For about three months every year, Janien Hiatt lives, thinks and breathes cookies.
Specifically, Girl Scout cookies.
Hiatt is the "cookie mom" for both of her daughters' Girl Scout troops. She took on the role of handling the cookie sales so that the troop leaders could focus on the bimonthly meetings and outdoor excursions.
"I don't do bugs, and I don't do heat," Hiatt said with a laugh. "I live for cookie season."
With 1,300 girls on a waiting list, the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida says it needs more people like Hiatt. Volunteers are the backbone of the organization, and Girl Scout rules require two adult volunteers per troop.
"The reason they are waiting is because we don't have enough troop leaders," said GSWCF spokeswoman Jennifer Medeiros.
Medeiros said the organization is seeking volunteers to come forward to lead a troop. Though trooper leaders are the agency's biggest need, volunteers are also needed to help at the camps, assist in training or support a troop the way Hiatt does.
From young professionals to retirees, all are welcome to serve as volunteers, Medeiros said. Anyone working directly with the girls must complete a background check.
"That's the nice thing about the Girl Scouts," Medeiros said. "It's really for everybody."
Medeiros hopes the community will help. The organization has an amazing impact on the lives of young girls, she said.
"It really helps them build skills that will help them for a lifetime," she said.
Hiatt said Scouting is a a family affair. Her husband, Michael, is a volunteer. He is a frequent helper when the girls — Cassie, 10, and Diana, 8 — sell cookies.
Hiatt, who lives in Brandon, said she gives her time to the two troops just as volunteers helped her troop when she was a young Girl Scout.
"You're making a difference in a girl's life," she said. "It's all out of love in your heart for the girls."
For more information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect with or donate to Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, visit www.gswcf.org or call toll-free 1-800-881-4475. The group represents eight counties, including Hernando, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk and Pasco.
Contact Monica Bennett at [email protected]