Girl Scouts of Western New York presented Karlee Auld, of Rochester, and Rachel Blank, of Spencerport, with the 2018 Gold Award.
Auld’s project, “Helping the Camo,” focused on creating care packages with the help of local fifth-graders to assist soldiers stationed overseas and their spouses still at home. Auld encouraged students to empathize with the military families they were assisting and show the significance of giving back to the community.
“I wanted something I was passionate about, and that was giving back to soldiers,” Auld said. “Growing up in a military family, this was something much more personal to me. I worked closely with a mentor from church, Myrna Cruz, whose kids all serve our country. She gave me the idea to go deeper and help in the classroom. Because I want to be a teacher, this sparked something bigger. I went in the fifth-grade classroom at Pine Brook Elementary to teach on empathy and what these soldiers face on a daily basis.”
Each student collected supplies to put into the care packages. Auld worked with One Soldier at a Time, which offers support to military families. The packages were sent to a base in Baghdad for distribution.
“Girl Scouts has taught me to be a leader and to help people before myself,” Auld said. “I have learned the value in leadership and building strong relationships. It has also taught me to go after what you’re passionate about.”
Blank’s project, “Project Take Baby Home,” was created to help parents with newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester. She collaborated with the hospital to provide baskets of essential baby items, such as blankets and clothes. She gathered donations at Trinity Lutheran Church in Spencerport and Ogden Farmers’ Library. In total, she donated 45 baskets of baby items to the NICU.
“I chose my project because the first few days of my life were spent in the NICU at Strong Hospital, because my twin brother and I were born six weeks early,” Blank said. “The NICU saved my life, and I wanted to give back. The purpose of my project was to ease the burden and expense of child care that families with babies in the NICU have to face.
“The project had a very positive impact on me. It allowed me to broaden my horizons and to come to understand more about problems in our community, like undernourishment and drug abuse, which can cause a mother to give birth early or to give birth to a sick baby.
“Girl Scouts has taught me responsibility, and helped me to make friends.”
The Gold Award is the highest award in Girl Scouts. Projects should be something the Scout can be passionate about in thought, deed and action, as well as encompasses organizational, leadership and networking skills. The project should fulfill a need within the community and create change that has the potential to be ongoing or sustainable.
Approximately 80 hours of community service are involved in the project. The Gold Award qualifies the Girl Scout for special scholarship opportunities to enter the military a full rank higher than her peers.
Gold Award recipients identify an issue and investigate it to understand what can be done to address the problem. Scouts form a team to act as their support system, including a project adviser close to the issue who is not a troop leader or family member. Scouts create a plan to ensure they know what steps they must tackle while working on the project. They submit a proposal for the project to their local Girl Scout council. After acceptance, they start to work through the steps of the plan, utilizing the support team where necessary. The project is used to educate and inspire others about the cause they are addressing.
Visit gswny.org for information.