side menu icon

Past Volunteer Spotlights

Each month, we are happy to highlight a volunteer at GSHCC who dedicates their time and talent to Girl Scouts. Below you can read our past volunteers of the month.

Get to know past volunteers

January 2020: Jackie Simon
Jackie Smith image

Name:
Jackie Simon

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a full-time mom, wife, Girl Scout Leader, CASA Volunteer, Spartan, and PTSO Board Member.

Were you a Girl Scout? If yes, where?
I was a Junior Scout in Citrus Heights with Tierra del Oro.

How long have you volunteered with Girl Scouts? What volunteer role do you have?
I have volunteered as a Girl Scout Leader for 11 years with my daughter’s troop. I have volunteered as a Troop Cookie Manager for 11 years. I have served on a Service Team for 10 years and I have volunteered as a Service Unit Cookie Manager for 8 years.

Why do you volunteer for Girl Scouts?
I started volunteering for Girl Scouts because I enjoyed spending time with my daughter. I have continued working with Girl Scouts because I have learned so much from the girls in my troop and the women who work and volunteer for Girl Scouts. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to help girls in the community be a part of the mission to evolve into strong female leaders in society!

What’s your favorite thing about volunteering with Girl Scouts?|
Learning from my girls and experiencing the world through their leadership.

What advice would you give to young girls?
Have your own voice and be a voice for the voiceless!

Favorite Girl Scout Cookie flavor?
Peanut Butter Patties

Outside of volunteering, what are a few of your hobbies?
I enjoy traveling with my family, ziplining, Mexican Folk Art, coffee with friends, and naps with my cats.

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience with Girl Scouts (history with organization, recognitions or awards received, etc. If sharing recognitions/awards, please share what you did to earn that!)?
I feel blessed to have met so many wonderful people through Girl Scouts! I have made some lifetime friends that I would not have met without the organization. I have received a few awards over the years. In the Arden Starr Service Unit, I received the Outstanding Volunteering Award and the Volunteer of Excellence Award for my service to the Unit and my troop. I was recently informed that I was nominated and Board approved to receive the Appreciation Pin. I do not have the details on how or why that happened, but I feel honored.

February 2020: Alexa Ybarra
Alexa Ybarra image

Name:
Alexa Ybarra

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a Program Manager for the After School Program at Nicholas Elementary run by The Center (SCCSC).

Were you a Girl Scout? If yes, where?
Sadly no! I wish I had the opportunities my girls have now.

How long have you volunteered with Girl Scouts? What volunteer role do you have?
I have been volunteering with Girl Scouts since 2018 when my after school program received the opportunity to have a Girl Scout troop in the after school space. I serve as one of the Troop Leaders and this year I am also one of the Troop Cookie Managers.

Why do you volunteer for Girl Scouts?
I volunteer with Girl Scouts because I think it is very important for girls at a young age to have a female mentor/role model. I think Girls Scouts is a great organization that teaches girls some fundamental skills from the importance of STEM to how to become business women. I feel like we live in a society where at times we as women tear each other down instead of lifting each other up. I believe that Girls Scouts is a great program for girls to learn the importance of lifting their fellow Girl Scout sisters up and how to support one another. 

What’s your favorite thing about volunteering with Girl Scouts?
Completing all the activities with the girls to earn their patches is so much fun. I love seeing how some of the girls just step up and become leaders without even being asked.

What advice would you give to young girls?
Be the BEST version of YOU.

Favorite Girl Scout Cookie flavor?
Thanks-a-Lots

Outside of volunteering, what are a few of your hobbies?
I love to dance and do yoga.

 

March 2020: Jennifer Jepson
Jennifer Jepson image in front of Girl Scouts of USA sign

Name: 
Jennifer Jepson

Where do you work and what do you do? 
I am a stay at home mom.

Were you a Girl Scout? If yes, where? 
I was a Brownie Girl Scout in the Bay Area. 

How long have you volunteered with Girl Scouts? What volunteer role do you have? 
I have volunteered with Girl Scouts for 10 years. I have been troop leader, Service Unit secretary, Service Unit orientation specialist, Service Unit Fall Product manager, and am currently Big Valley’s Service Unit Coordinator.

Why do you volunteer for Girl Scouts? 
As a former teacher, I enjoy using those skills to plan activities, badges, and events for the girls. 

