Recently in Girl Awards Category

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Amerie Gramelspacher is our latest Gold Awardee, whose very important topic is suicide prevention. Amerie joined Girl Scouts in the 2nd grade, and feels that helped her to develop her leadership skills. Through her Gold award process, she has discovered a love for psychology, and plans to pursue it in college.

  

She graciously answered our questions about her Gold Award process:


Please give an overview of your Gold Award Project and the steps you took to complete it.

My project was to advocate for suicide awareness and prevention. I spoke at several churches, runs and events about the topic of suicide. I conducted a suicide prevention and awareness 5k in my community to raise money for advocacy in my community and to teach people in the community more about suicide. There were about 100 people at my event. I raised $1,100 from the run with $500 left over after expenses. With that money, I purchased a suicide prevention curriculum for all of the health classes at my school to use. I also purchased suicide prevention and awareness signage that is now hanging in the halls of my middle and high school. Throughout my project, I was in communication with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). They are a nation-wide organization dedicated to the awareness of suicide prevention. My elementary, middle, and high school teachers are now engaged in an annual suicide prevention and awareness training. This training is hosted be the AFSP.

 

How did you come up with your idea?  

The topic of suicide is one that touches close to my heart. My aunt committed suicide as well as a fellow classmate. I knew that suicide was a problem however I wasn't sure how to effectively address it. My cousin introduced me to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They conduct annual walks in order to raise awareness about suicide. That's where I got the idea to host a suicide prevention run to raise awareness in my community. The funds from the run would also be used to further the advocacy in a more sustainable way.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

I was at first very intimidated. There was a lot of work to be done to begin advocating for suicide prevention in a town that's never had that type of advocacy. I wasn't sure how to begin or if my efforts would be successful. 

 

How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

The process of the Gold Award is very long and tedious. However I picked a topic for my project that I feel strongly and passionate about. My desire for my project to succeed and help others is what kept me going.

 

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?

All of the follow up work and waiting for people to respond. Sometimes people took forever to respond and when they finally did it wasn't always the response you expected or were hoping for.

 

Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you? 

Throughout the course of my project, I have heard many people's stories of how suicide has affected them. People I didn't know personally would share with me their own struggle with suicide or a story of someone close to them. I hold all of these stories close to my heart now. 

 

How will people benefit from this?  

 People will continue to learn about suicide from my project sustainability. They will realize that suicide is not an issue that should stay in the dark; in order for it to get better it must come out into the light.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

I felt relieved that it was over and happy that I had succeeded. My project meant so much to me, so when it was finally complete I felt relief and satisfaction.

 

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?

I would tell them to make sure you pick a project your passionate about. Having a connection to the issue you're addressing makes it easy to come up with ideas to advocate.

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  How did it change you? 

I learn a lot more about suicide through my suicide prevention and awareness project. From now on I will always consider myself a suicide prevention advocate. Throughout my project I have sparked an interest in the field of psychology.

 

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Morgan's gold award project focused on the lack of educational encouragement, positivity, and general public knowledge of Taylor Park. She collected donations, researched ways to promote positivity in the classroom, painted the room, downloaded new educational software on the computers, and spread the word about Taylor Park throughout the Mobile community, the nation, and the world

We interview all Gold Award recipients, asking them to tell us more about their personal journey, to give other girls an idea of how it feels to go through the Gold Award process. 

How did you come up with your idea?  

After meeting with the teachers and the head of the community center, my heart went out to these children who had only Taylor Park as a safe place to go after school and their classroom was a place that didn't have the resources to encourage further schooling past middle and high school or promote positive living.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

I've led and participated in more service projects than I can count, but one of this caliber was definitely intimidating.

 

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

It was absolutely difficult to keep up with the work load of senior year of high school, graduation, and a gold award project, but whenever the work load got to the point where I considered quitting, I thought about those kids and their situation and I got motivated to continue.

 

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?

