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200 Hospital Avenue
Jefferson, NC 28640

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Picture of Michelle Carpenter and the Girl Scouts at a Pumpkin Patch smiling in pumpkin painted t-shirts
Picture of Michelle Carpenter and the Girl Scouts at a Pumpkin Patch smiling in pumpkin painted t-shirts

Operating Room Manager shaping next generation through Girl Scout journey

The memorable moments happen when you least expect them.
They can come while offering comfort to a patient in the midst of uncertainty.

Or they can appear in the form of a sizzling aluminum can breakfast during the early morning hours of a weekend campout.

The two experiences may be worlds apart, but there's one thing they share in common: Michelle Carpenter has been on the receiving end of both.

As the operating room manager for Surgical Services, who also takes call in the emergency room when needed, Michelle is often tasked with navigating uncertain and at times seemingly impossible situations. In those moments, Michelle relies on her medical training to push through.

But what happens when an experience extends beyond your level of expertise? Well, if you are Michelle, you simply rely on sheer determination, especially if the situation involves cooking bacon and eggs on top of a can for a group of young Girl Scouts.

"I didn't go to Girl Scouts as a kid, so I remember thinking 'Holy Cow, you can do this?'" Michelle says. "That's probably my fondest moment. I was overwhelmed with it. Granted it took a bit, but we had eggs and bacon."

Welcome to the world of Girl Scouts where just about anything is possible.

Michelle began her Girl Scout journey when her oldest daughter, Chasity, now a freshman in high school, was in kindergarten. Her daughter enjoyed the experience and wanted to continue moving up through the organization.

Two years later, when Chasity's Brownie Troop Leader stepped down from her position, Michelle offered to step in. That was six years ago.

Today, Chasity, along with Michelle's other daughter, Natalie, who is in the fifth grade, are a part of the Senior and Junior Troops, respectively, having moved up through the Girl Scout ranks, while Michelle continues to lead the Brownie Troop.

Throughout the year, Michelle enjoys spending time with her group of second and third graders who each bring their own unique stories and interests to the troop. Whether it's attending meetings, earning badges or participating in a variety of events and activities, including riding in the West Jefferson Annual Holiday Parade, camping, hiking, sleeping with the sharks, selling Girl Scout cookies or crafting, Michelle encourages each of her scouts to find their interests, try new things and most importantly have fun.

"Girl Scouts is so much more than just cookies," says Michelle. "I have been able to do many things with my daughters, as well as many other girls in the county, while doing Girl Scouts. The girls have a really good time. It is truly a great opportunity for all girls of different ages."

In addition to serving as a Troop Leader, Michelle is also a Service Unit Specialist -- a position she has held for the past two years. As a Service Unit Specialist, Michelle handles the banking information, facilitates meetings for the Troop Leaders and works with Troop Experience Manager Alberta Swain to plan events for the girls.

Michelle may not have attended Girls Scouts growing up, but she always knew that she wanted to help people. When she graduated high school, her brother entered the military and Michelle opted to go to nursing school.

With her degree in hand, Michelle landed a job in Ashe Memorial's Emergency Room; and since then, she has been focused on providing high quality care to her patients while at the same time guiding the community's future generation.

"I enjoy being a nurse," says Michelle. "You get to see people at their best and their worst. I feel like because I'm a nurse and a leader, if the girls ever need any help at all then I can talk to them and become a source of support for them. That's the good part about it, and it makes me want to keep doing it too."