As adult Girl Scouts, we teach our troops how to make a lasting impact through their Take Action Projects and Bronze, Silver, and Gold Award projects. I share with my girls a favorite expression which is ‘every difference makes a difference’, so even for those girls not pursuing an award, they learn how their actions build together overtime to make an impact. But have you ever considered what kind of impact you are making as an adult Girl Scout? Have you ever made Girl Scout history? In 2019, I transitioned into the role of San Francisco Service Unit Leader Support Manager (LSM). During the transition, I have learned a lot from my predecessor, Trina Merriman. What has stuck with me the most is how much impact one person can make. As a girl, she has earned her Intermediate, First Class, and Curved Bar Awards, and as an adult volunteer she truly made Girl Scout history. In Trina’s sixty-plus years as a Girl Scout, she built a legacy of impact for thousands of Girl Scouts across the country, from Golden Gate Bridging and San Francisco Pride Parade to awards, accomplishments, and more.
Golden Gate Bridging Pioneer
Trina was a young adult Girl Scout volunteer in San Francisco in 1980, and was part of a group brainstorming various locations around the city to hold a bridging ceremony. It occurred suddenly to them that they had one of the most famous bridges in the world available, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge! There was some initial resistance to the idea of girls walking across the bridge as “dangerous,” but there were enough young adult leaders like Trina who enthusiastically rooted for the idea that the Golden Gate Bridge was approved for bridging. They limited the event to Juniors bridging to Cadettes, and Golden Gate Bridging has now grown into a landmark GSNorCal event, attended annually by 7,000 girls and adults from all across the United States. Attending Golden Gate Bridging with my troop has been one of my most treasured Girl Scout experiences, and it’s thanks to leaders like Trina that made it all possible!
Bringing Girl Scout Pride to San Francisco Pride
In 2013, Trina saw a long-awaited and much-needed opportunity for Girl Scouts in San Francisco to fully embrace the communities that the girls and their families belong to and serve. With the support of her service unit, Trina spearheaded a proposal for the San Francisco Service Unit to march in the annual SF Gay Pride Parade. In San Francisco, we have a long history of marching in other city-wide parades, so it seemed only right to embrace this very important tradition in our community, standing with and representing our family and friends. Thanks to Trina’s efforts, this request went through GSNorCal and all the way to GSUSA. It was met with some initial resistance out of caution and concern, but she got the proposal approved, and we were able to show up and stand with our community. This policy change was not just for San Francisco but for all of Girl Scouts. In 2015, after the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, those who participated in the parade remember the feeling of “wow, this is a big deal to be a part of.” Trina made history that day!
True Dedication to Girl Scouts
In between these historic events, for 60+ years Trina has been rolling up her sleeves and making an impact in many other ways. She has run council camporees, been a Council Camp Director, and been on the Council Adult Award Committee. She built and led troops in San Francisco’s under-served communities, was a service unit delegate, became our service unit LSM, a role she held for over 20 years. She has also been service unit treasurer, runs annual fall and spring camporees, and has coordinated all of the complicated logistics for troop cookie pick-up at the SF Food Bank for over 100 troops! She instigated and has led the current revitalization of Camp Ida Smith in San Francisco, and formed its working committee. Thanks to Trina’s vision, Camp Ida Smith is now available for rent as a GSNorCal property, and is on track to re-open a day camp Summer 2020. Although she has now transitioned out of the San Francisco Service Unit LSM role, she still performs many other volunteer roles, and continues to make an impact in all that she does.
For Trina, the best part of Girl Scouts is interacting with the girls themselves. The girls truly recognize and appreciate the time she spends with them. In one troop’s words:
“We remember when our troop were Brownies, Trina came to one of our troop meetings to meet us. She was planning to stay about 20 minutes, but she ended up staying for almost an hour because we had so many questions! She wasn’t bothered at all because she loves spending time with girls. That day we learned her favorite camp is Camp Butano, and we think of her when we’re there. We also see her every year at San Francisco’s World Thinking Day Celebration. The inspirational speeches she gives stick with us for the whole year. Her stories of working with the government and with different troops, and her trips around the world always inspire me. We still love when she comes to our troop meetings as a special guest! We haven’t known her for too long, but she is one of the most passionate, kind, funny, and outgoing people we have met, and we are so grateful to have her in our lives.”Cadette Troop 62424
Just like a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Award, the impact of what Trina has accomplished continues on even after she has transitioned out of her LSM role, and has moved on to other responsibilities in the service unit. One definition of legacy is a gift that is handed down—there’s no better word to describe Trina’s impact on Girl Scouts. Thank you, Trina, for all your incredible work!
TRINA, an acrostic poem by SF Troop 62424
T - Terrific Trailblazer
R - Risk-taker
I - Inspirational & Impactful
N - Noble
A - Awesome!
What to do next:
- Support your girls in making a lasting impact of their own by encouraging them to go for their Bronze, Silver, or Gold Awards!
- Love hearing stories about our successful alums? There’s plenty more where this came from!
- Have a story to share about the impact you or a fellow volunteer has made, or want to share how Girl Scouts has impacted your life? Share your story!
Kristine Sumi—Kristine is the troop leader for San Francisco Cadette Troop 62424. She has been an adult Girl Scout volunteer for over 10 years, and this year, entering her sixth year as a troop leader. In addition to leading her troop, Kristine serves as the Service Unit Leader for the San Francisco Service Unit.