Melissa Rosenthal-Dubin has been leading a troop of Girl Scouts for the past several years, showing passion for her troop and for her community.

When she's not helping her girls earn badges, the Guilderland resident also owns her own business and is raising four kids of her own.

As part of the “Hometown Heroes” series, we’ve partnered with County Waste, Latham Ford, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region and Awards by Walsh to celebrate local unsung heroes for their good deeds and honorable work.

We asked Melissa a few questions. Here’s what she had to say:

Q: What inspires you to volunteer as a Girl Scout leader?

A: I was inspired to become a Girl Scout leader because I have two daughters and want them to grow up feeling empowered! Growing up in the inner city of Albany, Girl Scouts was not an option for me. But I had experiences that led me to see that being of service is important. There are needs in the world that our children are not always aware of or have exposure to. It is important to me to show the girls that while we may not be able to “fix” a problem, we can ease someone else’s burden. I want the girls to look for ways to be helpful and realize their power. I always want them to know how powerful they are and what a difference they can make!

Q: What is the most rewarding this about what you do?

A: I love teaching the girls about community service and putting them in situations that they normally would not be exposed to. I think it is very important to show the girls that other people may not be as fortunate. Some people live with hardships and there are problems in the world that we can help with.

Baking and bringing food to a soup kitchen, gathering supplies for a woman’s shelter/animal shelter, adopting a family for Christmas or taking the girls to grocery shop and donate a Thanksgiving meal… all of these are fantastic opportunities! The girls are able to have an experience that they normally wouldn’t be subjected to. And they get to feel good, helpful, considerate and empowered, and realize how fortunate they are!

The girls have been shocked to see the basic essentials that are requested on a Christmas list, and often they are quick to offer to donate a more frivolous item to that child as well. Or while grocery shopping for a family we adopt for Thanksgiving, they will want to add some items in because they want that family to have more food.  An example that stands out to me is during a visit to a soup kitchen, one of the girls noticed the high-chairs that were not there the year before, and it was explained to them that economic times had gotten worse. Now, instead of only adults coming, families are now enjoying the meals the girls helped to provide. Those experiences are unique!  It helps the girls to have empathy and realize how fortunate and blessed they are and how helpful they can be at a young age!

As a Health Coach, I also feel it is extremely important to teach them good eating habits and to take care of themselves.  Getting out of the mentality that “snack” should be cupcakes, juice etc and showing them that eating real food can be just as delicious! We also focus on moving and staying fit! My older troop recently attended a class at the Different Drummer Kitchen to learn some easy, healthy meals that they could make themselves.

Being part of a troop brings girls together. It is important to me that girls be supportive of one another. They may not be best friends, but when we are together, they are kind, respectful and considerate of each other. The troop is a safe place for girls to speak and express themselves and increase self-confidence. 

Q: What are some challenges?

A: One of my troops is rather large, so trying to get everyone to the same place at the same time can be challenging. Also, trying to get them to come to an agreement on one point can be difficult.

Q: Do you consider yourself a “hero?” Why or why not? 

A: I do not consider myself a “hero," I consider myself a “helper” or a “soul.” The women that work at the shelters, hospitals, soup kitchens, etc., and the girls that think of others and come up with ideas to help others, those are the real "heroes."