What’s your favorite thing about volunteering with Girl Scouts? 
My favorite thing is taking girls to places or activities they have never been to. 

What advice would you give to young girls? 
Create the things you wished existed.

Favorite Girl Scout Cookie flavor? 
Lemonades are my favorite cookies! 

Outside of volunteering, what are a few of your hobbies? 
Traveling and crafting with my Cricut.

April 2020: Rebecca Amico
Rebecca Amico image with her family

Name: 
Rebecca Amico

Where do you work and what do you do?  
I am the National Scheduling Coordinator for Icing Smiles, Inc.  We are a non-profit network of volunteers that provides custom cakes for critically-ill kids and their siblings.  My role is to oversee a team of State Coordinators who work to connect these families with their volunteer “Sugar Angels.”

Were you a Girl Scout? If yes, where? 
Yes!  We moved a lot when I was a kid, so I was just a Brownie for a few years in West Virginia.  

How long have you volunteered with Girl Scouts? What volunteer role do you have? 
This is my 9th scouting year with Girl Scouts.  I started a Daisy troop in 2012 and now have 17 Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors and one Ambassador.  I joined the Antelope Highlands Service Team in 2014 as Service Unit Cookie Manager, which I held for 6 scouting years.  I’m now the Service Unit Event Coordinator.  I served with a former Product Sales Director on a volunteer advisory team and traveled with her to Chicago with ABC Bakers and IBM to help build the new Smart Cookies platform.

Why do you volunteer for Girl Scouts? 
I believe so strongly that girls need a single-gendered space to grow and flourish.  I also believe that girls and women are influenced by society to compete with each other, and I want to foster sisterhood among girls.  I also love being able to help others with their missions to lead and raise strong girls!

What’s your favorite thing about volunteering with Girl Scouts?  
Seeing the seeds planted long ago coming to fruition.  Watching girls live things they learned in Girl Scouts.  Knowing that we’re making a difference!

What advice would you give to young girls?  
Never let anyone else define who you are, what you want, what you can do, or your successes! It’s okay to have down days, too.  Take that day, cry it out, then lay it to rest with love and light the next day! 

Favorite Girl Scout Cookie flavor?  
As if there’s just one…

Outside of volunteering, what are a few of your hobbies? 
I love cooking, camping, cake decorating, traveling, and games. Music, music, music!  I miss my days of volunteering as a Music Docent for my kids’ schools!  I also am a strong advocate for people with Special Needs.

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience with Girl Scouts (history with organization, recognitions or awards received, etc. If sharing recognitions/awards, please share what you did to earn that!)?  
I’m not good at this!  I’ve earned the Volunteer of Excellence award from my service unit for two different roles.  I believe that was simply done by always bringing my best to help anyone who needs it.  I was awarded the Volunteer Appreciation pin as well for my work on the Service Team.  The best recognition, though, is the thanks and hugs I get from my girls and their parents!  Those are what will live on in my heart.

May 2020: Michele Barlich
Michele Barlich image with children

Name:
Michele Barlich

Where do you work and what do you do?
At this moment, I am a full-time mom, homeschooling guru of two, and house wife extraordinaire.

Were you a Girl Scout? If yes, where?
For a very brief time, I was a Brownie at an after school program in Redding, CA.

How long have you volunteered with Girl Scouts? What volunteer role do you have?
I registered in 2012 to help my daughter work through being a Juliette but became a troop leader in 2017 for two troops so each of my girls could join a troop. Since then, I have held roles on both the Stockton and Lodi Service Teams. I also volunteer as a Council Trainer to help bring volunteer training more locally for our leaders, and I also enjoy occasionally helping as a volunteer in the Sacramento and Modesto STEM Centers.

Why do you volunteer for Girl Scouts?
To ensure that the next generation of girls get an amazing Girl Scout experience.

What’s your favorite thing about volunteering with Girl Scouts?
By far my favorite thing is watching our Girl Scouts learn, grow, and thrive. Some of my most shy and timid girls are now outgoing and bold and I place a lot of that on their experiences through Girl Scouts.

What advice would you give to young girls?
Never be afraid to be who YOU are!