I was definitely discouraged at points. Whenever problems would arise, I felt like the project was never going to be finished. But my passion is education for all, and when I grew up I wanted to make a difference in the world and in the lives of children. So I asked myself what defines you as 'grown up'? When you have bills, when you have kids, when you get married, when you begin your career? When? I realized I didn't have to wait for all of those things to happen before I was able to start making a difference in this world. I was starting with these kids at Taylor Park.

 

Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you?

The most touching part of my project was at the end of the open house while I was packing up the left over water bottles, this little girl came up to me and asked if she could take some waters home since she doesn't have any water at home. I then helped her stuff her little backpack full of water bottles and she went on her way. That moment just touched me and showed how lucky I am to have all that I do, and I truly hope that my project made a positive impact in her life.

 

How will people benefit from this?  

People will benefit from my project in numerous ways. The immediate impact of enhancing the room created an atmosphere where the kids could be encouraged to continue not just their school work, but to also lead a more positive life. My project also helped to spread the word about the community center and how to get involved which will help to increase Taylor Park's volunteer sources.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

I felt extremely accomplished when I finished the project. It was a sense of relief and elation that I was done and that I actually completed something of such caliber.

 

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?
Going for your Gold Award is definitely hard work. It's not easy, but if it was, then the award wouldn't mean anything once you earned it. During your project, you'll question yourself and ask "Is this really worth it?" and the answer is yes. You may not think so at that point, but trust me, once you complete something that actually makes a difference in your community and beyond, you'll question why you didn't do it sooner!

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you?
It made a change to my outlook on my own life. Seeing the problems that this poor community faced, it made my everyday problems seem like blessings. I took away leadership skills, organizational skills, and I definitely learned how to manage my time better!

 

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Rebecca Pober Citrin produced, directed, edited and screened a professional documentary on domestic human sex trafficking, which can be seen on the website she created: againsthumantrafficking.com.

In order to create her documentary, she made contacts, fundraised, conducted on and off-camera interviews.  Afterwards, she has given and continues to give presentations to highlight this issue.

We interview all Gold Award recipients, asking them to tell us more about their personal journey, to give other girls an idea of how it feels to go through the Gold Award process. 

How did you come up with your idea?
I saw the issue in a newspaper and noticed how unaware of it my friends, family and community are.

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project?
At some points, yes.  My project grew very quickly, and it was hard to keep up with the expenses.

How did you keep up the momentum for the project?
I kept  in touch with all of the contacts reaching out to me. Organization was key.

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?
Yes, when I had issues with my initial editor.  I kept at it and never gave up.

Can you tell us a story about some part of your project that was especially meaningful?
I started crying during one of the interviews with a victim because her story was so sad. She told me that I had no right to cry because I didn't know the pain she felt.  She said that I had to be strong if I wanted to fight against this issue and had to be able to show sympathy towards the victims without showing emotion. Victims already have to deal with so much and it makes them feel worse when people show emotions from their stories; non-victims have no idea what the victims went through because they didn't experience it themselves.  It was a shocking experience, but it taught me a lot. I never cried again, no matter how sad the stories I heard were.

How will people benefit from this?
They will be aware of human trafficking and know that it IS happening in their community and that it can happen to ANYONE. Hopefully, people will be more cautious and have their eyes open all the time for potential predators.

How did you feel after you finished?
Ecstatic. I couldn't wait to get the documentary out there.

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?
DO IT. You will learn so much about yourself and make a difference in your community. It is very rewarding.  START EARLY, 9th grade ideally. I was surprised by how long everything took, especially the proposal process. Gold Awards take time, but they are well worth it.

How did your Gold Project change you?
I've learned more from my Gold Project than I have from any other project, program, or class.  It definitely changed me. Just the issue of sex trafficking required me to grow up a lot. The adults I interviewed were victims, parents of victims, law enforcement officers, a state representative, etc. As a teenager who had never interviewed anyone before, I had to quickly learn to conduct professional interviews. I worked with adults, organized, scheduled, raised funds, was a producer, director and editor, and made presentations. I learned MANY new skills, from ow to professionally edit video to becoming a better public speaker.

