The Journey of Volunteering: A Guest Blog from Katy Sides

Some of my fondest memories growing up were from being a part of a Girl Scout troop in the Big Bend region of Florida. My mom was our troop leader, my best friends were in my troop, I loved selling Girl Scout cookies at my dad’s office and we went on wonderful trips to the beach, mountains and theme parks. I loved working on new projects and earning badges. Whenever I think about my time and experiences as a Girl Scout, it always puts a smile on my face. Katy Sides 3

Throughout my professional and volunteer career, I am driven to give back. The mission of the organizations I work for and volunteer with inspire me to work hard and to do my part in making my community a better place. One organization I have enjoyed volunteering with most recently is the Junior League of Greenville (JLG). I have worn several hats in the JLG throughout the years, including chairing the Grants Committee, Recording Secretary of the Board of Directors in addition to being a community agency volunteer. I am thrilled to be the Board’s critical connection between the community and the League during this coming year as Community Vice President.

The League does amazing work, focused on three Community Impact areas – Families & Children, Health & Wellness and Education. We focus on promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving our community. Due to the JLG’s Mission and Impact Areas, I knew that it was an organization I wanted to join.  I believe that through the power of volunteerism, women can come together and truly impact the significant areas of need in our community. I am inspired by our Impact Areas and the vast amount of work that can be done within them and still left to do. Since joining the JLG, I have been able to volunteer with community organizations, help foster partnerships between the League and nonprofits and witness the expansion of several of the JLG’s community-based programs.Katy Sides 2

Much of my League career has been focused on our grants to other organizations in the community. I have loved serving on that committee because you get to learn about amazing nonprofit organizations from across all of Greenville County that are working to make our community a better place, including the Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands. It is incredible to learn about the challenges facing Greenville, many of which may be below the radar and the great organizations and the dedicated people that are working to address those issues. The JLG is honored to partner with those organizations and our grant funding model is truly unique. Not only do we give of our money through grant dollars, but we also give of our time through volunteer Placements. Every organization that receives a JLG grant also receives volunteers who support their organization through a commitment of 40 hours of volunteer service. This is an incredible view of grant-making that ties together our financial support with the man power and incredible skill sets of our League Members. So many nonprofits are not functioning at full capacity due to limited resources, and the JLG is uniquely addressing that challenge in a two-pronged approach.  Katy Sides 4

As I reflect on the development of my drive to make my community better, I must think that my time in Girl Scouts shaped me into the woman I would become. I learned there the true meaning of friendship, how to carry myself as a young woman, that hard work and commitment pay off, and how even the smallest projects can combine with the hard work of others to truly make the community in which you live a little brighter. This is a lesson I continue to learn daily through my volunteering at the Junior League of Greenville.

Now that I am raising two young daughters of my own, I look forward to their involvement in the Girl Scouts and one day the Junior League, so that they too can be part of something bigger than themselves.

To find out more about the JLG, our grant process and how to apply please visit:

To learn more about Girl Scouts, click here.

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