Local volunteers receive awards for work with Girl Scouts

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published April 5, 2016

 Gregory Adamisin, of Madison Heights, vacations in the Rocky Mountains last month. The Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan recently announced that Adamisin is the recipient of the Appreciation Pin, a national award, for his work encouraging girls to explore STEM careers.

Gregory Adamisin, of Madison Heights, vacations in the Rocky Mountains last month. The Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan recently announced that Adamisin is the recipient of the Appreciation Pin, a national award, for his work encouraging girls to explore STEM careers.

Photo provided by Gregory Adamisin

MADISON HEIGHTS — Many adult volunteers work hard to ensure the girls in Girl Scouts have a positive experience learning skills and values that will serve them well throughout life. Recently, two such volunteers from Madison Heights received national awards recognizing them for their service.

The awards were announced by the Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan (GSSEM) during the National Volunteer Awards banquet at the San Marino Club in Troy March 5. The Madison Heights recipients were Gregory Adamisin, who received the Appreciation Pin, and Karen Llewellyn, who received the Volunteer of Excellence Award.

Llewellyn was noted for her work supporting GSSEM leaders in her district, providing a variety of learning and mentoring opportunities. She also participates with the Order of the Silver Trefoil, a Girl Scout alumnae group.

Adamisin, meanwhile, partnered up with GSSEM to offer computer programs for Girl Scouts at participating Apple retail stores.

“The strength of GSSEM is really due to the strength of GSSEM volunteers,” said Amy Kubli, spokesperson for GSSEM, in an email. “Volunteers are essential to our mission to build girls of courage, confidence and character. When adults volunteer with GSSEM, they help girls grow into strong, confident leaders.”

For Adamisin, this meant getting girls interested in careers in STEM— science, tech, engineering and mathematics. He explained in an email how he has a passion for kids, having worked at a summer camp for nearly a decade. This led him to Girl Scouts, and a desire to share his passion and knowledge of computers, which he feels will help give girls an advantage in STEM fields.

“Being a vehement supporter of that idea, I resolved myself to do whatever I could to help,” Adamisin said.

He collaborated with Apple to provide free field trip services for any youth organization in the community. Kids would come out to Apple stores and work with instructors and provided equipment to learn different computer skills.

It started with the Apple store at Somerset Mall in April 2015. Fifteen girls in a Girl Scout brownie troop came out to earn their computer expert badge, and the pilot event was a success. Adamisin contacted GSSEM and scheduled a joint meeting with Apple Somerset staff, establishing the framework for a biweekly event where Girl Scouts could earn merit badges. At first, each event served only 20 girls and offered only the brownie computer expert badge, but it continued to grow.

Five months later, weekly events were rolled out at four Apple stores: Somerset, Briarwood, Partridge Creek and Twelve Oaks. Now there are two events every week at two different stores, serving up to 140 girls per month, with three levels of badges — the brownie computer expert badge, the junior digital photographer badge, and the cadette digital moviemaker badge. 

Many of the instructors working with the girls are women themselves, Adamisin said, and there is no cost for the events. Apple provides the space, staff and equipment, while GSSEM provides the badges and administrative services. 

“STEM careers have been dominated by men for all of history, but women are just as equipped to dream up and create the next big invention that will change the world,” Adamisin said. “What they oftentimes lack as children is the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills in those areas because of societal norms. The goal of the program is to inspire those girls who have a natural predisposition to STEM careers by providing them with quality learning opportunities.”

He said there are many ways Girl Scouts nurture successful individuals.

“Girl Scouts are exposed to positive role models and countless opportunities to develop socially with their peers. They work together to accomplish tasks, learn new skills, and improve the communities they live in through service,” Adamisin said. “They learn discipline, conflict resolution, and what it means to be an honest, caring and involved citizen. The cookie sales teach them the basics of running a business: salesmanship, inventory, patience, money handling -- so even that is extremely worthwhile.

“The biggest lesson I have learned (volunteering) is very simple: Do whatever you can to be a positive influence in a child’s life,” he said. “It is one of the most important things we as adults can do. Just like prevention is the best medicine, if we raise honest, caring and inquisitive children as a society, then many of society’s problems will naturally die out. I’m doing what I can within my sphere of influence to be the best role model for our youth that I can be.”

Llewellyn could not be reached for comment at press time.