I'll take away more maturity, countless skills, and several life lessons from my Gold Award process.

Katie's Gold Award project focused on providing internet resources for high school students preparing for college entrance examinations.  Her website is  http://everystudentcan.weebly.com/ We interview all Gold Award recipients, asking them to tell us more about their personal journey, to give other girls an idea of how it feels to go through the Gold Award process. 
How did you come up with your idea?  
I noticed that many of my friends had no idea how to start preparing for exams related to getting into college, like the ACT, SAT, and PSAT.  In high school, I was lucky enough to get test prep and to have teachers and friends' older siblings to tell me how to these tests strategically, and I wanted all students in my community to have access to the information that I had.  I decided to create a website to house the information I gathered throughout my high school career.
Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 
I've been a Girl Scout since I was seven, and I knew since I was ten that I wanted to earn the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards.  Although there were days when I said I "wanted to give up," I knew what I really wanted was to have the website finished so that students could have access to my information even after I graduated and to earn the Gold Award I had spent so much time preparing to earn.  And in the words of the Baker's Wife from Into the Woods, "If you know what you want, then you go and you find it and you get it."
 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 
I kept talking to students and parents and homeschool groups and guidance counselors, all of whom reinforced my gut feeling that the project filled a need for the students and families who needed information about preparing for college.
Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?
I got very frustrated late one night while I was about halfway done writing the content for the website.  I put away the computer, called my best friend Stephanie, and went outside.  Stephanie gave me a pep talk, proofread what I had done so far, and gave me the permission to call it a night and the encouragement to keep going tomorrow.
Can you tell us a story about some part of your project that was special to you?  
A local student told me that my website was like a giant pep talk and that my research took a weight off her shoulders.  That made the project worth it. 
How will people benefit from this?
Local students now have a well-known resource with convenient, encouraging information about preparing for college entrance exams.
How did you feel after you finished?
Relieved.
What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?
Writing the proposal is the hardest part.  Push through that phase.  Explain your idea to everyone who will listen, and soon you'll figure out a way to explain it quickly and effectively that works for the proposal.
How did your Gold Project change you?  
I learned that as soon as a genuine need is identified, community support is fierce.  I learned to give myself grace.
Please give us a brief outline of your Girl Scout history and your future plans.
I started in Troop 7098 as a first-year Brownie, and stayed in the same troop until I graduated from high school.  I am currently a student at Auburn University with a double major in philosophy and history.
Thanks, Katie!
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Please give an overview of your Gold Award Project.

 

The issues I chose to address through my project were promoting the arts to high school students, especially though who do not have access to theatre at their schools, and promoting Playhouse-in-the-Park, an available theatrical resource that fewer high school students have been taking advantage of lately, to middle and high school students. After having my idea approved by my project advisor at Playhouse, I worked on my proposal paperwork and edited it until I felt it was ready to submit. I had to take more time to brainstorm and problem solve after receiving some corrections that the Gold Committee felt were necessary for me to work out before moving on with my interview. Once I completed my revisions and my proposal interview, I was ready to begin implementing my project

 

How did you come up with your idea?  

 

I love acting and participating in the arts, so from the beginning I was set on doing a project that would be centered around the arts somehow. I also wanted to help out Playhouse-in-the-Park, a local youth theatre where I spent most of my high school career acting and dancing. It took me a long time to come up with a feasible idea. Initially, I kept getting stuck on ideas that just weren't possible, like buying new lights for Playhouse. Eventually, I began to work with an idea of holding a community-wide talent show at Playhouse for any interested students. I sat down with my advisor to work out the remaining details and issues, which caused us both to realize that this project would probably be too risky and too hard to complete within my limited time frame. It was then that we modified this idea into that of holding a theatre arts seminar rather than a talent show.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

 

I was very intimidated initially; I had trouble imagining myself actually getting through eighty hours' worth of work to be done! After I finally got through the planning process and the proposal paperwork and interview, I felt less daunted and ready to get to work. 

