Posted by: palmettoislandgirl | March 2, 2011

Knowing ‘Mrs. Z’: Your Positive Influence on Me

Mrs. Geraldyne Pierce Zimmerman, affectionately known by many as Mrs. Z, will celebrate her 100th birthday March 5th, 2011.  I can’t remember the exact time I met Mrs. Z, it seems I’ve always known her but I beginning my middle school years and beyond I came to know more of Mrs. Z.  So many of my family members knew the Zimmerman family and interacted with them regularly at meetings and social events.   My great grandmother Cherry Fulton and my grandmother Gladys Fulton Glover were members of the Sunlight Club and my mother Barbara C. Glover is a current member.  I was a member of the Helen Sheffield Federated Girls Club, HSFGC, which was sponsored by the Sunlight Clubunder and under the leadership of its founder, Mrs. Z. As a member of the HSFGC,  I sang on the chorus, was a junior debutante in 1981 and I was presented as a debutante in 1982.   In elementary school I was a member of the Girl Scouts at Felton under the leadership of Mrs. Mattie Reagan, Ms. Bonnie Pimble (later Dr. Pimble, pharmacist), and my mother, Mrs. Barbara Glover and upon graduation from Felton I was a member of Mrs. Zimmerman’s Girl Scout Troop that met on Treadwell Street in the Sunlight Club House, 10:00 am-12:00 pm each Saturday. 

Sunlight Club Honors Women

Membership in those two organizations under Mrs. Z’s leadership, and the other fine women who worked with her, was quite an experience for me because she demanded excellence and nothing less. She desired to provide us with opportunities to gain leadership skills, volunteer in and care about our community, examine our world and look for ways to make a positive difference in it.  We were admonished to practice the values and manners we gained from our families and exhibit social graces at all times.  Any young lady desiring to learn how to be successful and excel in life would have done well under her tutelage, I can vouch for that.  I recall working so hard on Girl Scout badges and projects especially International Day where each troop presented a display about their country, what Girl Scouting was like there, the culture, samples of a popular food and demonstrate a dance, song etc from that country for all the other troops gathered.  This was a special time and our troop was never slack in any way.  Nineteen seventy-eight was my last year as a scout with Mrs. Z our troop represented India.  A few of us made monkey bread at Mrs. Z’s house upstairs in her kitchen and to top things off Mrs. Z wore an authentic Sari, and put a red dot on her forehead. In 1976 our troop along with other’s in town participated in the country’s bicentennial celebration by painting the fire hydrants downtown and we always did very well in cookie sales. 

I was very involved in the troop and continued even after graduating from high school.  During my freshman year at SCSU, then SCSC, I continued to attend the Girl Scout meetings and served as an assistant to a few leaders, before long I was attending council meetings of leaders across the county with Mrs. Z  learning the ins and outs of Girl Scouting.  At the end of my freshman year I was looking for a summer job and Mrs. Z encouraged me to apply for a job as a summer counselor at the Girl Scout Camp in Cordesville, SC near Monks Corner.  I applied through the student development center on the SCSU campus; it was like job service for students.  I was called for an interview and had a strong recommendation from none other than Mrs. Zimmerman.  Upon reporting for the interview I was greeted by the camp representative who was anxious to meet me and told how highly recommended my name came to her from Mrs. Z, Gerry as she said.  I pretty much already had the job I just needed to show up for the interview and accept the offer and I did.

So the summer of 1979 I worked at the Girl Scout Plantation as a camp counselor and had a wonderful adventure.  I’d attended the camp as a camper but now I was on the other side, I was an employee.  After serving that summer I returned home to find out that Mrs. Z recommended me to serve as a hostess and companion for two Girl Guides and their leader who would visit Orangeburg from Tanzania.  I had just enough time to unpack my summer camp gear, relax for a couple of days and then get gussied up to report to the T&D where my mom and I met Mrs. Z for an interview about hosting the girls and a bit about my own scouting experience. 

Two weeks after camp, I drove to pick up Angelica, Jacinta and their leader Zenat from the Girl Scout Plantation where they just attended a special event.  The girls stayed with my family and their leader stayed with another family in town.  There were special social events planned for the trio to attend and it was my pleasure and honor to serve as their local companion. When the girls weren’t attending a function, explaining their customs and what scouting was like in their country, they were at my house enjoying fellowship with my family. We exchanged addresses and wrote each other for a few years before communication waned and we lost contact.  That was an experience I have treasured over the years and I was so honored that Mrs. Z thought I was the person to represent our troop and my family was to host our guests from Tanzania.   On other occasions during the summer when I wasn’t away playing tennis, I volunteered with summer programs like day camps sponsored by the Sunlight Club for girls held at the Sunlight Center.  Through my involvement in the Girl Scouts and Helen Sheffield Federated Girls Club, I interacted with older women in the community, gained bonds and deeper friendships with girls throughout the county,and received valuable training and experience. 

After marriage and being blessed with children, I introduced my girls to scouting.  I served as a leader for several years and while stationed in Belgium took my troop to Switzerland to visit Our Chalet.  During a transition period from active duty to retirement from the Army, our lived in Orangeburg for a brief period in 2001 while building a house on St Helena Island.  I decided my girls and I would continue our scouting experience with the troops on Treadwell St and wouldn’t you know Mrs. Zimmerman was still there each week supervising and offering advice to the leaders so my daughters have also had the opportunity of getting to know Mrs. Z.  She took a special liking to my youngest daughter Sarah who was too young to be a scout at that time but tagged along with me to meetings and played with Mrs. Dash’s great granddaughter Sydney.  Both Mrs. Dash and Mrs. Z gave Sarah and Sydney many treats. My husband and sons also met Mrs Z and would come over to Treadwell St. after their Cub Scout meetings sometimes to visit as we closed out our Girl Scout meetings. My girls have joined me in visiting Mrs. Z in her home and enjoyed lively conversations as well as advice from her about many things, especially their academics studies and goals for the future.

I’m only one of the many young ladies who have benefitted from knowing Mrs. Zimmerman.  She is and icon in Orangeburg and around the state of South Carolina.  I still write her and until just before her fall Mrs. Z wrote me as well. When I go home my mom always tells me when Mrs. Z has asked about me and my family.  Over the years she has been a leader, advisor, teacher and mentor to me; one of the many persons who have been a positive influence on me.

Thank you  and Happy Birthday Mrs. Z!

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