Nicole Savini of Feasterville will receive the Gold Award – the highest achievement in Girl Scouting – in June 2014 at the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania Council. The award will recognize her efforts for conceiving, planning and completing a community project in her Sweetwater Farms neighborhood in Lower Southampton Township.
Several other award ceremonies will recognize Nicole’s achievements: one in May with her Service Unit, another with the VFW organization, and still another with Lower Southampton Township.
Nicole’s endeavor, which spanned roughly six months from conception to completion, resulted in painting house numbers on the street curbs of 148 homes in Sweetwater Farms. Making house numbers more visible greatly aids firefighters and emergency personnel in quickly identifying homes in need of assistance.
“Painting house numbers on curbs is very much a safety issue,” said Nicole’s mother Fran Savini, who is the leader of Girl Scout Troop #2598 to which her daughter belongs. “And it required permission from the township as well as from individual homeowners.”
Mother and daughter, who are the adult and girl delegates, respectively, for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, discussed potential projects for Nicole to complete.
“Nicole likes art,” her mother said, “so she decided on the curb painting idea.”
Earning the Gold Award is about much more than coming up with an idea, however. For starters, Gold Award recipients join an elite group of women who, starting in 1916 with the Golden Eaglet insignia, undertake projects that improve their communities.
While the award itself has changed names over the years, with the Gold Award established in 1980, the extraordinary efforts of the recipients have continued to raise the bar for those who follow.
Open only to Girl Scouts in high school, the Gold Award challenges these young women to change the world, or at least their corner of it. They do so through a seven-step project: 1) identify an issue, 2) investigate it thoroughly, 3) get help and build a team, 4) create a plan, 5) present the plan and gather feedback, 6) take action and 7) educate and inspire.
And they do so through a minimum 80 hours of effort. Even the funding for completing these community projects falls on the individual seeking the award.
Nicole, who is a 15-year-old sophomore at Neshaminy High School, held a flea market in her neighborhood to raise money for the materials needed to paint house numbers on the curbs. She raised $126 through the flea market and received an additional $30 through donations from her neighbors in Sweetwater Farms.
Her next step was to form a team to help with the project. “I went to friends and people close to me,” Nicole pointed out.
One teammate was her older sister Christen, who recruited Nicole several years ago to help with her Gold Award project.
Christen, now 21, was involved with the Girl Scouts for 12 years.
Other members of Nicole’s team were: Rachel Barrett, Caitlin Gonglik, Breanna Murray and Kenny Williams.
Nicole noted that the enterprise taught her several valuable lessons. “I learned about how much it helped the community. Every time I was on the street painting the curb, someone would always come by thanking me. Someone even stopped by the house and gave me a gift! I was so shocked! I didn’t get a lot of responses at first, but I think when they saw the professional job, then I received a lot more responses. I also learned leadership and confidence. I think being a good leader requires a lot of confidence.”
She added, “I still have to write letters to the fire and ambulance personnel, and write up a form for the township to approve the project’s completion. And then I need to write up the final paperwork to present to the Girl Scouts.”
Nicole has been involved with the Scouts since she was in kindergarten. She highly recommended the organization. “The benefits of Girl Scouts is having fun with your friends and at the same time learning and developing skills.”
PHOTO CAP: Nicole Savini next to one of the curb address numbers she painted for her Girl Scout Gold Award project.