Favorite Girl Scout Cookie flavor?
So, there just had to be a difficult question in here...Hmm. I can narrow it down to three which are Lemonades, Peanut Butter Patties, and Thanks-A-Lots.

Outside of volunteering, what are a few of your hobbies?
I love to be silly with my kids. I take way too many pictures, listen to music too loud and dance like I’m actually good at it.

June 2020: Deborah Macres
Deborah Macres image

Name: 
Deborah Macres

Where do you work and what do you do? 
I work at Kaiser Permanente in Rancho Cordova as a Registered Nurse in the Allergy, Asthma, Immunology Department.  I am also a Research Study Coordinator in the department to conduct new drug study protocols.

Were you a Girl Scout? If yes, where? 
I was a Junior Girl Scout in San Jose for 2 years. I did not stay involved as I had a difficult time connecting with the girls in an already established troop. I loved the day camps in summer, but eventually with being so shy staying in the troop became difficult.

How long have you volunteered with Girl Scouts? What volunteer role do you have?
I have been a Girl Scout Troop Leader since 1998 and continue to present. I have been a troop leader to two troops (Daisy through Ambassador level). I am a High Adventure troop leader, a Service Unit Event Coordinator and Outdoor Mentor, and a RN-First Aider/ Wilderness First Aider for events.

Why do you volunteer for Girl Scouts? 
I love the leadership opportunities that the girls have in this organization. This helps develop their confidence, organization and management skills, problem-solving skills, and ability to not only lead but to work in a group settling. I am passionate about the outdoor and travel experiences for the girls. These opportunities not only offer many life skills, but also offer many opportunities they might not have with school or their family. Growing skills bring one out of their comfort zone and helps bring self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment. 

I am also a strong proponent of the Girl Scouts Leadership and Awards Program, encouraging girls to pursue their Girl Scout Gold Award. This award builds on so many life skills and leadership that will benefit them personally in their college applications and education and or career development. These projects are a lifetime skill and leadership development and a strong component of giving back to your community. 

I volunteer to advocate and lead girls in the wide variety of opportunities Girl Scouts has to offer within my own troop, service unit and council. The reward is seeing the girls expand their opportunities, develop leadership and mentoring skills, and form lasting friendships.

What advice would you give to young girls?
Dream and dream big. Make goals and work toward them. Take a chance and step outside your comfort zone and try something new: a new food, a new adventure, explore and learn a foreign language and culture, go camping or hiking. When trying something new, find a mentor to guide and encourage you. Soon you will become the mentor to the next person.

From the time the girls were Daisies and Brownies, we talked about the various opportunities in Girl Scouts and showed pictures from World Thinking Day that included the Girl Scouts World Centers PAX Lodge in London, and my Chalet in Switzerland. There was also a high school age troop that also shared their journey and experience with our service unit after they went to the World Centers. This brought with it goal setting, money earning with Girl Scout Cookies and Fall Product, and years of saving. Having the opportunity to demonstrate and experience long term goal setting planning for the future opportunities paid off when the girls were able to choose Girl Scout travel experiences in their final years of high school. Several of the girls went on the London to Lucern trip for Girl Scouts, and several of the other girls went on Destination trips that included a Girl Scout camp in Germany, a Minnesota Wilderness and Canoe Adventure, and even a cruise to Mexico. 

Favorite Girl Scout Cookie flavor? 
Thin Mints always and forever.

Outside of volunteering, what are a few of your hobbies? 
The great love of the outdoors and healthy living. I enjoy our family garden that provides produce year-round, and of course cooking seasonally. My love of travel and adventure and planning the next trip.  My love of the outdoors extends to tent camping, RV camping, hiking and backpacking, and even boat camping.  

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience with Girl Scouts (history with organization, recognitions or awards received, etc. If sharing recognitions/awards, please share what you did to earn that!)?
My great love of the outdoors and camping began at a young age growing up with my family.  Taking on the next level and backpacking was never experienced until I was a Girl Scout Leader with my oldest daughter's troop. I took the Beginning and Intermediate Backpacking training courses several times to have as much exposure and practice of the new skills. This gave me the confidence to take several backpacking trips with my family – and a new passion for this level of camping has become a favorite. The backpacking skills have continued to be used as I have mentored and lead High Adventure Girl Scouts in various backpacking trips that include Point Reyes, Pacific Crest Trail Sections, and Rim to Rim Grand Canyon.  

