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Girl Scouts sacrifice for ailing leader

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From Courier Post online


which has photos too.


BERLIN,NJ When tragedy struck a Girl Scout troop here, the girls stepped up to help a fellow scout's family.


Troop leader Jennie Perrottet, 44, of Berlin Township, had a massive heart attack early in the morning on Jan. 14.


"What happened to my troop leader was tragic," said Caitlyn Sullivan, 13, of Berlin Borough. "Earlier that night at our meeting she was fine as can be. We were talking about what to do with the cookie money and where we were going. She was going to take us on a four-day white-water rafting trip."


They quickly decided to sacrifice the proceeds from their annual cookie sales for the rafting trip to help Perrottet's family.


Robert Perrottet, 46, Jennie's husband, found out about the girls raising the money through their cookie sales through a friend.


"I had to hang up because I started to cry," he said. "It was pretty touching. There are good people out there."


Perrottet recently was laid off from a truck driving job and has been depending on his wife's two jobs while he searches for work in an unstable economy.


"She was way too young," said Perrottet. "I'm still in shock three weeks later. I've been with my wife since she was 14 and I was 17 and we've been married 23 years."


Already involved in the Cadette Girl Scout Troop 30975 and ready to take the reins was Caitlyn's mother, Irene Sullivan, a single mother of four and the troop leader of a Brownie Girl Scout troop and a Cub Scout troop. Sullivan, an emergency medical technician who recently was laid off, is also a cheerleading coach.


"We were in shock and didn't know what to do," she said. "I said I'd step up and keep the girls going. The Friday after it happened the girls were at my house making dinner for the (Perrottets). They thought it was a terrific idea to not go on trip and donate the money to the family."


So far, the girls have raised about $1,500, but are hoping to at least double that amount and donate 90 percent of their profits to their scout leader and her family, including their daughter, Paige, who is also a Cadette Girl Scout and member of the troop.


To help raise money, the troop has tripled the amount of Girl Scout Cookie booths they are tending.


"Typically, you usually get three or four -- and we have about 18 booths," Sullivan said. "We're going crazy with the cookies."


They also are accepting monetary donations for the family.


Jennie Perrottet is at Kindred Hospital in Philadelphia, where she is in the respiratory rehabilitation center working to become independent of using a ventilator. As of Thursday afternoon, she was beginning to communicate with her family, according to Sullivan.


Said Robert Perrottet: "She's one of those people that didn't feel good unless doing something for somebody else. I'm definitely appreciating her even more. It's amazing the things she did. Three weeks of trying to raise a 13-year-old and have a wife in the (intensive care unit) have given me a new perspective."


While the scouts work hard to sell cookies and raise money, Sullivan still is hoping to give something back to the girls.


"We just hope she makes it through because we love Ms. Jennie," Caitlyn said. "She's been our troop leader for four years. We're all really close. . . . We're planning to make more meals for the family and make get-well cards."


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