Two weeks ago, we learned of the unexpected death of one of our long-time volunteers, Debbi Garrison. Unless you knew Debbi and her daughter, Bryna, it’s hard to fully understand the magnitude of loss the entire council is feeling.
A third generation Girl Scout, Debbi first began volunteering for the council in 1998 as Family Partnership Specialist for her service unit. Since then, she has literally held every service unit position possible, culminating in that of Service Unit Manager since 2006. Under her leadership, her service unit has repeatedly earned the President’s Award for meeting their membership, girl and leadership retention, and fundraising goals, as well as being active in their community. Debbie acted as Troop Leader for her daughter’s troop – and, when Bryna graduated, together they decided to form a new troop of multi-age, diverse girls (you may have seen them conduct the flag ceremony at last year’s Annual Meeting). Either one of these volunteer roles is staggering in the time commitments required, but Debbi’s passion for Girl Scouts meant that there was no stopping her. She also served as a Council Trainer and helped write new curriculums as needed. She acted as a Gold Award Liaison, guiding girls through their Gold Award projects. She was Chair of the Volunteer Recognition Event for the coming year. And, in 2003, she decided the council needed someone to oversee the Religious Awards for girls – a job she continued through this year.
Perhaps Debbi’s greatest testament to the Girl Scout Promise and Law was watching her daughter, Bryna, excel in the program throughout her 12 years as a Girl Scout. As part of earning her Silver Award, Bryna decided to lead a Daisy troop. She went on to earn her Gold Award. Bryna’s outstanding work was recognized by being chosen to be a Real Girl honoree three years ago, something Debbi was extremely proud of. Together, they participated in the 2008 National Council Session as National Delegates and both served as Council Delegates for several years.
There are many other ways they’ve each made numerous contributions to the council, to the service unit, to the troop and, more importantly, to the girls. No one who knew Debbi will ever forget her passion for Girl Scouts and the commitment she held to bring the benefits of Girl Scouting to as many girls as possible.
Debbi’s memorial service was truly beautiful and reminded each of us of what an impact one person can make. Patty Townsend gave a very warm and moving tribute, touching us all. At Bryna’s request, Patty asked each person who was a Girl Scout to stand and recite the Girl Scout Promise – there was not a dry eye in the full sanctuary.
Sadly, Debbi’s husband/Bryna’s father passed away in 2000 – forging an even tighter bond between mother and daughter. Bryna is now a sophomore at SMU with the help of a partial scholarship, but will have a very tough road ahead of her since Debbi’s passing. If anyone is interested, a memorial fund has been established through the council to help Bryna. Any donations, while not tax deductible since they will directly benefit Bryna, can be made by giving a check, payable to Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, to Diane Michaels at the JoAnn Fogg Service Center or by using Paypal online.
We will miss Debbi’s smile and ever present offer to help wherever needed.