Throughout my tenure as a volunteer working with girls and now as a leader of volunteers who work with girls, one area remains constant—girls love service. Girls grow emotionally and spiritually from serving and girls become more compassionate and empathetic when they consider another’s needs. My belief on this subject is confirmed by research. According to studies conducted in 1997, 2003, 2007 and by the YMCA in 2004, youth experience the following when engaged in community service projects:
- Young people gain access to the range of developmental assets they need to grow up healthy, caring and responsible.
- Increased sense of self-efficacy as young people learn that they can impact real social challenges, problems, and needs.
- Higher academic achievement and interest in furthering their education.
- Enhanced problem-solving skills, ability to work in teams and planning abilities.
- Enhanced civic engagement attitudes, skills, and behaviors.
Couple these benefits, with “placing legs” on a girl’s faith, and you will find that dedication to serving others has an incredible eternal impact on one’s life.
When founding American Heritage Girls, the primary ideology that underscored the essence of the Christian faith to me was service. So important was this belief, that the idea of Service Stars developed even before the first badge was written. Fifteen years later, as AHG’s tagline was created by a third party marketing firm, they knew through discussions with AHG volunteers and alumnae, that service was our pulse, our very heartbeat…and for that reason became our “middle name” – Faith, Service, Fun.
I recently met with an alumna from my “old” Troop who wanted me to speak to her national service sorority. Cassie’s heart was forever impacted by AHG’s dedication to service. Now as a successful architect, she carves time to serve in leadership of that sorority while continuing the legacy that was provided to her during her formative AHG years.