 

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

 

Setting deadlines helped me the most when it came to keeping the project going. As soon as my project was approved, I set a date for the theatre arts seminar and began calling the various schools I would be presenting to so that I could set an appointment to speak to their students. By doing this at the beginning, I felt motivated to set aside time to work on everything that needed to be done before these dates arrived. When it finally came time to make my presentations and hold the seminar, I felt very prepared. 

 

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?

 

There were many moments throughout the process when I felt discouraged. Sometimes it was when I was in the very early stages of my project and felt I simply couldn't get everything done before the deadline in July, and other times it was when I faced serious obstacles that would randomly pop up during the process. I always felt tempted to quit, but I knew that I would be disappointed in myself if I didn't keep pushing onwards. While it might have been a relief to quit in the midst of all the other things I had going on in my senior year, I knew that in the long run I would regret never finishing my project out. I had gotten my Bronze and Silver Awards as a younger scout, so I also felt motivated by the idea that there would be no better way to tie up my final moments in Girl Scouts than by getting the Gold Award.

 

 

Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you? Something funny, or touching, or that went terribly wrong and how you fixed it?

 

I'm very happy with how the seminar went, not only because the participants all responded positively about their experience but because they all had such a great time with one another. Most of them were all strangers upon arriving, but by the time they left, they were all laughing loudly and seemed much closer than people who had just met 3 hours ago. Going into the seminar, I was mainly hoping for a good turnout and positive responses from the participants, but I was so delighted by this unexpected result.

 

How will people benefit from this?  

 

Through this project, I managed to reach at least 500 high school students in the area about the arts and local theatre opportunities that are open to them, and I managed to leave 12 students with new artistic knowledge and skills that they might not have had otherwise. Through this project, I have also begun what I feel will be the reestablishment of awareness of the opportunities offered by Playhouse-in-the-Park in middle and high school students, many of whom were unfamiliar with the community theatre before my presentations and/or my seminar. I also hope that my project will encourage more girls to pursue completing a Gold Project focused on the arts.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

 

It felt amazing to be done with my project! It was so satisfying to have stuck it out to the end and to have had what I felt was a satisfying ending to my project. It's nice to leave this project with a sense of accomplishment.

 

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?

 

You've all probably heard this before, I know I did when the opportunity to begin my Gold Award opened up, but my biggest piece of advice would be to complete your project at some point in your high school career that isn't your senior year! With all of the school work you have when you're a senior coupled with applying for college, adding a project as big as the Gold Award to your To-Do list is a major stress! I managed to work in small tasks relating to my project throughout my senior year, but it really wasn't until I had breaks from school (or was finally out of school) that I really managed to get work done. Had I been able to get more work done earlier, I would've been able to hold the seminar earlier, while school was still in session, and would most likely have been able to encourage more students to participate. Regardless, I'm proud of my hard work and what I managed to accomplish within the timeframe I had.

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you?  If so, how?  Did you learn new skills, or change your outlook on an issue?  What will you take away from this experience?

 

I was never much of a leader during my high school career, so my Gold Project was my first real opportunity to be in charge of something and lead others. In the beginning stages of my project, I was insecure in this position of leadership, which could lead to miscommunication and other added issues. As my project progressed, though, I began to find more confidence in this new role. While I still have my moments of insecurity, I do feel that my Gold Project has been a source of newfound confidence that I wouldn't have at this point in my life otherwise.

