For the past 18 months I have been working on my Girl Scout Gold Award.
The Gold Award is the highest achievement a Girl Scout can earn. To earn a Gold Award a girl must plan at least 80 hours of work on her project.
The project must be sustainable, meaning it must last a long time beyond her involvement. The Scout must build a team of people to help her accomplish her goals, assist with the work, and to show her leadership skills.
I have been a Girl Scout since kindergarten and this is my 13th year. It is important for me to earn my Gold Award because I have previously earned my Bronze Award and Silver Award.
To finish my Gold Award would mean I am a “Trifecta” Award Girl Scout meaning I have worked on and earned all three of the highest awards a Girl Scout can earn.
I decided to create a student lending library for my school, The Lewis School of Princeton.
The school is for students with learning differences and we do not have a library.
I felt we needed a library because I wanted other students to love books and reading like I do. I designed a mobile bookcase, actually two bookcases that are hinged together so it swings open and shut.
There are wheels on the bottom so the bookcase can be moved with ease. My team consisted of six people. Two are Girl Scout sisters from my troop, one is a friend, and three were students from The Lewis School.
The pandemic changed everything. I had to figure out a way to make it safe for them to get together and work with me.
We got together outside, wearing masks, and socially distanced whenever possible. I had to change my original leadership plan for the team due to these restrictions.
I taught my team how to properly prepare wood surfaces for staining. We completed all the top coat finishes of staining, painting and detail work.
I also taught a team member how to use pencil and paper to transfer words and images.
On the inside of the bookcase at the bottom are two very special quotes. The quotes were inspiring to me and I wanted to share them with my school and make them a visual part of the project.
To fill the bookcase, I reached out to my community and asked for book donations. I looked for new or like new books for middle school to high school reading levels.
A local author named Alexandra Villasante wrote a book called The Grief Keeper, she donated a signed copy for the students.
I had an idea to connect with a dyslexic author and found an author named Henry Winkler. I wrote him a letter asking if he would donate books to my project and speak with me regarding his journey with dyslexia.
I had absolutely NO IDEA that he was a pop culture icon and actor, I knew him only as the author of the Hank Zipster book series.
A friend of my mothers helped get the letter to his assistant and she set up a time for us to speak.
I researched him more and watched Happy Days on YouTube … I tried not to be nervous when he called me. I created a list of questions for him about his struggles with dyslexia and how he managed it, his career achievements and life lessons.
I was excited and so honored that he took the time to talk with me. I found him to be funny, smart, kind, and understanding.
It is two quotes he said to me during the phone chat that I painted on the inside of the bookcase.
The first quote was “You have greatness inside you, and your job is to figure out what that is, dig it out, and give it to the world.”
The second quote is “You are so powerful and smart.” Henry (he told me to call him that) also sent eight signed books for the students to have for the library!
The headmaster asked me to create a digital database of the books to limit touching the books and gathering around the bookcase. My team and I created an online library, listing all the books on a website that will be shared with the students.
I am nearing the end of my Gold Award process. I have learned that no matter how hard it may seem that there is a way to work and get things finished.
You may have to think outside the box, adjust your plan, and be flexible with your plans. For myself, I discovered how hard it is to be a leader but that I can do it.
I am very proud of my accomplishments and look forward to what the future holds.
PHOTO CAP: From left, Elayna Frost, Vicky Roba, and Morgan Savage listing all the books’ ISBN codes into the digital database Elayna set up at lewisschool.libib.com.