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News | June 10, 2020

Outside 80: Troop Mom, triplets practice healthCARE

By Luis Delgadillo DCMA Western Region

When she isn’t handling business system determinations for the Defense Contract Management Agency, Rachel Sindelir is an avid photographer, school volunteer, mom-of-five children (including triplets), and as of last August, Girl Scout leader of Troop 2320.

For Sindelir, a DCMA Phoenix systems administrative contracting officer, having her triplets join the Girl Scouts seemed like a no-brainer. Her two boys, ages 9 and 11, were already heavily engaged in academic and athletic activities and the organization seemed like a great fit for kindergarten-age girls.

According to the organization’s website, the youth organization helps young girls develop into leaders beginning at age 5 when they can join at the Daisy level.

Just getting the triplets into the same troop was a challenge, requiring Sindelir and a fellow mom to start their own troop. But the biggest challenge so far has been finding a way to help her Girl Scouts thrive against the backdrop of the pandemic.

“We used to have bi-weekly meetings in person so those had to stop and our girls are all kindergarteners, so we really had challenges because a lot of the troops are doing Zoom meetings, and at five years old they really don't have that attention span to sit and listen to a computer,” said Sindelir.

So instead of relying on video teleconferencing, Sindelir and other troop moms found another way to keep their troop connected.

“We do weekly craft-type kits that we deliver to the front doorstep. So like, just a couple days ago we delivered sidewalk chalk to all the girls with a story about making the world a better place, and (we) encourage them to draw kind and encouraging notes on the sidewalk for other people to see,” she said. “And so that's just a way of them being able to spread goodwill right in the community.”

Carmel Burke, contracts director with DCMA Phoenix, said the same spirit that keeps Sindelir engaged and leading her troop in the community is also found in her work.

“Rachel is a natural leader and organizer. She is an experienced 1102 (contracting specialist) who has functioned as a contract administrator, contract specialist, administrative grants officer and business systems ACO managing 50 plus contractor’s business systems, disclosure statements, and contractor administrative services,” said Burke. She is quite creative and has been a longtime volunteer as a member of the contract management office FUN-raiser.”

CMOs often have volunteer led groups to assist with morale and raising funds to offset costs of CMO picnic and holiday parties.

Burke said she’s known Sindelir and her family since 2005, and throughout that time has seen her tackle each challenge with enthusiasm.

“She is a shining example of an employee who uses a flexible work schedule and telework to maintain a work/life balance to include all of the extra-curricular activities of photography, volunteering at schools, sports and Girl Scouts,” said Burke.  

It’s that level of organizational ability, volunteer spirit and family togetherness that led Sindelir and her troop to prepare care packages for health care workers for a Phoenix-area medical center.

In April, Sindelir learned that another troop mom was putting together care packages to take to the medical center. Her fellow troop mom worked as an intensive care unit nurse and the packages were meant to give the staff a boost.

Having some leftover inventory from the previous cookie sales cycle, Sindelir, her scouts and the rest of the family set to work preparing the care packages.

“They really enjoyed making the care packages and delivering them and actually seeing, you know, doctors and nurses in scrubs actually getting them and being thankful for them,” said Sindelir.

To ensure everyone’s safety, hospital staff met the Girl Scouts out in front of the medical center. After Troop 2320 completed the drop off Sindelir later learned that the care packages had had their intended effect. “We were told that the first hospital, with the ICU nurses, they were crying on the way back in because they were so appreciative.”

After the success of their first delivery, Sindelir, her family and the rest of Troop 2320 planned their next visit. It would be to a doctor with whom the family had a special connection. The triplets would be visiting Dr. Curtis Cook, the maternal and fetal medicine specialist who delivered the triplets in 2014. After calling ahead to arrange a safe place to drop off the packages, Sindelir learned that Cook was in the midst of a 14-day stint at the hospital.

“So, we knew that if there was any time he needed it now was probably that time,” she said.

While the Sindelir girls had left Cook’s care soon after their birth, the family still kept in touch with him. “He's, a really great guy, and he always cares about how the girls are doing,” she said.

As healthcare workers across the country continue to face the pandemic threat, gestures of kindness like those of Troop 2320 will continue to lift spirits.

Sindelir said that she looks forward to the troop’s next chance to brighten their community because seeing how Cook and the rest of the hospital staff reacted had a profoundly positive impact on the girls.

“I think it was nice for the girls to see it from start to finish, you know? To make the packages, make the cards, and then to actually see the people that it's going to and helping. I think that was really helpful especially at that young age,” said Sindelir.