 

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Troop Leader Karla Bishop explains the project: 

We put a letter to our neighbors explaining our project and purpose (raising awareness for Shaken Baby Syndrome) on a paper bag along with a flyer so they could educate themselves and others and asked them to fill the bag with brand-new baby items. We set out 200 bags. We went back the next week and collected 40 bags filled with items such as diapers, wipes, pacifiers, clothing and socks, booties, toys, personal care items and more! 

We then sorted through all the items and decided what else we needed to buy. With cookie money, I purchased 100 polyester baby bags, along with baby books, blankets, and travel size Johnson and Johnson care kits to fill the rest of the bags. A kind person whose great-niece recently died of shaken baby syndrome delivered a bag of hand-knitted purple beanie hats and another mom in our troop knitted some as well (purple is the chosen color for Shaken Baby Syndrome awareness). 
We kept out some money to give each of the girls cash to shop for baby items of their choice at Target (and I stood at the register to collect all change). This awesome mall trip also allowed us to complete our Savvy Shopper badge. 

The girls sorted through all final items, stuffed the bags, folded the letters and fliers to put into the bags and tagged them all either boy, girl or neutral. We then took 50 of the bags to Springhill Medical Center (where a wonderful nurse told the girls how many lives they could potentially have saved by doing this project) and took the other 50 to USA Women's and Children's hospital. 
 
 I am glad they all learned about Shaken Baby Syndrome but I suspect they also learned how you can make a tremendous impact in the world no matter what age you are. They really enjoyed this project. 
 
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Earning a Gold Award is not easy -- but the rewards, for yourself, your community, and your future are worth the effort.

We ask Gold Awardees to give other Girl Scouts who are considering a Gold Award Project a realistic idea of what is involved. Below, Adrienne Spivey tells us about the challenges and rewards she encountered while implementing her project.

Project: Understanding the Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease for Kids

Adrienne's Gold Award project involved educating children about Alzheimer's disease. She created and produced a video to help children understand changes they may see in their elderly relatives and feel more confident interacting with them.

 

How did you come up with your idea?  

 My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease when I was very young. I didn't understand why she would do or say certain things. With my project, I wanted to help other kids with the same problem I had.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

 Not really. I came into the project knowing its importance, and that actually inspired me, rather than intimidated me.

 

How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

 I handed out cards with the link to my video on Youtube at local senior centers, Alzheimer's care groups, and the classes I presented my video to. Teachers at the schools I presented at even came up to me and asked for cards!

 

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?

 Never. I wanted to earn this award more than anything, and I knew how much it would help others.

 

Can you tell us a little story about some part of your project that was special to you?

  Every time I presented the video, the kids would have great feedback. At one presentation, a little girl asked me "How do you join your troop?" I replied with "Do you mean how do you join Girl Scouts?" She then said "No, how do I join your troop?" It was so sweet and touching. Not only had I inspired her to join Girl Scouts, but she wanted to be in a troop with me. It was so cute.

 

How will people benefit from this?  

 Little kids who are confused by their grandparents' symptoms of Alzheimer's will have explanations for their grandparents' behavior and answers to their questions.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

 I felt so proud and that I had really accomplished something great. I truly believe that I've made a lasting impact and that I've helped - and will continue to help - kids confused by the disease.

 

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?

 I understand that it's difficult to juggle school, activities, and work, so I understand how taking on a serious Girl Scout project could seem impossible. Think about the difference you will make by doing it, though. Think about the lives you'll change. Think about how you'll be campaigning for something you not only believe in, but that you created. This project may seem overwhelming, and even be a bit challenging at times, but the outcome and the rewards are worth it all.

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you

I realized how many kids are going through what I went through. I learned how to talk and relate to different age groups, and I definitely think I improved my public speaking skills. From this experience, I will take away a sense of pride from helping little kids understand the early stages of Alzheimer's, and from earning such a prestigious award.

 

 

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Earning a Gold Award is not easy -- but the rewards, for yourself, your community, and your future are worth the effort.

