson oversees 24 Girl Scout troops in both New Hampshire and Vermont in the Upper Valley, including Hanover, Lebanon, Plainfield, Orange, Grafton, Enfield, Grantham, Cornish, and Canaan in New Hampshire, and Norwich, Hartford, Pomfret, Hartland, Windsor, West Windsor, Bridgewater, and Woodstock in Vermont. In this role, she helps troop leaders get started, keeps them informed of council requirements, and generally mentors them to be successful in leading girls. She runs quarterly leaders’ meetings and puts together a monthly newsletter to keep them informed.
“I started a new leader retreat this year,” she said, “where I can go over the council structure, policies and procedures, what they need to get going. That’s been very well received.”
She advocates for getting troop leaders recruited and trained in the spring so they’re up to speed and comfortable with the role when the new Girl Scout year begins in the fall.
She is also a community accounting coordinator – the person who sets up the bank accounts for troops and keeps track of their membership fees, spending, and the all-important cookie sales.
Henderson made a career teaching nursing when she wasn’t busy with Girl Scouts. She holds a doctoral degree in education with a concentration in nursing education, and developed an associate degree program at River Valley Community College. She was the chief academic officer at the college, interim president, and vice president of academic affairs, along with holding a position on the board of nursing for five years in the 1980s. “I look back on it and think ‘How did I do all that?’” she said.
She’s been married for 54 years, living in West Lebanon for all that time, had two children, and now has a granddaughter who keeps her involved in Girl Scouts.
Helping others grow and learn is clearly key to Henderson’s life. “I like to see the girls develop those leadership skills and values,” she said. “To see things they couldn’t do in first and second grade and then they do them as Juniors or Cadettes – it’s awesome. I feel now that I’m giving back to the Girl Scout community and to the community here. That’s satisfying.”
She urges anyone thinking of volunteering for Girl Scouts to go for it.
“Girl Scouts helped me get where I am,” she said. “I learned all these organizational and leadership skills when I was a Girl Scout and embrace the values in Girl Scout Law in my personal and professional life.” When talking to potential volunteers, she says “I always tell them it’s a great experience. It’s what you make of it.” She points out that volunteers can start gradually and learn, and delegate to other helpers to take some of the load off. “You don’t have to meet every week,” she said. “Older girls don’t meet as often.”
As for her recognition as a Volunteer of Excellence, it came as a complete surprise to her. “I didn’t expect that would get something like that,” she said. But Sarah Reilly, lead for troop support, said Henderson is deserving. “Sue is a fantastic wealth of Girl Scout knowledge,” she said. “She is often first to raise her hand or volunteer.” She received the award for her leadership at meetings, going above and beyond in her roles as volunteer service coordinator and community accounting coordinator, assisting with recruitment and Discover Girl Scout meetings, participating in the council’s strategic alignment planning, helping with troop banking, and more.
Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is proud to name Susan Henderson as its June Volunteer of the Month as well as a Volunteer of Excellence. She embodies the Girl Scout philosophy of developing girls of courage, character, and confidence, who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts takes the potential of girls, combines it with robust skill-building programming, and adds caring adult mentors and strong female role models like Henderson. Girl Scouts offers the best leadership development experience for girls in the world – one that is designed with, by and for girls.
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org.