With recruitment in full-swing, we are continuing our series that will share stories about some of our amazing volunteers with the entire Girl Scouts community. There are 30,000 girls waiting for the chance to be a Girl Scout, so the time is now to build our volunteer force! These exceptional people prove that anyone can be a Girl Scout volunteer: they are young professionals, senior citizens, men, and so much more. And 88% of Girl Scout volunteers believe their lives are better because they volunteer. So what are you waiting for? Volunteer today!
For as long as she can remember, Selma Rutledge has worn a piece of Girl Scouts insignia on her clothing. Whenever prompted by women, young and old, she always remarks, “I am a Girl Scout! Follow me!”
A longtime volunteer with the Gateway Council in Florida, Selma’s involvement with the Girl Scouts began after a life-changing event that no parent ever wants to experience. “It was 1979, and I got a knock at the door. The police came to say that my son, who was on a trip at the time, had drowned,” Selma recalled. “But at that very moment, this voice came to me and said, ‘You have many sons and daughters. Pay it forward.’ That’s what keeps me going.”
That little voice in Selma’s head propelled her to give back to the youth community in Jacksonville for 35 years and to make an impact on their lives. “Every child, every girl I see, I want to tell them you can make it,” said Selma. “Don’t say you can’t until you put forth the effort.”
As one of the oldest active volunteers of the Gateway council, Selma continually reaches across all boundaries and lines to make sure every girl has the chance to be a Girl Scout. In particular, through the S.H.A.R.E. (Show Her a Real Experience) program, she has helped to raise over $30,000 in the last two years which goes right to providing financial assistance to girls who want to join Girl Scouts, but couldn’t without your support. As a tribute to her fundraising efforts, a stage at North Fort was named the Selma Rutledge Stage, after her.
When lauded for her hard work, Selma humbly remarked, “I try to do the best I can. It’s not all about me; it’s about the girls. As they grow, it helps me to grow. I’m much older, and I need to see them come in behind me and continue serving.”
Selma is also the recipient of numerous local appreciation awards, including the Sustaining the Mission Award, Outstanding Leader Award, and the Thanks badge. She hopes that, through leading by example, she can inspire others to do the same. “Through Girl Scouts, young people can learn a lot by dealing with the girls. They can become great leaders,” said Selma. “If they see they can do something that can help somebody along the way to improve the world, then that’s it.”
Though Selma may be 81 years old, to her age is nothing but a number. “I walk two miles every day to stay active,” Selma said. “My children call me the roadrunner.” And she has shown no signs of slowing down.