We ask Gold Awardees to give other Girl Scouts who are considering a Gold Award Project a realistic idea of what is involved. Below, Ann Claire Carnahan tells us about the challenges and rewards she encountered while implementing her project.

Project: Keep Mobile Beautiful in Touch
Ann Claire worked with Keep Mobile Beautiful to create a website for their organization. She used social media and presentations to bring awareness to the public about the services they offer.


How did you come up with your idea?  

            I've always been passionate about conservation of the environment and volunteering for Keep Mobile Beautiful, so when I was searching for a community need that needed addressing, I immediately spoke to the staff of Keep Mobile Beautiful, which is a local environmental not-for-profit city organization. I was expecting to work to develop some kind of educational program or another litter cleanup program, or something of the sort, but they surprised me by telling me that what they really needed was a website. I had never studied web design before in my entire life, but I wanted to help the organization in a meaningful way, so I took on the challenge and developed my project from their, around the framework of a new website.

 

Were you intimidated by the scale of the project? 

            Initially, yes, I was very intimidated. I did not know anything at all about web design and construction, and I did not know where to look to learn about it. But, as soon as I started finding useful research and awesome contacts of volunteers who were willing and eager to help, I gained confidence and became more excited and less intimidated, more eager to work towards completion of my project.

 

 How did you keep up the momentum for the project? 

            Sheer determination. I was in charge of all scheduling and arranging all of the meetings and various steps of progress throughout the timeline of my project, so to be sure that everything was progressing as it should I had to maintain all of my contacts and make sure that my contacts were able and willing to plan and then stick to the arrangements. At times, it was difficult to keep the project moving, especially because I was creating a website that represents a city organization, so I had to work in a professional work place and juggle the staff and volunteers there and their professional responsibilities, along with the busy schedules of all of my other volunteers, which was one of the obstacles that slowed my momentum. But, I was very passionate about my issue and determined to see the project through to the end, so I kept up my contacts and maintained communication to move the process forward.

 

Were you ever discouraged? If so, what did you do to overcome that?

            Yes. Web design and construction is very slow and tedious, and difficult to learn how to do well if you have never worked in that area before. By the time I had completed my first draft of the website, I had put many hours into it and it had been very slow, difficult, and many times discouraging, but I pushed through to launch it onto the internet. And, disaster struck. The website had not been properly formatted, so it looked wrong and uneven and disrupted on different computers, depending on whether or not the computer had a Mac or Windows operating system. I was hugely frustrated and very discouraged. At first, I did not want to continue, because I felt like all of my work had been for nothing. But, I really wanted to help Keep Mobile Beautiful, and I had volunteers helping me with my project who worked professionally in web design and maintenance who were eager and willing to help me reconstruct the website and create a workable format that looked clean and neat on all different types of computers and electronic devices.

 

Tell us about an unexpected challenge in your project and how you addressed it.

            When I launched my website for the first time, it fell into complete disarray. The project that I had been working on for months, for hours upon end was a disaster and I did not know what to do or what step to take to fix it all, because I had been teaching myself how to do everything, for the most part. I could not find any kind of solution, and at first it all seemed very hopeless. But, the contacts who had been my resources whenever I had run into questions about web design and maintenance came to my rescue once more and helped me to solve the problem. And then, what had once seemed hopeless didn't seem to be such a big deal anymore. The website was quickly formatted into very clean, neat tables that were easily accessible on any computer or electronic device, and I could then move into the final part of my project, of advocacy, without a problem.

 

How will people benefit from this?  

            The website I created (www.keepmobilebeautiful.org) is a fantastic resource for the city of Mobile, and it is very easily accessed. For years to come, the website will enable a two-way easy avenue of communication between Keep Mobile Beautiful and the community of the Mobile public to further improve recycling, beautification, and litter prevention throughout the city.

 

How did you feel after you finished?

