What did you do for your Gold Award project?
For my Gold Award project, I planned and hosted the Miles for Meals 5K run and 1 mile walk to raise awareness and collect donations for Fresh Harvest Food Bank. I wanted my project to address the issue of food insecurity within my community, and also raise awareness for the resources that are available for those who need support. There is no reason anyone should be hungry: as one of the wealthiest nations on earth, there is enough food available, but connecting people to resources is the biggest challenge. On October 23, 2016, I hosted the fun run, where the entry “fee” was a donation of food or personal care items that went directly to Fresh Harvest. Through the event, I was able to gather more than 1,700 donations and reach at least 1,800 families through flyers, social media, and local newspapers.
How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?
My target audience was largely my peers because many students were unaware of the need for these resources within our community. They gained the knowledge of the issue, as well as of the resources available and the ways they can help. Several of my friends who volunteered at the race or heard about Fresh Harvest through the event now volunteer at Fresh Harvest regularly.
Additionally, I hoped to reach families who need support, and I was able to do this through my project. One example of this is that after speaking to a family friend about my race and Fresh Harvest, they shared the information with one of their friends who needed support and didn’t know of any organizations that were nearby. Through my race, I was able to help families in need of support become connected to helpful resources. This is just one example of the impact I hoped to have with my project, and the impact I created is continuing to help families in need, even months after the project was completed.
How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?
My project will be sustained through the Colorado Young Leaders Chapter at my school, Rock Canyon High School. The faculty sponsor, Mr. Bart Blumberg, and the president, Shelby Lamkin, have both committed to sustaining a community donation event in the following years, whether it is another race or other community event to support Fresh Harvest. Mr. Blumberg is also working with his Freshman Seminar class to organize another donation fun run in the spring, and I have committed to support his efforts and provide advice.
I have also put together a “How-To Manual” so that others know where to start and how to put on a successful donation fun run. I will provide this to Mr. Blumberg and the Colorado Young Leaders so that a similar project can continue after I graduate in the spring. Before the race, RockCanyon was the only high school in Highlands Ranch that did not have some kind of connection with Fresh Harvest, but since the race, a lasting link is already being formed, and this system of support will continue into the future.
What is your project’s global and/or national connection?
Food insecurity is an issue that affects people all over the United States and throughout the world. An estimated 49 million people in the United States alone have some level of food insecurity, and somewhere between 500 and 800 million people worldwide face a similar problem. Assistance programs, such as Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Programs (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits, are available, but not always widely known or used.
Since a community event such as a fun run both supports the organization and raises awareness within the community, I wanted to share the idea with others who want to help and get involved. I contacted Feeding America, Hunger Free America, and Why Hunger, as well as Hunger Free Colorado and Feeding Colorado. These five organizations are committed to supporting food banks and connecting people to the resources they need. I have heard back from several of these organizations and am working to share my “How-To” manual so that people across the country can put on their own event to support their local community resources and raise awareness.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that planning all starts with me. I needed a large team of people to help with planning and putting on the race, but I had to take the lead in it all. With that in mind, I also had to work as a leader and designate responsibilities, because I could not have done it alone. A lot of my friends were eager to help and get involved, and so I used their energy and excitement to get everything done. I knew what my goal was, so I learned that as a leader, I need to be able to share this vision and lead by example. I was the one who came up with the project and was most excited, so I learned that if I shared this excitement and passion, other people would want to follow and get involved as well.
Through this project, I also learned that people love to help, so use it. People want to support a good cause, so I learned to ask for help and share my story with as many people as possible. This was just another platform to get the word out. I learned that I can be an inspiration for others, so it is important to always act with integrity because I never know who is watching what I do and taking after me. For example, at my race, there were several younger girl scouts who were excited about what I was doing and starting to plan their own Gold Award projects. They looked up to me and all that I was doing, so it was important that I acted as a positive role model for them. Lastly, I learned that communication is key. I am the only one who knew exactly what I wanted for the event, so it was important that I share this vision with everyone to keep them informed, engaged, and wanting to help!
How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?
This project gave me a new confidence and attitude of perseverance that I did not have before. I never thought that I would be able to make the impact that I did, and after seeing what I can do with a little hard work and commitment, I have a new attitude on every challenge that I face. I now know that I can accomplish incredible things if I just set my mind to it, and I can inspire others around me to help and follow if I share my passion with them. Spearheading this project on my own taught me valuable lessons as a leader that will only continue to grow. After completing this project, I have seen the impact that an individual can have, and I have learned the impact that my leadership can have on others and things that are important to me. In the future, I will continue to use the lessons and leadership skills I have gained, such as perseverance and confidence, and intend to continue making a positive and meaningful impact in everything I do. This project has given me the skills to accomplish anything I set my mind to, and that is the most valuable thing any leader could ever have.
Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
This project has taught me a lot about myself, as well as about the people within my community. For me, Girl Scouts has always been about getting out into my community and making an impact, and this project provided a means to actually decide who and what I wanted to impact and then plan and complete it. Growing up, I had been involved in service activities both inside and outside of Girl Scouts, and I think it was all building up to this project. This project really combined everything I’ve done so far, including volunteering for other projects or planning a project with my troop for my Bronze and Silver Awards, and applied it to my very own project that I planned and implemented on my own. The Gold Award project really exemplifies everything that it means to be a Girl Scout, and in honoring the Girl Scout Promise, it really encouraged me to take the line “to help people at all times” to heart and really see that serving and helping others can be an aspect of my everyday life and incorporated into all that I do.
**IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email firstname.lastname@example.org