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The Patriot-News

Starting on a Temporary Basis, Leader Turns into a Good Scout

by JANET PICKEL, Staff Writer

April 20, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

Carmen Morales agreed to help a Girl Scout troop temporarily when its leader, her pregnant sister, was ordered off her feet.

That was seven years ago, and Morales is still co-leader -- with her sister -- of the group of girls. She's started training other adult leaders and is working with the Hemlock Girl Scout Council on translating its training and other materials into Spanish to aid Hispanic volunteers.

"I just keep getting more and more involved," she said.

"Hemlock Girl Scout Council strives to serve every girl, everywhere. Carmen has been an invaluable resource in helping the council reach out to new girls in Harrisburg," said Rae Lynn Cox, the council's director of communications.

The Daisy Scouts that Morales started with -- including her niece -- are now Juniors, in fourth through sixth grades. They meet every other week in a Susquehanna Twp. church.

"I love working with the girls," Morales, 40, said. "I believe in what the Girl Scouts do for girls; otherwise, I couldn't do this."

"Carmen loves Girl Scouting, and it shows," Cox said. "Her enthusiasm and commitment to Girl Scouting is contagious."

A native of Puerto Rico who has lived in Harrisburg since high school, Morales incorporates her culture into the troop's activities. At Christmastime, for example, they held a celebration with a Hispanic flavor. The eight girls she leads are white, black and Hispanic.

"We're a little United Nations," she said. "It brings so much."

The girls work on badges, take trips and complete activities.

Morales works with children all day. She teaches at Ronald H. Brown Charter School in Harrisburg. The school has about 350 pupils in kindergarten through eighth grade; they all take Spanish from Morales.

But adults are on Morales' mind as Hemlock's co-service director for Susquehanna Twp. She struggles to recruit adult volunteers. Because they move up as their girls progress through the levels of Girl Scouting, leaders are needed to take over new troops of young Scouts, she explained.

She spends about 10 hours a month volunteering with the Girl Scouts -- more if there's a special event -- but says volunteers' time and duties are flexible. Troop meeting times are set by leaders, and helpers are needed on a less regular basis to do things like paper work or party planning.

"You don't have to do hours and hours," Morales said. "Even helping with one event, that's one less worry [for the organization]."

Morales also volunteers at her church, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church in Harrisburg.

To those considering volunteering for any organization, she offers advice: "Go with your heart. It will make you feel wonderful."

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