Friday, October 16, 2020

Living the Promise, Leaving a Legacy

JoAn Berry is a woman who believes one’s life should always include a passion or commitment to something, and she believes it can be found in many places. For some it is found in a profession where they feel they make a difference and for others it grows from a talent or hobby such as gardening. For JoAn, the passion comes from being a Girl Scout. When she joined as a Girl Scout Brownie, little did she know that it would become a lifelong passion. 


“I describe passion as a persistent feeling that guides your heart and mind,” JoAn said. “It pulls you through life and impacts everything. Girl Scouts is part of who I am. I care deeply about the mission and how the movement changes girls and their future for the better.”


JoAn draws her energy source to nurture this passion by wearing a number of volunteer hats, with the first hat worn as a Girl Scout Brownie leader for her daughter’s troop 30 years ago. Her daughter, Elizabeth, shares her mom’s passion and was in Girl Scouts throughout her girl years and earned the Girl Scout Silver Award for creating a Daddy/Daughter program within her service unit. It was a well-planned program that called upon Elizabeth’s leadership skills and one that eventually helped her earn a scholarship from Virginia Wesleyan University.


The passion that was passed onto Elizabeth is an example of how JoAn impacts lives. Her commitment to Girl Scouts spills out wherever she goes and she seems to be everywhere as a volunteer. She is a Girl Scout master trainer and has trained hundreds, from trainings on finance management to outdoor skills. She’s also served in several service units and has helped in nearly every service team role – her favorite being product programs. Her positive and go-getter personality makes her sought out by new leaders and her enthusiasm for the Girl Scout movement is contagious.  

JoAn helping out on the archery range at camp

JoAn teaching first aid

JoAn is all smiles volunteering at a cookie delivery
in Virginia Beach in 2019


“I’ve learned that Girl Scouts makes me happy,” she said. “It inspires me. As a product program coordinator, I’ve seen girls grow up through Girl Scouting. I’ve seen Daisies who were extremely shy and reserved become confident leaders as Juniors. This really makes my heart sing to think I was part of making that happen.”


When JoAn volunteers, the good memories of her own years in the program are not far away. Those memories include having her mom as her Girl Scout leader, enjoying Girl Scouting with her three sisters and camping in tents with no floors that, during one trip, created a flood in their tent that prompted a swift evacuation in the middle of the night.


Last July, when she heard National Volunteer Dianne Belk speak at a Juliette Gordon Low Society gathering, she felt a strong bond with her. Like JoAn, she did not come from a wealthy family and only had enough to get by. Girl Scouting was an added bonus to her childhood that she cherished. Dianne’s passionate description of why she started the Juliette Gordon Low Society – to ensure the future of Girl Scouts for future generations – found a place in JoAn’s heart. And when JoAn found out there was no minimum amount to make a planned gift, she decided to take the step to add Girl Scouts as part of her legacy.

GSCCC recognized JoAn in 2014 with the
Girl Scout Thanks Badge.


It was that same sense of responsibility to ensure a legacy that prompted JoAn to become a national delegate this year and represent GSCCC at the GSUSA National Council Session where six important proposals are being presented and voted upon.


“I believe so strongly in the mission of Girl Scouts,” JoAn said. “I have been entrusted with a huge responsibility – the future of our girls. As Girl Scout volunteers and adults who care about Girl Scouting, we give girls the power to be the movers and shakers of their communities – of the world. It is extremely important and a role, whether that is of a volunteer or donor, we should be proud to hold.”