Girl Scouts is not just about selling cookies and doing crafts. Today’s Girl Scout’s focus is about leadership skills, service to community and the development of a global view of the international women and girl’s movement. Several Girl Scouts in the Upper Keys have worked hard to meet those goals and were recently recognized in Miami by the Girl Scout Council of Tropical Florida with the movement’s highest honors: Gold and Silver Awards.
Melanie Meroni and Leah Sutter from Troop #1486 received the Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. To earn the award a scout must demonstrate skills in leadership, career exploration, self-discovery and must plan and execute a service project that takes a minimum of 150 hours to complete. The two girls partnered with Be the Change of the Florida Keys, Inc. and PeaceJam to host Global Youth Service Day at Treasure Village Montessori (TVM) which included 32 volunteer high school students from Coral Shores, Island Christian and Marathon High School.
Both girls have been a member of Troop #1486 since they were Daisy Girl Scouts at five years old and have recently graduated. Sutter, a home-educated student received her diploma from Champion Preparatory Academy and Meroni from Island Christian School. They designed Global Youth Service Day to rotate the TVM students in small groups through 10 activity stations. Each station highlighted one of ten issues identified by a Nobel Peace Laureate and includes access to clean water, hunger and poverty, women’s rights and restoring the earth’s environment. Some of the day’s work products included a mural, 200 greeting cards to homeless, one peace banner, 52 bags of food for a local food pantry, plus 180 pledges to conserve water and 180 bracelets of the hydrologic cycle the students wore home.
Members of Troop #98, Zoe Koval, Alex Absten and Katie McCormick, Deni Paquette and Ashlyn Marcinak earned a Silver Award. To earn the Silver Award, which is the highest award a Cadette Girl Scout can earn, a scout must demonstrate the same skills as Gold only less hours for each award component. To earn a Silver Award, girls may participate in a project already in place whereas for the Gold Award the candidate must design the project. Troop #98 participated in the adopt-a-meal program at the Ronald McDonald House. They did several fundraising activities to feed the families that stay at the house for a weekend. The troop prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner and cleaned up for the families. They got to know them and their stories – the girls also cried a lot! They made extra food as well to leave leftovers for the families. Troop Leader, Bari Koval said, “It was a wonderful experience for all of us and real eye opener for the girls; they were wonderful with the kids at the house and have encouraged other troops to get involved with the program.”
Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls with 3.4 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouts is the leading authority on girls’ healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. The organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girl Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect or donate to Girl Scouts, call (800) GSUSA 4 U (800-478-7248) or visit www.girlscouts.org.