Karen Cumings of East Kingston named council’s Volunteer of the Month
EAST KINGSTON, NH – It’s Girl Scout Cookie season, and that’s a gargantuan feat of organization among thousands of volunteers and Girl Scouts to coordinate. One of those outstanding volunteers is Karen Cumings, leader of Troop 59300 in Kingston and a Community Product Sales Coordinator for Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, the council serving girls across New Hampshire and Vermont. Cumings has been named the council’s Volunteer of the Month for February.
“Karen has been awesome for us!” said Lauren McFarland, Product and Marketing Specialist for the council. “She stepped up and distributed materials for cookies to (her troops),” noting that Cumings saved many troop leaders from having to drive out to Bedford to get their cookie sale materials and was excited to begin the cookie program.
Amanda Powell, Volunteer Support Specialist for the council, agreed. “She’s super organized, replied quickly, and has been right on top of keeping track of everything with the materials and keeping council in the loop!”
Cumings said the key to making it work is constant communication with the leaders in her area, which encompasses Plaistow, Atkinson, Hampstead, Newton, Kingston, Danville, Sandown, and Fremont.
“It’s kind of just setting expectations,” she said. “This is how we’re going to do it, and making sure that the parents know how to contact us quickly.”
Right now her Girl Scouts are taking initial orders in person and online through Digital Cookie, and will soon be arranging for cookie booths at many locations.
But it’s what those cookie sales provide that’s important. Her troop has used cookie proceeds to pay for camporees, trips, and other activities. She wants to make sure that no one is left out of these experiences for lack of funds. Her girls are just now making their own decisions about how to use those funds.
“Last year we did about 220 boxes per girl,” she said, “so if we can do that again, we will have lots of options.”
Troop 59300 is a large group of Girl Scouts ranging from kindergarten through sixth grade. They’ve camped at Pawtuckaway State Park and Camp Seawood in Portsmouth, and enjoy helping their community.
Cumings said she relies heavily on her co-leader Robyn Carroll, and the parents who volunteer to make things work.
“They definitely they make it happen,” she said. “We plan things, we show up, we give them stuff, and they just they just roll with it. That's how we can manage with the four different age levels, and we're up to 19 girls! If we didn't have them, we couldn't do this.”
Cumings came to Girl Scouts with a strong background in Girl Scouting, having started as a Daisy (kindergarten and first-grade Girl Scout) in Allenstown, continuing as an individual member when a troop wasn’t available, and earning two of Girl Scouting’s highest honors – the Silver Award and Gold Award. She was an avid camper, earning her Cadette Program Aide and Senior Program Aide credentials, and was a camp counselor at Camp Kettleford.
“I had been going there forever, and I loved it,” Cumings said. “But that was when I went from being the super shy, quiet girl whose teacher called home within a week - they were so concerned I wasn't talking - to this here. I'm still not the most outgoing person, but that gave me a lot of the confidence I needed to get out there and try new things and be willing to share my own ideas.”
Cumings has two children, a boy and a girl, and her daughter is in her troop, following in her mother’s footsteps. At first she had to let her daughter participate without her as she finished her doctoral dissertation in New York, though she did lead a troop in Georgia from 2008 to 2011. She’s been doing adjunct teaching and hopes to use her mathematics skills to solve problems to help people.
Volunteering is all about helping people, and Cumings sees that as a way to improve the world. She’s watched her daughter grow and become more confident in Girl Scouts.
“She's willing to try new things, and she's more willing to do it at Girl Scouts than elsewhere, in what I can see,” she said. “So really to see that, I just I just love that.”
Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is proud to have Karen Cumings as part of its team, and to call her Volunteer of the Month.
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Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains serves girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont through volunteer-run troops, events, and virtual programs. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org to learn more.