Volunteer empowers girls to become strong women

Published 8:16 am Wednesday, November 10, 2010

by Elizabeth Vaughn

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a series of guest columns from representatives of organizations that are supported by the Franklin-Southampton Area United Way, which kicked off its annual campaign last month.

Teri Zurfluh distinctly remembers building her first campfire at Girl Scout Camp Darden, right in her hometown of Franklin.

“We just had one match to light it with,” Zurfluh said. “Mine broke, but I still got it started.”

That was more than 15 years ago, but those simple skills of perseverance and problem solving are still with her today, as are a plethora of other useful skills such as leadership and teamwork — all of which she learned in Girl Scouts.

As the workforce development coordinator for the Paul D. Camp Community College’s Workforce Community Center, she teaches these skills to other adults. As a dedicated Girl Scout volunteer, she does the same for local girls.

“Girl Scouts equips girls with skills that help them become empowered young women in a way no other organization does,” Zurfluh said.

She started volunteering for the Girl Scouts when her daughter was old enough to join. Zurfluh immediately jumped in and started leading the troop and helping out in any way she could.

Just like all good volunteers, Zurfluh shares these experiences with others, acting as an ambassador for Girl Scouts in the Franklin area. She not only encourages girls to join, but she brings in other adults who want to make a difference, whether it be as a troop leader or one of a wide variety of long- and short-term volunteer positions available with the Girl Scouts.

Last year, Zurfluh was instrumental in bringing in local experts for a short-term volunteer experience that empowered a special group of girls. Through a unique program called “Get SET, Go Girl!,” 16 girls with no prior Girl Scout experience from several different middle and high schools got the opportunity to learn about SET careers; SET stands for science, engineering and technology.

Zurfluh coordinated field trips to the Virginia Air and Space Center and the Virginia Aquarium. She brought in several short-term volunteers, female role models who work in SET fields, to mentor the girls and bring life to their career possibilities.

This year, Zurfluh is getting ready to empower her troop of middle and high school girls to lead one another on a journey that interests them and prepares them for the future. By letting them take the lead with just a little bit of guidance and a lot of encouragement from her, she will ensure that each of those girls gets the same beneficial experience she got when she was their age.

Conflict management, problem solving, teamwork and leadership are just a few of the things Zurfluh knows they will learn through the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

“I love helping the girls find their voices,” she said. “Helping them find out who they are and what their passion is — and helping them become strong women.”

Whether through a troop, a special-interest group, camp or a service award project, girls all over Franklin and Southampton County have the opportunity to do great things for themselves and for others.

With positive role models like Zurfluh guiding them along their journey, there’s nothing they can’t accomplish through Girl Scouts.

ELIZABETH VAUGHN of Chesapeake is community relations manager for the Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast, which serves more than 15,000 girls in kindergarten through 12th grade in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Her e-mail address is elizabethf@gsccc.org.