            Thrilled! I was overjoyed that the website was such a great success and that it is a powerful tool for the organization to use in communication with the Mobile public. I am excited that Keep Mobile Beautiful's need has been met, and that the website will be well maintained, and continue to grow and change over time to improve and help the organization even more, rather than just remain the same. I was so excited to have completed a project that was such a huge challenge, that I never thought I could have done before I pursued my Gold Award.

 

What advice would you give to other girls considering a Gold Award?

            I would advise girls to align themselves with a community organization that already has a need you can work towards fixing. I found that the ideas I came up with, to help Keep Mobile Beautiful would have been useless to them, but they were able to give me a jumping off point from which I could formulate a project that would really help them in the long run. Listening to the organization's needs gave me the framework I needed to construct an airtight, meaningful project. I also had the keep Mobile Beautiful Staff and volunteers there as a resource for me every step of the way for information and volunteer work to help my project succeed.

 

Your Gold Project made a change for the better in your community.  Did it change you?             Throughout this experience, I have learned many new skills and lessons that I know will serve me later on in life as I move towards college and the professional world thereafter, of communication and leadership. Above all else, I have learned how to persevere despite the challenges that arise. When I started, I knew my project was going to be tough, but I did not anticipate just how many different, stressful challenges I would face throughout the process. The project was extremely difficult, but I knew that Keep Mobile Beautiful really needed what I was working towards so I faced each challenge head on and persevered to finish my Gold Award.    

Auburn Girl Scout

What began as a Girl Scout project has become a source of community pride and participation as Loachapoka residents embrace their new public library and the opportunity to reach out to younger readers in the community.

Thanks to Girl Scout Cadet Kaitlin Connelly of Troop 7098 in Auburn, Loachapoka residents now have free access to books any hour of the day or night at three Loachapoka 24/7 Libraries, located in the small community near Auburn.

Donation boxes are located at Miller's Store and Wilton's Catering (next door to the Loachapoka Post Office), both on Highway 14, and at Crabb's Grocery on Lee Road 188.

Readers do not need money or a library card to access the mailbox-like units and are simply asked to leave a book for use by someone else, if they happen to have one they wish to share.

Connelly's work toward her Silver Award began in June and quickly gained the support of Marcus Crabb, owner of Crabb's Grocery on Lee Road 188, where one of the boxes is located. He and a friend built the first library box that Connelly then allowed children in the 21st Century Learning Initiatives program at Loachapoka Elementary School.

"Every time I told someone about this they were excited about it," Connelly said. "The children were really excited."

Connelly said making the decorations helped the children feel ownership over the boxes and encouraged them to use the books.

"The libraries are aimed to the children, but adult books are also in there," she said. "There are early readers and teen books. Pretty much any book may be in there."

Community support has not only come from the businesses where the boxes now stand, but has also included book and monetary donations from individual community members, plus building supplies from Home Depot and Ace Hardware in Auburn.

The Loachapoka 24/7 Libraries have complemented the new public library which opened just over a year ago and has limited hours from 3-7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They were recently adopted as a part of the library and use a collection of about 200 books that are also now part of the library's collection.

Loachapoka 24/7 Libraries are an adaptation of Little Free Libraries, which has a site at Cary Woods Elementary School in Auburn, but differ because they are associated with the public library.

Kaitlin, daughter of Brian and Cora Connelly of Auburn, is expected to receive her Silver Award in November.

To learn more, visit the Loachapoka 24/7 Libraries Facebook page or contact the Loachapoka Public Library.

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Congratulations to Katie Holtzcher of Troop 9157, who did a wonderful Silver Award project. 

Katie collected toiletry items and sewed personal necessity kits out of washcloths to hold the items. She made about 300 bags and sent them to an orphanage in Uganda through a foundation called Global Impact. 

Congratulations are also due to Laura Puranen, 9157 Troop Leader, for supporting and encouraging her girls. Wonderful job to you both!

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Girl Awards category.

Destinations is the previous category.

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