Karen Werner has dedicated a lifetime to the betterment of girls
AMHERST, NH – One would be hard-pressed to find someone with a greater passion for Girl Scouting, someone who has truly given her all to her communities, than Karen Werner. This lifetime member and volunteer has been named the Volunteer of the Month for October by Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, the council serving more than 10,000 girls across New Hampshire and Vermont.
Werner, 73, of Amherst, is currently a volunteer support coordinator for the council, helping the community of roughly 200 Girl Scouts and their families in Amherst and Mont Vernon with organizing troops, assisting leaders, and generally offering a lifetime of her wisdom. She serves the council on the Gold Award Girl Scout Support Committee, assisting high school girls who are earning the highest awards in Girl Scouting. She is considered a Gold Award Girl Scout herself, having earned its equivalent, the Curved Bar, as a Girl Scout Senior.
“Girl Scouting has been a real passion of mine,” said Werner. “It’s opened a lot of doors. I could always find a home with Girl Scouts.”
With a husband in the Navy, Girl Scouting truly offered Werner that home community, as they lived in California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and even in England, before coming to New Hampshire. She h a Scouting-oriented family, with her father, brother, and son all Eagle Scouts. She led a troop for 10 years, during which her daughter, Alison, earned her Girl Scout Gold Award. Now she has a granddaughter earning her Girl Scout Silver Award, and grandsons working toward their Eagle.
“She is absolutely fantastic to work with,” said Amanda Powell, Volunteer Support Specialist for the Girl Scout council. “She knows everything going on in her community and is happy to go the extra mile - or five - to help her volunteers. She does special hand deliveries to every troop leader in her service unit for Volunteer Appreciation Month every year! She meets with new leaders in person to help them get oriented.”
“Her sincerity and commitment to young girls and women is truly admirable and her heart is larger than life!” said DeeDee Rice, Volunteer Support Specialist for the council.
Werner jumped into leading a Girl Scout troop before she even had children. She has filled a variety of roles, including troop leader, training coordinator, volunteer service coordinator, council board member, and Gold Award committee member. She was recognized with the Volunteer of Excellence Award by Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains in 2018.
It’s when one speaks with Werner, however, that her passion for the Girl Scouts shines through. The community of Amherst and Mont Vernon is very active, with roughly 200 Girl Scouts in dozens of troops, to whom she lends her experience. The COVID-19 pandemic was this year’s challenge, and Werner helped keep those girls engaged.
“Amherst is lucky,” she said, “kids are in class five days a week. But with older group they really want to be together. You don’t have to have much of a program. Go for a walk! Sit on a blanket! I love the idea of getting them outside more.” She tells of a troop of Girl Scout Ambassadors, those in 11th and 12th grade, who had been finding it difficult to meet until they could do so safely in person at their leader’s house, outdoors. Once they had that face-to-face experience, they wanted to begin meeting weekly rather than monthly. “They sat on the front lawn,” she said, “and the girls said, ‘Can’t we please meet every week?’ They need the socialization, the support.”
Werner sees such value in the Girl Scout program, teaching valuable life skills, that she said “I wish this would be a graduation requirement.” She points out that in this age of bullying, Girl Scouts makes sure every girl is listened to and gets a chance to try new things. “In school sometimes it’s tough for them,” she said. “It builds the girls' confidence and character and helps them discover that they can make a difference."
When she’s not giving back through Girl Scouts, Werner is also involved in the Circle Program a mentoring program for girls, whose values align with Girl Scouts’. Her involvement there followed the loss of her daughter in a car accident 11 years ago. “You never imagine that you’ll lose somebody so early in life,” she said. “That’s when we got involved in the Circle Program. She would have liked this whole program. It was something to do in her memory.”
With a family history of giving back, it’s no surprise Werner finds Girl Scouting fulfilling – no matter one’s age. “It’s a great way to feel like you’re part of the community,” she said. “We had the chance to live in England for four years. I talked to one British woman who said once we hit 70, we can’t be a leader anymore. To me, it’s been a wonderful opportunity.”
Werner credits her entire community for pulling together for their kids. “It’s such a dedicated group of leaders here in Amherst and Mont Vernon,” she said. “They just have a commitment to these girls that is just amazing.”
So does Karen Werner. Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is proud to name her the Volunteer of the Month for October.
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.