One of my favorite quotations about the need for change in life is this – “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”
Those of us involved in Scouting in 2022 are familiar with the fact that Pennsylvania requires all volunteers working with youth to obtain three specific background checks, in addition to the background check conducted by the Boy Scouts of America. But back in 2015, when Act 15 of 2015 was signed into law by Governor Wolf, we knew this would be a significant undertaking for our Council. With thousands of registered adult leaders and parents needing to obtain these clearances under the new law (and our Council having to collect, store, and manage all these clearances), identifying the right person to administer this effort was a big deal. With this in mind, I approached my administrative assistant, Mitzi Perry, and asked her to take on this critical task as her new full-time job.
Mitzi’s desk overflowed with clearance paperwork over the next several months (which eventually became years). She was the only member of our staff working on processing clearances at the start. She never complained as she scanned the clearances, uploaded them into our storage system, and created certificates to affirm that we had received all three required clearances for a volunteer. She answered too many phone calls and emails about clearances to count. One thing you need to know about Mitzi is that she’s all about helping others.
As it became time for volunteers to renew their clearances, Mitzi was the person sending out reminder emails … thousands upon thousands of them. All of them were addressed and sent manually. Unfortunately, our brand-new PA clearances portal didn’t exist back then, so email reminders were sent one by one.
In time, we integrated other staff members into the handling of clearances under Mitzi’s direction, freeing up some of Mitzi’s time to attend meetings of our Executive Board and prepare minutes, oversee service contracts and equipment leases at our service centers, and a long list of other things, including helping yours truly as best she could.
Mitzi originally planned to retire last November but stayed on until March 11 to help with a special project I asked her to do. Now that she’s officially retired after 11-plus years with our Council, she can relax with her dog Skylar, which she adopted last fall around the time of her intended retirement date. I got a text from Mitzi last week that “she felt like she was playing hooky, sitting by the window reading a book.”
Another thing I’d like to tell you about Mitzi is that she volunteers at Olivia’s House, a grief and loss center designed to help children. Helping people, especially when they need it most, is what Mitzi does.
I got an email not too long ago from a volunteer who Mitzi had helped resolve an issue with clearances. The volunteer wrote, “whatever you’re paying Mitzi, it’s not enough.” I would agree with that. We’ll certainly miss her.
I hope you’ll join me in wishing Mitzi all the best as she begins the next chapter of her life.
Yours in Scouting,
Scout Executive & CEO