Girl Scouts is held near and dear to my heart for providing the many opportunities that build confidence and character to girls and adults.

July 2020: Andrea Songey-Neff
July_2020_Volunteer Spotlight

Name: 
Andrea Songey-Neff

Where do you work and what do you do? 
I work as the Executive Director of the Pacific Italian Alliance a small non-profit that highlights the amazing contributions of Italians in San Joaquin County and beyond through a suite of cultural events, publications and promotions of local Italian culture.  I plan large and small events, create an annual magazine, solicit donors and manage a membership drive, among other things.

Were you a Girl Scout? If yes, where?  
I was a Girl Scout beginning in 1st grade as a Brownie (before there were Daisies!) when my family lived in the Bay Area. I continued to be an active Girl Scout even after we moved to Southern California until my sophomore year in high school when my family moved to Rio Vista where there we no Girl Scout Troops. My favorite part of being a Girl Scout was traveling with my Girl Scout friends to places my family couldn’t afford. My two favorite trips were two weeks on Catalina Island and a week back country camping in Kings Canyon. 

How long have you volunteered with Girl Scouts? What volunteer role do you have? 
I am in my 15th year of volunteering. I started as a part-time leader with Vickie Clark and Troop 130 and now lead three troops (Troop 1895, Troop 130 and Travel Troop 10113): one for each daughter and a Council Wide Big Trip travel troop. Previously, I have served as Service Team Coordinator, Events Coordinator and Service Unit Representative. 

Why do you volunteer for Girl Scouts? 
Girl Scouts is the premier leadership experience for girls and women. Girl Scouts is in my DNA as a 3rd generation Girl Scout who married the son of a Girl Scout whose Troop was on the Island of Guam. I can’t think of any other organization that offers the breadth of opportunities our girls get through Girl Scouting. I think Girl Scouts is the organization that will encourage, support and educate our female leaders and change makers of tomorrow and I want to be part of that endeavor.

What’s your favorite thing about volunteering with Girl Scouts? 
Watching girls try. “Try” means so many different things to different girls. Watching a the shy one learn to ask for what she wants or needs because she knows she will receive it in the safe space that is Girl Scouts. Watching a 3rd and 5th grader balance a cookie booth all by themselves because they wanted to try. Running clear across an amusement park just before closing because the quiet girl finally decided she really wanted to try the rollercoaster everyone was talking about. Swimming in the ocean the first time when her mother was pretty certain she didn’t even want to go to the beach. Climbing 100 feet in the air to take that first step as you zipline across a valley. Flying for the first time on a plane. These are the things girls do with Girl Scouts they might never be able to try on their own. I feel privileged every time I get to see them try. 

What advice would you give to young girls? 
Keep trying and stick with it. As the parent of a Gold Award Girl Scout who is bridging to adult, I personally regret not having the same opportunity. The worlds of opportunity that await you as a High School Girl Scout are amazing, varied and beyond your imagination. If you can dream it and are willing to try, you can make it happen.

Favorite Girl Scout Cookie flavor?  
On cookie delivery day, after the uHaul has been unloaded and returned and most of the girls have their cookies in hand, as the sun sets, I take off my closed toe shoes, put my feet up and eat an entire package of Peanut Butter Patties with a glass of zinfandel or a nice porter. 

Outside of volunteering, what are a few of your hobbies? 
I like to garden and I love to cook including preserving food. Feeding people is my gift. Food is how I show love. I also love to travel and camp. My camping food is the best you will ever taste. I can cook anything outdoors including a full five course Thanksgiving dinner and a three layer chocolate cake.  

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience with Girl Scouts (history with organization, recognitions or awards received, etc. If sharing recognitions/awards, please share what you did to earn that!)?
I encourage every Girl Scout to visit a WAGGGS Center. If your troop won’t go, go by yourself or take your girl. The camaraderie and appreciation of being part of an organization that spans 150 countries and 10 million girls and women is indescribable. The experience of releasing newly hatched baby sea turtles into the ocean at sunset after a hard day cleaning and rehabilitating turtle nests or climbing pre-Columbian pyramids cannot be put into words and must be experienced to be believed. Next stop….Sangam.

hand drawn yellow heart