Girl Scouts of WNY has announced a number of local recipients of the 2019 Gold Award, which will be conveyed at a ceremony today.
The Gold Award is the highest honor awarded by the Girl Scouts organization. It recognizes the recipient's dedication to empowering and bettering herself while also making the world a better place for others.
One of the criteria is completion of a service project that fulfills a need within the scout's community — whether local or global — and creates change that has the potential to be ongoing or sustainable.
Approximately 80 hours of community service are involved in a project; to pull it off, the scout must employ her organizational, leadership and networking skills, create a support team and identify a project adviser who's close to the issue but is not a troop leader or family member. Candidates must first get approval of their project proposals from their local Girl Scout council, then follow through on their plans.
Gold Award recipients are qualified for special scholarship opportunities and can enter the military a full rank higher than their peers.
"These young women are courageous leaders and visionary change makers," says Susan Cook, community relations specialist with Girl Scouts of WNY.
Newly named recipients of the Girl Scout Gold Award are listed here.
Erin Fisher of Lockport undertook a project titled "Lahweh's Legacy," to provide an island community in Ghana with basic medical supplies and knowledge to help prevent the death of children from curable illnesses. She purchased a medical pack with over-the-counter drugs and basic first aid supplies, then organized the building of a cabinet at the school on the island for permanent storage of the medical pack.
Explained Fisher: “Azizakpe Elementary School is located on a small island in the Volta River in Ada, Ghana, Africa. There are about 100 students who arrive on foot or by boat each day with joy, excited to learn. The barest of daily necessities are unavailable — clean water, meager food supply, insufficient shelter, zero medical care or sanitation facilities. In a situation like this, tragedy can strike at any time."
Elizabeth Humphrey of Wilson undertook a project titled “A Song-A-Day.” She created a calendar for nursing home residents with dementia, employing music therapy through the use of song lyrics from the patients' younger years to bring back old memories. The calendars, which show a lyric from a different song from the 1940s through 1960s every day, are currently in use at Northgate Healthcare Facility in North Tonawanda.
Says Humphrey, "This project has so far seen positive feedback from the residents, and serves to better their quality of life in their final years. ... I wanted to bring joy to those who have influenced so many in their long lives. ... After running a test week at Northgate, I printed out 25 calendars on colored paper, and laminated calendars that would go in public places for long-term use. I am pleased with the results and love hearing the positive feedback from the residents and staff in the memory care unit.”
Emilia Peracciny of Middleport undertook a project titled “Middleport’s Little Free Library.” Peracciny built, painted and installed a "little library" on Main Street in the village, and conducted a book drive to get the library started.
Says Peracciny, her project was "in memory of a family friend, Connor Callaghan, to promote sharing and reading in our community."
Bethany Sielski of Lockport undertook a project titled “Community Book Drive.” Sielski hosted a book drive at Roy B. Kelley Elementary School, working with students and staff to get them donating unwanted books, and visiting every classroom in the school to lead activities that taught students about what she calls "the flexibility of language and the power of creativity."
"Overall, I collected 1,517 books over the course of three weeks. I then worked with the Liberty Club at Lockport High School, Pinnacle Community Services, and the VVA Buffalo program to distribute these books to places in need," Sielski said. "My entire project followed a theme very important to me: language. In the Fall I will be attending college as an English major, and I wanted to inspire a love of the English language in younger kids, as well as provide access to books to those who may be less fortunate.”
Haley Storms of Middleport undertook a project titled “Project G.I.F.T: Reading Awareness.” She worked closely with Royalton-Hartland Community Library to reiterate to children the importance of reading. The key to her project was collecting books and making them available for borrowing throughout her community.
Recalls Storms: “Some children don’t have access to books to read, so I wanted to give some to them. I read to two different daycares and gave each child a book to take and read at home." Of the books that she collected and distributed in six crates around Roy-Hart, she said, "The children can bring a couple of books home to read and then bring them back for others to read. After a couple of weeks I’d replenished the crates with more books, so the children can have different varieties.”
Emily Townsend of Lockport undertook a project titled “Watershed Awareness.” Her mission was to raise awareness in Lockport of where the city's watershed flows and how it affects the environment.
"Collaborating with my environmental sciences teacher, I was able to make the watershed known so that my community is more conscious of throwing their waste into waterways," Townsend said. "I gained permission from my school principal to paint on school grounds. I gathered materials (cement paints, brushes, water buckets). Then I drew out my design with chalk and began painting. I hoped to catch the community’s attention with colorful storm drain art and the bodies of water the storm drain led to and how they were benefited.”